Friday 3 June 2011

The Lord of the Rings for homeschoolers

 At a recent Tolkien-related event in Italy I was speaking about the theme of "friendship" in The Lord of the Rings. In a way it is could be called a central theme, since the story is all about a Fellowship. Of course the novel is about many other things as well. Tolkien himself said it was about Death and Immortality, and on another occasion that it was about "the ennoblement of the humble" (e.g. Sam Gamgee and the Hobbits). But it is also about Marriage, Myth and reality, Heroism and Virtue, Temptation and Freedom, Power (true and false), Beauty, Technology, Nature, Creativity, Social Order, the Fall, and Language.... The novel could also be used quite naturally by home-schoolers to get children interested in and thinking about Geography, History, Ethics, Politics, Language, Poetry, Natural History, Mythology, and Philosophy. Is anyone interested in hearing more about this idea?


  1. Certainly! With those beautiful maps, I'm sure geography and map-making would be a great place to begin for any student.


  2. Yes please! There are veins of precious metals to 'mine' in those books. We listened to the BBC version on tape in our homeschooling days. And our 'older children' read the books on their own when they were 10-11 years old. It was a fantastic family adventure. LOTR is a feast for the soul and homeschooling families have the time to properly enjoy it.

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  4. Yes. Absolutley.

    I have been a fan and a student of Professor Tolien's works my entire life. I'd say that there's a quality that permeates the tales of Middle-Earth that one finds in sacred texts.
    Inspired. An education in itself.

    Vincit Omnia Veritas.

  5. Although my husband's life was changed by reading LoR at a very young age, I have not yet found a way to incorporate the entire book into the curriculum at the Catholic school where I teach. However, as a special treat at the end of 8th grade, we watch the Fellowship of the Ring in my English class and write an essay about the theme of friendship in the novel. At least we hear a great deal of beautiful language in this way. The students choose a character who has demonstrated true friendship and extraordinary loyalty, giving examples of selfless or heroic actions performed for a friend. In two other sections of the essay, they reflect on friendship with God and friendship with one another. As they reflect on the friends God has given them, they write the most amazing things. Some choose to write about a friend who is a relative (like Bilbo), a teacher (like Gandalf), a friend their own age (like Sam), a protector (like Aragorn), or someone quite unlike themselves (like Gimli or Legolas). Everyone loves this project. Some students begin to write letters in Elvish on their own. All of them are introduced to Tolkien. I deeply appreciate the suggestions on this blog of other possible activities and especially of shorter Tolkien stories people have enjoyed with their children.