“The question is not, ‘how much does the child know?’ when he has finished his education, but ‘how much does he care? And about how many orders of things does he care?” – Charlotte Mason
This was one of those mornings where it was hard to start our lessons. Not really because it was a bad day, actually it was quite the opposite. My boys were working on a project together, and working hard. My daughter was sitting with them quietly watching. I opened a window to let in some light, and their attention was all drawn to a beautiful red finch sitting just outside.
We ended up pushing our lessons back further to get outside and see how many more of our little singing neighbors we could find. Ah, this is perhaps the greatest joy of homeschooling- having the freedom to make each day our own.
But I found myself captured by this image of my children. All three of them gazing intently on something that captured their interests all on its own. This moment of interest led to a morning rich in discovery of the life cycles happening all around us. This sparked conversations about how much the Creator of these beautiful birds cares about them, and how much more He cares about us.
Giving Them More Than An Education
Ever since that morning, I’ve been pondering the quote from Charlotte Mason above. What would our schools look like if our goal was not simply to teach children to know, but to really care about the things which cross their paths. What if we took the hours we set aside to teach them, and instead of trying to make them know things, we spent that time helping them find the things in this world which they genuinely care about? If we asked ourselves “What in the world do I want my child to care about most by the time he is grown?”, would we still break their days down into subjects, worksheets and tests, or would we fill their days with ideas upon which they could build a foundation of learning, growing and caring?
Children Are Individuals
My children were born with different minds, bodies, hearts and souls. As uniquely created individuals, the things which they will grow up to care about will be as different and unique as they are. I have no power to make my children care about any one thing any more than I can make them remember the facts from their history books. And this is because I am not the One who formed their minds, therefore I can not control their minds.
I can not make their bodies grow strong, and yet they grow stronger and bigger every day. I am not the One who makes their bodies grow; but because I want them to grow strong, I fill their plates with food that nourishes and satisfies their bodies. And just as their growing bodies crave good fuel, so do their growing minds, hearts, and souls crave an education which will leave their minds bigger, their hearts stronger and their souls satisfied by their Creator. I do not need to, nor do I wish to control their education, I just need to let them have an education they can truly care about.
Teaching Them To Care
Because after they are grown, their tests have been taken, the facts from their books have faded from their memories, and their grades no longer matter, I want them to be sure of the things they were put on this earth to care about, and I want them to know that their care matters. If they aren’t too busy to stop and care about a beautiful bird today, perhaps they won’t be too busy to stop and care for the people around them tomorrow.