S8E9 | The Gifts of a Charlotte Mason Education (with Stacy Williams)

S8E9 | The Gifts of a Charlotte Mason Education (with Stacy Williams)

Show Notes:

Episode summary

This is the perfect time of year to consider the gifts that are available to families that follow Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. In this episode, Julie and Stacy discuss the powerfully positive impact that these methods bring to us as we implement them daily in our homeschools.

Connect

Julie Ross | Instagram

A Gentle Feast | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Website

Homeschooling.mom | Instagram | Website

Thank you to our sponsors!

Medi-Share: an affordable Christian alternative to traditional health insurance

A Gentle Feast: a Charlotte Mason curriculum for the entire family

Want to know more about the Charlotte Mason method? Visit www.agentlefeast.com and click on LEARN MORE to receive a FREE four-day introduction course.

Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? We hope to see you there!

For more encouragement on your homeschooling journey, visit the Homeschooling.mom site, and tune in to our sister podcast The Homeschool Solutions Show.

Show Transcript:

Julie Ross Hello, everyone, and welcome to The Charlotte Mason Show. I'm your host, Julie Ross, and today I'm here with my friend Stacy Williams. Hi, Stacy.

Stacy Williams Hi! How are you?

Julie Ross Good! It's so fun to see you and talk to you. I haven't seen you in person-- gosh, how long has it been? Two years, three years? A long time, sadly.

Stacy Williams Gosh, it feels like we've been in a time warp the last two years.

Julie Ross I know, really, right? Yeah. Wait, what? We have to get out of the house.

Stacy Williams I know, I know.

Julie Ross But I'm really excited to have you on, and we were talking before we hit recording, and you were talking about writing your bio. What do ordinary homeschool moms put if they haven't written a book or anything? That's one of the reasons why I wanted you on today was to talk and show that you don't have to have a blog or have written a book or have this huge Instagram following to understand the Charlotte Mason philosophy, to be well read on what she has to say, to understand her principles, and then to implement them in your own family. Normal, average people can do this. And I think sometimes people think, "Oh, I have to be an expert. I have to be like those people, and because I'm not like those people, I can't do it," which is a big fat lie. And you are an exceptional person and mom and thinker, and so that's why I wanted you to come on today. So you are able to give that gift to our audience here of, "yes, you can do this." Am I right?

Stacy Williams Ah yes, you can do this. Well, in that case, yes, I was like, "Well, okay, the bio is: Greenville, South Carolina mom, homeschooler of three." Okay, where do we go here? But if it can be an encouragement and a gift to other people to know that this philosophy of education that Charlotte Mason provides is accessible and beautiful and approachable, then absolutely. I am here to encourage that. And you can see from the one sentence bio that I will be able to provide you that you can do this too and it's lovely and transformative.

Julie Ross Yes. So tell us just a little bit about yourself. You said Greenville mom of three, but there's a lot more to that. So a little bit about your family and your homeschool journey up till now.

Stacy Williams Yeah, sure. I have three children. My oldest is ten years old and then I have a seven-year-old and an almost five-year-old. So actually, almost five, almost eight. And we've been homeschooling from the beginning. Actually, it was not really planned. It was not on the agenda when we were first going through-- I was homeschooled myself and I loved being homeschooled. It was wonderful. But at the time when we were having kids, it just hadn't been on my radar. I was working full-time as a nurse practitioner. And then, I don't know. Something about the school aged years were approaching, and I hadn't really given it as much thought. And then all of a sudden I was like, "Whoa, wait a second, okay, this is happening.".

Stacy Williams And so kind of very quickly, like as of August before kindergarten, we're like, "I guess we're doing this homeschool thing." So I started frantically reading all the books that I could find and just kind of finding something and did a little Google search: "okay, co-op near me." The closest one that we found was a pretty popular more like neoclassical type of co-op that we went to. We joined that and it was a lovely-- like, I love the moms in this beautiful community. But as we started going through the years and I started learning more, I was kind of realizing, okay, this is-- I don't feel like this is the call of my heart, or it wasn't quite aligning with this new philosophy that I was learning about with this Charlotte Mason lady over here. And I was so drawn to it, I actually first discovered it through Instagram posts, if you believe it or not.

Julie Ross Oh, I believe that. There's a lot of people and they post a lot of cool stuff.

Stacy Williams Yeah, I was just honestly-- I was looking at these things and thinking, "How beautiful, how lovely. What is this?" And my interest was piqued. And from then I read For the Children's Sake, which I feel like is a beautiful introduction. And then went on from that to Charlotte Mason's works herself, which is a wealth of knowledge. And Karen Glass and all the thing-- and then we just dove in. I'm telling you, one toe at a time. It was it was years of transforming and committing. I was very much hesitant to jump all in. Until two years ago, when we started A Gentle Feast. But so we moved to Greenville and found this amazing community of other like-minded mamas who met once a month to discuss Charlotte Mason's works in person. And it was just so encouraging and that's-- after that year, and I met you, I thought, "Okay, this is the year we're ready to dive in." And I loved A Gentle Feast. It just worked so beautifully-- not only just-- I think I've shared this with you before-- just how it was nice to have something to ease that anxiety of like, "Okay, here we go." Becuse it was all laid out and so beautiful. And still, I had the freedom to go in, as you say, like it didn't come like this approach of like boxed curriculum or it's your master. But I very much felt like I had the freedom. But you have the structure to like, say, "Okay, we can do this." And keeping my older two in the same track was so beautiful. At first I thought, "Well, this is so great." This approach where we can kind of keep our forms together, studying and learning the same thing, mostly for my sanity at the time. But now, even though I've done this for years and feel a little bit like, "Oh, I can separate by year," I've actually really enjoyed that approach just because of the conversation, the way that we are contemplating these things together and discussing them as a family.

So anyways, it's just been beautiful, the journey. Every year has its struggles; it's not always perfect by any means. But I just see honestly, God's great mercy and grace over our homeschool and just how it's grown and how he's revealing more of himself through that and I'm excited where it's going.

Stacy Williams My oldest kids-- it's form two, fourth-ish grade, if you want to look at that.

Julie Ross Your two boys are close in age, right?

Stacy Williams Yes. So the second one is eight years old and then my other one just turned ten. So they're about-- they're two years apart, but just in personality they're pretty close. They kind of mesh well in where they're learning, and of course the expectations move a little bit.

Stacy Williams I just, you know, and even our five year old, she's along for the ride. You know, she's almost five, but she hasn't quite started taking lessons. But it's so cute to see her tag along and now she's like, "Mommy, can I give a narration?" You know, she's jumping in on the conversations and remembering things. So it's just really sweet to see that this is part of our life.

Julie Ross So, yeah, and I think we'll touch on that as we drive in here to some of the things that you thought of. But you know, I love what you said about just kind of tiptoeing in. You don't have to drive all in at first. I think that's very intimidating for some people, and it kind of keeps them like, "I'm not sure about this." You know? And from even trying. So I love that you said that. And it is this journey. And to see that, as you know, I'm not going to figure everything out year one and do everything perfectly. Gosh, been doing this for 15 years, and I still haven't figured it out, right? That to embrace that process and to see it as "I'm growing at the same time that they're growing and we're growing together." And I love that you're-- the conversations that you all are having about these living books and these ideas, they're changing you at the same time they're changing them. It's a beautiful thing to do together.

