From Type A to Scholé: Starting With the Woman in the Mirror

Check out Exorcising School and Seek and You Will NOT Find for the first two parts of this series.

I’ve always been a pretty self-aware and introspective person, so it didn’t come as too much of a shock that I would need to change some things about myself, specifically how I approach education, before attempting to redirect our homeschool.

Sad woman

My Spirit

I spend most of my energy homeschooling from a place of fear and worry.

Does that sound like something a Christian would say? But, nonetheless, it’s the truth. Fear that I won’t teach them something super important. Worry that my children are behind in math or learning to read. The most convicting principle of scholé or restful teaching is that the “rest” doesn’t mean that you get a good night’s sleep, but  you have complete confidence God will bring you and your children where you need to be. You rest in Him.

If you are like me, you would say that you DO trust God to do those things. But do I really? My fear and worry would suggest otherwise. So the first and most profound change was to pull a Hannah. I turned my children’s education into His hands. I promised to educate them in truth, beauty, goodness, and wisdom as much as I was able and let Him fill in my many shortcomings. I refused to fear how they might fare on a college entrance exam. I refused to worry about what Magpie’s Sunday School teacher thought about her reading level. I renewed my commitment to spend time abiding in His word and petitioning for our homeschool every day. When I stay connected to the Vine, I find that my worry and fear stay away.

My Experience

I would guess that 99%  of homeschool parents were either public or private school educated. My experience of attending public school and being a teacher all helped to solidify what school should look like. And I must fight against it every day. Schools are not known for being places of restful teaching and leisure. Most modern public schools are all about preparing kids for the tests at the end of the year. From day one, teachers push, cram, and shove as much information into a child’s brain as possible so that they will be successful on the test. It is so easy and common for homeschoolers to fall into this mindset: I HAVE to finish this book before the end of the year or they will be behind. I HAVE to get my kids at the same level of achievement as public school kids or I’ve failed. I HAVE to turn in a portfolio or take a test to comply with our state homeschool laws and my child will do horribly if we don’t cover this topic. The HAVE to mindset quickly turns into push, cram, and shove which is the total antithesis of teaching from rest and leisure. I have fallen into this trap so many times that I can’t count them anymore, but none of this is true. When I taught school, and even when I was in school, I NEVER remember finishing a text book in a year, not even math. The teacher might pick and choose things to cover from the book so that we hit things we would need for the next year as time was running out, but do every single page and every single problem of the book. Nope, not once. But when we homeschool, we can finish those things, and if it takes us longer than a year to do it, so be it. Remove the urgency of school from your vocabulary. Change how you view school and never go back! It is not a race to the finish, but a walk through wonder and inspiration.

My Vision

For some reason this has been the most difficult part of my makeover. I had to embrace that I must self-educate along with my children. I consider myself well-educated {college degree and all that}, but I did not feel adequate to providing this type of scholé education, looking and connecting truth, beauty, goodness, and wisdom in all things. The odds are that the average homeschool parent doesn’t either. Thankfully, I heeded the advice of some more experienced homeschoolers.

What I did, based on their wisdom, was purchase a notebook, began to read one of our homeschool books {it was a poetry book}, and jot notes about the book in the notebook. I wrote down connections or ideas I had while reading, always trying to pull out things that were true, good, beautiful, or wise. This all sounds crazy, overwhelming, and time-consuming, but I started with just one book and 15 minutes every day. I’ll work through more books as I can. {In a future post I’ll give a specific example of how this worked out.} I realized that to educate in this way takes time and investment of the parent, so I had to ask myself a tough question, “Is this type of homeschool education worth the investment of the time YOU will need to learn with your children? Are you willing to do that?” Yes, yes I am.

Now I’m at rest about the direction our homeschool is taking, but I’ve got to get the kids on board. Next up, putting scholé into action with the kids by starting with the morning.

From Type A To Schole Series

Making the woman in the mirror a more rested mom in the tree house,


From Type A to Schole: Seek and You Will NOT Find

In my first post of this series I talked about my discovery of what school really means and how I yearned to have a new direction for our homeschool. Once I decided to try this course, I went on a search for a curriculum or program to help me implement leisure and to focus on truth, beauty, and goodness.

Seek and You Will NOT Find

What I found set my Type A self, who loves boxes to check off and lists to cross through, on my heels:


Cue panic attack and shortness of breath.

The more I tried to find a checklist of things to cover the more I encountered other scholé homeschoolers who refused to be forthcoming. It wasn’t because they were trying to be rude or standoffish, but because teaching from rest and searching for truth, beauty, and goodness is not a checklist or curriculum. It’s a process.

A classical homeschool mom explained it best:

You will see your children live a life changed, shaped, and molded by virtuous things. Heroes, wisdom, beauty, truth, knowledge, skills, faith, wonder -- nobody spends their day seeking these things without being changed. You will be changed, too. This type of transforming growth does not come by workbooks and canned curriculum. You can start with somebody's list, but if you aren't open to the spirit leading you and the rabbit trails being of greater worth than the plan, then this style might not be for you. If you can't listen to your child explain in wonder how a book has changed his life (with all the connections and lessons he's learned, just pouring out of him, as he becomes your teacher for the moment) and follow that by tossing your study guide out the window because the student has obviously learned all he needed to learn for now...then this style might not be for you. If you are not interested in spending your spare time reading and listening and thinking and learning and praying so that you have more to pour out in the unexpected moments, then this style might not be for you. But if this style is for you, and you are ready to tell the world that college and career ready skills might be a by-product of your child's education but they will never be the goal, and you thumb your nose at the standardized tests and you no longer yearn to be rich enough to send your child to the "best" prep school, and you know that truth leads to more truth so you have time to figure it out and you have the diligence to pursue will reap what you sow Sow these things into your children and into your own heart and you will reap a beautiful and bountiful harvest.

When I first read this, I felt like someone had sucker punched me. This learning style was so beautiful, so perfect, so pure. I printed out the entire post (this is a part of it) that this mom had written and now have it in my homeschool binder. It inspired me to continue with my journey to teaching from rest.

I finally grasped the idea that no one was going to enter my home, nor could I purchase any specific materials that would guarantee a scholé education for my children. This was both freeing (no more searching for the “perfect” curriculum) and overwhelming (this is all on you, Chelli!). I decided to start with baby steps and look at our homeschool with a fresh eye and


I pulled every program and curriculum off my shelves and placed them on the table in front of me. Now I looked at each one and asked myself these questions:

1. Does it show truth, beauty, and/or goodness?

I used this question to judge most of my curriculum choices. I really wanted to determine what the focus of the program was.

2. Does it contain a message of truth, beauty, and/or goodness that I can relate to godly principles?

I used this question to determine our literature choices.

3. Does my child respond well to this program?

This question was pretty much a no-brainer since most of the things my kids don’t like are long since gone.

Once I had my homeschool items narrowed down, I now went back through them and asked one very important question:

4. Is this curriculum restful for me to teach and use?

This is where I had to get really honest with myself. Just because something fit the criteria of the first three questions, doesn’t mean that it is restful for me to teach or use. At this point I had to say goodbye to Heart of Dakota for our family. It is NOT restful for me to use. All of the boxes kick my Type A self into overdrive wanting to check everything off. I push, push, push to complete the work and the leisure of school is just a memory. I also finally understood why so many scholé homeschoolers hesitate to share specific curriculum. Because what is restful to me and my family might not be to yours. In fact, a mom who uses Heart of Dakota told me not too long after I’d decided to quit using it that she loves HOD because it IS restful for her to teach and use.

There is no curriculum to achieve what I wanted to achieve. For most Type A folks this will be the most difficult part of trying to teach from rest. We have to let go of our pretty lists, schedules, and plans or at the very least, do a major shift in how we view them. However, I will share in some future posts exactly how and what curriculum leads to leisure in our homeschool, but before I could really start using my curriculum choices in a new way, I needed a little inspiration from a Michael Jackson song to kick this new direction in our homeschool off correctly. I’ll talk about that in the next post.

