Over the past couple of years I have been enjoying learning more about more about the classical model from great thinkers like Christopher Perrin (Classical Academic Press) and Andrew Kern (CiRCE Institute). They talk about how we are re-discovering classical education. I love that because it shows how we are all still learning. No one fully understands the classical model, but we are becoming better people by the discovery process.
Last year I was honored to be asked to speak to a group of local homeschool moms (ladies from the surrounding Classical Conversations campuses) on the topic of restful learning (scholé). I want to share with you what I shared with them. I hope it will be an encouragement to you just as I hope it was an encouragement to them.
Restful Learning in the Homeschool
When someone asks you what classical education is, do you have a good, quick answer? I have always had such a hard time with that seemingly simple question. I usually jumble my words getting something out about the trivium, reading good books, and studying history chronologically.
Then, as I began listening to lectures from people like Christopher Perrin and Andrew Kern, I started hearing a definition that was different than anything I would have come up with. Here is the definition of Christian classical education from the CiRCE Institute website:
Christian classical education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty by the means of the seven liberal arts and four sciences, so that in Christ, the student is enabled to better know, glorify, and enjoy God.
Wow, isn't that beautiful? Go ahead and read it again =)
The more I have been learning, the more I have been hearing about contemplating truth, goodness, and beauty, and how that is an integral part of a classical education. That is the part of the definition that I want to talk about today.
When I think about contemplating truth, goodness, and beauty, my mind turns to Philippians 4:8.
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. (ESV)
Did you notice all the things that we are exhorted to set our minds on? Things that are:
TRUE - NOBLE - RIGHT - PURE - LOVELY - ADMIRABLE - EXCELLENT - PRAISEWORTHY
The Bible tells us to think about these things. In other words, contemplate. Philippians 4:8 tells us to contemplate truth, goodness, and beauty!
So what does this have to do with scholé?
First of all, if you do not already know, scholé is a Greek word meaning 'restful learning.' We actually get our English word 'school' from this word. It is interesting how far we have come from the original definition! If we are going to rediscover classical education, we are going to need to redeem the original meaning of school...scholé...restful learning.
Now, this is not to say that we should move school time to the bed and do all of our work laying down! The point, and my challenge to you, is to make sure that we leave room in our days for contemplation, for restful learning.
Dr. Perrin says that the first step is to surround ourselves with truth, goodness, and beauty. Think back to the garden of Eden. God is truth, right? He created each thing and said that it was good. No doubt this garden was beautiful! Do you see where I'm going with this? God created us to respond to this truth, goodness, and beauty.
When we surround ourselves with truth, goodness, and beauty, our soul will be at rest, and our response should be to glorify God. Isn't that what we want? Isn't that what we desire from our children?
I was listening to Andrew Kern talk about teaching from a state of rest and he encouraged his listeners to really think about exactly who they are educating. His answer was that we are educating images. Images in the sense that our children are going to reflect what we put in from of them.
With that in mind, make sure that you are putting truth, goodness, and beauty in front of your children. Truth, goodness, and beauty in our homes, in the media we expose our children to, in the books we read, in the memory work we recite, and in anything else you can think of!
Is it true? Is it lovely? Is it noble? These things cultivate wisdom and virtue, and bring glory to God.