By August 17th I still had not begun to plan. With the help of a chit chat with Ashley Woleben of Between the Linens, I made a list of what I wanted my kids to engage in this year. My list included things like: watercolor, Gospel reading with commonplace book, memorize poetry, art and music appreciation with the masters, Church history, memorize a Psalm or two, memorize some Gospel passages, memorize a few hymns, learn some Saints lives, know some Latin and Greek, know some stories from the countries of the world, hear some nature lore, hear and read some great pieces of literature, learn some Orthodox doctrine, learn and memorize some Shakespeare, know some of Plutarch’s Lives, experience some close reading, know some Roman history, begin a Book of Centuries, nature walks, and close nature observation with a microscope. This was my list on TOP of the subjects I obligated myself to by enrolling my middle school kids in Classical Conversations Challenge A. Now, how was I going to schedule all of this and keep it scholé? I was frozen.
Two weeks later we had our first Classical Conversations Challenge A community meeting. At 8:15 AM, Latin was first. After the Latin strand I was like, “AWESOME! This is what I’m talking about. I love this!” Then came Geography and I was like, “Oh, I’m getting tired…Press on.” Then came Lost Tools of Writing and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to collapse, die even!” Then I got called out to work. Very much relieved for the break from heavy duty lesson engagement, I left to go on some deliveries. I got back in time to pick up the kids at 3:30. They were spent, beyond drained, even pale and my daughter was already panicking that she wouldn’t be able to get all the homework done. I reassured the kids that I was the teacher and that I was going to modify the lessons to suit our homeschool goals. We got back to the shop and my son was really grumpy. He was embarrassed that he gave the teacher a rude comment in class about the homework. I called him out to the lawn in front of our print shop to talk to him. He was all grumpy faced and defensive. I asked him, “Tell me the truth, what did you think?” He said something to the effect of, “Do you really want to know what I think?” (Is he my kid or what?) I reassured him that I really wanted to know what he thought. He told me, “I think they ruthlessly pile on the work.” Ouch! That hurt because I’ve been on this quest for scholé all spring and summer and that was not the description I had in mind when seeking after scholé, and I had my own list of subjects to “ruthlessly” pile on. I reassured him that we were all about restful learning and that I would figure this out. He was happy, but I was secretly concerned.
My first implementation of scholé at home was to attend the Nativity of the Theotokos church service, instead of CC community day. Instead of the 6 strands of subjects we would worship God and take communion, and celebrate the birth of the Mother of God. That seemed like the epitome of scholé, attending Divine Liturgy. Our first day of official scholé learning looked something like this: at 9:00 we had morning Together Time: nature walk, watercolor technique, read and commonplace the Gospel for the day. We dug into our Latin for about 20 minutes. Next, I taught the kids how to do a graphite rubbing and we transferred the Canada map from the guide onto nice drawing paper. (This method was inspired by a post I saw on Facebook of the maps students used to make in the 1800’s, very detailed and very beautiful.) Then I had the children get out their planners and write down everything else they had to do for the day: Math, Lost Tools of Writing, Science Research, and Reading. Again, I was secretly concerned.
For the rest of the day and on Saturday I couldn’t stop thinking about the uphill battle this would be to make the Challenge program, plus all the things I wanted to cover with the kids work in a scholé way. I was feeling extremely pressured and full of anxiety. Friday night I had a talk with my husband, Saturday afternoon I went to Flaming Geyser State Park to think next to the running river. In the evening I had confession and a talk with my priest, and after that I decided I should unenroll the kids from the Challenge program. After Divine Liturgy on Sunday I spent the afternoon drafting the letter to our Director. In my vain imagination I thought I could do everything: a rich Together Time with 20+ subjects, customize the Challenge program to our needs, run a business and the usual life responsibilities, and keep it restful. After some sober thought I realized that I didn’t have peaceful and restful learning at the top of my priorities, and after everything I learned this spring and summer I was slipping into doing the opposite. I realized that what I really wanted when I wrote out my wish list resembled more of a Charlotte Mason education. Once I began to realize this, my thoughts became clearer and the vision of scholé at home came into focus. I decided we were going to follow the Charlotte Mason method.
In the middle of the scholé data input whirlwind I asked my oldest daughter what her favorite book from her homeschool years was. She said one really stood out, and it was Granny’s Wonderful Chair. That was the book I used for dictation the year we used the Charlotte Mason method, 8 years ago! After all these years I found myself back again with Charlotte Mason and her beautiful method full of truth, goodness, and beauty.
I’m tempted to second guess and feel anxiety about this decision, but instead I remember something that Fr. John, my priest, shared at the Homeschooling from Rest retreat. He said that when we find ourselves full of anxiety, give thanks. So, that is what I’m going to do. Even though it was a tough lesson, I thank God that I enrolled and then unenrolled in CC. I’m thankful that our CC Director was so gracious and kind in her interactions with me during all my angst. Interacting with her has been a truly human experience. I thank God that I have this time with my children to dine on the feast of learning ahead of us. I thank God for my husband and his support. I’m thankful for my children’s gracious responses and their understanding as we journey toward scholé. I thank God for all of the wonderful educators I’ve engaged with this spring and summer in my whirlwind of scholé data input. I’m thankful for Sarah Mackenzie and that she wrote Teaching from Rest, and that Classical Academic Press made it available to all of us. I’m thankful for the mom who left a copy on the giveaway table at CC Burien so that I could pick it up, read it, and be led on a journey to scholé. I’m thankful for my friend Lynn, who is my favorite person to jump homeschool ideas off of, and she’s so practical and thinks of EVERYTHING! I’m thankful for the ladies who have shared and contended with me through the events I hosted. Most of all I thank the Holy Spirit that my children and my husband and I may be guided into all truth.
I plan on blogging my experience with scholé at home using the Charlotte Mason method. I welcome and hope for feedback and comments from my scholé sisters and brothers. Come on this journey with me. We may be using different methods and practices in our home, but we can learn from each other and be encouraged. We don’t have to feel lonely. We can do this together.
In my next post I will explain how I planned, scheduled, and organized our Charlotte Mason scholé at home lessons and materials.