From Type A To Schole Series

Swinging from panic to peace in the tree house,



From Type A to Scholé : Exorcising School

It all started innocently enough. A few whispers here and there. A super long thread from almost two years ago on The Well-Trained Mind forums where I was introduced to the Circe Institute and their ideas about education. Other blog posts where people were discussing teaching from a state of rest and focusing on truth, beauty, and goodness in their school. All of these ideas sounded great, a little pie in the sky, but I felt pretty solid about the direction our homeschool was taking.

Then in February of this year, I panicked about everything I had planned. It simply wasn’t going to work for my kids, especially Chipette. I was afraid that nothing would work. Would I ever get my kids where I wanted them to be? They seemed so far behind where they should be in certain subjects and so ahead in others. It became a cycle of guilt, worry, fear, and immobility. Finally I decided to go back to what had worked for us in the past with Chipette, Heart of Dakota. While she loved it, I suddenly found myself becoming a slave driver, forcing my kids to move along to the next task as quickly as possible so we could get through all of her work. No time to pause. No time to discuss. Get on to the next thing!!! Where I once felt confidence, I now felt fear. My homeschool was going down a path I didn’t want and I had NO clue how to get it back on track.

At this exact moment a new thread popped up on The Well-Trained Mind forums {yes, it’s my one stop daily homeschool encouragement and conference rolled into one!} about the Circe Institute. I paid closer attention this time as homeschool parents talked back and forth about how exactly to find this state of rest to teach from. What did in look like in your home? I desperately longed to teach from a rested, quieted mind instead of where I currently was which was all about a brisk jog around the track instead of a leisurely stroll through the woods. I didn’t want our homeschool to be this way. When I left teaching and chose to homeschool, I envisioned days that were less rush and more discuss. Basically, I wanted it all, confidence my kids were learning and enjoying it, days of leisure and joy, and all saturated in the truth, beauty, and goodness found in God’s word and inspiring people and literature. But first I had to rid myself of the idea of school that had been engrained in my mind from the first moments I stepped into elementary school at the age of 4.

Exorcising School True Meaning of School

The Greek word scholé, from which our English word school is derived, actually means leisure. Does anyone actually equate our current education system with leisure? I don’t, and I definitely didn’t equate our homeschool with leisure either, but I wanted to. I wanted all of it desperately for me and for my children. Read these words I typed from the Circe thread that I mentioned above as I realized exactly what having a school of leisure meant to me:

It has more to do with MY mindset and attitude as a homeschooler than any specific curriculum or routine. I change from being a teacher who has knowledge to impart or a facilitator of a curriculum that has knowledge to impart into a fellow human being, a fellow learner alongside my child. One who models making connections between literature and life, between beauty and math, between truth and history until my child begins to make those connections for themselves. Instead of teacher or curriculum implementer, I become a mentor for my child in discerning the things that are true, good, and beautiful in our world. My role is one of example in the Great Discussion so instead of being stressed about checking boxes or guilty that my child doesn't know about XYZ, I can teach from rest because I know that what is done in our homeschool is done seeking truth, beauty, and wonder in all things much more than finishing a set curriculum or completing our schedule for the day. It's a great conversation between myself and my children using different disciplines to fuel that conversation, but covering the disciplines is NOT the point of our homeschool. Connecting all that is good and beautiful in the world to all that is good and beautiful in us is the point.

So from that day on I began to seek this for our homeschool. It has caused me to fight against my very own nature of being a list maker, a planner, and a type A perfectionist. It has also allowed me to incorporate the strengths of those things to make scholé work for us. I decided to put my faith in the words of Jesus, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” He promised a life of abundance, and I wanted our homeschool to be an extension of that. I knew what I wanted, but how did I get there? How do I totally transform our homeschool from the ground up into a home-scholé? That’s the topic of the next post in this series, when I have a  panic attack and think I’ve lost my mind.

From Type A To Schole Series

Determined to establish the abundant life in the tree house,