So this morning a large chunk of our world history lesson was about the Spartan way of life. The kids were pretty much horrified at the way the Spartans ran the show: i.e. sending the boys at age 7 away from their mothers forever to learn how to be soldiers; making them endure beatings just so that they would learn to take pain without whimpering/crying; inflicting on them terrible living conditions, such as near-starvation, terrible food, and inadequate clothing for the weather. And all this was to groom the toughest, hardest kind of soldiers, according to the philosophy of one crackhead named Laconious. We also read in contrast about the Athenians on the other side of Greece, who likewise thought it was important to turn out physical brutes, of course, but also believed in the training of the mind and in cultivating an understanding of the arts and humanities. Our book (an absolutely fantastic and engaging one, called A Child’s History of the World), then prompted the children with a most important question: So what do you think? Which way of life is better, to build stronger, better people? The Spartan way, which was to master your body or the Athenian way, which was to master both your body, though not to the extreme that the Spartans did, AND your mind? (Kind of a giveaway answer, the way it’s worded, right?)
Claire looked at me, took a moment and then said, “Actually, I think it’s most important to master your mouth.”
“Huh?” I said.
“Yeah, it’s most important to learn to control your mouth. If you can control your mouth, you’re the best kind of person, I think.”
WHERE IN THE HECK DID THIS KID COME FROM? She sadly didn’t learn this from my example (Oh, how my own tongue is my greatest enemy!); or actually, maybe she DID learn it from my example. Egad. Praise you, Lord, that even in my greatest weaknesses, YOUR strength is made perfect.
Honestly, I was just blown away at her answer. Right then and there, we cracked open James chapter 3, and I showed her that she was exactly right. She giggled as she read it aloud, and said, “Wow, Mommy, does this mean that God is making ME WISE?” Yes, honey, it does. So much more important than her becoming book-smart or (eventually) street-smart, I believe God’s design for her (and for our boys) is that they be filled with wisdom, which we teach them is the kind of smarts that comes straight from God and from His Word.
I am reminded of a time just a few months ago when she was in public school, and I was sitting down for a conference with her lovely teacher. She was showing me how Claire did on the 2nd grade mid-year “assessments.” This perfectly capable teacher sat down with me and showed me the questions she answered wrong, some of which were legitimately “wrong” answers, of course. But there was one question, where the “real” answer to the question really could have been something that wasn’t offered as an option. So instead of circling one of the other answers, Claire wrote it in. (HA! I was so proud!) But her teacher marked it wrong, and started digging herself a bit of a hole trying to explain why she had done so. I gently challenged her. I read the literature passage it was relating to, and her teacher conceded that really the answer Claire had written in was “higher-level” critical thinking. But she still gave me some kind of horse poo about how at this point in her education, Claire just needs to be answering the same way to other kids are answering, choosing the “most acceptable” answer offered to her. And that was one of the shiny moments when homeschooling started sneaking into my sugarplum dreams, by the way.
Every night, I pray over that girl, that she will grow in wisdom and in stature, but when she says stuff like that, it just blows me away. She’s certainly growing in stature, into a beautiful, lengthy creature right before my eyes! That picture up there freaked both her daddy and I out, like some kind of preview of the beauty she will become someday (if those teeth ever come in!)
But God is also growing her in wisdom, and for that, I am most happy.
I have to say that I really think that homeschooling ROCKS. Seriously, I cannot even put into words how fulfilling it is to be inside my childrens’ education. not to be the clueless chauffeur I was becoming a few months ago, despite my earnest efforts to know what was going on at school.
Right now, my kids are engrossed in Jason and the Argonauts, by the way, which we finished reading in our literature time today. Just in case you were wondering how in the world a homeschool mom would have time to write such a lengthy blog. 🙂