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Thursday, May 10, 2007

The secret of education

My daughters and I discovered the secret of education (and life) in a very unusual place yesterday... a Newbery Award fiction book called From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

What an awesome book!

Rather than summarize what this incredible author said, I'll let E.L. Konigsburg speak for herself through the delightful character of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler...

"I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow."

I can give a hearty "Amen" to those words because I have tons of facts rattling around my brain thanks to two degrees and 16 years of studying just to pass tests. Now to be fair, I had some incredible teachers: my first grade teacher, two high school English teachers, and two amazing professors in college who taught me the same secret Mrs. Frankweiler was sharing with two children.

That secret of education being to let the words, facts, and lives of the people we read about touch us, fill us, and become something we experience.

As I've been homeschooling my girls and praying for them to love learning, I've found this secret about experiencing history, science, and all the other facets of education to be a goldmine of truth. When we let the people and time periods of history, the joy of discovery and science experiments, and the thrill of a good book become a part of us, then education is a treasure we'll carry with us throughout life.

Not so with a bunch of A's on a report card.

The secret of education is a great truth of life that my middle daughter summed up well, "The secret of my life, what Mrs. Frankweiler said about experiencing and feeling life and thinking about it, is how God made me."

Me too. I still cry when I read good books or when I experience acts of kindness from others. I ponder all sorts of things till they swell up inside and fill me, change me, grow me.

It sometimes hurts because all the good we experience with this honest openness is balanced by bad too. But like I told my girls, life's best "secret" is that in experiencing, truly feeling and thinking about what we read and live, that's where we meet God.

And experiencing Him is the best of life's gifts.


Meg said...

I loved that book, Amy, and I love the lesson you've drawn out of it for your girls. They're blessed to have a mom who's always pointing them to the Lord.

Amy Wallace said...

Thank you, Meg! Coming from a homeschooling mom I admire, your words really made my heart smile today.

Mary said...

Thanks for the book recommendation, we'll look for it...

And the rest of your post is why I homeschool. I want my girls' education to be more than textbooks that they won't remember. I love the Lifestyle of Learning framework, interest directed (not unschooling!) and living books. These things stay with you your whole life...

I can remember so many non-school things from my childhood...historical interests that I followed on my own for instance, while I remember very little of the facts I studied so hard to remember for tests.

Great post!

Mary A

Amy Wallace said...

Thanks, Mary!

It's books like these that remind me how much homeschooling fits our family~ getting to talk over big ideas and watching the mental gears fly into action. I love how my girls remember things that make them think and how they are starting to encourage each other to ponder big ideas as they play and act out the wonderful living books we get to read together.

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