Friday, January 23, 2015

How to shape a soul?

Some days I can't believe I get to do this every day- read books like it's my job. 

The more I learn about Classical education, the more I believe in it. Classical education is about soul formation. It is the cultivation of virtue.

How does one cultivate virtue in a child? How to shape a soul? Through story. By reading good books.

It is so simple and so glorious. This resonates deeply with me as books are what feed me. I have been saved over and over by just the right book at just the right time, and the chance to pass this on to my kids- to provide them with the space and time to hear stories and talk about stories, for their days to be shaped by story- this is the greatest gift I can imagine. For the kids and me.

I try to think of the priorities of our homeschool day as two or three big rocks, and the rest are the smaller things which find a way to settle around the edges. The biggest rock is to read aloud. Reading aloud bookends our day- morning and evening, and is woven throughout our day. I have needed to learn and re-learn and learn again, to keep this our top priority. It feels good to zoom through the text books, checking off our lists- and that happens as well- but reading aloud is the most important. Even if nothing else is accomplished, if we have read, it is enough.

Jesus taught in parables, because the deepest truths are recognized through story. All of history is a story, our lives are a story, and the ability to find ones self within a greater narrative is, I believe, the way to live a virtuous life. 

I can tell you so many ways I fail as a mother. I'm not very strict, I've never been good at making rules or enforcing rules. I had this problem of being quite madly in love with my babies and also a personality which is very flexible and go with the flow, I'm not very authoritative by nature. I see so many moms who seem to have this thing nailed down, who can run a tight ship and I feel so far from that in many ways. 

I say this very humbly.

Ah, but books. I may have failed in a thousand ways, and will fail, but I know that I have read to my children. Maybe this is the only thing I do well. 


Something that has re-inspired me recently is Sarah Mackenzie's conversation with Sarah Clarkson, adult daughter of Sally Clarkson, in this podcast: On Living a Storyformed Life.  To hear an adult (and student at Oxford) speak so positively and eloquently of her homeschool experience- and being raised on and formed by books- is truly inspiring!


Cami said...

I love this post. I don't read aloud to my kids nearly enough. By the time they get home from school I feel like we rush through their math homework, practicing their math facts and sitting with them while they read their 20 minutes of reading. What a beautiful thing it is to do exactly what you are doing!! Reading aloud is my favorite thing about our summer days!

Danielle said...

I love this post and that podcast. So great to have Sarah Clarkson on!