Julie Ross Speaking of beautiful things, we're going to be talking about the gifts of a Charlotte Mason education. And I thought of that and I thought of you to talk about this mainly because you've shared that story before about kind of your journey into Charlotte Mason or Book Club, and I've kind of seen how much you just have loved and embraced this philosophy and how much you're just so excited to talk about it with other people. And again, like I was saying, just to show people anyone can kind of dove into this and understand it and have a really beautiful home education experience without having to do all these extra things that we think of.

Julie Ross And because it's Christmas time, and we're talking about gifts and whatnot, that really to see your home education experience or whatever you want to call it as a gift that you're giving your children this beautiful education, you're giving them this gift. And of course, they might not appreciate it until they're older. Or maybe, when they're a mom, like you said, you know, and they're like, "Oh my gosh, mom, thank you." But it is a gift that you're giving them even if you don't get any thanks. But it's also a gift that we're giving ourselves in how this style of education transforms us as well. So let's dive into some of those gifts. We have five gifts that a Charlotte Mason education gives our family. What's the first one you have for us?

Stacy Williams Sure. So as you had asked me "Okay, we're going to be discussing the gifts of a Charlotte Mason education." My immediate thought was like, "Oh gosh, okay, well, how long is your podcast?" Because I just feel like there are so many gifts, right? I mean, how do we narrow it down to just five? Just so I did some searching and thinking and honestly, because they're so interwoven, it was even difficult to separate them out. But the first gift that I came up-- and we touched a little bit on why this is so beautiful with this education, but I believe it's just so beautiful how a Charlotte Mason education can give us a gift of scholé. Scholé is a Greek word for leisure or restful learning. I love how Joseph Piper, a German philosopher; he describes it as "scholé is a contemplative--" and a Charlotte Mason education of that approach really allows us time and space. It gives us margin so we can behold what is beautiful and contemplate living ideas. We have created space to digest and see the good and the true and beautiful.

Stacy Williams And we can resist this frenzied pace or digesting for utility. Education is no longer "How does it serve me?" But it is ideas to think on and things to behold and become-- And then the end object of that is put into worship and to loving mankind, and it's just by changing-- it's a small change in the way that we view education has a massive impact. And I think it's really countercultural compared to the way a lot of education is happening nowadays that we have a lot of external motivators and less internal motivators.

Stacy Williams And it's just so beautiful that we're able to do that. Charlotte Mason says "Children are born persons, and education is the science relations." I love Karen Glass's book. She wrote a book, In Vital Harmony, and she did such a beautiful job by taking all the principles of Charlotte Mason and kind of zooming in on these two overarching principles: children are born persons, and education is the science of relations. If we believe that, we start there-- that they're born persons with a mind, apart from their brain, but spiritual intellectual beings-- then we recognize that they are capable of this contemplative beholding from a very young age instead of going in-- And I did this. I definitely did this in the start of our education. Absolutely underestimated the capabilities of my oldest child, which now is such a delight to see that my five year old joining us at the table, who is not even starting any type of formal lessons is part of the conversation and thinking about these things. These ideas are floating around now in her head and she is making connections and relationships, and she is getting to know and see things.

Stacy Williams And that is so beautiful that with this type of education, this atmosphere that we're setting, that that is possible. And you know, it is not typical. It has to be intentional, but that is one gift of a Charlotte Mason education: that we can have this restful learning. And it's not leisure, as in no work. People kind of misunderstand. "Oh leisure, we're just hanging around.".

Julie Ross Yeah. What do you want to learn about today? Okay.

Stacy Williams Yeah, exactly. It is what it is. Or we'll follow you around. Or you lead the way. Which is not at all what she says it should be. It's work, it's active work, it's leisure. It's just the act of knowing. And our job as teachers is just laying out that generous feast and being deliberate in what ideas we're presenting forward.

Stacy Williams So I just feel like man, right there, that was a huge that was a huge shift in our homeschooling. From where we started to what it has become. And that has been a beautiful part of the journey. For myself, too. That's a gift for the kids and also for us, right? I don't know, homeschool moms, man. It's so beautiful the things that we do. And I love-- I'm really reclaiming, like you said, it's so great. It's a conversation we all have. I'm reclaiming my education along with my children, learning things with them. But even scholé, I feel like it can be hard for us moms to do for ourselves outside of the lessons that we are doing for our kids. But man, it's that critical because we need to be creating an atmosphere of scholé in our home. And that atmosphere-- education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. And atmosphere is more than just the lovely things that we have or the tea times which are important.

Stacy Williams She actually says environment is very important. It doesn't have to be child-centered. But it's also an atmosphere of-- the atmosphere reflects the loves of our home, of my heart, my husband, our home together. And am I demonstrating a life of scholé for my children? Am I pursuing interests and reading in my own knowledge, and am I pursuing God? Am I pursuing his people in my community here? And am I allowing margin to do that? And to think and to rest in that? Because I feel like catching-- living in an atmosphere of scholé is going to do more to change their hearts than me talking to them about it. You know what I mean? This education allows us to do that in a beautiful non-lecturing kind of way, you know?

Julie Ross Yeah. And there's a Parent's Review article that I love where he's talking about the atmosphere of home, and he says that it's infinitely more than the words we say. It's like the air that we breathe. And kids pick up on it and know more than we think they do. And the effects of that atmosphere are greater than anything that they will get from a book, is what that quote says. I'm paraphrasing, but when I first read that quote, it's very convicting because I spent so much time researching and so much time worrying about what books I was using. And to think, "Oh, well, I haven't really thought about is the atmosphere of my home restful?" The answer was no. It was striving and filling buckets and moving on and taskmaster kind of thing. And that's not restful. And now I'm a neuroscience geek. But so much supports what she has said that when we feel a lot of pressure, we actually learn less. We're actually able to focus and have less attention than this restful kind of learning allows. But I know there's a lot of homeschool moms, and I'm sure you've heard this too, right? Well, my home doesn't feel restful. So what would you say? That atmosphere is not happening, right? I don't feel the scholé. I don't feel this leisure, gentle learning happening. I feel stressed and anxious. And we're not getting stuff done and it doesn't feel restful. What would you say to them? Words of wisdom?

