I'm rereading The Lord of the Rings right now. One of the great things about it are the little gems of wisdom that are embedded throughout. I started thinking about the Utopian impulse among home schoolers after reading this quote. When fleeing the Shire, Frodo is talking to Gildor the Elf :
"I knew that danger lay ahead, of course; but I did not expect to meet it in our own Shire. Can't a hobbit walk from the Water to the River in peace?""But it is not your own Shire," said Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out."
One of the debates in home school circles is to what extent does one engage in the very disturbed world, and to what extent does one just separate oneself and try to live rightly, thus avoiding the deleterious effects of much of the world's evils. There are some who seem to think that if you withdraw to the country, turn off the t.v, and try to create a perfect environment in the home, you will avoid the worst ills of the world. We've been homeschooling for sixteen years. All I can say from my observation is that such a desire is a pipe-dream.
The problem is, of course, you take the basis for the ills with you, and so you will discover them in your "paradise." Even in LotR itself the evils in the Shire do not come completely from outside. It took Sharky's arrival to foment the latent depths of evil that already existed in the heart of the Shire, but the evil was already there, hidden by the bourgeois normalcy of life in the Shire.
I do think, though, that turning off the t.v., for the most part, living closer to the land, when possible, and doing things better at home are better for all involved. The kind of Catholic education and home environment homeschooling can provide is really better than the education one gets in a public school and, unfortunately, in many Catholic schools who seem to want to conform to the public school standard rather than dipping into the 2000 year tradition of Catholic eduction and culture. I also think we should not immerse ourselves in much of what the culture offers us as "entertainment." I know I'm more strict on this than most, but I've seen no great benefit in those who indulge in the sexually explicit and violent fair Hollywood offers to change my mind.
A robust Catholic education gives children an advantage over those who are simply immersed in the world when the flesh, the world and the devil strike, which they will--and hard.