Are You Driving a Mini Coupé, or a Heavy-Duty Tank?


Curriculum, according to, is a derivative of curricle.

Curricle: a light, two-wheeled, open carriage drawn by two horses abreast.

As a young single mom I purchased a tiny red sports car. I loved the ease of whipping in and out of traffic. I had no issues turning that thing around in tight spots. I strapped my boy’s car seat into one of two backseats, and he and I conquered the world for a season. Then it snowed. I live in West Virgina. Okay, this does not help my point – moving on.

When Ethan was 8, our family went with our church on a trip to northern West Virginia, where we worked on a parsonage for the new pastor of a small church there. We all towed up campers and stayed at a campsite for a week. This meant driving large vehicles, capable of towing, to and from the worksite every day. One afternoon, my job was to drive some of the women and children back to the campsite in a large, extremely wide, dually truck. We were in a small coal town with one-lane streets and street-side parking. I’ve never lacked confidence in doing hard things, so while the other women and young girls hid their faces, and the young boys sat on the edge of their seats, we pulled out.

You see where I’m going, don’t you?

A few years ago I looked around at all the books. All. The. Books. I listened to Sarah Mackenzie share about her husband whittling down his toothbrush to lose ounces off the load of his backpack as he adventured into the wilderness. I asked myself, “What can we do in a day here at home?” And we started with that. We could tackle 30 minutes of math and 30 minutes of Latin before lunch. Some books could be opened and their material uncovered together. Some books required too much attention for me in that season. Certain recitations were a part of the liturgy of our day, so putting those off wasn’t an option.

And before I knew it, I had a plan. A plan to do less, and to do it well. That very plan inspired us in the courses we plan and now offer at our academy. What can a family actually accomplish in a given week? When we choose materials for a course, what form have we designed for them, a light carriage? Will they be able to easily maneuver through their week amid appointments, lessons, dinners, and sick babes? Are we bringing familiarity and joy to instruction, discussion, and assessment by assigning these materials at this pace this year?

We’ve had some successes, and we’ve suffered through some poor choices. We’ve taken into consideration schedules and assignments from a variety of other programs and schools but remained true to our objective: to cultivate wisdom and virtue. We mustn’t let assigning credits and counting hours determine the course we are to travel, for a mother forgetting the feeling of being behind is indeed a blessing to all the travelers.

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