Child in a school library

Guest Posting: The RearView Mirror Of Homeschooling:
5 Good Reasons, 5 Great Outcomes,
1 Big Miscalculation


I love DIY “stuff” and in 1976, after Wellesley and before law school, I married an oddly rational man (think Star Trek’s Spock) who whizzed through Dartmouth in 3 years, with honors plus a box of varsity letters, so intersecting marriage, entrepreneurship and homeschooling wasn’t that surprising. But we’re less trail blazers than just the next phase.

My late husband, CMadison and I are from families steeped in church and education. We’re members of the congregation my great-grandparents joined in 1910 and CMadison’s grandfather was president of American Baptist College back in 1936. And as his Uncle James Nabrit argued Brown v. Board of Education with Thurgood Marshall, we were cool with pursuing academic excellence on our own, revolutionary terms. That’s the backdrop to the experiment CMadison dubbed The Nabrit Family Adventure.

What follows are the 5 reasons we chose to homeschool and what we learned from the experience.

Reason #5: Race

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Reason: This was always a subtext. We appreciated the space to speak about unconscious issues of race and white privilege and were glad to help, but consulting was what we did for a living so doing it for free with an outstanding balance was a tad “frustrating”.

Outcome: Regardless of the race of the child, institutionalized racism is part of the educational equation. Because it’s more unconscious and habitual rather than intentional it can be difficult for children to recognize so time is spent understanding and adjusting. We worked to create a space of holistic health and excellence so our sons could focus on learning.

One Big Miscalculation:

We miscalculated “re-entry.” We forgot everyone’s shaped by their past. We focused on peer socialization and failed to account for the non-peer version in college. They’d received 95+% of all instruction and correction from black men eager to engage them in the life of the mind as citizens of the world. Princeton and Amherst had smaller percentages of black male faculty and more diverse staff interests. No hyperbole-a seamless transition it was not.

One Review:

5 Stars. Yes, I would recommend homeschooling to a friend!

(Editor's Note: This piece originally ran 9/26/13)

Recently widowed after 36 years, 8 months and 24 days, Paula Penn-Nabrit is 58 and still challenged by the struggle between power and submission. She married Charles Madison Nabrit in 1976 and after law school helped raise and homeschool their sons, Charles, Damon and Evan. She’s written several books, including Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League and The Power of a Virtuous Woman, lectured extensively around the world with her consulting firm, PN&A, Inc., teaches Sunday School at the church where her family has worshipped for over 100 years and is passionate about her501(c) (3), Telos Training, Inc. Visit Telos Training, Inc. on Facebook and at