Thursday, November 6, 2014

Homeschooling from a state of rest

My notes from the symposium.  They had page protectors and colorful notecards available for notetaking.  It was a fun way to take notes!
I've heard Andrew Kern speak about "teaching from a state of rest" and Christopher Perrin speak about "schole".  Last Saturday, a fellow CC mom hosted a "Homeschooling from a State of Rest" Symposium.  It was a lovely time of uplifting Christian music, good food and lattes, and discussion.  I wish I could capture the atmosphere and the encouraging words, and post it in its entirety, but a few notes will have to do!

It was not a 12 step program towards restful homeschooling.

It was not a list of shoulds and should nots.  It was not a guilt trip of "more, more, More!" that moms typically hear, even if it's in their own minds.

It was simply a group of moms sharing wisdom and empathizing with each other, as we meditated on Scripture and contemplated Classical speakers such as Kern and Perrin.

I'll be honest: right now I'm typing this as I chase a hyper puppy. My life is not "restful" in its current stage, and I bet many of you moms can say the same!  But there are some ways to add in a bit of peace and rest into your days, amidst the chaos.

What is the definition of Classical Education?
Some words we might use to define Classical Education: rigor, studying hard things, dead languages, being really really smart...but CiRCE Institute defines Classical Education as -

CLASSICAL EDUCATION is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty by means of the seven liberal arts and the four sciences. (source: read CiRCE definitions here)

The word SCHOOL comes the Greek schole, which Perrin defines as "'restful learning' that comes from discussion, conversation and reflection among good friends". (Read his article in its entirety here - much to muse over).

Philippians 4:8 says
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things.  

Does this alter your view of education?  How can we practically give our children a solid Christian, Classical Education and implement schole, rather than mimic rigid public schooling methods?  What does that even look like?

Put Beautiful Things Around the Home
Worship music or classical music, flowers on the table, works of art posted on the wall, good food...create a beautiful atmosphere for your children, so that they are surrounded by lovely, true, noble things.  Read aloud together as a family.  Leave time and space (and quiet!) for contemplation.  Yes, your child will suffer boredom, but eventually he might come to notice (and appreciate?) that Monet postcard you put on the white space of your wall.

Leave time for contemplation
for your children and for you!  Leave some time to reflect and contemplate a Bible verse.  And sometimes, you'll want to share what you've contemplated with your children.  Ask the question, "Who are you teaching?" One speaker suggested that we are teaching images, images that are reflections of the things that are put before them.  So put good things in front of them, that they might reflect it.

Have rest in the things God has called you to
Why are you homeschooling?  Probably because you were called to it by God.  Part of that time of reflection and contemplation can be spent in prayer, asking God to prioritize those jobs He has for you.  The rest of the jobs on the Giant To Do list will fall off (like, my laundry...you should see the piles). Take comfort in knowing that you are choosing the very best.

There will be gaps
You cannot teach your child everything.  It is impossible.  Also, your child probably isn't receiving most of what you are trying to teach him.  Your job is to put out a table of beautiful things for your child to feast on (yes, math, reading, and writing ARE beautiful things, too).  You cannot force your child to partake in these lovely things - a big part of this is his responsibility.  Don't beat yourself up, Mama, if you are offering your child a wonderful learning opportunity and they are not taking it.

Repetition and rules
If you are familiar with Classical Education, or specifically Classical Conversations' programs, you know that repetition is a part of the teaching.  It is modeled after Biblical instruction, which was repetitious in nature.  Rules can free us: if we know what we are to do, it does not leave us the option of choosing the wrong things.

What are some things that cause STRESS in the homeschool environment?  Just a few listed here -

  • strict schedules
  • focus on finishing the textbook
  • teaching to the test, grades
  • Busy-ness, overscheduling
Take stress and turn it into an opportunity for rest.  If a schedule helps you, then use it, but all time for discussion with your children.  It is also OK to just focus deeply on one subject for the day, if strides are being made.  You don't have to get to everything on your schedule!  It's OK if you don't finish the textbook - we're looking to dive deep, and for a change of heart.  Quiet that need to see success on tests and A pluses - we do not want momentary performance, but lifelong mastery.  What is it we are trying to accomplish here, with our children?  We are nourishing souls and glorifying God.

Personal Application
My biggest a-ha moment was when I realized that "restful learning" didn't mean sloughing off hard things and just learning what comes easily - it doesn't mean taking an "unschooling" approach (necessarily).  It can mean wrestling with hard things, but we can find joy in those hard things.  For example, when I was studying my daughter's algebra lesson, it wasn't coming easy to me.  First, I had to quiet my family so I could focus.  Second, I had to go back and re-do the problems over and over again, comparing the teacher's guide with my work.  It meant a lot of re-working.  Once I finally understood the answers and could complete the problems myself, there was a great sense of accomplishment.  I realized that I could learn hard things AND do it restfully...and I could ENJOY the process.  Now, my kids DO NOT GET THIS.  They get upset when the answer isn't readily available to their understanding.  I realized during this symposium that this is my greatest goal for my kids and that I need to TEACH this joy in restful learning by MODELING my own joy in restful learning.  

Want to read more? 
One of our Guest Speakers, Amy, has much to say about Schole on her blog.

Christopher Perrin Schole video

Christopher Perrin and Sarah Mackenzie video

Andrew Kern video and audio

Amongst Lovely Things Teaching from Rest e-book and audio - purchase page and samples

1 comment:

Jamie said...

I enjoy this, particularly the part about placing lovely things in your home and eating good food. I also like how this concept is not necessarily "unschooling", yet it is not "drill and kill", either. This is very good food for thought. I am going to share this post with my Homeschool Group.