I think I've written before about Cora's love for Potter's books, especially for any of them that involve a naughty rabbit or an animal in search of its mommy. She loves her Peter Rabbit dinner plate and bowl. She loves it when Benjamin Bunny's daddy takes his switch to the naughty boys - I find this particular fascination a little questionable.
While I don't think I was ever quite as big a Peter Rabbit fan as Cora, I did become a Potter fan in college, when I started researching her other drawings and learned more about her life. One thing that she has in common with many of my other heroes - like Marie Curie and Barbara McClintock (I know, what is a poet doing with so many scientist heroes?) - is an unconventional education in her early life. In Potter's case she never went to school. The Writer's Almanac had a great quote from her today: "Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality."
Maybe it is a little ironic that, as a teacher, this is something that I think about. I think there can be something about grade school that can "rub off" some of a child's originality - though there can also be teachers and classmates and activities that shine up that originality. But I think that is harder to come by. If I were ever going to consider homeschooling, this would be my reason. I don't think it is something I would do - I think there's value in a kid spending time with kids and developing that common experience base - but I can see maybe doing a year at some point, or searching out the kind of school that I think will value and recognize Cora's originality.
And, I also have to wonder how long it took Potter to see her lack of standard education in this light. I think she was someone who was sensitive to not being allowed to do something (her brother was sent to school; she wasn't allowed to give her paper to the Royal Botanical Society because of her gender, etc.). I imagine that there were times when it rankled that she was never sent to school, when it wasn't always a stroke of luck.