Stacy Williams Oooh, okay... I go there often too. I think that is a constant temptation. It happens probably to most people. I have to have checks and balances in place when I start to feel that way. Or if I start to say, "Okay, these things over here, the checklist isn't getting done." I can definitely fall down there too. What's helpful to me, truly, when it starts to get that way, is stepping back and reminding myself, "What is the goal of education here? And why am I doing what I'm doing?" And it's really about training their loves, their affections, rightly ordered. And usually, when I'm starting to feel that way, it's because I have-- well, it could be a variety of things, but if I'm looking back-- it's because I have not allowed margin or space for beautiful things. This is happening a little less now, but it happened a lot more in the beginning: the riches were easily cut, right? And so what I found-- so we could get these are clearly the important things, the checklist that needs to get done. But as I'm focusing on this checklist over time, I'm feeling "Wow this is... I am feeling this in my being. I am dried and weary and feeling frenzied." And stepping back and realizing like, "Whoa. whoa. whoa. First of all, who's timeline am I on? You know what I mean, that is a wonderful gift of homeschooling in itself, but truly just saying, "Why are we here?" You know this is not about... children are not buckets to be filled. My goal of education is not to create a really smart person that doesn't love well, you know. The goal of why I'm here, it's-- to relate it to one of my favorite Charlotte Mason quotes: "At the end of a child's youth, the question isn't how much does he know? But how much does he care? How big is the room in which his feet are set?" And that is the purpose, what is the end goal of this? And it's really love in action, and stepping back and saying, "Wait a second." And maybe it might be like when both my boys were in T-ball-- that was a little bit of like external, frenzy things adding some pressure, too. So I think it's good to sit back and reflect and go, "Okay, what things maybe need to be cleared from the schedule?" And all of it could be good things. And that's the difficulty. It's not like it's an easy choice because this is the bad thing and this is the good thing. It could be all good things and really sitting back and prayerfully contemplating your schedule, and your calendar, and your daily rhythm and saying "Which of these good things needs to go? What is the best thing?" And then making that priority the best thing. For me, our home school really transformed when I made our morning time, where we do a lot of our riches, a best thing. That has margin in our day, in a time of space, and it sets the tone. We begin our days-- well, actually we begin our days with math because that's when they're fresh-- but then we meet together for this morning time were we begin early with contemplating beautiful things: reading poetry, looking at art, listening to music, doing read alouds, feasting together--we have food all the time, you know, that's how I keep little hands busy. That right there is what has helped us to create that atmosphere. By truly giving those areas of our education the honor that they deserve. It's not an afterthought. And it's easy to make them that way because we don't see the tangible feedback-- the result right away. You know, I'm not testing on it. It's not as black and white. It's definitely countercultural. We can feel the weight and the pressure if we're looking outside of our homeschool-- or, you know, like-minded people doing the same thing. Then I feel like, if I'm looking there, I can feel the weight a little bit. So maybe stop looking there, you know?

Julie Ross Yeah, that's great advice! Unplug from social media for a little bit and focus on your why more than your how. So, "Why are you doing this?" Going back to that is super important than the "How do I teach the da-da-dis-a-da-da-da? Or "What book should I use for blah blah blah?" We focus so much on the details that we're missing the big picture, and so the details can stress you out, rather than: Taking a deep breath. "Why am I doing this?" Right? And I totally agree with you about what we call the riches of a Charlotte Mason education, because they are so different, right? And we think, "Okay, well, I'm really stressed, or this is going on right now so I'm going to focus on math and reading." Which is fine, but that is not soul-giving. Well, maybe the reading part and math, for some people out there, I don't know. [00:23:09]Haha. [0.0s] But for me, it's not soul-giving, right? And so, I have to have the art and the poetry and the music that we might think, "Okay, well, this can go by the wayside." But actually, that is what causes that restful atmosphere. And taking the time to blow your own mind and soul, like you were saying, that the mom has to see this as, "This is a top priority in my life as well. That I am feeding my mind. And I'm creating this [00:23:39]schole-- [0.0s] this restful learning-- for myself." And then that will overflow into our home atmosphere. And so when we get all frazzled and we're not taking care of that for ourselves. Well, yeah. [00:23:50]Haha. There you go. [0.0s]

Stacy Williams [00:23:50]One practical application-- I [0.0s] feel like I was so late to the game in this and all the wise mothers before me we're talking about this-- you know, including Charlotte Mason with her institution of the afternoon application stuff-- but.. quiet time. We're talking about this idea of quiet time. And I'm like, "Yeah, okay." Well, first of all, my firstborn was like not napping from the time he came out of the womb, you know, I felt like, and then just constantly on the go. But I never was good about implementing that until this year, Julie. I started to saying, "Okay, an hour." And it really was-- at first I was thinking: "I need this, I need a time." Um, I am more introverted. I love being around people, but it's usually-- like I'm not-- so what do they call that? An introverted extrovert or extroverted introvert? But it's normal.

Julie Ross Ambivert?

Stacy Williams But I get refueled in solitude or silence, which when you're around children all day, you know, you don't really get that. So I realized, like, how could I build that margin into my day? It will allow me to be a more patient parent and teacher if I can give myself this hour. And so I started doing that this year in an hour of quiet time. And I do have them do it too. The side benefit of all this is that they really did get benefit from their hour alone as well. I didn't realize how much they just also needed some time apart, particularly I have one introverted son and one extroverted one. And so, I think providing that time of solitude has actually been really good for both of them to just give the time that they need. But it's also such a good example for them that I am deliberately and intentionally carving out time for my own rest and for my reading...

Yes, that is wonderful.

...and during that time of work, goodness sakes, if you need a nap go take one. But I find that that's the time when I can be, like, "Okay, I going to have a cup of tea and I'm going to read." And it's life-giving also. And it allows me to engage in my own [00:25:42]schole, [0.0s] which is setting the atmosphere in our home.

Julie Ross You have to be very intentional about that because other things will cloud your time, and chores, and phone calls, and other things you could be doing during that time will crowd it out if you're not intentional. So I think that's fantastic. And I think that's just-- especially during this season-- just a great reminder for people. You know, it may seem like you don't have that time, right? But setting that as a priority, other things will fit into the place of that. And I do-- and Charlotte Mason talks about this too, that, you know, kids do need solitude. That's the time where these ideas can grow in their minds. And if they're just constantly on the go and they're constantly busy and they're constantly having people talk to them, those ideas don't have time to process, that imagination doesn't have time to form. So, kudos to you. That's a great tip and strategy for everybody. I love that.

Stacy Williams Well, I mean, as I'm talking about this, I'm like, this is a work in progress. You know what I mean? Like, we are working on it daily. It is not perfect for sure. [00:26:38]Haha. [0.0s] I just feel like, you know, it is a love, and like you're saying, going back to the idea-- even though it's not carried out with perfect execution here-- it is a philosophy that I believe in. And the days that are long, or weary, or I lose sight of that, reminding myself and resting in that really helps me move forward. So that is key, like we talked about-- just knowing the "why" helps as we are growing and learning how to carry this out. I feel like that changes every year. There is one quote that I found and I loved, it was from-- just relate to the [00:27:12]schole [0.0s] before we move into the next gift-- but it's by Devin O'Donnell from his book, its called, Age of Martha: A Call to Contemplative Learning in a Frenzied Culture. And he says, [00:27:24]"Schole [0.0s] is itself a way of seeing the world, but it does not look upon things with hungry eye-- consuming a beautiful painting, for instance, and moving on to devour some other new attraction or activity. [00:27:37]Schole [0.0s] must be rooted in love, which is Christ. Love is patient. It is not hurried or worried. It is not anxious or distracted. Leisure moved by love is essentially receptive. Finding wisdom through the patience of slowing down and intentionally giving room for contemplation. When confronted with doing more or seeing more, Mary [from Mary and Martha's story from the Bible] chose to limit her gaze to look with the eyes of her heart and mind in worship. [00:28:06]Schole [0.0s] anchors the activity of learning to this aim of worship. Education guided by these principles will result in the right instructional practices, just as Mary's love for the Lord led her to the right and highest activity. And sitting at the feet of Christ proved no waste of time."

