In a recent article in Memoria Press, Susan Wise Bauer sets forth some powerful arguments to “stop cleaning and start reading.” The premise makes one chuckle, but the truths it raises bear some serious consideration. It is important for Mommies to read and study. Whether we home-educate or not, we are responsible for training our next generation. That is a hefty responsibility for Mommies to shoulder, and bears careful consideration. Daily, I feel unequal to the task. Particularly as my children grow older – and the conversations become deeper – the well from which I draw must be running fresh with great ideas, clear thoughts, and crisp principles. I am constantly reading and studying to maintain perspective and to offer a living example of what I endeavor to teach: wisdom comes from life-long learning of ‘s Ways. I cannot over-state the importance of self-education in the role of training my children.
The author of the above-mentioned article gives her recommended reading. It is all well and good. I appreciate her list and am personally challenged by it. However, I take everything written by Bauer with a huge grain of salt (she is what I term a humanistic homeschooler; more on that some other time). Here is a sampling of my own reading. I don’t follow a particular plan, per se. But I try to be both balanced and timely. What do I need? What would God have me fill my mind with now? What knowledge, understanding, or wisdom am I lacking? What am I struggling with in my teaching or training? These questions hound me; I rarely walk aimlessly through a bookstore, but constantly have lists of books I “need” or topics I “must study” NOW!
1. The Bible.
I must read it daily, several times a day. God’s Word must fill my mind, becoming my meditation throughout my life, consuming my actions and my words. My private time with God in the early morning is not enough – I run to His Word throughout the day for hope, encouragement, answers, examples, and strength. The Holy Scriptures provide all I need for all I need. I have a Scofield Reference Bible that I have cherished for over over 20 years.
I read books constantly on God, His Word, and His Doctrines. Comparing the written books carefully with His Word help to insure I am believing only what God says, not man. Reading expositions of such truths challenge my thinking and actions to grow my faith and strengthen my walk. I am currently studying from The Holiest of All by Andrew Murray, a study on the book of Hebrews.
The lives of men and women who have lived before give perspective on my own little existence. I am not the end of the world, nor am I the only one who has faced difficulty or joy. It is imperative to see beyond my own pond to the larger sea of life and the scope of God’s plan for mankind, how He uses us each for His Own Glory. The account of those who have lived another time also give perspective to the historical era in which they lived, making history “come alive” in ways I never imagined. I recently finished a biography of Abigail Adams that hugely impacted my perspective on family life and womanhood.
I have recently realized that my children’s education requires more time and study on my behalf. Not just “lesson plan” preparation, but true knowledge and understanding on my part to have the thought-provoking, soul-touching conversations that lead to biblical wisdom. This is the Proverbs 1 and 2 picture of home-education for which I strive (again, more on that later), so I need to prepare more to engage these young minds. To that end, I have renewed my efforts to study on academic subjects ahead of my children, so as to deepen my well of knowledge from which we may later draw. I just finished reading The Adventure of English:The Autobiography of a Language by Melvyn Bragg (highly recommend for all Mommies, but because it deals briefly with the origin of curse words and obscenities in a matter-of-fact way, I call this one “not for children”). I am currently reading One Hundred Essential Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know: Math Explains Your World (Yes, that is the title) by John D. Barrow. The latter is very difficult subject matter for me at times; I am compiling a list of theoretical physics questions to discuss with my father as I read.
5. Home education.
I need to take the education of my children seriously. I think people who meet me “on the street” think I am laid-back about their schooling because of the answers I give to the common questions: “No, I don’t use a typical curriculum; I pick and choose books.” “No, we don’t have a yearly schedule. There is no first day of school.” “No, we don’t test. Actually, my two middle children have never taken a test or received a grade of any kind ever.” “No, my children don’t keep records. No, I don’t think that will ever be a problem.” But I read and study constantly for real learning, because that is what we are about, not those false trappings of education. Part of that is reading the encouraging and informative publications from those who are doing the same (keeping in mind I don’t need to be just like them!). The above mentioned article came from just one such (FREE!) publication. One great book I am reading through is Teaching the Trivium:Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn.
Reading and studying for my own betterment is one of the most important steps I can take to increase the quality of my children’s education.
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning;
And a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels,
To understand a proverb and the interpretation,
The words of the wise and their dark sayings.
My son, hear the instruction of thy father,
And forsake not the law of thy mother.
~ Proverbs 1What are you reading?