Yesterday was our Challenge II museum field trip. It is part of an assignment for students to research and present about a favorite work of art. I take our class to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. every year and every visit makes our hearts flutter with the excitement of being surrounded by such beauty.
We started off with a guided tour of the museum, providing us with background information and highlights of art history from Byzantine to Italian Renaissance. I carefully marked the map with locations of pieces created by most of the artists we will study this semester. The National Gallery even hosts the only Da Vinci in the Americas!
As we meandered through the galleries, one room leading into another, history unfolded before our eyes. Students excitedly whispered, taking delight in the glorious feast for the eyes. To read about Da Vinci, El Greco, Durer, Van Eyck, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Peale, Cole, Homer, Van Gogh, and Monet is one thing, but to actually stand before one, is mind bending and soul shaping.
However, that is not the biggest reason why I still love Classical Conversations.
To begin, we have community. Within our own class, parents pulled together to carpool and make arrangements to get the children to the museum. Each parent took a few students under their care and guided them through the museum, sharing in their delight and keeping them safe. But it is more than that. A nearby challenge II community decided to tag along with us. The more the merrier! And when the tutor became too ill to attend, we took her group under our wing and shared in the delight together.
After lunch at a cozy café, my youngest son, now a college student in the D.C. area came to join our tour. Challenge II was a pivotal year for him. His passion for art was ignited and he was empowered with initiative and drive to get accepted into the art school of his dreams. He could not wait to come and talk to our students and take them on a little tour through the impressionist galleries.
However, there is even more!
One of the parents in my class has a passion for art. She was able to share with the students about perspective. Choosing a few portraits in the museum, we were fascinated by pictures that seemed to follow us no matter where we were in the room. It was during our excited examination that the security guard approached and asked me about our group. I explained that we were a tenth grade homeschool group, studying art history. “Well,” he said, “I homeschooled my daughter also. We were military, so it was nice to be able to continue her education that way. She’s in medical school now.” I thanked him for his military service so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today. We shared an engaging moment of conversation about educating our children and the vision of Classical Conversations.
And yet, the most important part of why I still love Classical Conversations is in this photograph. While students were learning about this portrait, Napoleon in His Study by Jacques-Louis David, a mother from our group was tending to her baby. Because of Classical Conversations, families like this are able to educate their children at home, as a family affair, a one-room school house. We all benefit from the fabric of a classical, Christian curriculum which weaves our lives together so that we and our children may know God and make Him known.