Friday, July 06, 2007

Unabashed Enjoyment

"The Wart did not know what Merlyn was talking about, but he liked him to talk. He did not like the grown-ups who talked down to him, but the ones who went on talking in their usual way, leaving him to leap along in their wake, jumping at meanings, guessing, clutching at known words, and chuckling at complicated jokes as they suddenly dawned. He had the glee of the porpoise then, pouring and leaping through strange seas."

-- The Once and Future King

You know what I like about homeschooling? I like that the kids can get excited about learning without feeling like they have to be expert, or at least A students, in order to appreciate it. So many times in school, I felt a little like I didn't have permission to enjoy things that were challenging-- especially since I was not in the gifted and talented or honors classes, where the blessed few were given leave to ponder complex ideas.

I even felt a little guilty for enjoying my classes if I wasn't getting really good grades in them. For instance, we read Catch-22 in high school. That book was very difficult to understand. (I am not necessarily recommending it to anyone, it's just part of this anecdote.) I enjoyed having my mind challenged like that, but I really didn't get the book. I struggled to understand, and got poor grades on quizzes and essays. The grades certainly put a damper on my honest efforts to stretch my mind. (It would have been nice if the teacher could have measured my effort rather than how I compared to her standard. I am sure I would have gotten an A then.)

I really liked thinking so hard in that class, but I always felt guilty, like I ought not to be enjoying it because I was not getting an A.

That is foreign to my kids' way of thinking. They learn with unabashed enjoyment. And I never want that to change. On the contrary, I want to encourage them with great literature, and to give them the tools to unlock those hard books.

Good books are over your head; they would not be good for you if they were not. And books that are over your head weary you unless you can reach up to them and pull yourself up to their level. It is not the stretching that tires you, but the frustration of stretching unsuccessfully because you lack the skills to stretch effectively. To keep on reading actively, you must have not only the will do to so, but also the skill-- the art that enables you to elevate yourself by mastering what at first sight seems to be beyond you.

-- How to Read a Book

Inspired by this post.


lindafay said...

I never really thought about this benefit, but I totally agree with you. Hope your husband is feeling better.

Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

I never thought of this either but the stretching of the mind is progress.

I've been considering buying the "How to Read a Book" book and your post has convinced me that it would be most beneficial.