The End of Education: Fulfilled and Enlivened
I have been waiting for the stars to align so that I can experience peace, order, and success and then afterward write about the beautiful education journey we are on in our household and in our community. Oops! What a foolish aim! That's not even what I set out to do with this writing space.
This year, in particular, I am so aware of the messiness and total imperfection of my time-abilities-preparedness-patience-organization-energy-what-have-you. But the incredible thing is that in spite of how I feel about life, beauty and growth keep happening all around me and within me! And I discover I'm really not as unprepared or unskilled as I thought I was going to be because I've been practicing and learning for many years now. So in lieu of a well-thought-out essay on education, here are just some things I've noticed recently.
Since we don't "do" school on Mondays as a family Sabbath day, I had plans to try to hike or at least go on a good nature walk every Monday and sketch in our nature journals. Unfortunately (or seemingly so) life kept interrupting my plan, real-life stuff like illness, and travel, exhaustion, and errands that just HAD to get done. My grand scheme to utilize that day every week for nature study was deflated, like Eeyore's "small piece of damp rag" from Piglet. But, just as the bit of damp rag was seen as a beautiful birthday gift by our usually gloomy recipient, I looked around yesterday - Monday - and received such a gift. I realized my three children were engaged independently in creative pursuits as they spent many of those free, unscheduled hours writing and co-writing beginnings of their own books and drawing maps of their own imagined worlds. On top of the creativity, I could see the fruit of many hours of my own labor: their spelling is becoming excellent, their ability to write beautiful sentences (not a skill taught at all directly by me) is stunning because of the extensive time immersed in reading beautiful sentences and copying out beautiful sentences, and that's not even to mention the imagination and attention to detail they were putting into the creative act. They were totally fulfilled and enlivened; I was totally filled and encouraged.
What I was witnessing is, after all, the end of education. Can our lives be enriched - made rich - by the exposure to beautiful literature, music, artwork? Can the creative process be made simpler by consistent work on understanding phonics, the English language, arithmetic, and geometry? Can our view of the world and our ability to understand the complex beauty and brokenness of life be deepened by the study of geography and the people and places of creation? By a careful reading and ability to connect the events of history in order to emulate the good and shun the evil as far as possible? And most importantly, can they bear witness to God's hand in it all with genuine joy in knowing Him as their own dear Creator, Father and Redeemer?
I'm a little bit thankful that nature study has been going so poorly. It has served to remind me that my plans are too small, any my ways are too limited. But the work we pour into our children to shepherd them and help them grow straight and true; it's all worth it. Every math problem, every fable or chapter read aloud, every narration heard with thanksgiving, it's bringing forth fruit and we can catch glimpses of it if we only watch for it.