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Beauty in the Word – Introduction

Beauty in the Word – Introduction

beauty_in_the_word_covStratford Caldecott’s book Beauty in the Word claims to rethink the foundations of education: a lofty goal, and, if successful, an important book. He aims to “make an effort to understand the elements and assumptions that make a good education possible” (7).

He begins by preaching to the choir:

“The gravest threat our civilization faces is…philosophical. It is the widespread belief that there is no objective truth and no ‘true’ way of considering the world and its history, only a plurality of subjective points of view, each point of view being of equal value and deserving equal respect” (7).

The fundamental flaw in education today is relativism; if there’s no knowable truth, how can we study the world around us with any real enthusiasm or ultimate aim?  With no truth, it’s no wonder education today is overly pragmatic, built to help its students get along better materially in the world, without a care for the student’s soul.  Oh, surely, psychologists and bureaucrats have plenty of concern for the student’s emotional well-being, in a fragmented, methodical way—after all, we certainly don’t need another school shooting perpetrated by a crazed, unbalanced student—but the soul?  The integration of the person as a whole?  The cultivation of wisdom? Education must treat the whole person with deference to a knowable truth; this argument is nothing new to classical or many Christian educators.

Caldecott devotes a significant portion of his introduction to the “Specific Mission of a Catholic School,” and how such schools might be viewed by or useful to unbelievers. Though I agree that the mission of a Catholic or Christian school is in large part to spread the Gospel to unbelievers, what Caldecott has to say about the Incarnation, I believe, is at the heart of any Christian education:

The news of the Incarnation is not some piece of information that, once communicated, can be filed away, and which changes nothing. If true, it changes everything. It reveals the meaning and purpose of life, and this releases the floodgates of human creativity (14).

The Gospel cannot just be an addition to an otherwise secular curriculum. It informs all of human life: how one relates to God, self, others, and the natural world.

Christ frees us not only from sin, but the believer’s intellectual inquiry is also freed by Him. We’re set free to explore our world through science, history, technology, philosophy, or whatever specific gifts or interests God’s given us because we know we can depend on the God who created it all. In His infinite wisdom and with His holy purpose, He set the planets in motion, created the complexity and beauty which surround us, and cares for humanity throughout the progression of history.

This is such freeing knowledge to have as compared to an evolutionary, agnostic, atheistic, or secular mindset which places Chance as the ultimate authority. If we’re all just here through natural selection, there is no place for meaning. There is no significance to our lives or to the lives of anything living that surround us, other than to be a cog in the enormous wheel of evolutionary progress—we’ll just die, and statistically have next-to-zero chance of making any kind of impact on the future of our world.

So for Caldecott, “[Education] is about how we become more human (and therefore more free, in the truest sense of that word)” (11). We shall see in later chapters the kind of education he lays out to accomplish this. I’ll end abruptly here, though Caldecott’s introduction is much richer than the few ideas I’ve commented upon thus-far.

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.


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Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

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Latest Posts


  • Fact: The #Navy wife life will kill you if you don’t find support somehow.
Fact: That support will almost 100% of the time be the females around you.
Fact: Our whole family got the flu literally THE DAY Jake’s boat pulled out.
Fact: This little @theglorioustable ditty about crashing our proverbial banana trucks posted the same day. God has a sense of humor. Link also in profile. (
The fact that I am just now getting around to posting about it tells you the extent to which the flu knocked me on my ass. I was in bed for three days straight. I am NEVER this sick.
Fact: If it weren’t for strong, kind, generous WOMEN around me, I probably would have ended up in the hospital and my kids may or may not be alive. The menfolk care too, they just weren’t here. Couldn’t support. Had their own work to do. The mission does not stop for sick families.
Find yourself a tribe if you want to survive. You HAVE to have someone to call. Even if, like me, it’s your mom (who will--wisely--tell you to ask for local help even though you don’t want to be a bother.) I needed prayers, sure, but more than that, I needed local people to literally come to my house and feed my kids and put food in my fridge, be here while I went to the doctor, and put my kids to bed when I was too sick to stay awake a minute longer. A virtual community CANNOT do those things. It can try, but a local community has power a virtual community will never have.
Another post on this topic here: (
#community #Navywifelife #momlife #sisterhood
  • Happy New Year and all, but more importantly, today we got to watch our @wyo_football win the Arizona Bowl. (With a freshman QB starting for the 1st time ever, btw 😮😮😮💪🏻) Way to go Pokes! #theWorldNeedsMoreCowboys #OneWyoming #GoWyo
  • We always have so much fun doing projects from @artforkidshub #homeschool #trynewthings #watercolor
  • Morning Time Details! E. (12), S. (almost 8), and L. (6). Our Morning Time morphs as the kids grow and change. It usually includes a combination of memory work and reading aloud. We try to cover a WHOLE LOT of things: Shakespeare, Bible, poetry, catechism, hymns, timeline, art study, composer study, and Ambleside selections for nature study, tales, and church history. This term I’m adding Plutarch.
The hard part is figuring out where I want to aim, with the 5-year gap between E. and S., and then L. being a newbie to full-on school. Having moved twice in 2019, I nixed MT and just focused on individual work. That came with costs. Shakespeare, Plutarch, art study, and composer study suffered. Memory work barely happened at all. I was BUSY. We missed out on discussing things together. Now that we’re settled, it’s time to restart MT.
This term I’ve decided to aim Shakespeare and Plutarch at the oldest, while the girls listen in and do handwriting/drawing/fine motor. I won’t ask them for much narration. Our reading schedule for these is AMBITIOUS. Maybe crazy. Then we’ll do all the memory & read aloud stuff that suits everyone. These lessons are SHORT. Then E. will go do his individual work while I read aloud w/ just the girls.
Also, “Morning Time” is a misnomer, considering we break it up throughout the day. It should really be called Morning/Lunch/Nap Time. I need a new name. Circle Time? Except we don’t sit in a circle. Together school? Except we’re together doing school all day. I don’t think English has the word I’m looking for. Maybe Tertulia or Salon?
Our actual coursework is: the Scottish Play, Plutarch is Alexander the Great’s life, our artist is Gustave Courbet, composer is Paganini, Bible memory is Psalm 46, Hymn is Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me, read alouds will rotate from Burgess Bird Book, Trial and Triumph, Blue Fairy Book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Vanderbeekers, & picture books. Timeline is from Classical Conversations. Poems are Charge of the Light Brigade, Winter Night by Teasdale, and The Land of Nod.
Whew! It’s gonna be a fun term! What do you guys do for Morning Time?
  • #homeschool #family #weekend projects. Oldest got through a CPR course, curtains are hung, first batch ever of hard apple cider is bottled (a big learning experience!), and Morning Time for the next term is planned. 👊🏻 Time to call Dominos so these people can get fed 😂
  • Oh Halloween. That day when I pull costumes out of thin air at T-minus one hour ‘till trick-or-treating. Then one kid melts down in the middle of the fun, and is carried screaming to the car, with me hoping all the while that no one thinks I’m abducting a child. And, my favorite non-PC thought: one kid suggests we should have dressed as hobos, since we’re going around asking people to give us free candy. Phoned it in this year, Kutzers. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ #gladitsover For the record, we had a soccer player, an archer, Spider Girl, a princess, a tiny farmer, a witchy mom (Is that even a costume or just a Thursday?), and Bat Dad.

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