Julie Ross Mm, I love that. Wow! That is beautiful. What was the name of that book?

Stacy Williams It's called: Age of Martha: A Call to Contemplative Learning in a Frenzied Culture.

Julie Ross [00:28:35]Yeah, well, I hope you'll post that![0.1s]

Stacy Williams And so, that is such an encouragement to-- right? That's what we're doing. So, in the times when we feel like checkbox mode, or we're falling behind, or, you know, according to the powers that be that we've stated in our minds, or we feel like we're not doing "the thing"-- thinking and contemplating Mary-- sitting at Christ's feet is no waste of time. Doing these beautiful things with our children, laying this feast, and doing it in a restful way is no waste of time. It is beautiful and worthwhile. It is worthwhile. So, anyway...

Julie Ross Yes, yes. I love that. Yeah, that is-- and I love that you started off with this one because I feel like this is just such a beautiful gift and such a beautiful way of living. And, like you're [00:29:24]saying, it is impactful. [1.3s] Like it was talking about-- when they're looking at the painting to consume it. We are very much a consumer culture. "What can I get out of this and what does this do for me? And I want to be entertained." And very much so, our children are just immersed in that constantly, right? And teaching them the slower pace of life, this contemplative life, it's just such an incredible gift that we get to give them as well.

Ad Today's episode is brought to you by A Gentle Feast. A Gentle Feast is a complete curriculum for grades 1 through 12, that is family-centered, inspired by Miss. Mason's programs and philosophy, and rooted in books, beauty, and biblical truth. You can find out how smooth and easy days are closer than you think at AGentleFeast.com

Julie Ross All right, so let's move on to our second gift.

Stacy Williams So, the second gift I was thinking about was this gift of freedom that a Charlotte Mason education can provide-- and in kind of a different way than you initially think. Of course just generally homeschool provides us so much freedom-- freedom of schedule, freedom of curriculum-- I mean, just so much freedom, and that's a beautiful thing of all homeschooling. But particularly what I think this method, this philosophy of education provides, is this freedom that a true education will provide us intellectually, spiritually, physically. So, it is more of this supernatural occurrence that happens with an education. I love the Greek philosopher Epictetus says-- he's known for the saying-- he says, "We must not believe the many who say that only free people ought to be educated. But we should rather believe the philosophers who say only the educated are truly free." And Aristotle says, "To be always seeking after the useful does not become free and exalted souls." So, you know, pursuing this utilitarian, or again, consumer type of useful, productive education does not produce the freedom of soul-- right?-- that we're looking for. And Aristotle again writes, "There is a sort of education in which parents should train their sons [or daughters], not as being useful or necessary, but because it is liberal and noble." In Plato's Republic we read, "The object of education is to teach us to love what is beautiful." So the goal of education is to love what we ought to love. It is to train the affections and have them rightly ordered under God. And that is what constitutes this true education-- this freedom, this growing of virtue-- is growing in character. You know, the aim is to present these things-- the good, true and beautiful-- to our children, and to assist them in the training of their loves. Of course it is the Holy Spirit that causes the growth-- and we'll talk about it. But that is the aim, and it is what will help them to grow in virtuous character; and having a virtuous character truly provides freedom. Charlotte Mason, she identifies the three types of knowledge and she kind of, I guess, puts them in little categories where you have the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of man, and the knowledge of the universe or His created order-- essentially, the natural world. And her philosophy-- the methods in which through this-- if we adopt the philosophy and then carry it out-- the approaches of the Charlotte Mason education provides us in ways in which we can become intimately acquainted with each area of knowledge. Intimately-- the intimacy is the real key here. That is what provides the relationship. Again, it's not just filling with facts or dry facts, we are using living resources-- living ideas or lived experience. And that is what allows us to develop us, and our children-- right?-- this synthetic and poetic knowledge of the world, of God, of fellow man, and His created order. And so, we are moved to action through this intimacy. So, it said that virtue isn't virtue in itself, is not just [00:33:54]thoughts up here, [0.0s] virtue ends in action, right? Assuming an action, that's what produces the character of man. It's not all up in here, but it's acted out. And so, having all of that knowledge with the end goal of action-- worship-- is what helps to develop that character in our children and sets them free. Um, I was looking here, Charlotte Mason said, she encourages this type of relational knowledge that assists in the training of the affections rightly ordered. So, we have our days-- the way in which we do this, just practically, you know, our days are filled with living books, we have encounters with living experts or amateurs-- which are the lovers of these various fields-- scripture readings, handicrafts, afternoon applications, fables, poetry, music, gymnastics, language, and Latin. The feast is wide and generous, and it is done in a way that facilitates relationship. One of the ways-- I just thought, "Well, what is a good way in which I could demonstrate how one of the areas actually can set us free?" And a good example was the gift of freedom carried out in Charlotte Mason through nature study. So, we have this biblical mandate that we are to care for the world. And I've always told my children that we cannot rightly care for something-- we cannot truly care for-- we cannot rightly care for it unless we love it. And we cannot love something truly unless we know it, unless we have known it, unless we have seen it. And so it begins with the act of seeing and knowing a thing to develop intimacy in our relationship, which then produces this action-- we are able to carry out this mandate. And the freedom lies in: this is a mandate regardless, but what a freedom spiritually-- what a joy and delight-- to carry this out now with the knowledge and a love! You know, like, that is-- I mean, the Lord says, "Come to me, all who are weary." I mean, we can go through this work weary or we can come to Him. His yoke is light; His burden is easy. And if we have our affections rightly ordered in our God up top, his work is easy and light, and He gives us blessing in doing that. And so to care for the world no longer, necessarily, becomes the chore that we think it, if we have developed a seeing eye and a knowledge of the thing, and then are able to love it through our work with a joyful heart. I mean, that is just so true for anything that we do. Even when you were saying-- I love one blog post you shared one time, it was a bracelet you had, you were like, "I get to do this." Right. I get to do this thing. And it's such a good reminder, of like, we get to do this thing. This is a freedom for us-- like this is our-- As He says, "Take dominion over here." This is what we're called to do, but we don't get to have the freedom in doing that because we're not-- we don't have this intimacy and relationship. And so it starts there. And, like, the "I get to do this" comes first with knowing your children--knowing they are born persons-- knowing about this philosophy of education, learning about all of these things-- your "why". And then, man, how wonderful does the "I get to to this" become? It is a delight. It is a freedom. And it has to be constantly-- I feel like I have to constantly work to remember that, right? Like, it's, I feel like, "Man, will I be the first to forget all of those things?" But it's truly what I would desire for my children and for myself to just be working toward that, because I feel like, man, we'll just backslide all the time and forget these underlying things. But, truly, if we can keep our eyes on the prize, it is a freedom that is offered especially through this method of education in the way that we do it.

