If you’ve been following along with the last couple of interviews here at Your Morning Basket, you know that Pam has been walking us through the “4Rs” that make up a rich Morning Time: recitation, reading aloud, ritual, and relationship. (And if you missed one and want to get caught up, be sure to check out episode 2 and episode 3.) Now it’s time to tackle the third R, ritual.
So often I find myself wanting to slow down and give my children time in our day to think, explore, and reflect. I want our Morning Time to be about more than checking off items from our list of things to do, but I’m not sure how to develop a meaningful liturgy that will help us begin our day. And then I find myself wondering if any ritual can really be restful and refreshing when energetic, chatty young children are involved.
Today’s episode addresses these issues and so much more. Pam talks with Dr. Christopher Perrin of Classical Academic Press, who introduces us to the concept of scholé, or restful learning. Dr. Perrin encourages us to develop liturgical practices for Morning Time that can set the stage for scholé in our homes, and he provides us with examples of restful learning that can work in real life, even with wiggly, noisy kids like mine.
There is so much to take in from this interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Pam: This is Your Morning Basket where we help you bring Truth, Goodness, and Beauty to your homeschool day.
Hi everyone, it’s Pam Barnhill, and welcome to episode 4 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. It’s really great to have you guys here with me today. Well, I hope your school year has gotten off to a great start and your Morning Time. And speaking of Morning Time’s because that’s what we talk about here, people have been sharing with me pictures of their Morning Times at #YourMorningBasket on Instagram and other social media. It’s been a lot of fun to go through there and see lots of cute baskets and lots of cute kids having a great time learning during Morning Time. So I just want to encourage you to do that: share your photos #YourMorningBasket on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media, and I’ll be checking that out to have a look and see what you guys are up to in Morning Time in your home.
Well, today I get to interview a favorite mentor of mine, this is Dr. Christopher Perrin from Classical Academic Press. I had a wonderful opportunity to take a class with Dr. Perrin this summer on scholè in your school and homeschool. And it was such a blessing to me, and I was really happy when he agreed to come on to the podcast and talk to us about that third R “ritual.” So this will tie up the Reading, Recitation, and Ritual podcast; breaking open those R’s of Morning Time, so sit back and enjoy the program.
Dr. Christopher Perrin is the CEO of Classical Academic Press, Board Vice-President of the Society for Classical Learning, and the Director of the Alcuin Fellowship of Classical Educators. He is also the Latin Magister in our home through his wonderful Song School Latin and Latin for Children materials. Dr. Perrin has an extensive background in teaching and writing about classical education and he’s a strong advocate for the revival of some of the lost practices of a liberal arts education. His thoughts on a return to scholè learning or a more restful, contemplative style of education have been a breath of fresh air for many of us in the homeschool world. Dr. Perrin, welcome to today.
Dr. Perrin: Thank you very much, glad to be here, Pam.
Pam: I’m so happy you’re here. Could you start by telling us a little bit about what scholè is and how it might be an answer to the hectic and distracted nature of our lives?
Dr. Perrin: Sure. You know, the word scholè when I hear it connotes now after several years of thinking about it reflecting on it, studying it, some rich ideas of a restful, thoughtful, more contemplative life, pursued with friends who are studying the things that are truly worthwhile without distraction. Put another way: studying and seeking after that which is true, good, and beautiful with friends often in a beautiful place with good food and drink. That’s the idea behind this Greek word scholè, and scholè is a Greek word. It comes to us from Plato and Aristotle. Aristotle and his nichomachean ethics and his politics talks about this ideal of a scholè life in which friends are together seeking the true, the good, and the beautiful. Scholè is sometimes translated as leisure and that’s not a bad translation but leisure is not sufficient because when we think of leisure in an American context, often we think of vacation and amusement and entertainment and that’s not what was meant by scholè. It did mean free time. It did mean undistracted time again to be with friends to reflect and discuss things that are most important to us. That, therefore, is an important component to becoming a well-educated person, to actually have time to consider deeply the things that are most important. And sometimes in American education we move through things so fast, covering materials, checking off boxes, and moving through chapters, that we find it very difficult to slow down and actually possess something in an intellectual way. I think we all understand that. So there’s a slow food movement out there. I’ve had a chance to go to Italy once or twice and the Italians take their time when they have dinner. If you go out to dinner in Italy and get a table you will be there for three or four hours and good luck trying to speed the process along, they just won’t do it. And they take breaks during the day, in the middle of the day to be with their family- have lunch and close down shops, and so on. And this kind of way of living in America seems alien to us but applied to an academic life it means that we dig some deep wells and take time to truly master and study things that are worthwhile. And I’ll give you just one illustration or application, Pam, and then you can feel free to ask some follow up questions because I’m just really trying to introduce the concept. If you’re studying literature and upper school, say in high school, how many novels should one read? If you take AP Lit. in a typical American high school you might move through 18 or 22 novels in a year; you cover them, you read them, and the idea is to be exposed to them but not really to drink deeply from any one author. So, just about the time you’re starting to digest for Whom The Bell Tolls you’re onto Cry The Beloved Country and you’re beginning to see that this book is profound and could really change you the way you think about life in Africa and your own life and the life of ministry and family life and then you’re onto yet the next book. Sometimes we know things through a slow and deep study better. It’s not to say there isn’t a place for doing a survey and covering some things quickly, getting the lay of the land. Not to say there isn’t a place for doing research and there isn’t a place for doing some hard work, but there’s also a need for a place in our lives where we slow down and learn how to ponder, wander, gaze, and linger, and savor, and contemplate. I’m trying to paint a picture, if you will, of what’s behind this concept, this idea that is contained in the great Greek word scholè. So usually when I talk about this people sense, especially if they’re in the Christian tradition, they say, “Oh, I know something about this” because it’s in our Scriptures, those of us who are Christians. Psalm 27 David says one thing he desires of the Lord that he might dwell in the temple of the Lord and gaze upon His beauty all the days of his life. There’s that episode in Luke where Jesus speaks to Mary and Martha in their home when Martha is busy working on dinner preparations and so forth and Mary is sitting with Jesus having a great conversation and Martha gets irritated and says to Christ, “Don’t you care about me?” It’s an interesting way to open that conversation, “don’t you care? Tell my sister to help me. She’s not doing anything.” And Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you’re busy, you’re anxious about many things, but Mary has chosen what is best, and it won’t be taken from her.” I think that sometimes we have not chosen what is best, and it’s not altogether clear what this means for say, a homeschooling curriculum and lifestyle, but if we think deeply about this is an ideal that we need to learn how to teach restfully and to flee from worry and anxiety. We know in the Christian tradition that worry and anxiety actually can be characterized as sin. So sometime when we are teaching out of worry and anxiety we’re not at a state of trust in God and His good providence, and our reputations are on the line as homeschooling families, our identities are too wrapped up in being a homeschooling mom or dad or family, and we want to justify and validate our decisions before our watching relatives and friends and neighbors, and so we will work hard like Martha to prove that we have made a good decision and that our kids will be fine and better prepared than any of the students going to public school; all kinds of pride can slip in, there’s kinds of worry ‘will my children be properly prepared if I don’t get to this entire book of mathematics this year, if I don’t get to Math 4 what will happen because they’ll fall behind, they won’t get into college.’ So many things can weigh upon us that can create worry and scholè is a tradition within the larger classical tradition that says one of the most important things, not the only thing, but one of the most important things is learn how to restfully seek after the true, good, and beautiful. That was a really long introduction to the concept of scholè and to an opening question. I’m sorry, but there you have it.
Pam: You brought in a lot of really great points. I’m sitting over here nodding because I think that a lot of times the thing that drive us away from this restful kind of learning are those very real concerns that we have, even when we want to have more of a scholè kind of learning in our home, what draws us away are these very real concerns and the watching relatives and things of that nature so I don’t think those things can be discounted and I like the fact that you brought them up because I can say, “Yeah, I can see how these are the things that are pulling me away from sitting and contemplating, doing the best things.” I want to ask you what scholè might look like in a real life Morning Time with wriggly and energetic kids. On one hand you’re telling me this is contemplation, this is restful learning, and on the other hand I’ve got a 10 year old, an 8 year old, and a 5 year old. Sometimes it seems like contemplation and rest are just not in their vocabulary. So is scholè possible with a group like that?
Dr. Perrin: I think it is, but of course, scholè or restful approach to learning will adapt to changing situations, to a changing family dynamic and to the development of our children, and to our own life circumstances. But we do know, and again, I’m appealing to those in your audience who are of the Christian tradition, we do know that we are to rest one day in seven. And it comes to us in a command. So, resting is really not an option. We have to learn how to do this. And rest doesn’t mean cessation of activity, it means activity of a different sort, activity that is refreshing, and calming, and very much enjoyable and delightful, a kin to hopefully what we experience when we worship, a kin to what we experience when we have dinners together, a kin to a really good conversation at Starbucks with a friend where you’re talking about something that’s really important where it be hubbub all around you and yet you’re having a really meaningful conversation that refreshes you and even energizes you, that can be scholè. A good Socratic discussion in a school setting with older students talking about a novel or a book of history or some concept can also be restful and energizing. You’ve had those conversations, haven’t you, when time kind of changes and you slip into a different realm and you forget that time is passing and after the conversation you realize 45 minutes has gone by and you’ve been in a different place? Some of us who have heard really great sermons have had that happen to us, where, boy, you’ve felt as if you were being directly addressed and you were in some way transported, you transcended the kind of normal life that we experience. Those would be signals that something restful has really happened, and not that we’re looking for ecstatic moments and so not everything will be that dramatic, but Josef Peiper in his book, Leisure, The Basis of Culture referring to Thomas Aquinas says that there’s something about this life of intellectual vision where you’re seeing things in your mind and experiencing them receptively as a gift rather than going out and grasping for them, Aquinas says that that’s actually a super human activity, that there’s a part of what we enjoy as creatures made in the image of God that animals don’t enjoy but that angels do and that this is one way in which occasionally we know truth in an intellectual vision contemplative vision that’s a kin to the way angels know all the time, that’s Aquinas speaking. So, isn’t that interesting? I’m thinking of Paul in first Corinthians 13, “though I speak with the tongue of angels but have not love I am nothing,” so there is something about contemplating something and going deep with something that’s true, good, and beautiful that heals us and knows we are to be in communion with God. Now you’ve asked the question, what does this look like in a family where you have two or three kids under 10 years old and so on, I think it could look in different ways, but let tease out a couple of examples. I think it means some simple things maybe some of your listeners are already doing, and maybe that will comfort them and encouragement them: reading to your children, children love to be read to, put a child on your lap and read the right book and they will slow down and they will go into an imaginative place and if it’s a good story that teaches virtue and holiness their moral imagination will be piqued and they will start to think about what it means to be a courageous person, or what it means to be a sacrificial person, what it means to truly love in the midst of the face of adversity and so on. This is what the great stories do, the great poems, what Scriptures do, and there’s something in us that’s calling out for this and wants to be cultivated by it, so literature, good literature is a way of cultivating the soul. And how many times have we plopped one of our toddlers on our lap or even read to our 8 year olds or 9 year olds or 10 year olds they just want to continue to read, that’s scholè, an encounter through the imagination of something true, good, and beautiful, so the right literature of course is important.
Dr. Perrin: You don’t want to read twaddle as Charlotte Mason would say, you want to read really good stuff. That begs another question which is what should we read? Another example, I think where we find scholè with kids is to be out in nature walking and talking and exploring. We should be doing that in my view of far more or often than we do. And typical Americans schools we have kids in buildings that are basically designed in the pattern that looks more like a prison than anything else or a factory with fluorescent lights, tiled floors, and casement windows that you can’t open, and bells ringing and so on. We get to educate our children in our homes and a related concept to scholè is what Plato called education that was musical education. He actually calls education for young children mousike and it’s related to the Greek word mousa which meant muse from which we get our word music and museum but we also get our word amusement from these family of words. Amousa was that word for lacking inspiration. So our homes can be gardens that in out distinction, hopefully, if you live close to a park or have a yard or access to nature, it’s much easier to do when you’re raising your children at home. So I think our kids need to be outside a lot more and where they’re playing and imagining and even sometimes reimagining the stories that we’ve read to them as well as their more formal studies. Walking, talking, gathering, collecting, discussing, tasting, climbing, experiencing the beauty of nature more deeply and widely. That’s just a simple thing that’s diminished widely in our culture.
Pam: So, I think what I’m hearing you say is that scholè or restful learning is not necessarily everyone perfectly, peacefully quiet, listening with rapt attention to something that they’re then going to sit silently and think about for awhile but this could be the sharing of a story between mother and a child or getting out to walk in nature and behold what’s around them. Those are the kinds of things, the restfulness is energizing than it is being silent. I think there’s a place for some silent contemplation. There’s nothing at all wrong with that but often when restful learning is occurring, it’s occurring in a context where you’re not feeling that pressure to have to do something else right away. A kind of sense of obligation and for those of us that are adults, it’s the sense of always something else to do that’s not being done and I’m already behind and I’m not sure things are going to go well, those kinds of thoughts. And the sense that we can never be in one place and really be fully present, that would be a sign of anxiety rather than rest, and we’ve all seen that. We’ve been with people that are anxious and nervous, we’ve been this way ourselves, where we’re not really present in a conversation; we’re juggling, we’ve got plates spinning and we’re just trying to manage and get through something, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are times when that’s actually just what we need to do. So it’s not saying that our entire life should be characterized by this kind of restful state where we’re engaging in truth, goodness, and beauty, but the trouble is, for so many Americans there’s virtually never a time when it’s happening at home.
Dr. Perrin: Some of your listeners may be thinking that I’m over-emphasizing this, well, that’s probably true we just don’t do it at all, or virtually ever. When’s the last time that you’ve picked up your violin and played it just for the sheer pleasure of it? Why don’t you play the piano anymore? Why don’t you do water colors anymore? You used to really enjoy gardening, you used to love to hike, you used to write your own poetry, you used to be a storywriter, you used to write songs and compose. Well I’ve got to educate my kids now so we’re not even modeling for them a life of engagement of restful learning or scholè because we think we have to be so busy about all this other stuff or it won’t be successful. So we’ve adopted some kind of view that is frankly non-sabbatical. If we’re to rest one day in seven, what if just as a thought experiment said to ourselves, “What if one hour in seven in my homeschooling experience with my children, I’m going to make sure one hour in seven is restful? What if in every lesson if I’m teaching mathematics I’m going to teach it for 35 minutes, I’m going to take 5 minutes of that time and just make sure it’s a restful engagement with mathematics? What would that look like? I have 35 minutes but the first five or the last five are truly going to be contemplative. We’re going to contemplate some aspect of math. We’re going to enjoy and delight in math in some way. We’re going to take our time.
Pam: So I think what I’m hearing you say here is that we’re going to have to be intentional about doing this kind of thing. We’re going to have to maybe take ourselves out of the moment, take ourselves away from some of the decision fatigue that we’re faced with a lot of the times as homeschool moms and maybe set up some practices ahead of time that are going to make us intentional about creating this atmosphere of scholè learning in our home, which kind of brings me to the idea of liturgical practices or ritual in our homeschools and in our Morning Time, and I know that James K Smith in Desiring the Kingdom talks about how we can use these liturgical practices to order our loves, so we can learn to love what is lovely, that by doing these daily actions we’re going to change what is important to us. Is it really that easy? Is it really so easy as to simply do something every day that it’s going to make us feel differently about things? It seems very simplistic.
Dr. Perrin: I think we have to be patient with ourselves because we’re not going to do this really well, especially alone. We know this is why Jamie Smith in his book says we need the church; we need these liturgies from the tradition to help us. It would be wrong for us to think that we should just create these day nova, “Pam, go out and create really great practices. Think them up yourself, why be restricted to anybody, you can do this on your own, just figure out how to be restful.” No, better for us to enter into a tradition and to walk a path that others have walked, especially when the others are walking with us, and walking that path is not always easy. There are times when it’s going to be challenging to be sure. We have become habituated ourselves, and that’s why I think you’re right to say it would be simplistic to think that it’s just going to be easy. Good night! Some of us would have trouble just not looking at our SmartPhones every morning when we wake up and every evening when we go to bed, instead of reading a Psalm. If we can’t even do that, if we can’t even read a Psalm when we go to bed rather than checking e-mail, then we’re right to say that it’s simplistic to think that we could make these liturgical changes in our home, but what it says is that we have been habituated ourselves. We have developed habits that are disordered the way we order time, space, and language has been conditioned by a life of Facebook and TV and our own educations and the mall and constant shopping and all the driving we have to do and the soccer mom lifestyle and so on and so forth, those are our practices. Those are what we do without thinking about it just like we brush our teeth (hopefully). So our characters have been shaped and formed already by liturgical practices, if you will, using liturgy loosely. So of course it’s hard and not easy because you’re already a liturgical creature you’ve just been patterned after different liturgies and you cannot change easily, that’s why the great educators of the past said it’s so important to help cultivate virtues in children when they’re young, when you can help cement them so they can become lifelong practices that have become as if it were second nature. Plato says that we should engage expose children to things that are true, good, and beautiful, such that they have a taste for that which is true, good, and beautiful even before they’re reasoning about it very much, even before they’re analyzing they’re learning to love the things that are lovely before they’ve even given it a lot of analytical thought, and in so doing their characters are being formed, already learning to praise that which is beautiful and criticize that which is ugly. So I think part of the problem is that we just have to be honest about is that we’ve already been trained.
Pam: Right, and so what we’re trying to do, Jennifer Dow often talks about recovering the tradition and so as we trying to recover these practices for our children, do you have a couple of maybe practical examples? You’ve given us a couple with your mathematics example earlier but maybe another example of a liturgy we could do as part of a Morning Time in our homeschool.
Dr. Perrin: Sure, I’ll just throw out again I think these are really important questions and we need to keep talking about them with one another. I wish I was stronger at coming up with a really great practices myself but let me just give you a few. We need to change the way we order time, space, and language, as a way of trying to order our own loves properly to cultivate our affections. (So, I hope this will be practical.) One way to do this to this five sense inventory where you might even get out a journal or something and walk around the house or maybe just sit down some place with a cup of coffee and think, ‘What would I like to see when I come into my home that would attract my children to a restful learning state? What would they see in all of these various rooms?’ And then maybe to do some thought experience and imagine, ‘In an ideal world what would I do to change the visual feel of my home? What do they see? What does my homeschooling space look like? What is my homeschooling space? Is it a kitchen table with all kinds of stuff on it?’ If you go into a really fine museum it’s designed to order your thoughts and to direct your attention with the way the lighting is and even the way the paintings are arranged are often thematic and they’re spaced apart a certain way, there’s an arrangement to it that’s been very intentional. And the same thing would be true of great architecture, a great church, and so on. So what about your home? Of course, we don’t have the budget to do everything we like to do but what could we do, what would we do if we could, and what can we do with what we have? And then I would go through all five senses- what do I hear throughout the day, and what might my children and I hear that would cultivate some rest? So I mentioned maybe playing music before mathematics starts. But again, Jamie Smith, you cited his book, Desiring the Kingdom, he says we can look to the ecclesial tradition for some help here, we don’t have to reinvent the Stay Novo, so even as you’re imagining things what you imagine is going to be, if you have a well-stocked imagination from the ecclesial tradition you’ll start imagining things that come from the church, what would it look like if there were an altar in my home that was set apart as a sacred place where we read Scripture together? What if there were a candle there, what if every time we studied Scripture we lit a candle and we taught our kids to talk about the Lord is my Light and my Salvation and memorize a verse about the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit, and what if you memorized some prayers together and what if every time you studied Scripture or read Scripture you lit a candle to symbolize your desire for the Spirit of God to be present to help you understand His work? What about music: Opportunities for great music to be playing around the household. I kick myself because we have a nice little stereo system set up in our house and all I need to do is plug in my SmartPhone and I can play some of the most beautiful music through the house and so many times I don’t do it.
S: I’m washing dishes or something and I don’t take advantage of filling the house, the whole first floor I could fill with beautiful music, and there’s nothing keeping me from doing it except my poor habits. So what could you do with music? What could you do with smell? Aromatic candles, churches have incense could you have incense? Just thinking about these traditional ways of ordering space that comes to us from the church tradition could help us creatively engage our own homes and own homeschool education but what we do, Pam, I know you know this very well, and this is why you’re right to point out that it sounds simplistic and easy, what we do when we think of education is our imagination has been stocked with ideas for what education should be, but they’re wrong ideas.
Dr. Perrin: We’re back to the long halls and the casement windows and the fluorescent lights and the bells ringing and the anxious teachers and the huge back packs and the eight classes a day because, I know you’ve heard me say this before, Luke 6, when a student’s been fully trained he’ll be like his teacher, so we’ve become like our teachers therefore it is not easy to turn this around, so practically I would do the five sense inventory and start there and I would talk with other homeschooling moms and dads and say what could we do here, what are you doing? And with Morning Time what routines and rituals could you begin to create and I would look to your own church tradition first.
Pam: I love that advice. I love the advice of looking to the church. We have a book that we’ve used for the past two or three years called Children’s Daily Prayer and it’s very much modeled after a liturgy of the hours, morning prayer it starts with a brief reading, then we do a Psalm and we go into a Gospel reading of the day so a very brief portion of Scripture and then it deviates a little bit in that we list intentions that we’re praying for, and then finish with Thee our Father. It’s the same set pattern every day, the Psalm changes through the liturgical season and the Gospel, of course, changes for each day, but it’s patterned after the church but it’s a great way for us to begin prayer in our home each morning.
Dr. Perrin: That’s excellent.
Pam: And so I think that borrowing those ideas from your own church, that’s a really great place to start, to bring those liturgical practices home.
Dr. Perrin: They can also be informal the way you actually teach a mathematic class or lesson, maybe you wouldn’t do this every lesson but maybe at least once a week you’d say, “Let’s stop and give thanks to God for mathematics because it reflects his mind, and it’ a part of being like God. And when we come to know a mathematical truth we’re coming to know something about God who is the truth because all truth comes from Him and again, because of our own poor education we sometimes feel handicapped and that can create some stress, I understand that, but think about this for a moment- when you come to know a mathematical proof you’re coming to know something that is unchangeable immaterial and eternal, isn’t that lovely?
Pam: That is.
Dr. Perrin: So when someone says, “Is there anything else besides God that is immaterial?” Well, mathematical proofs, logical proofs, these are ways the laws of logic. These are part of God, they eminent God who is the Logos. I wasn’t taught math that way. So what is there to praise about math? What is there to admire? I became like my teachers, so to some degree we have to unlearn and we’re trying to change a number of things in our own selves in how we teach and recover this classical tradition of liberal arts learning including scholè this ability to rest and contemplate, so it’s hard.
Pam: A couple of weeks ago you said that you thought that Morning Time put children into a disposition for learning. Could you kind of unpack that a little bit and then talk about what you mean by that?
Dr. Perrin: That’s a great question and the way I’d like to answer that is again, do an appeal to the liturgical tradition of the church as an analogy. Imagining going to your church, say it starts at 10am, and you come in at 10:00, and at 10:00 sharp your pastor begins to preach a stem winding sermon, with no preparation, welcome, and starts to read a Scripture passage and then he’s off and going preaching. When we come into the presence of God we prepare ourselves. We God appeared to Moses He said “take off your sandals.” There’s a kind of preparation. There’s the need to be cleansed before a Holy God, so it’s natural before one of the first things we do is we confess our sin when we come into the presence of God, it’s normal that we also give gratitude for the forgiveness of sins so a hymn of praise is often appropriate, and of course, there is sometimes a recitation of a creed where we’re together confessing what we believe as the church, together, that’s a part of the traditional liturgy, and then there’s a sermon where the Word of God is opened and preached before us, and then there’s celebration of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper or communion, and this is a time when all five senses are employed to engage just in the reality of the Gospel. If you will, the Lord’s supper itself or communion is an extended period of contemplation of the Gospel. Some theologians have called the visible Word, the Word preached are words that hang in the air, the Word of God, the communion is visible, the five senses where contemplating the same Gospel that perhaps we’ve heard about. So, by extension, in a Morning Time or a class, we could think through those elements of liturgy; is there a prelude, what would your prelude be that would prepare for you what’s going to come, so if you’re going to study some aspect of creation or truth, goodness, and beauty, it might be good to say, what is there to confess, what petition is there to ask for, what do I seek? It’s common in homeschools and Christian schools to have a brief prayer before we begin, but often it’s kind of perfunctory and it’s not very thoughtful, so a good church service that’s thought out will prepare you well for the sermon, for the songs that you’re going to sing. So there’s a rhetorical analysis here as well. It flows, it moves somewhere and then it properly leaves as well with a processional and a benediction. So I have found it helpful and Jenny Rallens is one who some folks have heard about and thought a lot about liturgical learning and tried to implement it in a classical Christian school setting. I’ve found it helpful to use those liturgical movements in a worship service cultivating my imagination or spur my imagination to think how I would actually teach. So, I’m sorry, Pam, that I’m not as clear sometimes at giving really good practical examples but I think when your listeners hear that because they’re intelligent teachers and parents they start thinking about teaching math or history or literature, they start really deeply contemplating even the forms of liturgy and applying it to a class or a Morning Time they will properly dispose their children to enter into encountering truth, goodness, and beauty, God Himself, and the various parts that they’re studying.
Pam: And that’s something I have not really thought about myself and now it will be churning over in my mind throughout the rest of the evening, I’m sure, thinking about those ideas of modeling Morning Time after the liturgical practices that go on in a church service and so I think that’s great advice, and I think you’re right, the listeners will be able to take that and maybe in ways that they’ve never done before, look at their own church services and kind of pick them apart a little bit, it’s not something we want to do often to a church service, we really just want to go and experience it but if you’re thoughtfully trying to order a Morning Time in your home that’s going to put children in a disposition for learning, I don’t think you could have a better model than that, taking that and pulling it apart a little bit and looking at the different practices and then using it as a model I think is going to be very helpful to a lot of people. If we wanted to know more about scholè practices or some of these ritual practices that we’ve been talking about, what would you recommend for further study?
Dr. Perrin: Three books come to mind. One book is a more general book that addresses the recovery of liberal arts learning and that’s The Liberal Arts Tradition, A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education by Kevin Clark and Ravi Jain, they have some chapters in their book on piety and on gymnastic and musical education that are relevant to this idea, particularly musical education as a cultivation of wonder or an education in wonder. They excel at that. That’s one book. Another book is The Intellectual Life, It’s Spirit, Conditions, Methods by A. G. Sertillanges, he’s a French monk. It’s a classic work, it’s a little bit challenging to read in some respects, it’s written in the French, translated into English, but he recovers this idea that to be a student (and that’s what he means by intellectuals, to be a student not necessarily to be a really smart person) our souls must be cultivated in some important virtues like constancy, perseverance, temperance, courage, humility, and love. And this is so important to be able to be at rest we have to have cultivated virtues; these virtues have to be cultivated in a student. Another book that addresses this directly is a book by Josef Peiper, a German writing in the 1990’s, a German theologian and philosopher, called Leisure: the Basis of Culture or Scholè: the Basis of Culture. It’s also a challenging read because of it’s translated from German into English but it recovers scholè very, very well, so I would just caution your readers that The Liberal Arts Tradition will be the easiest read of these three. The Intellectual Life isn’t that challenging actually, but the Peiper’s book will be a challenge. Peiper also, on kindle, you can get his collected essays, and there’s some wonderful essays collected by Josef Peiper on the subject of scholè. And then finally, I would just mention that book 7 and 8 of Aristotle’s politics and I think Chapter 8 is a pretty quick chapter so the reading isn’t as long as you think in those chapters he talks about scholè from the ancient Greek perspective.
Pam: And as somebody who’s recently had a little bit of experience with Aristotle he’s not as daunting as some of us might feel.
Dr. Perrin: That’s right.
Pam: I found him a little more approachable than I expected him to be, definitely something work looking into.
Dr. Perrin: It depends on what you read of his, if you read metaphysics you might find that challenging but his politics and his ethics are very accessible.
Pam: Yes. Yes. Well, Dr. Perrin, thank you so much for coming on and chatting with us today about this idea of restful learning and also these liturgical practices and how we can use them in our Morning Time to bring that restful learning to our homeschools.
Dr. Perrin: You’re very welcome, thank you for having me Pam , and all the best to you as you help other homeschooling parents to recover some of these great ideas and traditions.
Pam: For today’s Basket Bonus we have for you guys a worksheet and the worksheet is broken into two parts. The first part of the worksheet are a few leading questions to walk you through doing one of those five senses surveys that Dr. Perrin talked about in the podcast. So, the upper section is about that and then on the bottom section we have a few questions that are going to help you evaluate some of the traditions of your own faith practice and how you might bring those into your morning time to create some ritual. So we hope you find this worksheet really helpful to you as you start thinking about scholè and ritual in your Morning Time and in your homeschool. You can download your Basket Bonus by heading on over to the Show Notes for this episode and that would be EDSnapshots.com/YMB4. We hope you enjoy.
And there you have it, another episode of Your Morning Basket. Now if you would like to get links to all of Dr. Perrin’s book recommendations or any of the other things we talked about on the show today you can find those in the Show Notes for this particular episode and that is at EDSnapshots.com/YMB4. We link everything up there for you to make it easy to find along with the Basket Bonus worksheet for this episode. And I just want to thank you guys for all of your wonderful comments and encouragement on the podcast, it’s been really great, and for those of you who have left ratings and reviews in iTunes we really appreciate those too. That’s it for now, we’ll be back in a couple of weeks with another episode and until then we encourage you to keep pursuing Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in your homeschool.
Links and Resources from Today’s Show
- Classical Academic Press
- The Society for Classical Learning
- Alcuin Fellowship of Classical Educators
- Song School Latin
- Latin for Children
- Leisure: The Basis of Culture
- The Nicomachean Ethics
- Desiring the Kingdom
- Children’s Daily Prayer 2015-2016
- The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education
- The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods
Song School LatinLatin for ChildrenLeisure: The Basis of CultureThe Nicomachean EthicsPoliticsDesiring the KingdomChildren’s Daily Prayer 2015-2016The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical EducationThe Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods
Key Ideas about Choosing What is Best for Morning Time
- The ancient concept of scholé is a potential antidote to the worries, distractions, and busyness of contemporary life. Scholé is restful learning that allows us time to contemplate truth, beauty, and goodness.
- Scholé need not mean sitting quietly and doing nothing. When we engage in activities that are life- giving and delightful, we are practicing scholé.
- Morning Time is an opportunity to point our children and ourselves toward truth, beauty, and goodness. Morning Time can put us all into a disposition for learning and help us let go of restrictive ideas about what education does and does not look like. Your own religious tradition is the best place to look for liturgical practices to adopt for the home
Find What you Want to Hear
- 2:40 overview of scholé
- 7:02 how scholé can counteract homeschool worry
- 9:55 the active nature of scholé
- 13:27 scholé with real kids
- 21:10 drawing from religious tradition when adopting liturgical practices for the home
- 21:52 disordered habits
- 24:49 5-senses inventory
- 26:33 more ideas for simple liturgical practices
- 29:32 how Pam uses Children’s Daily Prayer
- 30:29 truth in mathematics
- 31:54 Morning Time putting children into a disposition for learning
- 36:34 resources for further study on scholé
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