Friday, August 11, 2023

growing and being

 Note: This post is a total ramble, but it's the kind of ramble my mind has needed for months. A time to sit and think and see where the mind leads as I type. This is me talking to me about areas that I have grown slack in. It's a bit like taking a first pass through the lower forty acres after a summer of neglect. There's a bit of path, but it's mostly still a jungle. 

Years ago, a dad of a preschooler once kind of joked to me that they were afraid to homeschool because they might mess up their kid. Imagine.
Recently my youngest (14yr) reminded me that she still remembered some of the Shakespeare stories we read together as part of the Ambleside Online curriculum. She wanted to talk about what other kids her age choose to read and what they learn about in their school years. It was an insightful chat.
Last week, she asked about something that we had already talked about at length months ago, but seemed unfamiliar to her. A bit surprised, I jogged her memory. Oh, that?
The connection, momentarily dislodged, came back secure as I mentioned a key phrase or two.

If there was ever anything I will be eternally thankful to the work of Charlotte Mason for, it is the importance of the mind needing ideas in order to grow in wisdom and understanding.

For years, first as a classroom teacher and then as a mom, I was convinced it was the right curriculum and resources doing the good work of teaching until Grade 12, so just find the right one. It took a long time for me to see, that it is the presentation of true and good ideas that the mind apprehends and builds on with each subsequent day. You can look something up on Wikipedia and get set on the facts of some topic, but unless you have a reliable guide such as a good writer to walk alongside you or a firsthand experience of seeing and wondering, much of the mind's intake will be forgotten and lost.

Start with a good foundation and the mind will expand to a recognizable building to house your spirit or inner thought life. Thus established and nurtured, this inner thought life nourishes us during all the various states of mind and emotions we find ourselves living through.
Last week, I decided to re-read Jane Austen's Persuasion to see if I still enjoyed it as I remembered.
Austen opens an early chapter with her main character Anne musing on the difference in household concerns from one manor home to the next as she finds herself staying with her married sister and family while her family home is let out.

Anne had not wanted this visit to Uppercross to learn that removal from one set of people to another, though at a distance of only three miles, will often include a total change of conversation, opinion, and idea.

Austen goes on to have Anne see herself needing to settle into her new household's affairs and leave the previous cares of her father's household behind for a time. There is a lot to be thought about as Austen fleshes this out in two paragraphs as to the human experience of needing others to express certain amounts of curiosity and sympathy in our own distinct affairs.
To be able to let this expectation go and be ready to dive into those around us is a sign of maturing.
Consistent mutual interest in cares and interests of others is the wonderful fruit of true friendship and companionship. (Unchecked expectations and emotional manipulations decay relationships very quickly.) 
But there is also the joy of sharing in an engaging discussion of ideas that is not bound by a hobby, project or problem, but just for the sake of thinking through something together. 
I have written before in a post called Solomon's Nature Study about how Josef Pieper helps us understand what true leisure looks like in our own lives.(Hint: it's not what marketing campaigns want you to buy.)
The worlds of music, art, nature, sport, design etc. all bring us into contact with something that is outside of ourselves, but that allow us to make a connection with and become part of our spirit, our inner self.
As a trained teacher and now a homeschooling mom, I have traveled a long road of thinking about education. And unlikely as it sounds, I have read and written more about education as a home educator than I ever did as a university student or classroom teacher. Way more. It's not even close. I completed the assignments in order for me to be a certified teacher, but I did not have the interest or joy that I have today in thinking about what it means to learn. I was taught how to use a scope and sequence to plan a school year, but I was not taught how to reduce my input and get out of the way of the student's capable mind. That's my work now.