I came to our school room this Sunday evening to make sure that I have all the materials ready for this week of school. When I walked into the room, I felt some of my energy drain just thinking of the character shaping that will happen here tomorrow (of my students and of me). As I sat down to collect my thoughts, I felt uninspired. I already have my lessons planned and the material is no longer new to me. My thoughts revealed a mindset that will limit my growth and that of my students if I do not replace it.
I began reflecting on the many times I have admonished my students to "finish well." To finish an arithmetic problem correctly, not just to begin the attempt. To complete a passage of transcription with beautiful and accurate handwriting. To reproduce an artist's masterpiece down to the last detail.
I am finding that I need to hear my own admonition tonight. We are in the home stretch of this school year (although the finish line is not quite in site). We are starting to make plans for summer even (ok, a little early, but we are). I am even starting to enthusiastically anticipate what the scope of school work will be for next year. My mind seems to be on times other than now. Is it because we are coming to the end of the biography of Abigail Adams and I think I know the end already (uh, America)? Is it because we just found out what happened with the Pepper family for read-aloud and are moving on to Shakespeare (plays to which I have been exposed)? I suspect that I have a bit of a sense of coasting, "been there, done that" in my mind tonight. My lessons are planned, the end of the year is in sight, let's move on.
But WAIT! Checking a box (finishing a book or a lesson) does not mean that growth has taken place. It does not mean I have finished well. The year-end is in sight, but the ideas yet to come have not been assimilated. Not to mention that my students haven't "been there, done that" - it is all totally new to them. And I may know the outcomes and have my lessons planned, but have I taken the ideas that are still to be revealed in each subject to a level of deep knowing (assimilation) where it has changed my thinking or beliefs or actions (Charlotte Mason's true test of education)? Have my students? Am I really finished with growing in our home school (Charlotte Mason's definition of education)? Are my students? The questions are laughable. Of course not!
What I really need to do in our school room tonight is to pray for my students, for me as their intrepid (though needing to be admonished) guide and to plead with the Holy Spirit one more time to teach us, to inhabit this space in a conscious way, to speak peace over our hearts enabling us to serve and to defer to one another, to open up the mysteries of arithmetic, nature, grammar, and all of His beautiful world, to enable us to have teachable, inspired hearts...to enable us to finish well.