Sunday, July 29, 2018

Putting the Rest in "Restful Learning" (SES #04)

One of the definitions of scholé is that it is "restful learning." As happens often (so I've been told) this Greek word has no English equivalent. When it is translated, "leisure" is the term used most often, though its connotations are "being at leisure to pursue philosophy" rather than our first association with "being at leisure to take a cruise."
So, I'm going to go out on a limb here and make a guess that taking an afternoon nap is NOT scholé... however, dear reader, that is what I did today. Thus, there are no written narrations of what I read to offer you.
Pretend that remote control is actually a book, mmmkay?

I know it's hard, but I'm sure you all understand.

In the meantime, you may want to head on over to the Scholé Sisters website and make a plan to join them on September 15th for their online retreat (or if you know me IRL - come join me!). It will be  a day to scholé at its finest - no naps necessary.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

I Finished a Book! For Myself! (SES #03)

You guys! I finished reading a book! It's been forever since I could say that!

Me finishing a book is about as mythical as me sitting on a toadstool reading a book.
It's not for lack of trying... Goodreads says I have 8 books that I'm "Currently Reading" (and the funny thing, is only two of them are ones that I'm actually making progress on... the other ones that I'm making progress on aren't even on my Goodreads list!)  (Maybe I should update that.)  (Or not.)

The point is - it's been ages since I could have the satisfaction of closing a book with a sense of accomplishment - and today that award goes to me and the book "Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home" by Elizabeth Foss.

But first, a scholé stor-ray:

Today is the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time - ordinary time in the Church is devoted to sharing the stories of the regular days of Jesus' life. Of course, a regular day with Jesus would never be considered such by us - how many of us can say, "Oh, it was just a normal day... cleansed a few lepers, gave a blind guy sight, fed 5000 people with a can sardines and a loaf of bread."?  I can't. But Jesus can!  Every Sacred Sunday writes, "These are ordinary days filled with extraordinary stories that encourage us to echo this radical love in our every moment."

Today's radical love moment showed Jesus caring for his disciples' physical, mental and emotional health. "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while," He says. Father picked up on this theme and spoke about the great need we have in our life for quiet. Why? It is in the quiet that we are reminded of our purpose; we are reminded of who we are. Who are we? We are children of God, and our souls have a great desire to see Jesus and be seen by Him.

I spent a great deal of Mass trying to tell my children, "Shh! Listen to Father! He's saying that Quiet Time is good for you! AND for Mommy!" (Something I've been trying to tell them myself for a while.) Jury's out on how well that message was received... let's just say that their collective behavior did not earn them chocolate milk from the coffee shop afterwards.


Sigh. It made me grateful for the alone time I knew I would be getting in the afternoon.

And then I got to the coffee shop, pulled out Real Learning, and read this:

"Burnout occurs when we are out of sync with God.... Set aside fifteen minutes at the beginning of each day to be alone to meditate."

and then this:

"Your emotional goal absolutely should be to find time to be alone."

Hmm... I began to think. "Is God trying to say something to me today?" This last chapter of the book was written to homeschooling moms who may be experiencing burnout, but even Foss wrote that it would have "preventative value for women who are not burnt out" (a category I currently place myself in).  And now the coffee shop is playing this over the speakers.

Apparently I need to listen up!

But it's true right? If we aren't right with God, all of our relationships are going to be out of whack and most of what we do will feel futile as well. To that end, I'm grateful for this Sunday Scholé time (thanks, Honey!!) but I'm hearing that I need this daily. So how to make that happen? I'm open to all tips and tricks here... though I suspect it will really just need to be me with a Nike attitude:

What are we waiting for?? Let's do this!

How are you going to scholé this week?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

In Which I Scholé In My Coupé

Usually when my DH gives me the afternoon to go read (or just drink a cup of something in peace) I go and visit the nearest chain caffeine-providing establishment... you know, the green one... with the coffee. But I'm sorry to say it's been getting more and more sketch at these places - at least the ones around me. So today, I took my reading to the car:

It's more comfortable than it seems... warm seats, quiet environment. I won't necessarily say that it's cleaner (as my picture clearly attests - *ahem*), but at least it's *my* dirt.

On the docket today was Every Sacred Sunday and Know and Tell

Every Sacred Sunday
Today was the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time and because we had a party to go to later, we went to an earlier Mass at a different church. My children love this church because the walls are huge, floor to near-ceiling stained glass:
Photo by Juan Tamayo
I barely heard a word from the service (some days are just like that) but that's why I appreciate this journal. It has all the readings printed for me, with a place to write down notes (should I hear anything from the homily). The words I heard today focused on God's action: God calls us, God loves us - and we respond! Hopefully in the affirmative.

