When the Positive Adoption team decided to focus on the topic of education for the next few months, my mind immediately drifted to schools, children, apples, pencils, backpacks, libraries, homeschooling (because that’s what I do) and then I got out some of the books I have read, marked up, written in and I started writing/studying in another direction. I love studying. I know, I’m weird. I love research. Mostly the sort when I can mark up a book. I self-educate. I can credit my parents with introducing the habit. It began years ago, when I had a question and there was no google, just books.
My step-father, Bud was famous for his stack of reference materials and the time he spent with a child when they had a question about life in general. When I asked, or my children in later years, asked him a question, there was an unwritten guarantee that you would be in his study for at least an hour looking information up in bulky books, the yellow oak floor, well worn by the chairs sliding back and forth between shelves of books.
What created this desire in me? What is education? And how did Bud (and other family members, including my dad who helped me in my homeschooling journey, but that’s a story for another post) ignite the love for learning? Does everyone have the ability to love learning? How do we impart this to our children?
Today, I want to focus on education as it pertains to adults. Most of you reading this post have had some form of schooling under your belt. You know how to read. You may have a college degree. You may have a high school degree or working on a master’s or doctorate. You may be tired of schooling.
I got into a bit of a slump mentally, recently. I couldn’t really put my finger on what was going on. I was feeling fine physically. Something was just off. It took me some praying, reading and thinking before I realized, I wasn’t eating enough healthy food when it came to my educational diet. You see, the truth is, we are eating, educationally as well as physically.
“Diet for the body is abundantly considered but no one pauses to say, “I wonder does the mind need food too, and regular meals and what is the proper diet?””- A Philosophy of Education, Charlotte Mason
What was I feeding my mind? Was I introducing new ideas? Or was I vegging on netflix, the modern junk food for the brain. I had briefly left behind my habit of feeding my mind a healthy diet and it left me feeling bloated and foggy.
“The mind of the prudent is ever getting knowledge, and the ear of the wise is ever seeking (inquiring for and craving) knowledge”- Proverbs 18:15
When I am used to eating junk food, that is what my body will crave. When I eat healthy food, I then begin to crave healthy food. Ever try to eat a piece of salmon after a steady diet of chocolate cake, chips, and candy? It tastes terrible. On the flip side, if you have been drinking green smoothies every morning for weeks and you try eating a donut instead, it may make you feel sick.
A few things I have learned about the habit of self-education.
When you begin the habit of self-education as an adult, let’s say you haven’t dusted off a decent work of literature for years or months, it will be hard. Education is a discipline. You may feel bored or as if you are sitting and staring at the words on the page. You may feel ignorant and want to give up. Don’t. Just don’t. One thing the body of Christ needs is intelligent, well-educated thinkers who can sort out ideas and decide whether they are true or not. If you are not a Christian, you still need to do the same and teach your children to do the same.
“Education is that process by which though is opened out of the soul, and associated with outward ….things, is reflected back upon itself, and thus made conscious of its reality and shape. It is Self-Realization….He who is seeking to know himself, should be ever seeking himself in external things, an by so doing he will be best able to find, and explore his inmost light.”- Bronson Alcott
You might feel in over your head. You may get angry. You may throw the book across the room when confronted with a new idea that doesn’t match your suppositions. It’s okay, education is a work. We feed on ideas. The goal of education is not simply to stuff facts in one’s head, but to understand them, to put them in place in your worldview. Are they true? Do they pan out with what you previously thought or do you need to do some rearranging in your current beliefs?
“A well-trained mind is the result of of application, not inborn genius.”- Isaac Watts
See the word “trained” in that sentence. Training implies work. Dedication to a particular task. Whether I am training my body to be in the habit of reading junk books (those that don’t teach me anything) or watching too many hours of television, I am still training. What do I get out of the junk diet? A flabby brain. I don’t want that, do you? I’m not saying never eat junk, I enjoy reading some things just for pleasure, but everything in my educational diet cannot be pleasure driven.
What does this have to do with the education of our children? Everything. Our children watch our every move. If I constantly am watching Netflix or on a tablet, they will follow suit. If I have a book in my hand, if I discuss ideas over dinner, if I talk about what I’m reading, they will pick up on it. You can’t raise intelligent children without working on your own intelligence first.
How do you start? If you aren’t a reader, if you haven’t been in the library since grade school, it’s better to start by small, baby bites of information.
Some of my favorites:
These are just a few of the books that got my brain gears turning.
“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”- Francis Bacon
Do you have a list of books that are good brain food?
Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday!