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    Educational Philosophy, Mother's Education

    True Classical Education: Contagious Love

    January 1, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

    So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

    I Corinthians 13:1-3 and 13

    [dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen I was in college, I was generally unimpressed with elementary education majors that I met. Please note that I do mean generally. One of my roommates was an elementary education major, and a born teacher if there ever was one. I am sure she was wonderful in the classroom, and I can also testify that she was not alone in her aptitudes. What I mean by unimpressed is that I met, for instance, teachers-to-be who were addicted to drugs, had poor study habits, and who, perhaps worst of all, absolutely despised reading of any kind.

    It is this animosity toward reading that really got to me. It’s not that other issues in my list don’t matter, but I think that if we are planning to be in the business of education {I don’t really consider it a business, but just go with me here}, we should have a fondness for reading.

    After all, books are our best connection with the past, especially if we read good ones.

    Right before Christmas, a PBS book arrived on my doorstep. It was Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Doug Wilson. I told Si he should read it. He said okay. But now he’s going to have to fight me for it because I made the mistake of picking it up and now I can’t put it down.

    Good thing it’s only 215 pages including the index.

    Anyhow, I find that the author agrees with me on the issue of a love for books, and actually love in general. I love this:

    [C. S.] Lewis had a gift for presenting truth in a compelling way. One of the reasons he is a master teacher is his love for his subject and his ability to communicate this love to his readers. Even if the student does not have a natural predisposition for the subject taught, the teacher’s love for it will still be transferred to him…

    A sure mark of an effective classical education is a love for learning. If a child is taught well, he will not only learn the information, he will also come to love both the process of learning and the knowledge itself.


    Learning is hard work. How then, can students be brought to love it? If a teacher is competent and a disciplinarian, he can make the students learn the material. But he cannot impart to them a love for the subject unless he loves it himself. True classical education is a presentation of knowledge adorned by the love of the instructor.


    [Bestowed loveliness] occurs when the love we have for something causes others to perceive or recognize the loveliness that is there. This is what happens when a teacher loves what he is teaching in the presence of students.


    Rigorous education results in a high level of information retained. But true classical learning takes place when students come to love what they retain. This can only happen if the teachers love their subjects.

    I think if we all think back to our best teachers in life, we will see that they stood above the rest not because they had better handwriting on the chalkboard or better agility in using the overhead projector. No, it was the love and passion they had for their subjects. In fact, one of the reasons why my family’s dinner table every night was the best education I ever received in my youth is because of my father’s passion for the subjects he was known to orate on.

    His excitement and conviction were contagious. And now I love the Constitution because he did. I read Great Books because he told me I should, and I could tell he believed that.

    Love is contagious.

    Wilson goes on to explain what his private Christian school looks for when they are hiring a history teacher:

    One item of interest to the board would obviously be how much background he has had in history during his education — and how well he did. But the reading list tells us something less obvious. Does the applicant love history on his own time? If he does not, then he cannot give to the students something he does not have himself.

    It’s a New Year. Perhaps a great resolution for any and every homeschool teacher or principal or any other person involved in education would be to acquire contagious, passionate love for learning. Everything is interesting once we get to know it. Even the earth worms living in our lawns! But our home education projects will be nothing but clanging gongs if we have not love.

    Love teaching on our own time, and study up. Love the core subjects on our own time. Love learning on our own time. And then sit back and watch as love goes viral in our homes and all our children catch it.

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  • Reply Willa January 3, 2009 at 4:49 am

    Great post! I actually prayed once during a low point that God would give me a love for teaching my kids. I was so burned out, but He really did change that and restored a desire to learn and share the learning with my little ones.

  • Reply Dominic and Kimberly January 2, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    I “love” the correlation of love here and the love of the subject matter to be taught. I was taught this in my credential classes and was able to apply it in the classroom. If I was excited about something, the kids were too. As teachers (parents) we have such power in how our children feel about learning. Sometimes we will have a more difficult time mustering up some excitment being human and all. This is where I appreciate your comment about praying that we will love all subjects and learning.

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