Identity, Grace, and a Literary Life (video interview with Missy Andrews from Center for Lit)

Missy Andrews Center for Lit My Divine Comedy interview
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I’ve often wished I could have Missy Andrews from Center for Lit over for coffee and a chat in my living room. The realities of geography, alas, preclude that. But this conversation is the next best thing. If you’ve struggled with your identity as a homeschool mom, if you’ve wondered how to incorporate literary analysis in your homeschool, or if you just want a few (ok, a lot) of good book recommendations, you will be sure to love this episode of Homeschool Conversations!

Watch the video, read the show notes, and share with your friends!

Video interview Homeschool Conversations Missy Andrews from Center for Lit

{This post contains paid links. Please see disclaimer.}

Who is Missy Andrews?

Missy Andrews is co-director of the Center for Literary Education and a mother of 6 homeschool graduates. She is the author of Teaching the Classics: a Socratic Method for Literary Education ,Wild Bells: a Literary Advent, and My Divine Comedy: A Mother’s Homeschooling Journey. Missy earned her BA in English from Hillsdale College and her MA in imaginative literature from Harrison Middleton University.

Homeschool Conversations interview Missy Andrews Center for Lit

Watch my interview with Missy Andrews

Show Notes {with video time stamps}

Missy Andrews’s family and their decision to homeschool {1:20}

Missy and her husband, Adam, met in the first week of their college career at Hillsdale College. They were engaged their Junior year, so they had lots of time to talk about what they’d do about educating the members of their future family.

During one such conversation, Adam said he wanted to homeschool their kids. Missy replied with something silly like “what about socialization.” A long fight ensued, but Missy was determined. She had a public school background and her family included public school educators. If it was good enough for her? It would be good enough for their children.

The issue came up again when their oldest son, Ian, was only a couple years old. Missy came to bed with a magazine article describing many different approaches to homeschool education. “Of course we’re homeschooling,” was Missy’s reply to her husband’s confused query.

Missy explained, “My ideals ran into my reals…I was looking at this little guy and he wasn’t an Idea to be educated; he was my son!” She wanted to teach him about the most important things of life herself.

The Andrews family now has 6 children who have all graduated from their homeschool. “It was a really big project, and it made me learn in brand new ways to depend on the Lord,” Missy said.

My Divine Comedy by Missy Andrews

Performancism, Identity, and Grace {4:10}

Missy’s new memoir, My Divine Comedy, details “a journey down to go up,” and we touched on many of these themes in our discussion.

Missy was born to educators, and academics were always very important to her and her family. Her experience had taught her that “identity is something that you create. You push hard, then you try harder. If you do your very, very best and you succeed, then you can really be somebody…it was all about striving to achieve.”

Missy Andrews Center for Lit Interview

Missy carried that idea into her marriage, her homeschool project, and really every area of her life. Missy calls this erroneous perspective “Performancism.”

Over the years, Missy came to understand a different perspective on what education really is and where identity really comes from.  “Over time the Lord met me in my homeschooling project,” she explained.

In the homeschool community, we talk a lot about how homeschooling provides an opportunity for parents to reclaim their own education. But do we realize what that actually means? Missy noted:

“Education isn’t just another go round giving you an opportunity to memorize states and capitals. Education has a lot to do with figuring out who you are and who you aren’t, bringing you to the end of yourself so that you can see your need for Jesus, for a Savior. And that’s exactly what happened to me in homeschooling my children. I came up against my shortfall, not just in the daily doings but even in the areas where I excelled…How much is enough? There’s always a little more you could have done. That just beat me up and left me for dead…”

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One of the biggest transformations in Missy’s thinking? The realization that “identity is not actually created; it’s received.

The Gospel of grace changes everything. An attempt to achieve greatness in our own strength taints everything and breaks relationships apart. Conversely, the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ graciously applied to us brings peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Missy’s humble acknowledgement of her own pride and repentance, and her testimony to the transforming grace of God, is one of the many reasons why I was thrilled to chat with her, and why I highly encourage you to listen to the video interview in its entirety.

Here at Humility and Doxology, basing our identity “upon a life we did not live” is a fundamental concept. Missy explores this idea much more deeply and eloquently than I do in her new memoir, My Divine Comedy.

{You may also like my conversation with Dr. George Grant, “Repentance and Discipleship in Christian Education.”}

Missy Andrews Center for Lit Interview

Balancing the needs of multiple children in your homeschool {13:00}

When possible, Missy taught children together, making it a “2 for 1 special” as she called it. Pairing up like this, however, is not without pitfalls. When the younger child is quicker than the other, for example, it can be challenging. This provides, however, yet another opportunity to communicate that our grades are not what define us, and our gifts are not to bring glory to ourselves but to serve the community.

Family read alouds, as you would expect, were a big part of Andrews family life. They were able to use even picture books across multiple ages to explore the basic process of asking good questions and thinking deeply about literature.

{You may also like my article “How to Meet Everyone’s Needs in your Homeschool without Losing your Mind.”}

Teaching the Classics and the Socratic Method {15:38}

The Greek philosopher Socrates is well known for asking questions…lots and lots of questions. Rather than answering people’s questions directly, he forced them to do the hard work of their own thinking.

“If you pose a really good question…it gets to the heart of whatever the issue is that you’re wanting to discuss with your student. They have the pleasure of the discovery. It’s very different from rote information transfer,” Missy explained.

With younger children this begins with narration, and we build from there. Our goal, ultimately, is for our students to not just comprehend the basic flow of the story but to understand why the story is put together the way it is. “What was the author really wanting to talk about?” is the question we should be asking, Missy said.

Missy Andrews Center for Lit Interview

Literary Analysis for the ordinary homeschool mom {17:50}

Literary analysis is simply “reading carefully, paying close attention to what an author is actually saying so that you can understand him. It’s basically just good reading,” Missy said. Put that way, it doesn’t seem too scary, right?

At Center for Lit they love to teach their method of “good reading” with picture books. “They are such a rich opportunity to engage in a non-threatening way with the big ideas of literary analysis, to learn how to read well, and to teach our kids how to do so, so they can read forever anything they want with understanding,” said Missy.

You’re never too old for a wonderful picture book, in my own opinion. Missy agreed and, referencing C.S. Lewis, noted that “sometimes you have to get old enough to read them again.”

My Divine Comedy Missy Andrews

These are a few of my favorite things: book recommendations from Missy Andrews {20:20}


This was such a fun part of our conversation! To hear more about the stories, including themes and personal reminisces, be sure to listen to the video interview in its entirety!

Favorite Books in the Little Years

Favorite Books in the Middle Years


Favorite Books for the Teen Years

What is on Missy Andrews’s current reading stack? {27:11}

My Dine Comedy by Missy Andrews

Find Missy Andrews and Center for Lit Resources Online

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

Homeschool Conversations Video Interviews

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