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.
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?
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.