All Education Is Divine
If I’ve learned a thing or two about my fellow homeschool mother, it is that she is conscientious. And, she is not lazy. I admire her for this. It is possible, however, to be so very conscientious that we may sink under the weight of our responsibility.
There is no escaping the fact we educate in part to equip children to pass tests. We must prove to government authorities (or college entrances boards - eventually) that indeed our children are achieving. But this must be subordinate to “knowledge pursued for its own sake,” - to use a phrase of Miss Charlotte Mason.
With this aim knowledge becomes holistic. It is this broader view of knowledge that wonderfully goes into the making of the whole person.
What are the symptoms of a home teacher who is loosing sight of the bigger picture? She may be worrisome, over-worked or overwhelmed. In her efforts to be sure her children are learning she may test them on every page of every book they read. She may feel the need to explain away and away to make sure they get it. But children’s minds are naturally active when they are fed ideas. The mind grows into an understanding gradually with every idea it receives. Do you believe this? I do.
A mother may choose materials, arrange lessons, guide, emphasize, foster noble thoughts, instill habits, but knowledge does not come to her children by her efforts alone. When I first read the following paragraph by Charlotte Mason a little “worry spot” in my heart (that I was holding on to) vanished. It introduces a principle held by the PNEU. Don’t you think it provides an outlook on education like no other?
“This idea of all education springing from and resting upon our relation to Almighty God is one which we [PNEU] have ever labored to enforce. We take a very distinct stand upon this point. We do not merely give a religious education, because that would seem to imply the possibility of some other education, a secular education, for example. But we hold that all education is divine, that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above, that the Lord the Holy Spirit is the Supreme Educator of mankind, and that the culmination of all education (which may, at the same time, be reached by a little child) is that personal knowledge of and intimacy with God . . . We hold, in fact, that great conception of education held by the mediaeval Church." (Page 95 School Education)
This is why self-education in the home school works so well. And this, also, is why we can read a book that may not be written by someone professing to be a Christian and yet still glean some truth from it. Truth is truth no matter whose mouth speaks it. All truth originates from God.
To be awakened by this mediaeval conception of education, and then to trust in the influence of the Supreme Educator makes the home educator’s yoke easier and her burden lighter. She works in tandem. The Holy Spirit, in varying degrees, illuminates the minds of the writers of living books. Above all it is the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit that applies our reading to our hearts and minds.
In my book, A Charlotte Mason Companion, on page 75, I use a quote by Miss Mason to highlight the power of an idea. Sowing the seeds of an inspiring idea in the mind of a child is a positive component in child training.
“It is because we recognize the spiritual potency of the idea that we are able to bow reverently before the fact that God the Holy Spirit, is Himself the Supreme Educator, dealing with each of us in the things we call sacred and those secular. We lay ourselves open to the spiritual ideas, whether these be conveyed by the printed page, the human voice, or whether they reach us without visible sign.”
Knowledge cannot be poured into the head of a child like we pour milk into a glass. Knowledge is absorbed by “the person” of the child. He, like a morsel of bread, must soak up the milk. Our children will soak up ideas when dealing with living books, engaging their own minds with narration.
Therefore it is okay to give children leisure to think about their lessons. In an empty moment, a quiet or bored moment, they may reflect upon it. They may even act upon it.
Should we guide our students to:
Progress to a higher skill level?
Prepare for tests?
Create an interesting portfolio?
Yes, by all means. But let’s remember to keep the bigger picture in sight; knowledge pursued for its own sake - applied to our hearts and minds by the work of the Supreme Educator.
PNEU = Parents National Education Union
Discussion is invited
I think I polished this post more than I polished my house this week. The subject requires sensitivity. I did, however, make some meal-starters for the freezer. My daughter Sophia is scheduled for a C-section at the end of May and I’d like to be as much of a help as I can.
Anticipation is in the air.