The Witch of Blackbird Pond – Important Lessons on Judgement

Now that I’m done ranting and raving about defining the words “morality” and “Christian“, I’m back to my Monday series on Books that Inspire.  Today’s book is a book that I greatly influenced me as a young woman and consequently made a staple in my home school curriculum.

In my opinion no one has written young adult historical fiction as well as Elizabeth George Speare in The Witch of Blackbird Pond.  She has made her main character Kit sympathetic enough for any young lady to “feel” her circumstances, and yet has infused every moment with vital information from the setting and time and history of the story.  As an aspiring author of my first historical fiction, I’ve studied this book as a “how to” in this writing genre.

One of the things I have appreciated most about Ms. Speare’s writing is how deep the conflicts and characters are.  For instance, when one writes about the Puritans and Quakers during the colonial days, it can be a temptation to write stereotypically.  However, this book clearly includes the good, the bad and the ugly.  This is one of the biggest lessons I learned from this book:  when looking back in history, things are rarely as black and white as we report them to be later.  There are as many characters to be admired as there are to be despised in her story, and even those who are of good heart can become confused in the mass hysteria of a what the general public has decided.

Reading this book also buided me in times when someone in my oikos is being accused of an action, not to merely judge on the facts of the accuser, but to investigate the whole of the situation.  We are all shaped by our fears and prejudices, and must be careful of the conclusions we draw from surface information.

There is much to be learned from the relationship between Kit and her  Quaker neighbor  who is suspected to be a witch, simply because she worships differently from the Puritans. Kit follows her convictions and conscience; something all of us need to be encouraged in from time to time.

Another lesson of importance found in The Witch of Blackbird Pond is the reminder to always consider culture when considering a person’s differences.  Kit had come from Barbados, where the rules about what was proper for a young woman were quite different from those of Puritan America.  All of the conflict in this novel could have been avoided if the Americans would have considered the culture from which Kit came from and if someone had warned her of what was socially acceptable in the new land to which she traveled.

Lastly, this book taught me something about religion and history.  It was this book that first made me aware of the irony of  the Puritan’s hatred of anyone different from themselves, seeing that the reason they came to this country to begin with was to escape persecution from those who ridiculed them for believing differently than mainstream England.  Isn’t that true of all of us?  We fight for a particular freedom only to impose our restrictions on someone else?  It kind of reminds me of the parable Jesus told about the man owing a debt.  He was forgiven his huge debt, but then harshly demands a much smaller amount from someone owing him.

Speare, in her masterful writing, caused me to become aware of the dangers of imposing restrictions and standards of what it means to be a Christian or in this case a witch beyond  the confines of God’s Word.  Making up our own rules outside of God’s rules get us and others in trouble every time.  No where does the Bible qualify a witch as someone who can float, or swim, yet this is the standard by which Kit’s accusers begin to investigate her life by.

If you’ve never read the book, you can check out this blog.  Or if you would like to download a free study guide for your home schooled student or co-op class, you can download this.

The High School Home School Adventure


I haven’t had time to write in a while…my son is graduating from high school.  Home educating high school is a lot of work.  A LOT of work!!  But I’ve found that it’s well worth the effort.  One of the greatest advantages I’ve found is that apart from the core subjects, you can really create a curriculum based on your child’s gifts and talents. The curriculum I use is called Tapestry of Grace.  It is a literature based unit study program that stresses what is known as a classical education.  I highly recommend it.

My oldest is entering his junior year in college.  His major is business and finance.  His education was the most “normal”.  We (he and I, together) identified that his interests were in business and finding different ways to make, save and invest money.  Therefore we set out a very rigorous program in the basics.  Math, literature, writing and history especially.  We also concentrated on prep work for his ACT.  He graduated a year early, got a very decent 26 on his ACT (even though he had a terrible head cold), and won a full ride scholarship with the Evans Scholarship program.

One down, two to go…

My second son is an artist.  His high school experience was completely different.  I gave him very basic courses with as many creative evaluation assignments as possible.  For instance, when we were studying the 1920’s, and Charlie Chaplin, I had him write, film and produce a short movie.  As soon as I recognized him as an art student, I did my homework and found that most art schools did not emphasize standardized testing.  Therefore, we didn’t do the ACT prep work that my first student did.  Instead, we concentrated on building his portfolio so that he would not only be accepted to the school of his choice, but so that he could apply for as many art based scholarships as he could.  He will be attending the Illinois Institute of Art in October.

Two down, one to go…

My daughter is a junior in high school.  She sings like an angel, albeit a very soulful sometimes rather rocky angel, writes like a poet and is all about literature and Shakespeare.  She thrives on being in a production.  The way she and I have plugged through the high school years has been to do the minimal amount of math and science, be in as many plays and productions as possible, write a fifty page literary analysis and allow her to lead worship in two bands and sing backup in another.  In addition, she carries a very full  literature, writing and history load as well as philosophy and art history.  Whew!

My journey as a high school, home school mother has led me down three different paths, for three different individuals.  I am blessed that my children have come to the realization at an early age what it is that they long to do.  Because of this, we have been able to tailor make their high school experience to be as beneficial as possible in order to help them on their path to the future God has for them.

I’m really not sure why I’m writing this post, except that maybe someone reading has wondered about the benefits of home schooling a high schooler.  Or perhaps you are a home school mom who gets bogged down with details and loses sight of the “main thing”.  What is the main thing?  My husband and I decided long ago, that the main thing for our household, was to use the high school years to prepare our children in the best way possible so that they are able to tackle the challenges ahead.  Have we done that?  NO!!  We’ve definitely made some mistakes, but I wouldn’t say that they were academic mistakes.  Academically, our children have been prepared for the plans God has for them and God gets the glory for that, because it was his mercy and grace that He revealed to our children His plans, and that He showed us how to guide them to their destination.

Now the scary part…what do I do when I’m done?  Yikes!  I have a whole year to think and pray about it…