Julie Ross Yeah, no, that's so beautiful. See, this is why I wanted you on here, Stacy. You're so intelligent and such a deep thinker, and that is beautiful the way that you explained all that, it's just-- I'm just-- I don't even know what to say because it's so beautiful! And I think I hadn't put all those pieces together. So I love that. And it reminds me what she's talking about, like, the goal of education is to create a magnanimous person. This kind of, like, freedom-- an expansive, a larger than life, magnanimous-- it means they have that strong character-- they're a generous person. Right? But, in the quote that you already used their feet are in this large room. It's this ever-expanding knowledge. It's the freedom to keep growing as a person, which is so beautiful. And you were talking about having your affections rightly ordered, and she talks about the way of the world versus the way the reason. And by shaping their loves-- right?-- you're shaping and molding their character-- you're giving them the freedom to make choices. They're not, like-- I think of the verse you know: "being like a slave to sin"-- they're not a slave to their will, which will, you know-- granted, I'm there too, right? [00:39:01]Haha. [0.0s] In my natural bent. I have the freedom to walk in a different way. And so by ordering their affections, we allow them to have that freedom. And of course, ultimately, the Holy Spirit does that as well. But we're kind of partnering in that education of our children with the Holy Spirit to rightly order their affections through the ideas, and the books, and in the nature study. That's a perfect example; I love that so much. So, beautiful! I feel like we could just mic drop right there. [00:39:27]Haha. [0.0s] But yeah, that is so beautiful. I love how you put that all together. Okay, so number three... and this is actually on A Gentle Feast website. So yes, I love this one. So, what is the third gift?

Stacy Williams Okay. I thought the third gift here was: The way that a Charlotte Mason education can provide the gift of smooth and easy days-- or smoother-- easier. [00:39:56]Haha. [0.0s] Not necessarily perfection here...

Julie Ross Every once in a while!

Stacy Williams But, there really is-- so, going back to what Charlotte Mason says about education: Education is an atmosphere (and we've talked a lot about that) and it is a discipline and a life. And when she talks about discipline, like education as a discipline, she is talking about-- she's referring to the disciplines of habits. The habits of mind and body. And it is in cultivating that habit that we can then see it reflected within how our days are running-- how it is reflected in our rhythms and routines-- basically the liturgy of our home. And this is honestly-- this particular tenant has been on my heart a lot lately. I felt like the Lord was convicting me, "You need to study a little bit more about this." It is not my natural bent. The habit-formation is work for me. I think the creation of the atmosphere-- understanding her pholosopy-- I'm way more the type of mom being like, "Oh my gosh! It is sun shining today. Let's run off to some creek somewhere!" You know, or something like that. That it's easier for me. What is definitely more difficult for my own personality is to provide an environment that helps my children and myself to develop good habits of mind and body. That consistency is very difficult for me. And so this year I really spent a lot more time reading about that in Charlotte Mason's works and also in In Vital Harmony. I re-read for the children's sake just to put a little push here. But, to focus particularly-- cause I know that's a weakness for me-- but I can see the benefits of doing that. Because what was happening, I found, was without this focus on the discipline component of education and habit formation, I was really doing a disservice to my children. It was creating a little bit more chaos in our environment here, and, of course, then rising anger, my frustration with them, et cetera. And it was impacting our atmosphere and I thought, "Okay, there's got to be a better way." I thought I was giving more the gift of my children by being a little bit more free-spirited-- which there is! If you are like that, there is a beautiful gift in having that too! I think-- I have friends that are gifted another way and we feed off each other's gifts so much and encourage and inspire one another. So, you are-- first, let me say, you are the homeschool mother that God intended for these children. So, you can do this thing. I do think it's wise to reflect on your gifts and your weaknesses, and then to go in and dive deep: "What might be the weakness for you?" And I just felt like, this is the year where I really need to be focusing and reading more on: "What does it look like to have discipline in education in our homeschool? And how can I better understand what it is to cultivate an atmosphere in which my children can grow in habits of body and mind?" Because, ultimately, it's the habits. Remember how we talked about virtue is in action? So, it is the habits that are developed that truly end up producing this character, right, your habits are what result in action, and actions are what result in character. There's a quote about that somewhere, and I might get to that in a second. I remember where they're talking about-- it's a common saying-- and I don't know who says it, but, "Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character." So, I knew that this was an important way to go. I just didn't know quite how to tap into that. So I put a lot of time into it. But Charlotte Mason says, "Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children, upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend." So, when I read that, I'm like, "Okay!" [00:43:54]Haha. [0.0s]

Julie Ross That's not overwhelming at all, is it? No! Of course not! [00:43:57]Haha.[0.0s]

Stacy Williams Yeah, I know! I'm kinda like, "Oh, Okay!" But, I mean, there is a weight there that this is not a side thought for her. I mean, it makes up a third of the education when she talks about: atmosphere, discipline, life. So, we really should be putting a lot more time here. So, what does that mean, then, to create a place where we are helping them form habits of body and mind? Habit is something that we do routinely and it is over time. In order to develop habit you have to practice it; and Charlotte Mason talks quite a bit about that. And it's amazing to me when I read this stuff-- you know I was a nurse practitioner-- so, you know, I love all the science-y stuff. But I'll read her books from so so long ago, and she is talking about stuff that we are talking about now in neuroscience. And we can really study about how habit formation, and grooves in the brain, and how, "Oh man, is it much easier to develop a habit than retrain!" And all of the stuff that she was talking about. And now we really do have imaging and all that kind of stuff that really supports that. This lady from so long ago, you know, here she is-- she's talking about stuff that we're talking about now. She was really so far ahead. It is fascinating to me. So, she says, we must practice it, ut also, we can't just-- here's the thing, without their "why." And that's critical. Like how we just talked about creating-- you know, what's so important with our homeschool and how do we get that restful [00:45:23]schole? [0.0s] Like, knowing your "why." It is important to be feeding or providing living ideas to our children that allow them to create those relationships between ideas that give them internal motivators for good action, in which they can then carry out habits, which they can then practice. So-- there has to be-- we have to be doing both of the things. Now, this is different than not requiring obedience, right? Obedience is-- like, for example, it's different than saying we have to get some type of explanation every time we ask our children to do something-- that's not what she's saying here. Providing an internal motivator is not saying we need to sit down and have a conversation every time about them following through with something. They should be able to do that. Especially-- I mean, I feel like there's an age and stage thing that requires nuance, that we're having toddlers to young adults. I mean I feel like I'm just now shifting a little bit with my ten-year-old, like, "Okay, conversations are starting to change a little bit here." I mean, you can speak way more to that as you've got adults now. And so it's definitely-- it changes in how it looks, young to old. But it is important that-- and it doesn't come off so much in this lecture format-- she talks quite a bit about that. It is-- it's got to be, first of all, set in the atmosphere. So, habit training starts with our own habit training, and that was really like the light bulb moment for me. It really does go back to habit and discipline and atmosphere, they're all just kind of intertwined. But it goes back to my own formation of my own habits and discipline, that then sets the tone and creates a culture of discipline in education. So, I do feel like as I started-- toward the beginning of the year, I sat down and said, "Here are the things that I would like to work on this year." And then creative ways in which we could practice those habits, truly has-- I mean, she did say it. I just didn't listen. [00:47:24]Haha. [0.0s] But it truly has secured me easier and smoother days with less tension. Now there is still-- we're kind of like a fiery personality household over here. Lots of personality! And so it's not always-- actually, that's part of the beautiful things that I love about our house, too-- but it can be like, you know. And so I feel like it's not perfect.

Julie Ross You're not robots. Smooth and easy days doesn't mean that we're all robots. We're all still people with our own opinions, with our own personalites. Yes. It's just, eas-i-er days.

Stacy Williams Yes. Yes! And I didn't realize what a freedom that was for my children. I thought going into this like, "Oh man, I'm going to lose the beauty in my homeschool." I truly did. Like, "If I provide this kind of structure, this is going to be awful." Contrary to that, I actually felt so much freedom, especially when I'm consistent, because I was doing so much mental work up here, I didn't realize what I was doing to compensate for not having that. So, it was more stressful for me. And then my children...

Julie Ross Oh, for sure. It takes a lot more mental work!

Stacy Williams ...as long as they are to provide that structure. They were truly thriving. So, I would just encourage you, to some moms, this is their wheelhouse. And I love those moms because they come over and give me tips and tricks and encouragement, and this is just like, they-- this is their gift. But if this is a struggle for you, I would really encourage you to take a step back just as you're-- maybe as you're planning for your next term-- just to think about what it might look like. Think about how you could incorporate more of that discipline or habit formation and structure in your school. Because I think you'll find your days will really go smoother, and you will have more time, just even mentally, to be doing all those good and freeing things that you love to do too. I think it's truly a gift. It's truly a gift. I see it's been a gift to myself and also to my kids, especially the one that I thought might not benefit the most from it. He's a little bit more, I think, probably takes after his momma-- a little all over the place. [00:49:35]Haha. [0.0s] And he really started thriving. It was-- it felt safer for him to not have as much control as I think I was giving him. In my mind, I thought, like, "Okay, letting them into the conversation, or having more of a voice here, kind of feeling the day out, or having this flexibility... This is a gift for them." What I found was [it was] actually not creating this safe-- the safest environment for them, in which they could really then be free and explore. So, it was kind of this counterintuitive thing for me that is not natural, that takes a ton of work for me to do, but really does have a benefit. It will probably take me several years of, like, two steps ahead, one step back. You know what I mean? And then, hopefully, eventually we'll develop those beautiful habits. But again, too, I want to encourage people when it comes to habit formation, because we tried a lot of new things this year and they have been giving us smoother, easier days. But I think it can be a discouragement if I look up and say, "Well, now I'm doing these things, why hasn't this...why hasn't it resulted in whatever? Why am I not seeing the fruit yet?" But this is when I try and remind myself: This is a long-- we're in this for the long haul. And we are growing oaks, like, we are hoping their roots go deep. And that growth goes deep into the ground before we see anything come out on top. And so my prayer is just that-- I mean, it is the Holy Spirit that does the work-- like, does the growth. And I am just doing the work as unto the Lord in obedience and diligence, and trusting that the fruit will come when it needs to come because it is a good thing and it's worth pursuing. Like scripture says, you know, "Do not grow weary in doing good, for then we will reap." And so, even when it feels like-- gosh, especially if this is particularly hard for you, like it is for me, I mean, solidarity. But just remembering that-- to persevere. And that, if it is good and worthy, that we will reap in due time. And so we don't have to see an immediate-- the immediate fruit right now, right? That would be like a dandelion, which is here and gone. No, but we want those oaks, where we have character that is strong and rooted, and then there for a hundred years, you know?

Julie Ross Yeah, yeah, I love-- I like that because you might think, "Okay, well, habit training, that's not a gift, that's hard." Right? But, you know, think about it-- I always think about it in terms of exercise, right? Like, when you go to the gym for the first time, you lift a five-pound weight, and then you work yourself up to the thirty-pound weight. You don't just go in the gym the first day and pick up a thirty-pound weight. So over time, right, yes, it's hard. Are your muscles going to be sore? Yes, they are. But over time, what have you created? You've created a healthy person who has good muscle tone and is able to do more things, right? But you can kind of lose focus when you're in the really hard part, it hurts. And so, to see that as a gift that you are-- you're making those ruts, like you were saying, and neuroscience shows that. It becomes easier, and it becomes easier, and becomes easier, and becomes easier, and it does shape a person. Those habits shape their character, that you might not see that until they're adults. But-- and I love what you also said about consistency and routines. It's not this rigid structure: "At nine o'clock we're doing this... And at ten o'clock we're...." You know, it's more of these routines, and she has her short lesson periods for a reason. And when you have short lessons, you are able to focus better. You do have more time, more margin in your day, which creates that [00:53:09]schole [0.0s] you were talking about. And it does create these kind of smooth and easy days for you and your children. That is a gift, that kind of rhythm that she has and the short lesson times that she has, as well as, the gift is going to happen once you do work on some of those habits, especially the habit of attention, like she talks about. It's a process to get there. But I love that you brought this up as a gift because I think we have to view it as that, especially when it's difficult and we're in the trenches-- and to build a habit takes time. I mean, she talks about one of the lessons, like, treating it like your kid has measles-- like, your whole focus is going into this one thing. And if you haven't had that kind of rhythm or routine and it's kind of been free for all, right, it can be-- it's going to be very hard for everyone, but eventually, you're going to get to that gift that you're you're talking about. And you know, studies do show too that-- just in terms of like decision fatigue, right?-- if you're constantly having to think about, "Okay, what are we doing next? What happens after this?" That's exhausting for adults, research has shown, right? Adults do better with habits and routines, well, how much so for a little child in their developing brain? Children actually feel safer-- I remember there was this study where they were having kids preschool kids play-- I don't know if you remember this one-- and there was no fence around the playground, and kind of the anxiety that the children were feeling. They weren't as imaginative, they weren't as creative as when they had the fence around the playground. The children felt more free to be more creative; they were less stressed. That boundary actually made them feel safer and they were actually able to play better. I'll have to try to find that study somewhere. This is back in my college days. Kind of having that rhythm and routine creates that safe structure for them to learn better. Yeah. So, thank you for bringing that one up. It's super interesting we could do a whole podcast that one. But, anyway.

Stacy Williams There is this great book, and honestly I read it every year just because it's so helpful for me, and it's called Atomic Habits by James Clear. And it's great! Have you read it? It's so good.

Julie Ross I'm going to link it. Yes, I'm a habit book junkie!

