The sad truth: teaching from rest is not passive

It’s official. Anecdotally anyway. Recently, I asked a question on my Facebook page about which homeschooling book moms should absolutely not miss. Overwhelmingly the answer was Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching From Rest.

The Sad Truth: Teaching From Rest Isn't Passive

It’s no secret that I am a fan.

And while the enthusiasm for this book doesn’t surprise me (okay, maybe the sheer volume of exclamation marks in conjunction with the title might) I sometimes wince a little.

Do moms latch on because of the peace this book brings or is there a misunderstanding?

I worry.

Do some moms latch on because they feel it gives them permission to do less?

(There, I said it!)

So what does teaching from rest really mean?

I think sometimes a breakdown in understanding comes in the definition of the word “rest.” In the case of the book, the first two definitions are not appropriate. Sarah is using rest in the third meaning, “relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.”

So if we are filling in the blank with “teaching from a state of quiet” (as if) or “repose or refreshing ease or inactivity,” we are quite missing the point.

Here’s the deal. Families have to figure out what learning looks like for them.

  • Some of us like to check boxes.
  • Some prefer to strew a feast or dig deep into projects for our kids.
  • Some moms prepare an environment.
  • Some buy a big box of books and break out the teacher’s guide.
  • Some organize elaborate units where the entire family can learn together.
  • Some read for hours, narrate, and conjugate Latin verbs.

But what do you notice about every style of teaching represented above?

Every single style takes action on the part of the mom.

Teaching is never passive and even teaching from rest requires action. In fact I might argue that teaching with a “freedom from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs” takes a lot of action — as in consistent action that does not falter, is wholehearted, and honors your school day and role as the teacher.

Maybe that is where true rest is found — in the self-knowledge that we have done our very best to be wholehearted and faithful to the task we are called to do.

It might just be worth considering.


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  • Bam! Exactly. Teaching from rest is not an excuse to go to bed early and not have prepared for the next day.

  • Allyson says:

    Absolutely – wise words! Thank you for the reminder, the refocusing, and the small kick in the pants I needed today. I especially appreciate this:
    “Maybe that is where true rest is found — in the self-knowledge that we have done our very best to be wholehearted and faithful to the task we are called to do.” I’m off to reread Matthew 25:21, then get up and keep pressing forward.

  • Jennifer says:

    Love this. I think most of our lack of rest comes from looking around at other homeschools and getting anxiety about what we think we should be doing and aren’t, instead of focusing only on what is right for our family and just doing THAT.

  • Becky says:

    I needed this today! Thank you!

  • Emily says:

    YES! I think Teaching from Rest is not about how much any of us (or the kids) do or get done, but how my spirit feels at the end of the day.

  • Wendy says:

    Thank you Pam!! In all honesty it is your PYY program and MT plans that have gotten me to the point of teaching from rest!!! #truth
    I feel “rested” because I am consitent with my homeschooling because of your program!!!
    Are those enough exclamation marks????
    Thank you to you and your team. I am grateful. ❤️

  • Well said, Pam! I’m not homeschooling anymore… I need to work full time for a while… but I couldn’t agree more. I look forward to the day when I can jump in wholeheartedly again! For now, I wish someone would write a public high school math teacher version of Teaching from Rest! ?

  • Stacey says:

    This is very much my feeling as well! The days I feel most satisfied and feel “at rest” are the days that *I* show up prepared (and there’s so much that goes in to that, including my own physical health) and do not allow myself to be distracted from my primary job/focus. Looking forward to reading more!

  • BecTasmanian says:

    Yes. Some days I ask “what would faithfulness look like in this situation? God knew this circumstance would happen, so how should I proceed?” Yesterday it was waiting five minutes to start school because a crying five year old needed settling. A box checker has a different take on rest, because I would rather steamroll my children to get it all done, some days. Thank you for this post.

  • Betsy says:

    Yes! When I have a schedule and a system in place and have prepared all of our materials, I can sit down with my children, pray together, dig in to the Bible, and begin our school day in peace and at rest. The work I do in advance is streamlined. When I’m consistent, it is just a simple habit and our days are smooth and easy. When I fall in to laziness, we clunk along in a haphazard, miserable fashion. I am probably the only homeschool mom in America who hasn’t read Teaching From Rest, but when I cut out the extraneous (often pretty) distractions and unnecessary things, I can focus on the truly beautiful work I must do to ensure we have a lovely, consistent, life changing homeschool.

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