“The meaning of human life is to serve God in this life and to enjoy Him forever in the next.”
—Dr. Alice von Hildebrand
In an age of secularism, relativism, and nihilism, it is more important than ever for Catholic youth to be preserved in their innocence and prepared for adulthood while being brought up with a living order of education in the fear and knowledge of the Lord (see Prov. 8:17). The timing is perfect, as the world is more and more at odds with the Christian religion and the objectivity of truth.
At a time when many schools have become unsafe with violence and collapsing academic standards, where prayer is forbidden, where terms like “God,” “truth,” and “objective moral values” are banned and looked down upon as religious concepts, many parents are finding a refuge in the peace and harmony of “distance learning” in their own homes.
In the modern world, the universal relativity and subjectivity of all values has infected public school curricula and is taught with increased vigor (even in many private schools). To challenge this dogma is already to violate the separation of church and state. Appeals to academic freedom from the left are often marked by irony. There is no limit to speaking about many points of views and interpretations, except to teach that a particular position is true or that the Christian religion is true.
In a spirit of fairness, kindness, and patience, Catholic parents everywhere are turning to homeschooling and getting to know the ropes. Parents are learning about the living order of education, seeking to give the best possible education to their children—their most precious cargo. In the tranquility of the home, students can learn that truth exists, and they can know it, a position denied by radical secular culture while it can be supported with purely rational arguments from classical philosophers. In the home, students learn of man’s metaphysical superiority over animals, his inherent worth and eternal destiny, and the importance of divine revelation, good manners, and morals.
The greatest challenge that parents face today is to raise their children in the Catholic Faith. With a crescendo of urgency, this is being felt by Catholic parents who are serious about getting to heaven. With the implosion of the public school system, there is a revival of the living order of classical education in the home. And so where to look?
TAN Academy is a new homeschool initiative that should be on the radar of every Catholic family. It has at its forefront the goal of passing on knowledge that is good, true, and beautiful. It aims to both educate children and form families. The education of children is the primary responsibility of parents, and this educational process is a lifelong journey that includes the best sources of wisdom and well-vetted resources available in print.
Because not every family educates the same way and because not every child within a family should be educated the exact same way, TAN Academy provides for and understands flexibility. Flexibility and support are offered for families to navigate and find what works best for them as a family and with each individual child, all learning at a different pace. TAN Academy, which pivots from TAN Books, offers solid curriculum courses that ensure an outstanding education for all the children in a family, with hundreds of books available to choose from online.
The variety of curriculum in a TAN education forms the living order of education. It includes both the teachings of Christ and His Church as well as classical authors such as Plato and Aristotle, who used arguments to refute subjectivism and relativism centuries ago in the fifth and fourth centuries before Christ. Where else but in the home do students have the opportunity to come to know Plato, the greatest of the Greek philosophers? What is classical education without learning of the philosophical and moral influences of great thinkers such as Socrates or Aristotle? At the end of the Phaedrus, Plato says of Socrates, “He was the wisest and justest man I met in my life.”
The religion curriculum of TAN Academy is a shining beacon encouraging students to confront the problems of human existence and to learn of the mystery of Christ. This proper catechetical material is a godsend compared to the watered down or non-existent curricula in many Catholic schools. While “controversial” subjects such as conscience issues and the natural moral law are ignored and denied in most schools, at TAN Academy they are taught and grasped in the context of parents teaching their children in the home.
With homeschool children, like Nathaniel in the Bible, it can be said there is “no guile in him.” Homeschool children are typically meek and docile, formed and fashioned in the ways of God in the privileged classroom of the family. In an age where relativism is one of the great obstacles to faith in the secular culture, this bastion does not exist in the context of the homeschool family. The student’s longing for the transcendent is unleashed and the child grows in the school of virtue.
TAN Academy gives a blend of traditional and classical methods that provide a unique experience from preschool through high school. The joy of learning is propelled with heaven as the aim. Each syllabus has been carefully authored and vetted to be fortified with solid teaching in the Catholic intellectual tradition. For parents, TAN Academy offers flexibility and affordability. Many parents find inspiration in the content while transmitting the information with clear and structured lesson plans to lead students to academic, human, and spiritual achievement.
TAN Academy has a balanced approach in the classical sense. Curriculum is meant to be customized to the needs of each family and student. This works perfectly for the popular schoolhouse-style approach when teaching multiple children of varying ages at home. Much of the TAN Academy curriculum has been created with this purpose in mind, all at an age-appropriate level. This is because parent-teachers cannot always teach multiple different history or science classes to students of different ages. The solution has been the creation of the best possible curriculum that is appropriate for multiple grade levels, with older students digging deeper. The curriculum incorporates recommended texts and supplemental study suggestions while also leaving room for families to adapt with alternative materials or programs when desired.
North Americans are fortunate to have the opportunity to homeschool. Homeschool kids regularly score in the highest percentiles of tests and college entrance examinations. US law recognizes the fundamental liberty for parents to have an option other than just the public school system. In Pierce (1925), the US Supreme Court held, “The fundamental theory of liberty upon which this Union reposes excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.”
When schools fail and parents turn to the good, true, and beautiful at home, their children grow to love and cherish knowledge and virtuous things of enduring value. Heaven is the highest and noblest cause of our actions, and at TAN Academy, the living order of education aims to inspire students to have a longing for their final happiness with God.
John Paul Sonnen is an author and history docent. He is also Director of Content at TAN Books and is Managing Editor of TAN Direction. His subjects of interest include Catholic Studies, Christian culture and civilization. His graduate degrees are from the Angelicum in Rome.