The Good, True and Beautiful
I'm rereading A Charlotte Mason Companion, having recently repurchased it. I loaned it out to a friend years ago, and have missed it since. In chapter four, Karen Andreola shares this poem called The Book Our Mothers Read by John Greenleaf Whittier.
Looking back upon our homeschooling years, I'm grateful that I found a gentle philosophy of schooling that emphasized the good, true and beautiful. This foundation has made a world of difference. And even though I struggle through these adolescent years, I know that the time I spent reading the Bible and beautiful stories to my children formed them into the people they are today.
I do find this season of home educating with a middle schooler and high schoolers to be unsatisfying in many ways. I am met with resistance on just about everything. My ideals are suffering. If I had my way, we would still be doing read alouds, art and music studies, nature walks, the whole of it. But how much of that is my own unwillingness to accept the stage we are now in? I know other moms manage to keep these sorts of activities alive in their homeschools. I see an empty nest looming closer and closer; to my children the days and years are long, and they're not thinking about that countdown ticking off every day. I see missed opportunities for imparting wisdom, bonding, making memories - they are in that stage of becoming individuals who don't necessarily want to hang around mom's apron strings - which means they're on their phone or playing games with their friends.
I feel like we (homeschooling moms) don't talk about this sort of thing enough. Our children look like us, but they aren't us. The things that bring us joy might not be of interest to them. I do try to find some things that we can appreciate together; a cup of hot tea, a trip to the thrift store. But the teenage years are mostly parents pouring themselves into support of their growing young adult, putting in the time of listening to what interests them, and helping facilitate growth in those areas. They have their own ideas, and we need to respect that, while also encouraging them in what the scriptures teach. We start when they are young, and never let up on bringing it back to the Truth.
Karen writes, "Like theologians before and after her, Charlotte (Mason) held to the fact that all truth 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 is that personal knowledge of, and intimacy with, God, in which our being finds its fullest perfections."
Even though we might not study artists or read living books often these days, I know that I have laid out the table of good, true and beautiful in our home, and they will look back on those days just as the poet Whittier did.