Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Convention Season: In Which I Begin To Cry (or Reflecting on Beauty in the Homeschool Life)

Beauty and Delight in the Ordinary Chaotic Homeschool - Sarah Mackenzie

Every seat was filled at 11:30 on Friday morning as a perky Sarah Mackenzie greeted us all with a sincere, "I'm so glad you're all here." Sarah has six children, ages 14, 12, 10, 4, 2-1/2, and 2-1/2. She is an author and blogger that also hosts the Read-Aloud Revival podcast.  Her book is called Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace. I was not familiar with Sarah before this weekend, but another mom who was with me clued me in to her and her message.

Here are some highlights from her talk. (which, by the way, made me cry, though that would not surprise my kids. They say I cry at everything.) 

These first thoughts sound rather random written down, but I promise they were both coherent and cohesive.

Efficiency = Maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort & expense.

Homeschooling is not efficient. Nor is mothering. Relationships aren't efficient.

Twenty years from now, what will you wish you had spent more time doing? We need that long-range perspective every day.

Thoughts on consistency: Focus on doing a few important things consistently rather than consistently doing too much. 

Relationships Trump Accomplishments.

Lots of quotes flavored Sarah's speech and I noted a few that I wanted to include here. Not surprisingly, many of them were from C.S. Lewis, further strengthening my resolve to read all of his writings.

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” 
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Don't damage the relationship.

Moments pass me by every day. Beautiful small moments that we miss in waiting for the Big Beautiful ones.

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them,and what came through them was longingThese things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols,breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

" become what you behold." -Andrew Kern

Very few of us need to ADD something to our homeschool day. Instead how about small shifts or tweaks that line up with our vision?

Here are the three Tweaks she recommends:

1 - Ritualize something you are already doing to make it more meaningful and more beautiful.
- Play music in the morning.
- Greet your child with a hug every morning.
- Sing the Doxology.
- Candles at mealtimes to emphasize enjoying the moment together.
- Poetry at breakfast (recommended book: Melissa Wiley, The Prairie Thief)
-  Habit apps 
- Two minute mysteries
- Daily audio Bible readings
- "Listening Lunch" (Listen to audiobooks while eating. This allows Mom to eat too.)
- Fragrance!
- Reading on the move... (take a book somewhere and read)

2 - Reading Aloud
Choose Good Books
“We do not want merely to see beauty... we want something else which can hardly be put into words- to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses, and nymphs and elves.”
― C.S. Lewis

Recommended: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson (inspires heroic virtue) 

TEXT GHC to 444999 for a book list (and to be added to Sarah's encouragement emails)

3 - Relishing
- Spend more time with the kids.
- Have a "Just Because We Can" Day.
- You can skip something.
- Do the things you know your kids will remember. (Doing them once or twice is often enough for them to say, "Remember when we used to....".)
- The point is the connections made, NOT the learning.

Rest and Rigor? How do they work together?
Kern & Perrin say - Don't try to give your child a rigorous education. Rigor evokes the stiffness of death. Instead be diligent. Diligere (root word) = value highly, appreciate, prize, etc... So, not rigor, but diligence.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life." - Charlotte Mason

School is not about school.
Homeschool is not about school.
It's about pursuing wisdom. 
It's about becoming virtuous human beings.
It's about soul transformation. 
- Andrew Kern

I was really encouraged by this talk because these tweaks are things I can do and the perspective is one that I need.

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