Sometimes a vacation is needed to put a jumble of thoughts into focus! At least, this mini vacation to Island Park and Yellowstone served such a purpose for me. Maybe it was the change of scenery or that I’d brought along all of my camera equipment and was in full photographer mode.
Over this summer I reflected on the reasons why we homeschool. I am not one of those homeschool mamas who evaluates whether or not to continue homeschooling year by year. I have too many issues with public education and I value my time too much with my son, especially now that he’s a teenager and has started his high school years. My time with him is priceless.
I am a passionate homeschooler and I have at least one hundred and one reasons why I homeschool my son, but I’ve been trying to pin down my BIG reason which encompasses all the little reasons.
If you remember my quote from my not-back-to-school post, I mentioned engaging my son’s heart, soul and mind, something my public school education rarely did for me. Most of the time I felt like I was just herded along for the ride. In fact, I often felt out of breath at school, figuratively speaking of course, just trying to keep up with all the busyness and demands on my time and energy. I do have one memory of a time when my heart, soul and mind engaged at school: Once, my middle school teacher walked into typing class, but instead of instructing us through another typing lesson, he sat on top of his desk, looked at each and every one of us, and spoke to us directly from his heart.
His next door neighbor had just committed suicide. If I remember the story correctly, she was a young mother suffering from severe depression. She phoned her husband at work one day and told him she couldn’t take her life anymore. Before he made it home, she had shot herself. My teacher wanted me and my peers to know that if we ever suffered from depression we should seek out help because life is always worth living. Someone needs us and each life has immense worth. I have never forgotten that one class, nor that teacher for taking the time to place my heart, soul and mind above my typing speed and accuracy.
Looking back on my school years, I don’t remember much of what I learned. I guess some of that is to be expected, but what if there is a more meaningful way? What if the heart, soul and mind could engage in the process? What if all this learning could actually mean something more than just dates and facts for a test or making it to the next grade level?
Today I was thinking about all the little details I had intentionally photographed in Island Park and Yellowstone National Park, such as the little caterpillar who didn’t even make it into the lake photo. As lovely as the view of the lake was to look at, the caterpillar was so lively and fun to watch and I would’ve missed him if Marcus had not pointed him out to me. I only saw the lake at first.
Looking at my photos, I realized I often started photographing each of the fascinating aspects of something, such as a the ground around a geyser, before taking a picture of the entire scene which gives the context, even though both were equally cool. Sometimes we call the entire scene “the big picture”. Could it be our school system focuses too much on the big picture? Even then it’s a big picture someone else decided for us, someone who doesn’t care much about the heart and soul elements, which is why they are seldom –if ever– involved in the learning process. (At least this has been our family’s experiences with public education.)
I want my son to make connections when he learns. I want him to connect his learning in meaningful ways to his life. I believe this happens when there is unrushed time for the little details of the big picture to touch his heart as his mind processes them. This in turn refreshes his soul because the learning goes deeper, it actually means something. That’s when those light bulb moments occur that homeschooling moms love to witness first hand. This kind of learning takes root and best of all, the learner grows as he makes connections.
Two years ago Marcus studied Joan of Arc. He learned of her childhood and other details of her life. He was able to see her as more than just a historical figure. He saw her as a courageous young woman who truly believed she had a cause worth defending. She actually performed some amazing feats. It was as if a greater power was with her and this was her mission in life. Maybe one day when Marcus’ beliefs are tested, he will remember Joan of Arc.
♥ And so this is the all-encompassing reason I homeschool my son- to engage his heart, soul and mind so that he connects his learning to his life. In this way, I’m sure his big picture will turn out to be a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. ♥