Ambling Onward in Education

I should probably tell you from the start that this is another one of those The Blog Is Changing posts, but perhaps in an even bigger way than usual.

As Iva continues to grow and culture continues to degenerate, I’ve been thinking a lot about education. I believe many of us in Western society have our reasonable doubts that the current system of education is the best we can offer, whether or not that leads us to pursue alternative methods of education for our children (or ourselves).

If you’ve known me for some time, you know that I was public schooled from kindergarten through fifth grade, and then homeschooled from sixth grade onward because I was not able to get the help I needed to learn effectively. But with the end of my parents’ marriage in that same year came a lot of changes, as you might imagine, including the derailing (or disintegration, honestly) of my education. We continued to homeschool since I was struggling emotionally with some things that would have been exacerbated in a public school setting; but even after a complete overhaul of my schooling in my high school years, there were a lot of gaps left in my learning by the time I received my diploma. This isn’t to say that there is something wrong with homeschooling, as many people also graduate from public and private school lacking some essential knowledge. All in all, my family did the best in could in light of the circumstances, and for me it turned out better overall than might be expected. I could write quite well and do basic math, and was not (at least anymore) a total rascal of a teenager.

Since I had to go to college but was aware that I lacked both skill and interest in most subjects other than reading and writing, I spent four years earning a degree in English language and literature. Tragically, all but one or two of my classes were infamous 8-week cram courses in which there was rarely time to finish, let alone master, all the texts I was meant to study. I came away feeling a little shell-shocked and even embarrassed at how I could barely remember five of the pieces of literature I studied in those four years, especially considering that I was now over 10,000 dollars in debt for that “education.”

Needless to say, in conversations since then I’ve either expressed or demonstrated that while I am fairly intelligent (from what I’ve been told) I am also fairly ignorant in some major subjects.

Then I got pregnant with our first child a month after graduating from college, and my brain switched gears from student mode to mom mode. But I kept a box of blank notebooks and school supplies in our closet for almost two years anyway. It was really painful to finally declutter its contents this past summer and acknowledge all of the above sentiments to myself, knowing that I wished I could go back and re-do it all in a better way. I’m sure many of us have this perspective of our own education. And for many of us it’s the driving force behind both our Hows and Whys of our children’s educations, too.

The reality is that I can’t go back and re-do anything. I can’t even access my online courses anymore, including 95% of the hundreds and hundreds of papers I wrote on topics and books that are completely foreign to me now.

But as I’ve been reading about the philosophies of a notable nineteenth-century educator named Charlotte Mason, I’ve realized how much I crave to be a learner again, even if I can’t be a student. I sometimes don’t even have enough pockets of time in the day to finish my meals or use the restroom, let alone reliable stretches where I can sit and study anything. That’s just the natural chaos of this current season of life (the one where all of your children are helpless and can’t speak any language fluently). Now is not the time for me to be a student, but it does not necessarily follow that I can’t be a learner until the next five or so years have passed.

So here’s my plan, then:

  1. Start a master reading list of “living books” with the help of various Charlotte Mason curriculums (particularly in the subjects of literature, history, and science).
  2. Read the books, however and whenever I can
  3. Use the relaxed Mason-ian method of “narrating” what I have read, either to my husband, a friend, or in writing (some of which will be published in blog posts)
  4. Continue exploring nature with my kids, and potentially start my own nature notebook – another major component of a Charlotte Mason education that I think is both beautiful and brilliant

Knowing that there must be others out there who have similar feelings or backgrounds, I do fully intend to blog about this experience going forward in the hopes that I can inspire more mamas to begin thinking of themselves as learners along with their children. It may even produce its own separate blogging sphere from this one, though I have to say that this will mean I am even less active on this current blog. The truth is, the content I used to publish here is just not sustainable at this stage of my life. I am not the best source out there for theological information and cultural analysis, at least in the way that I used to want to be; and further, a public blog is not the most appropriate platform for any family updates other than the repetitive surface-level ones. It was all a good idea, but the roles I wanted to fill are meant for other people, at least for now. Part of my new journey of learning is learning to be okay with that reality. I hope you will be, too. And I hope you’ll follow me on this new adventure if it’s something that speaks to you.

Until next time, and until I have more to share,

Jessica

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s