When I read any of Charlotte Mason’s writings I often can only get through a page or two before I have to stop and digest. So many wise thoughts in such a small space.
Tonight she quotes to me from an earlier author, “Education is a matter of the spirit.” I stop, and think. So true. It’s too often that we look at our children’s education, at our own education as a matter of increasing one’s money making potential. But there is so much more to it.
If we believe that every person is a perfectly made creation of God then we must also know that we are more than the sum total of our earning potential. God made us, each and every one, to live that abundant life that he came to provide. There is so much more to life than our career paths. Life is loving, knowing, experiencing.
Education therefore must address those deep heart issues and not just our external selves. Miss Mason likens it to trying to nourish hungry and growing bodies by smearing food on the outside, applying a compress so to speak and hoping that all of the vital essence will be absorbed.
If we limit our learning to that which prepares us for a job then we miss a vital part of the training for living. We also set our children up for a life of finding worth in these cosmetic features: grades, skills, jobs, earnings, “success”.
When I think of this practically, with my own little tribe, I think of what my goals are for my students. Yes, I hope that by the end of their days of tutelage under my direction that they will be fluent in many subject areas, that they will be well spoken and be able to think rationally and reason logically. I also hope that they will become adults of great virtue, that they will walk closely with the Lord and that they will bless all who they come into contact with.
In the short term I fail though. I plan geography lessons, grammar lessons and I read to them great literature but am I making goals for their moral and spiritual upbringing? Too often these intangibles are pie in the sky hopes but something I don’t make a part of our curriculum.
If I am going to take seriously the deeply spiritual nature of education then I need to make it my goal to teach my children attention by letting their baby sister wander through our classroom when it is inconvenient. I need to plan to allow them to regularly clean their rooms and participate in chores so that they will learn to choose right attitudes that come from practice at doing things that they need to do but would rather not do. I must set aside time for them to help people outside of our family so that they can learn to value hospitality and charity. I have to give them time daily to quietly reflect, to rest, to read, to pray.
Education is matter of the spirit and as such it must be much more than a set of lesson plans and timetables. Education must be a full out seeking to know God.
Wishing you an abundant education your whole life through,