When I most recently read chapter 25 of Parents and Children, something jumped out at me that I had missed in (or forgotten from) my previous readings:
Teaching must be Fresh and Living.— … [W]hatever is stale and flat and dull to us must needs be stale and flat and dull to him.p. 278
It is so common to have the thought that (1) my children don’t like something our homeschool and (2) they are probably right, because I don’t like it, either!
It’s possible I don’t like it because it’s not really likeable. Maybe it’s a dry-as-dust (as Miss Mason would say) book that isn’t worth the pages on which it’s printed. But it’s also possible that the book came highly recommended and the problem is me. (I can’t tell you how many times the biggest problem in my homeschool have turned out to be me.)
It’s hard to give our children what they need; so many of us were damaged by the modern school system. We think things are boring. We never learned to love them. And there’s a sense in which we’re right: these things were taught to us in terrible ways and it’s not our fault we didn’t see their merits.
But we’re adults now, and fully capable of acknowledging that our children deserve an inheritance greater than that which we received. To give it to them requires sacrifice. Either we have to hire teachers who know and love aright, or we have to become that teacher.
The latter is often the harder path.
If you decide to take the latter path, it can make for a fun project. Pick a subject you never loved, where you realize your children are adversely affected by your dullness, and decide to learn to love it. (It is often a revolutionary experience to realize we can learn to love something.)
This doesn’t require an elaborate approach. Let’s say, for example, geography is your weak spot. A simple thing to do is choose a good book on the subject (I recommend Prisoners of Geography, How the States Got Their Shapes, or even a children’s book like one of Richard Halliburton’s Books of Marvels) and set aside a bit of time to read it regularly. Commonplace your favorite quotes. Keep a map or a personal timeline if applicable. Journal about the interesting ideas.
The number one way to prepare to teach, to do a better job teaching than we’ve been doing, is to increase our love. If we allow ourselves to become stale and flat and dull, our children pay the price.
Want to think about this subject a bit more? Here are some good resources: