Doing Things, But What?

‘ “I think I like that man,” Janus observed.  “Never had  much to do with high-minded teachers since I was a kid, but he means business.    I thought teachers just talked, but he doesn’t fool around with the words.   He goes and does things.‘ (emphasis mine)

Meindert Dejong, The Wheel on the School, pg. 162



This was an observation made by an older man who, as my parents would say, pulled himself up ‘by the seat of his britches’ (meaning that he had no education or ties to previous wealth), about the local school teacher.    He admired the fact that the teacher didn’t sit around resting upon his laurels, but instead chose to act upon his thoughts.   At least that’s what I got out of it anyway.


The Wheel on the School is an agonizingly slow book to read–at least for me, that is.    I shared a link regarding a professional teacher’s response to it here .    Interestingly enough, at least one of the comments the teacher received spoke of how that reader put it down–it took too long to reach the point, and it didn’t move fast enough.     Someone else’s response to the original poster was that those are the reasons that make The Wheel on the School such a refreshing turn from the more modern “wannabe-classics” that are geared for low attention spans and and written as if they were a script for a high-energy video game.    Personally, I can relate to the original reader.    If I weren’t reading it to our daughter, and in the process, trying to teach a few intangible lessons, like not deciding that a book’s boring way too early, I would have probably forsaken it by now and moved on to something else.    But pride, as much as anything else, keeps me from putting the book back in the basket where it has remained for years.     I refuse to relegate myself to being the reader who needs a constant adrenalin rush to enjoy a good read.   


To be sure, there are good points to this Ambleside Online-inspired addition to our home library, even though we’re halfway through the book and the main character just found a wheel (should I point out the obvious–that the wheel hasn’t made it to the school? 🙂 ).    A spark of curiosity triggers a chain of events that unite an entire community around one goal.   In doing so, there is a lesson about the value of people–all people–in a common effort.    The downtrodden play as crucial a role as the elderly, who are, for the most part, forgotten; the only six children in the tiny fishing village hear the wisdom of these same forgotten souls, and get to know them as people with stories of their own rather than as “the old man who hates and punishes children who get in his yard.”   Though I’m not sure that the youngest is gaining from the reading all that I just shared, I will say that it’s the type of value-laden (though not blatantly stated, crushing any desire for deeper thinking) reading that I thoroughly enjoy reading and  sharing with our children.  Oh, if it didn’t take so darn long!!!!!


Where am I going with all of this, you ask?    Other than documenting my thoughts about The Wheel on the School, I don’t know!! 


Seriously, though, this is the 2nd week of the not-Back-to-School Blog Hop (see my sidebar to the left).    This week’s focus was on school rooms.   Personally, I cheated and used this post from last year since the physical rooms and the story behind them didn’t change at all.   It’s been interesting, for lack of a better word, roaming about Blogland and seeing some of the ways that others designed their educational spaces, whether it’s a dedicated room or several multi-purpose areas of home.   The pictures run the gamut from in-home children’s museums and rooms that make me want to return to school–at their home (LOL), to sofas and patios that are equally inviting.   Sadly, I’ve also seen responses, specifically to the week 2 (school room) hop, that would indicate that there’s something wrong with putting time, energy, and $$ into a designated area for home education.    Personally, I’m thankful for freedom in this area, and the ability to sincerely marvel at others’ school environments, but yet glorify God in what we have as well.


I’ve had other places to gain wisdom as well.    This week also was the annual Heart of the Matter’s online homeschool conference.  As I shared via an HSB update, by Wednesday, I was overwhelmed with everything flowing through my head, and anxious for a place to pen it all as it takes shape.    Susan Wise Bauer was one of the guest speakers this conference, which I thought was too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence given that I’m reading The Well-Educated Mind.


A good word always commands a response, and I’ve had a wealth of good words in these last few weeks.    Everything my mind and heart have taken on in these last few weeks have  led me to one end: ideas.    I’m fleshing out what to do, rather than simply ‘fooling around with words.’    It would take me a while to post all that I’m marinating upon, and not all of it would be appropriate for this pubic forum anyway, but these are the thoughts, at a high level, that occur to me as end our third week of school:


1) I will throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and I will run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Praise God, we are at a place and a pace with which we’re, for the most part, comfortable.     I don’t have have time for envy, for jealousy, for comparisons, for self-doubt, and all the many tricks and snares that prey upon the vision of what the Lord has called me to do.

2) Each day, regardless of what it brings, is a day that the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.


More practically speaking, I will:

3) Make better use of my sofas.    This morning, the youngest wasn’t feeling well and laid on the sofa most of the morning.   I took books over and read to her while enjoying time to snuggle with a blanket.   Even the puppy settled down and slept at our feet.      Somewhere in the midst of an increasing amount of formality with her, I’d temporarily forgotten what those days felt like when we would watch the butterflies out of the window and marvel at insects.    I realized this morning that I don’t want to lose that.






4) Cover the “whys” with the oldest.    Not too long ago, our oldest came home in a moment of disgust with her peers at Sunday School.    She couldn’t believe how disconnected they were with whythey needed to study certain subjects like history.    She didn’t respond to them–a move to not be considered too strange, I’m sure–but she talked about the value of history to me.   As an aside, if you’ve read my blog for more than a year, you’d know what a tough road we’ve had getting to this point, so I was floored at her looking down her nose at others (smile).    Perspective is everything, you know?    Well, today we discussed the phrase “Et tu, Brute’ ?” from Julius Caesar.     She listed in her commonplace book the symbolism of that phrase in modern society.   This also gave us an excellent opportunity to talk about the value of cultural literacy.   To say the least, this should be a promising year.


There is more, but I’ve run out of time.    God bless.




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One thought on “Doing Things, But What?

  1. Wow, regarding number 3, I needed to hear that! I’ve been so stressed trying to fit everything in, I’ve been forgetting our 3yo in the mix. She then acts up because she’s being ignored or asked to play alone a lot. 🙁 That’s it, I’m going to carve out a time for us to look at the bugs and butterflies and birds. Thanks for the encouragement and wise words. 🙂

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