Stacy Williams Yes, I know! I am, too. I'm like, "Give me more of that. I need it." But the funny thing is I have read that book like every year. But it's so good! And one thing that he says-- just as an encouragement-- again, if you're kind of like an all or nothing person, like I could tend to be-- he really talks about-- he gives this example of an airplane, and, let's say you're flying, you know, just to Hawaii or wherever-- if you change that airplane's trajectory by one degree, they will end up all the way over here, like, totally in an absolutely different location. And so bringing that back to habit training. One degree of change really does impact our entire trajectory. So it does not have to be-- in fact Charlotte Mason says, "Don't focus on all of the things, all at once, at one time." She says, "Pick one, and work on that as a family for several weeks." And master this, like, focus on this. But it is just one small change, and the consistency there, that does make a significant change in our trajectory and in our homeschool. And down the years, and especially down the years in our children's lives, it is a gift to them because we have assisted them in developing those grooves in a way that now that action becomes easy. It is an easy action; it is an easy choice. It is not-- like you were saying earlier, the fighting of their will. Their will is in line, right, with the will of God. That is ultimately what we would love to do, is train their habits of mind and body, to be so that their will is in line with the will of God, so that the choice is easy to stay on the straight and narrow path. It's easy for them to do. Now, like all of this, with our humanity, we know that that is a lifelong walk of sanctification and there's "no one righteous, no, not one" right? And we are-- so it'll always be work. But we can definitely help ease that burden for our children if we are working on that now when they're young. But, you know, what if you're starting later-- so I think it's great-- I met a friend recently and she's reading about this stuff and she has babies! That's it! Nobody's in school. And I just thought, "Man, what a gift! What a gift you are to your children!" This is so great. Like, how beautiful? If you are there, this is beautiful. Rejoice, rejoice that you get this as you're having this baby. If this is coming to you later, like it did for me, and you're looking back, like, "Oh my gosh." And especially when Charlotte Mason says, like a lot of this is determined by five-- you know, she says some things and you're like, "Oh, great." I really read some-- As I was reading, I was like, "Well, I screwed this one up. I guess, you know, it's gone." But be encouraged, because it's really never too late. You know, I am still habit training myself and seeing the fruits of making those choices, even in adulthood. And I think that it is possible, no matter when we're coming in the game-- and also be encouraged because the Lord is sovereign and all the part of that story and testimony even for that child who is getting the habit training at fifteen-- it is all-- it can be used for his glory our kids. So do not be discouraged, if you're coming in later and you're thinking, "Well, gosh, I mean, I just shouldn't even try. It's too late." No, it's worthy and good. G.K. Chesterton says, "Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly." I love that quote. It's basically my life motto. I'm like, I'll do the thing, I'll do the thing! If it's worth doing, even if it doesn't look great-- worth baking this bread even though it came out like ten pounds, you know-- nobody can eat it! You know, but it is worth doing, to cultivate these habits, like, if it is worthwhile. So I just persevere.

Julie Ross Yeah, I love that book as well. Actually, so in a couple of weeks, I'll release my goal-setting episode again, that I do every year. And in that, you know-- talking about setting your vision for the year and setting your goals-- you know, really the focus is on what habits are you going to change or do? But to start with one. And like Charlotte Mason says that as well, and she talks about that in the book, that as you build one area of your life, let's say you want to make the habit of making your bed. That seems silly and a silly place to start. But what happens is once you succeed in one area that builds momentum and you're like, "Okay, I can do this! I changed this behavior. Okay, well, now I can start doing x y z." And so those habit stack onto each other. And so, the same thing happens with our kids and ourselves, right? We can be so overwhelmed. I have to change all these habits! And we've got to do all these different things! You know, if you start small, you start with one, and you've got success in that then that builds momentum and it makes it easier to add on these other habits as well. So that's awesome. So that will be coming out in a couple of weeks to help you kind of focus if that's something you realize you want to change. And habits-- yeah, that New Year's one is helpful as well. Alright, and then the fourth gift-- if you don't mind me saying it-- is-- I love this-- the gift of self-education and lifelong learning. So what's that gift about?

Stacy Williams Yes! One thing I love about the Charlotte Mason education, it's really-- This idea of promoting self-education and lifelong learners really does provide a lot-- it takes a lot of the weight off of our shoulders as educators.

Julie Ross That is a gift.

Stacy Williams And it is a gift, and it's also a gift for our children because they will have this ability to be learning and loving their entire lives. So truly, it's a gift for both people. I love with a Charlotte Mason education there's this emphasis on, you know, you do not need to be the expert in every subject to teach your child. Our children can come in contact with experts, regularly, through living books and through the lived experience, through field trips and meeting people who are passionate about what they are studying and doing. And that is such a gift to our child. That right there, they can meet that level of passion and expertise through so many mediums that we really don't have to be the ones that are providing all of this expert knowledge across all areas. That really cannot be done by any person. There is no such thing as a master of all trades. It's like a jack-of-all-trades, you know what I mean? And so, it really relieves a lot of pressure as a homeschool mother to realize, like, "Wait a second." There are lots of resources, living resources, that we can access to provide someone who has an intimate-- like this intimacy with this particular point of knowledge and can share that passion and love with my child. And my child can get this through them, and I can facilitate that, and also be on that journey with them, in which we can both enter into-- We both have a seat at the great conversation when we're reading these great books. So, it is a beautiful thing that is more organic, and it relieves a lot of the same pressure that we have to be...

Julie Ross The fountainhead of all knowledge, as she says.

Stacy Williams ...curating, like, analyzing all stuff, spitting it out for them, deciding what is important, being an expert-- all of those things. We are much more stepping back. And that kind of brings me to the next thing that Charlotte Mason talks about is this idea of masterly inactivity. Now, she uses this in quite a few ways, but masterly inactivity, as it pertains to school education-- Here I'll give a quote here where she says, "The teacher's job is to point things out, stimulate interest, give guidance and provide limits in order to help the child as he acquires knowledge. But in no way is the teacher supposed to be the wellspring and source of all knowledge herself. The less parents and teachers interpret for the child and lecture from their own personal supply of information and opinions, the better for the child. Predigested food fed to a healthy person doesn't help to strengthen the digestion. Children must be allowed to reflect for themselves and sort things out in their own minds. If they need help they'll ask for it." And in volume three, she says, "The children need to enjoy the book. Each of the ideas in the book needs to make a sudden, delightful impact on the child's mind, causing an intellectual awakening that signifies that an idea has been born. The teacher's role in this is to see and feel for himself and then to prompt his students with an appreciative look or comment. But he needs to be careful that he doesn't deaden the impression of the idea with too much talking." And so, I think about, like, "Wow, that really does relieve a lot of pressure if you're coming into it." And I definitely did this first, as I was transitioning-- Not just, you know, philosophies, which affected approach and everything-- And I was going from a much more analytic approach and utilitarian approach to education, and transitioning slowly to this more synthetic, poetic approach. And I really was tempted in the beginning to mini-sermonette every single thing. Or, and or, if I was asking for a narration and getting, of course, piddly ones, because when we started this I think my oldest was-- how old was he? Eight. And I was-- And I'm like, "Well, you know, but of course, the main point here, that you're supposed to get from this, is such and such." Do you know what I mean? [01:05:02]Haha. [0.0s] Or, you know, from the fabling he's talking about...

Julie Ross "Thanks for sharing, but let me tell you what's really important." Yeah.

Stacy Williams Right! Exactly! And, like, feeding that in there, and not really resting in the idea that there is no education, but self education. Truly, there is no knowledge that has not become self-knowledge. And that's what she means when she talks about the science of relations between these living ideas. When a child has time-- like we talked about with [01:05:32]schole-- [0.0s] to actively contemplate these things and form these connections, and the knowledge becomes him, then it can be carried out in action and helps them develop virtuous character. But they cannot do that mental work, and it does not become them, if I have done that mental work for them and then I'm just telling them, "Here's what you need to know. Here are the important things." And how much more pressure on me to know enough about a thing to determine what's the most important thing! You know, I mean, that is a lot of work. You know, it's a lot different than pre-reading and discussing and contemplating together, to go through and say, "Okay, today I've got to be an expert on the Revolutionary War period and know all of the dates and all of the people, so that way you can know what's the important thing." You know, I mean, that is a lot more work and pressure, I feel like on a mother and a teacher. So, what a get to know that helping them develop the self-education and lifelong learning, these skills-- which is the skill of contemplating and developing these connections and then using them-- Man, it's a gift to them, but also a gift to us in the here and now as teachers. You know, it's a gift to both of us in the long term.

