Our group meets every four to six weeks on a weekday evening. We’ve been doing this for over two years now, though much of it all seems fresh and new to me.
I leave the house before my husband even gets home because this is his day to work late. I muster up my meanest mommy look and remind my five-year-old son that he simply must obey his twelve-year-old brother until his father gets home. I explain to my girls about how to dish up and serve dinner. I grab a bite of something.
Then I leave.
All by myself.
As I back down the driveway, I take a deep breath. I try to let the stresses and pressures of the day go. The weight slowly leaves my shoulders.
The debates over Mommy Me Time have been going on ever since mothers have had leisure time on their hands. It is one of the earliest mothering issues I recall reading about outside of discipline and basic baby/toddler care.
Me Time at its worst is when Mom is taking time out to indulge her sinful passions. I’ve heard moms use Me Time as justification for reading bad books, watching bad movies, being a bad steward of the family finances, and more.
So let’s be clear that this is not what scholé is about.
If the worst form of Me Time is sinful self-indulgence, then the best of scholé is selfless soul-improvement. Scholé isn’t just about rest and peace, though those are at its core. It’s about becoming better than we already are. Learning something. Doing something. Loving something. It’s being stretched and challenged and encouraged, that we might fill up and overflow. It’s gaining new knowledge and, with it, a vision.
Let’s face it: teachers are just people, and people without vision? They stumble. People without community? They have trouble getting up again.
Educational philosopher Charlotte Mason trained a lot of teachers at her college in Ambleside, a beautiful town nestled in England’s gorgeous Lake District. She once asked one of her students why she had come to the school. Why are you here? The student replied, I have come here to learn to teach. Miss Mason promptly corrected her: “My dear, you have come here to learn to live.”
We later learn, from this same student, after her education has reached its full bloom:
Teaching is not a technique exercised by the skilled upon the unskilled. It is a sharing of the effort to know.
Scholé gets us to the heart of what it really means to teach.
In order to teach, we much first be students. We must have the disposition of receiver — we show up, ready to come to know. The heart of the true teacher and the heart of the true student are the same: they have the humility that says, “I do not yet know. I have deficiencies.”
But we don’t stop at this awareness of deficiency. We become seekers. We become listeners. We become pray-ers. We ask God for the grace of knowledge that He has given to so many men before us, and we know that He delights to give to us — to His children — as well.
When we spend our days with our children, earnestly desiring to help them come to know, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that education begins with a qualified teacher, and while we all learn many things from books, it matters what the teacher embodies. The teacher who has lost her way, drowning in the diaper changes and meal preparation and mountains of laundry — the teacher who has forgotten the delight of sharing in the effort to know — is the teacher headed toward burnout.
That is a little secret about scholé: it’s the world’s greatest burnout prevention plan.
It isn’t selfish to get burned out, but it also isn’t selfish to prevent it. In fact, burnout prevention may be the most selfless thing you do for your family, especially when you are far enough down the path that you’d rather stay home and veg in front of the television.
When we group Scholé Time in with Me Time and call it selfish — and I’ve heard this done, so I know it happens — we do our homes a great disservice. Is it selfish to read your Bible? To take a shower? To do the things that humans do?
Selfishness is, at its core, the pursuit of our own interests, or seeking a private advantage. Scholé is the pursuit of truth. Of goodness. Of beauty. It seeks not private advantage, but the advantage of the whole world. While selfishness coddles the crumpled little grasping soul, scholé seeks to expand, to challenge, and to improve.
Selfishness and scholé are about as opposite as it gets.
The day has been a hard one, and too many days like this one bring me close to growing weary in doing good. This meeting has come right on time. I look forward to it every single month because I know that I can expect refreshment, friendship, camaraderie, encouragement.
I walk in the door, and I’m greeted by friendly faces, and more of them arriving each minute. We’re all happy to be out of the house.
We spend almost an hour chatting and drinking coffee and eating berries. How is school going these days? We troubleshoot problems, or catch up on life in general.
The meeting is called to order. After prayer and some introductions, we start off with an oral narration immersion. We all hold our breaths while one of us feebly tries to retell what we just heard — who knew that Aesop was so difficult?
We discuss our reading assignments. We wander off on a million rabbit trails, but always come back to our purpose.
Around 9:30 pm, we close the formal part of the meeting so that those with nursing babies can escape before the phone calls start. But many of us stay. We chat some more. We help each other. We talk about application.
It’s almost midnight by the time I get home, and I know I’ll be tired tomorrow. If this were a nightly habit, it’d be a terrible one, for it is also my duty to get enough rest in order to approach my children cheerfully.
But for one night a month, staying up late makes me better. I come away inspired. I’ve encountered moms who give me hope. I’ve heard good ideas I can use right away, and others I’m tucking away for the future. I didn’t just learn how to be better, I was inspired to want to be better. This meeting of minds and souls changed my heart. It exposed some rough edges and gently filed them away.
Tomorrow is a new day, and I came home a new mom.
Is scholé selfish? Not a chance!
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