Know and Tell - Chapter 3: Principles of Narration
Principle #1 - Use high quality literature. Serving our students the literary equivalent of dry oatmeal benefits no one.
Principle #2 - Read it once. Don't interrupt. You may ask a question when the child is finished, but it is better to leave the student in a place where they know they have forgotten something than to "help" them fill in those details.
Principle #3 - Review previous narrated material regularly. Ask "What did we read/learn about last time?" Also do end-of-term assessments (approx every 12 weeks).
Principle #4  - The narration must be the child's (see Principle #2). When you ask questions, you disrupt the child's thought process and they become dependent on *you* to supply the questions again and again.

I also started Chapter 4: Building Fluency
Narration as an educational practice should begin at age 6, and not before. You can welcome them as they come naturally (and make sure to let the student know what they are doing, "What a great narration! I can see just what you're talking about!") but do not make them a requirement before age 6. Also, do not expect too much for the first year or two (!). The best lines about this came here:
"With a new narrator, almost anything can happen... In fact, the average six-year-old on the couch can dash an educational theory to pieces in a matter of moments, or so it would seem." 
Or this gem...
"If you think of narration as a child's oral "picture" of what she has heard, you can compare her progress with that of a budding artist. The enthusiastic two-year-old gripping a crayon in her fist is happy to be getting color or lines on paper. In the same vein, beginning narrators should simply be encouraged to use words--their own words--to "tell." If the result is as impressive as a two-year-old's scribble, that is what you should expect." (emaphasis mine)
Cheers to scribbles and babble! How did you scholé this week?

PS - I don't really have a coupé... but did you know that the word coupé comes from the French couper, "to cut (in half)" and was used in the 19th century to describe a shortened carriage that had no backseat? It was first applied to a closed 2-door automobile in 1908.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Scholé Every Sunday (numero uno)

Hello! What's new out there internet-land? I've thought of you often and wished I could come on here and bang out a few thoughts but whenever I've actually made time to do so, it seems that my thoughts have languished in a few (tired) categories:
  1. Those of the navelgazing type (only interesting if your navel is pierced or free of lint)
  2. Those of the ranting type (not good for a conflict avoiding personality like myself)
So, alas, the blog has remained a bit dormant. (Plus I've been wondering how accurate my blog title is anymore, but maybe that's a discussion for another time.)

In any case, this evening while nursing the fire baby down for the 3rd time in an hour I came up with *something* I could write about: my scholé!

A post shared by Sara Rooney (@rooney.sara) on

If the word "scholé" looks a little fancy-pants, it's probably because of the accent on the e. Just remove it in your mind and then it looks like a pretty bad misspelling of "school" ...and that's OK because that's kinda what scholé is: it's a type of restful learning that seeks out Truth, Goodness and Beauty. The Scholé Sisters (over there on Instagram) have their own little hashtag #scholeeveryday but I have yet to actually use that tag, because the idea behind it is that you Should be scholé-ing every day. At best, I scholé on a weekly basis - and usually on Sunday. Therefore: Scholé Every Sunday

The idea is this: every Sunday, I will come on here and share what I did for my scholé that day/week. It will most likely be what I read, but the beauty of scholé is that it can be anything that provides life-giving learning opportunities: nature walks, a concert, even church! I'm not promising that it will be very interesting to anyone besides myself - but to be fair, I'll try not to make it boring. (How's that for a promise? I might as well just say, "I promise not to make you claw your eyes out.")

Sound good? If so, read on dear friend...

This week: Teaching From Rest and Know and Tell: The Art of Narration

Teaching From Rest is a re-read for me - and exactly what I need at this stage in the game. Sarah's words are life-giving and they are helping me to re-prioritize what's important in my burgeoning homeschool. Today I was reminded that when I give my day to God then when something comes that looks like a derailment (a child who doesn't get the day's lesson, for instance) then that is actually God showing me my "marching orders" for the day. The "derailment" is where God wants me to be, not the accomplishing of my checklist of things.  Of course, this implies that I'm giving my day to God (i.e. praying), and to that end she offered up some of her favorite aspirations and a prayer from St Thomas Aquinas to say before studies.

Know and Tell - chapter 2
Narration is the educational use of something that we do naturally every day: retelling information to another person so that they can share in it too. This practice has been recommended since ancient times by St. Augustine and Erasmus (and many more). More recently it has been promoted by Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the early 1900's. Narration, when used consistently over many years, will produce students with strong synthetic thinking skills, able to communicate skillfully through oral or written word. The author cites some academic research in this chapter to support this argument, but what struck me were the samples of both oral and written narrations that she included from 6-year olds and up. Many of them were of a quality that some of my high schoolers (back in the day) would have been hard pressed to produce. I'm excited to see how this might work in my homeschool with the wee girl.

(If you just guessed that these last 2 paragraphs were written narrations of what I read today, you would be right. There's no better way to test an educational method then on yourself!)

So there you have it. My scholé for the day. What was yours?