Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fanning the Flame: To Teach You Must Be a Student

Under a golden canopy we walked, seeking treasures for the approaching Advent season, and amid the lingering evidence of fall, a harbinger lay.

Overcast.  Cool.  Air so heavy with moisture we could hear it dropping through the leaves.   The earth crackled and snapped under our feet.  We found more than we came to see.  One small delight after another.  Tiny hidden treasures.  A resident disturbed by our presence scurried off to safety.   A lost cap.  A tiny reservoir.

I whisper,  "Look as closely as possible for surprises you may walk over if you aren't careful."

Near the end of our short journey, we came upon an unknown .  Strange but completely engaging.  We were spellbound and lingered over this mystery.

Once home, the computer became our guide to unlocking our new find.  Tremella Fuciformis!  (Snow fungus: a delicacy in Asian cuisine)  I was completely hooked.  Not on the tremella.  On learning!

I've known the spark before in scattered moments earlier in my own formal education.  But this spark is significant because underneath it holds the real jewel: a transforming discovery.

After darkness fell and hid our world of treasures, over grated cheese and ground beef,  it came to me, not as a slow drip as so many of my thoughts do over a long simmer but as a flash.   My tendency along this road of home education has been to think that I teach by teaching, by knowing, by being master of a subject.  I have been involved in the education of my children but only from a distance, as an administrator of assignments, information, and "constructive criticism" all with an end product in mind. 

But, our Guide has graciously been revealing a valuable truth to me over the weeks:  We teach most through learning ourselves, being a student with our children.  Always.  They will watch our enthusiasm, join with us, and take in all we are learning as we share it with them.  Life long learning is the process of discovery, learning, exploration, stumbling over an unknown, and, yes, making mistakes together.

Learning, after all, isn't confined to twelve years in "school"...or to academic subjects.  Education really is about our walk with Him, and we are each His disciples along the Way.  

He whispers to me, "Keep your eyes open and be careful where you walk.  You don't want to trample any treasures."