joy! i want it back

i’ve been reading around in Classical Christian Education again.

i know, i know!

there’s something of a trend to lament the poor education that you, the parent, received.  to work hard learning Latin or reading Homer or whatever *hard* thing you don’t want to do, but feel you must.  words like rigorous are very important.  we set the example of working really hard at things that are no fun, so that our kids will work really hard at things that are no fun.

now, i’m all for rigor, discipline, hard work, focus.  but this vision of education seems anemic.

the example i want to set is of a woman fully engaged in her life.  a woman who is living with her eyes + ears open.  a woman who knows how to learn.  it’s the joy that’s missing from most of our education.

Lori at Project-Based Homeschooling describes a learner as someone who is “curious, interested and willing to playfully explore.”  that’s what i want to model for my children….and we’re reading the hard books too!


  1. “the example i want to set is of a woman fully engaged in her life. a woman who is living with her eyes + ears open. a woman who knows how to learn. it’s the joy that’s missing from most of our education.”

    <3 <3 <3

    when people use “rigorous” as a stick to beat us with, i think they fail to understand that children will learn *rigorously* when they are really engaged and interested. why work SO hard to do work that doesn’t interest them and that they don’t enjoy — will they remember it? use it? and how will it affect their long-term feelings about learning? — when you could so *easily* help them do the things they *want* to do?

  2. Well said. Joy is key. To me, it seems even the hard things are enjoyable because we are interested and pursuing them together.

  3. This reminds me of something John Holt said in “How Children Fail.” I found this quoted in “Homeschooling with Gentleness” and have seen the same thought echoed elsewhere. He wrote
    So many people say to me, “If we didn’t make children do things, they wouldn’t do anything.” Even worse they say, “If I weren’t made to do things, I wouldn’t do anything”

    It is the creed of a slave.
    That REALLY hit me.
    A slave must be forced to do things for no reason other than that the master says it should be done. When our kids were in public school, they were quite literally enslaved to their systems – what kind of pen to use, how many pages to write, the proper way to show your work, when to start, when to stop … even when to eat and when to pee.

    I want our kids to have the opportunity to be more than a little bee in a big hive making nothing of value. The purpose of most mass education is to tame kids into the hive life by convincing them that the experts know what’s best for them and training them to respond to bells and rewards. I cannot do that to another human being, much less my own children!

    Meanwhile, We have PLENTY of room to learn hard things and do rigorous things in our family. Chores are a great example!! They do sometimes elicit the same level of complaint as Shakespeare used to!! Learning how to get along in a big family is another. Seriously, this is a MAJOR thing!! Learning an instrument or sports skills ALSO qualifies. So does learning from failure. Or managing money or a jillion other real life skills that are never taught via compulsory education.

    This has SO MUCH more meaning than reading a “hard” book. My older kids’ love for reading was completely obliterated by the idea of doing “rigorous” work – having to slog through something completely irrelevant because it’s part of the “classics.” That is a very high price to pay as a person. I heard this mentioned in a talk and looked it up later but more than 40% of college grads never read another book again after they have completed their studies. Do think school totally wrecked reading for them too?? Looks that way!

    By the way, we’re not reading anything very rigorous in our house right now but we read a wide variety of things and gain information in a wide variety of ways. I know that this will launch our kids into life with the confidence to pursue things that matter to them … and hopefully matter PERIOD. The “classics”? Maybe when I’m 94 and can’t fall asleep or something.

Comments are closed.