On Not Giving Up

Today I listened to Nancy’s podcast over at Sage Parnassus. As you might know, she has been going through the Parents are Peacemakers series. Today’s topic was teaching, and that great quote from Charlotte Mason was discussed:

“The question is not, – how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education – but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”

-Charlotte Mason, Volume 3, page 171

Maybe it’s just me, but that quote routinely causes me some serious anxiety. As we are evaluating our educational methods, and whether or not our child “cares”, we often turn to look at our teenagers.

A Teenager is in there…

I mean, those are the children who are approaching the end of our home schools, right? And…well, often it is tempting to throw up our hands in despair. Because, teenagers have a certain knack for letting us know in no uncertain terms that they don’t care. About much of anything. Except food. And video games. And sleep. And…perhaps attempting to get out of a certain amount of school work?

As I listened today, I heard Nancy describe how we each have our own “things we care about” – our things. It’s true of course. Even those sweet darling teenagers have their own things they care about. Often my expectations of how I must teach them, what they must learn, “have I failed them, or will they be okay?” gets in the way of perspective. I forget to see them as people who do actually enjoy things beyond food, video games and sleep!

Michael is good at reminding me that it’s going to be okay. Seriously.

This is when I remind myself (and you) to go ahead and take some notes on what my child enjoys right now. There is something. Even if we have to sit and think about it. It is encouraging to write some good things down. Maybe they enjoyed a few of their books this year (and even mentioned it). I write that sort of thing down. It helps on the dark, scary days, when you start rethinking everything and wonder how you could have possibly gone so wrong as to attempt teaching these people at home!

I’ll admit…this has been a butt kicker of a year for me as a teacher. I’ve gotten discouraged too many times to count. I’ve wanted to give up. I’ve wanted to just go back to bed and stay there.

I’m glad to say I didn’t quit. I kept at it. I kept showing up. People grew and changed and  learned this year. For real. It’s been a good, hard year.

It was hard right down to the last day of school. On that last day, one kid had a complete meltdown, another several pushed me to my limit, and that night I hosted two different groups of people at my house.

It was not a stellar day.

There was no celebration. No victory dance. Only extreme relief to have finished the year. To be honest, it was a really awful day. I felt like a total failure as a teacher.

And I felt alone with that failure. Every time I would look at Instagram, and ETC, All I saw were a lot of really amazing pictures commemorating the last day/week of school with all of their accomplishments/summer plans.

And here I thought that keeping everyone alive all summer was one of my main goals.


And then something sort of amazing happened.

A few days later (while I was still in the depths of despair), I pulled out my resources I always go back to when I need to remember why I’m doing this anyway. I was gently reminded to choose a few good books to read with my kids, to look into their sweet little eyes, to just enjoy being together. So we did that. And I relaxed. I put my giant list of “what I must teach them” away, and we had a good time together. Someone said “Mom, these are really good books you are reading to us. Thank you!” (I am not making this up.).

Today, after spending some time on “summer reading”, one of my kids said they had read extra in their book (because it was good), and that the audio book I am having that person listen to is much more interesting than when they attempted reading that book themselves awhile back. Okay. People. After the month I’ve had wrapping up school, that was a complete and total win. The sort of win I write about, because, seriously. Perspective. And remembering the sweet times. Because goodness knows we need to think about what is true and good and lovely and all that! 

Okay, so have a good summer with your kids, and, you know, don’t go searching for a new curriculum or anything, maybe just go lay down and read a book to the kids. Or not, maybe take a nap and be patient. Sometime the kids might say something amazing like “I read extra in my book…it was kind of really good.”

And you can smile to yourself cause they just gave themselves away – they care about something…lots of somethings!!!



2 thoughts on “On Not Giving Up

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