Julie Ross Maybe we could just not get our kids gifts this year and just put self-education in a box.

Stacy Williams Haha! That would be crazy. You're right about that.

Julie Ross "This is what I bought you for Christmas this year kids! You're welcome!"

Stacy Williams I know. Oh, gosh. Oh, gosh.

Julie Ross I think it is one of the biggest gifts that we do-- this style of education does create-- especially, coming from a public education background, like you said. You know, I felt like I had to know everything, and figure out what the best way to teach it was, or how to be motivating enough to capture a child's attention to get them to want to learn something. And that was a huge relief to know that, "No, I'm just putting them in touch with these experts, with these people who understand this subject. I'm kind of guiding the discussion here, but I don't have to be that fountainhead." That was huge relief for me. But I do agree that ultimately the gift is what we're giving them, and helping them create that muscle where they are able to digest and to take in. And they know something, and it's theirs through narration, and we can't take that from them. It's a huge gift as well. Alright, and then the last one is the gift of peace. Oh, we all could use some of that right about now, right?

Stacy Williams Well, I know! And this just-- honestly, as I was thinking-- this was actually the first gift that I thought about when I was thinking of it because I feel like, this is it. This is the creme de la creme of all of it, it kind of brings me back home, which is why I want to end on it instead of start with it. I think, as we're pursuing all of these good and true beautiful things through the Charlotte Mason education, which all of it, of course, is such a gift, not just these five, because they're all intertwined and just such a gift to us and our children. I think it's important to remember-- Look, I know that I can often not remember-- If I pursue all these things, but then elevate my impact through the story that's going on here. If I elevate the work that I'm doing-- mis-order it-- and think that I have too much control or too little, if I don't have that rightly ordered then things can go awry. So, it really starts from a place that requires humility, which it's so good for us to model because education begins in humility. And so we all have to humble ourselves to receive and to learn. And it is so good for our children to see that in us. But humbling ourselves and taking the importance of-- it is important, so He calls us to do the work, and it's so important-- but it is under the Holy Spirit. He is causing the growth. And I think for me, I can like hold my grip a little bit too hard on my homeschooling or my children or their character, and I lose sight-- It causes nothing in me in the end but anxiety or anger or frustration-- I went through that journey a lot with one of my children when they were younger and they were learning to read books and had dyslexia, and I didn't-- It was not diagnosed yet. I didn't know what was quite going on. But instead of, like, really resting this idea of children born persons, and understanding this philosophy-- because it wasn't something that's familiar with-- and also recognizing the Lord as my God-- losing sight of that, caused me to think, "Wow, okay, this is... We've got to be somewhere different. This is a reflection on my teaching or you." And there was a lot of tension between this child and me for the longest time. And not because-- I mean, poor child. Like I could speak-- This is another podcast. But anyways, it was such a beautiful-- And I've just loved to see how the Lord has grown me and humbled me, to learn to put my children on an altar for him and to not grasp too tightly when it comes to anything. Even this beautiful gift of homeschooling my children, because it is a privilege. It is a privilege, and I do not take it for granted. And I have to be willing, though, always that my children and their education are still properly ordered in my own heart, under God and His call on my life, and my marriage, and then my children. And so I feel like it is such a beautiful thing, and we put our hearts and our minds into doing this beautiful thing for them. But just as we're treating our children's loves and having them order their affections, I think it's good for us homeschool moms to go back and reevaluate. For me, it has to happen quite a bit: "Okay, are my affections properly ordered right now?" Because it seems that I'm then not holding it as high as it should be, but I'm actually putting it in exactly the place that it needs to be for it to be the most helpful for us all. And I'll just go from this quote. I love this one from Parents and Children. Charlotte Mason says, "In the things of science, in the things of art, in the things of practical everyday life, his God doth instruct him and doth teach him, her God doth instruct her and doth teach her. Let this be the mother's key to the whole of the education of each boy and each girl, not of her children. The divine spirit does not work with nouns of multitude, but with each single child. Because He is infinite, the whole world is not too great a school for this indefatigable Teacher. And because He is infinite, He is able to give the whole of His infinite attention for the whole time to each one of his multitudinous pupils. We do not sufficiently rejoice in the wealth that the infinite nature of our God brings to each of us." So beautiful.

Julie Ross That's beautiful. Yes. And I love that. That's so beautiful.

Stacy Williams Recognizing that the Holy Spirit has an active and personal agency in education and each individual child. He is capable of doing that. He said He will do that, and He will do that for us. He has promised that He is not done with this yet, and this whole life is a life of sanctification for His. And I think it was C.S. Lewis, he talked about, you know, "the Lord is knocking down walls, He's banging it out." He is building something new and He will not stop until He's completed this beautiful and good work. And I think recognizing that, we can let go, and it works better if we do let go, because it's not whether we want to or not, it's like whether we want to enjoy the ride. I mean, the Lord is in control, whether we like it or not. But resting in that is so much more of a gift to us, and peaceful for school. And it kind of...

Julie Ross That's such a beautiful way to kind of wrap all of us up too. Especially, you know, again, this time of year and what not. To focus on: Where does our source of peace truly come from? And I think, as homeschool moms-- love us. Love y'all so much! But man, can we get our little balls in a knot and get all anxious about some detail or something that's not going right. Or, you know, I've had dyslexic kids myself, or my kid doesn't know their multiplication tables, or Jimmy doesn't know how to spell, and we lose sight of the fact that the Holy Spirit is the primary teacher of our children. And yeah, and to rest in that surrender. Yes, we are called to do our due diligence in our part, right? But ultimately, that is not one hundred percent solely on our shoulders. And that is a huge relief, and that does bring peace and perspective. And I think sometimes we think, "Oh, well, I'm not stressing about this, if I'm not controlling it, it's not going to work." Well, actually, like you're saying, we're actually making it harder for ourselves and kind of hindering the process. Sometimes we can get our own way. So...

Stacy Williams I know that I can be like that.

Julie Ross For sure! That's such a great way to wrap this up. Charlotte Mason talks about that in parents and children, the gift that the Holy Spirit is the primary teacher of our children and we need to-- or we're allowed to-- we get to, rest in that and surrender in that. So, that's a great reminder. I knew you would just do so wonderful. This is so encouraging, and I hope that as people listen to it that they see all these gifts-- they see the beautiful education that they're giving their children and they see the gifts that it is in themselves and they're able to just have that rest, right. And to take a deep breath, and to take it all in, and just enjoy it, especially the holidays and everything that's going on. So thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. I love you.

Stacy Williams I miss you! And next time you're in Greenville, you better come over for some tea. Our boys want to play, you know, bring the kiddos. Thanks so much for having me on here.

Previous PostS6 E9 | The Art of Poetry (Jeannie Fulbright with Shiela Catanzarite)