Summer Practicum season is often the “pause that refreshes,” as Coca-Cola would say. Inspiration abounds from speakers keen to be God’s conduit for truth. Encouragement flows freely among those who have “been there” before—and survived a certain stage of the homeschooling journey. Renewal and recommitment to the challenge are the norm for all who find their spirits refreshed by fellowship and new ideas. Moms that have spent the summer resting from their labors and reflecting on the past year are usually fired up by the Practicum, and are ready to roll again. For many, the passion for education surges anew and afresh.
We find ourselves eager to embrace big ideas, intent on mastering what eluded us as students, and excited about introducing our children to new ways of embracing the classical model. We are enthused about learning and we are sure that God has altered our thinking in radical ways; we are usually certain we will never be the same. We are right; and yet……
God does indeed grab our hearts and minds in a special way at a Practicum. Maybe it is the crowd, maybe it is an especially gifted speaker, and maybe it is that our hearts are tender to God’s whisper. It is as though God pulls back the curtain and suddenly shows us just how rich, deep, and meaningful educating our children is supposed to be, and we believe we can do it “that way.” We vow to see our children as “souls to be nurtured, not products to be measured,” as Andrew Kern has told us. We commit to looking at our children “from God’s side of the sky,” as Leigh has advised us. We even make plans to “play with numbers” and not just do our Saxon problem sets, having become convicted about our method of math education. And we intend to do it all; we really do. We are ready. We are willing. We are determined. And yet….
One thing I have come to believe is that it is often easier to “change” than it is to “stay different.” We commit to change because we have seen a better way, we are excited about forging a new path, or we are growing in our understanding and want to be different. And we do change. Our “altered state” is exhilarating and we are sure we will never revert to our old ways of thinking and doing. However, here is the thing: staying different is hard! When we grow nervous about implementing the changes, we default to our old ways of thinking—even if we are pretty sure they were flawed. When we are living in our own strength and wisdom, we revert to the old methods of “doing school”—even when we know they imprison our thinking and our spirits. When we are afraid of a new challenge, an old problem, or the criticism of others, we go back to what is familiar—even when we have discovered that the familiar way does not fit our idea of what constitutes the best way anymore.
What is a mom to do? Are we doomed to continually commit to a better way and then renege on the commitment? As the apostle Paul would say, “May it never be!” I believe that the key to our “altered state” is our “altared state”! We must daily give ourselves to the Lord in a new way, asking Him to give us wisdom, liberty, courage, and grace. We need wisdom to recognize God’s leading in our home schools. We need liberty from the slavery of old ways and old fears. We need courage to try new methods, ones that might not be “natural” for us, but which we believe are right for us. We need grace to forgive ourselves for failing to follow through the first time (and maybe the second time). We need to realize that we cannot “stay different” in our own strength, but only by God’s grace. When we place ourselves, our children, and our schools on the altar, we have taken the first firm step towards lasting change.