Sunday, September 18, 2011

Intensifying of Perception

Maybe I should choose another title for the post in case it sounds like I'm talking about drugs rather than about heading into the second half of life and the final decade of homeschooling my kids.  Oh, well, it fits what I'm talking about and it's from the quote, if you can find it ; ).
When you are getting on in years (but not ill, of course), you get very sleepy at times, and the hours seem to pass like lazy cattle moving across a landscape. It was like that for Chips as the autumn term progressed and the days shortened till it was actually dark enough to light the gas before call-over.....When you are getting on in years it is nice to sit by the fire and drink a cup of tea and listen to the school bell sounding dinner, call-over, prep, and lights-out. Chips always wound up the clock after that last bell; then he put the wire guard in front of the fire, turned out the gas, and carried a detective novel to bed. Rarely did he read more than a page of it before sleep came swiftly and peacefully, more like a mystic intensifying of perception than any changeful entrance into another world.  -- James Hilton, Goodbye Mr Chips
 In between trying to plan for this coming year, I am browsing, and I found this Aquinas Learning site.    I am thinking it is related to the one that Faith at Strewing:  Unschooling Resources has been talking about.    Anyway, I liked this quote:

“Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.”

I think I've been homeschooling for almost 18 years now.   The three children I am homeschooling now were none of them born when I started the venture.  There is that Goodbye Mr Chips feeling of the passage of time, as my first third grader (we started homeschooling when my oldest was a 3rd grader) is now out earning a living, and my present 3rd grader is my seventh child.     I'm not up to the half century career yet, of course, but I am approaching the 1/5 century marker, and I still have (I trust) a decade to go.    Who knows what that next decade will bring?

Some things stay the same but other things change.  Every new school year reminds me of past years but can't be taken just as a recollection of the past.   It has to be looked at for itself, just as each upcoming third grader has to be looked at as a person in his (usually his) own right.   My goals haven't changed, but how they are worked out is influenced by the characteristics of the kids, the circumstances of our life, and by my own capacities and limitations.

The "mystical intensifying of perception" that Mr Chips experiences in his elder years --intensive, in grammar, refers to reiternation, and maybe older people gain in iteration of meaning what they lose in freshness of perception?   I am not old yet, but I'm starting to feel like I'm in the early autumn of life, and everything that happens seems to be somewhat of an echo of things that have happened before, like a theme with variations.    It lends a sort of richness. 

 Since we are having an "exploring year" this year, where we are doing things less conventionally and less according to state standards, less efficiently and more poetically, I went looking for my old post Setting Their Feet in a Spacious Place.    I wanted to remind myself of the things that go beyond scope and sequences and add up to what seems to me like the heart of what we try to do on a daily basis around here.   When I neglect one or more of these areas for long, I start feeling like a guilty shadow of myself, even if everything seems fine on the surface.    They are like the foundation.   I should make it a habit to reread them every month or so to remind me.

In summary form they are:
  1. Pray with them and for them
  2. Read to them and with them
  3. Talk to them
  4. Go out with them
  5. Work for them and with them
  6. Play with them and let them play
  7. Guide them through experiences and opportunities
If you look at it that way, these are all ways of combining the new and the old. .... the older and the newer folk meeting on somewhat common ground from different sides.   A lot of this is what is missing in modern life, where the younger and older barely intersect except in the briefest and most formulaic ways.  

By the way:  

Susan at High Desert Home, a few years back, wrote a series of posts on An Inspiring Home for Learning (I'm sending you to a post on my old blog where I indexed them, since I couldn't find a place where she had them all listed).    Susan does not blog at High Desert Home anymore, but she has a new blog called My Summer Notebook.  I found it through Meredith.  ... so thank you, Meredith, because reading through the blog was like a homeschooler's retreat for me.    She writes about her experience doing an unschooling/relaxed CM type of home education with her four children who are now grown.

1 comment:

  1. I love your Mr. Chips musings! I know what you mean. . . everything that happens seeming to be an echo of things that have happened before, the seeming variations on the themes that add richness to our lives as we grow older. I also love your list of seven things.


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