Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Heart & Mind

Well our crazy life continues.  My 6 yo was admitted to the hospital over the weekend with pneumonia.  Honestly, his trip home was GREATLY shortened by prayers - tons of prayers.  So he came home in less than 48 hours.  He thought it was great (he watched The Lego Movie 3 times!). We are just glad he is feeling better and thanks for praying if you did.

Our time in the hospital did allow me to read Heart and Mind by Ruth Beechick.  It was recommended by Lori Lane over at The End in Mind and founder of Artios.  It was part of her masterclass - which I am not sure is available to everyone but it was good.

Beechick has some good one liners.
The word brain is not found in the Bible even once.  
I hadn't reflected on that before. She spends quite a bit of time discussing mind, brain and heart in science, history and the Bible.  In our era the heart is given less importance than in previous eras. It might be making a come back - but maybe not with the same understanding as earlier cultures had.

I found this one convicting too:

This leaves little wiggle room.

I like the way that she discusses common educational theories of the past and today and gives them context and definition.  She also shows what they are lacking.  The areas she finds lacking match with my own experience of educational theory. In addition she discusses some scientific trends in brain research.  She knows the field well.

As I was finishing the book I turned to my husband and told him this is the book I have been looking for over the past 10 years.  This little book (133 pages) answers many of the questions that have been stirring in my mind for quite a while.  I realize that other things have probably hinted and discussed similar ideas but she is so straight forward.  Her model is easy to apply and combines heart and mind and the ultimate expression is creativity.  She discusses different theories of creativity but in the end believes in inspiration coming from God.

In her theory of learning she explains that
In the Biblical view, we would think of a learning sequence as beginning with heart-set rather than beginning with knowledge. . . Purpose comes first.  Intention of the heart leads to knowledge.   
This idea of heart-set - self discipline - is what I have been thinking about but couldn't name.  Heart-set, I just like the way you can visualize that. She uses the first part of Psalm 78 for her model. And heart-set starts with fear.   She quotes an earlier researcher who says
But the child must fear something if he is to apply himself to the arduous task of learning. 
Beechick discusses how parents must model love and discipline in an honoring balance that develops the type of fear that leads to reverence of God as the foundation for all learning.  I struggle a bit with the idea of fear, but if it is the beginning of wisdom I need to trust it.  Honestly, whatever we fear will direct our lives.  We can teach our children a right reverence and fear of God or they will find something else to fear and therefore base their lives around.  This gets me thinking about the connection between fear and worship - for another time.  I still struggle with this idea but I think it is worth grappling over.  I do know that in the end our children are persons who will have to make their own choices about their heart-set.  This is the scary part of parenting and believing this model
Heart-set is not determined by conditioning.  We teach and discipline to do what we can for the child's heart and conscience. But the ultimate choice is his.  He determines which way his heart will be set.  
You see, we can't MAKE our kids do anything and so much of our educational system uses input/ output, behaviorist type ideas that lead you to believe that if you do it right they will turn out right. I think this is where a ton of homeschool stress comes from - we wonder if we are doing enough of the right inputs.  It is nice if you like to feel in control BUT that disregards that they are their own person created in His image.

In later chapters she applies her theory to leading conversations about character (key questions you could use in many settings), teaching reading (she has a convincing argument for using phonics readers) and the role of memory (including a surprising way to memorize Scripture).  She ends by discussing what teaching heart to heart is about and key concepts in helping to develop the spiritual life of children.

This is my big takeaway

I need to keep this in mind as we continue this journey.  Of course, I have heard this a gazillion times but this book helped me realize the roots of my "schooling" and how I can actually move towards true education.  The appendix is overwhelming - over 960 verses on the heart in the Bible - in categories!

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.

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