Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Always Learning

Shortly after I got married, we moved from the campus of UIUC where I had been studying Japanese, to Purdue, where I planned to get an elementary education degree while my husband finished his education in engineering. Before classes started we felt strongly that I should not attend the university at that time. I cried, and then canceled my registration. I loved school, I loved learning, and mourned that the Lord was directing me away from the only way I knew to "become educated."

“It is so important that you young men and you young women get all of the education that you can. The Lord has said very plainly that His people are to gain knowledge of countries and kingdoms and of things of the world through the process of education, even by study and by faith.”

-Gordon B. Hinckley, “Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, June 1999, 4.

Several years passed, and I visited the library regularly. I have always loved reading, but viewed it primarily as a pleasant way to pass a leisurely hour (or three or five). A lengthy struggle with infertility took me to back to the library, and this time to the non-fiction section. I checked out books on fertility, midwifery, and birth. I also began to browse the nonfiction shelves in a way I never had done before, and I noticed all the fascinating things there are to learn about and began to sample a few of them. After several years, a lot of study, many blessings of comfort and healing, and the unmistakable hand of Providence, we welcomed our first son into our family. ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

-Doctrine and Covenants 88:181

Not long after Monkey was born, we decided to homeschool. I combed the internet, learning everything I could about different philosophies of homeschooling, briefly flirted with the idea of unschooling, and then discovered The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, which outlines a Classical education. I also discovered Bauer's book The Well-Educated Mind, Charlotte Mason, commonplace books, and self-education. I read voraciously; the success of my children's education depended on my knowing what I was doing, and I felt so unequal to the task! As I developed ideas about what education ought to look like in our family, I realized that I had a lot to learn myself.

"We believe in education, and we spend a substantial part of our budget on the education of our young people. We expect them to think. We expect them to investigate. We expect them to use their minds and dig deeply for knowledge in all fields. If we have a motto, it is this: ‘The glory of God is intelligence.’ ”

-Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 127.

It was about that same time that I discovered the LDS Mother's Education group. It had grown out of conversations among mothers trying to implement the ideas of Charlotte Mason in their homeschool, and had been inspired by comments she made about the importance of Mother continuing to educate herself. The course of study was organized, in that the group's owner had suggestions for a number of topics: Divinity, Literature, and Education, as well as add-on topics that varied each year: History, Nature, Handicrafts, Poetry, and so on. I 'm not always perfectly consistent, but having a group to discuss things with is very useful, and I particularly love having someone to say, "This is what I've accomplished this month" and hear what the other members of the group are learning about in turn.and Man, of the Past and the Present.  That is one way in which we become greater persons, and the more a perso
n is, the better he will do

"It is our business to know all we can and to spend a part of our lives in increasing our knowledge of Nature and Art, of Literature and Man, of the Past and the Present. That is one way in which we become greater persons, and the more a person is, the better he will do whatever piece of special work falls to his share."

-Charlotte Mason

I thought, when the Lord counseled me to quit school, that my education was coming to an end. I should have know better; I still had so much to learn, especially about learning itself.  What was really happening was he was teaching me to study, ponder, and to lean on Him rather than expecting to be spoon-fed the way I always had been in school. He wanted me to stand, independent, on my own two feet, to organize my own education, and to be responsible for carrying out the plans I make. He wanted me to look to him, rather than a professor, for guidance. My education has really only just begun.

Autodidact: a person who has learned a subject without the benefit of... formal education; a self-taught person.

Ritsumei is married to her best friend, and the mother of two miracle babies. She is also the fascinated student of history, particularly the American Founding. She loves her family, freedom, photography, and especially being a mother. You'll find her blogging at Baby Steps whenever she can squeeze out a few minutes between the books, the boys, and homeschooling.

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