Saturday, July 22, 2017

Home Education as the Hearth

With any practical endeavour, it helps me to have some kind of image which gives meaning to the work at hand. And the no-small-task of home education is no exception. It’s such a big job, with so many facets. I can easily become overwhelmed by details. I can easily become discouraged by comparison. I can easily lose sight of the vision that was ignited in my heart, for my family. 

The image of a hearth is not new for me, as the title of my blog suggests. But I have only recently begun to apply it to the area of home education. I’m currently in a season of evaluating what we’ve done so far, and looking ahead to how we will move forward. But before I can get into the practical elements of planning, I’m taking some time to sketch out the big picture again. 

And I’m picturing home education like a hearth. These are some thoughts that are helping me envision the kind of learning life I want to kindle in our home. 

~ Gathering ~

The hearth is a place of gathering. 
The flame draws us to itself, and to each other. 
It’s a place of coming close and reconnecting.
The hearth is a communal place, and room must be made for all of us. 
This is the beautiful power of fire. We are brought together by something bigger than any one of us. We draw up to a flame that has burned for century upon century. We are in good company. 

The hearth says, you are not alone. 

~ Warmth ~

The hearth is a place of warmth. 
It takes the chill out of the air. It thaws icy attitudes. It melts stubborn ways. It softens hard edges.
In the warmth we can relax, and be ourselves. 
The hearth is a comfortable place, and a comforting place. 
Here we receive rest for our weariness, and balm for the chapped places of life. 
Here we curl up and know that it is well with our souls. 

The hearth says, you are at home.

~ Cheer ~

The hearth is a cheery place. 
Fire dances and flickers and crackles and sings. 
The hearth is a place for kindling joy and sparking delight. 
It’s a merry place. (Hobbits and badgers most welcome.) 
It's a place for laughter and cocoa and tales of adventure. 
Fire revives us, reminds us to lift up our heads and lighten our hearts. 

The hearth says, you can kick up your heels. 

~ Sustenance ~

The hearth is a place of sustenance.
It is over the fire that the tea kettle whistles and the stone soup simmers. 
It is over the fire that the raw ingredients of the day are brought together into something that is nourishing for all. 
It is deep under the coals that soul food is baked, steady and stick-to-your-ribs. 
It’s a place to partake, to share the bread and wine. 

The hearth says, you have everything you need. 

~ Light ~

The hearth is a place of light.
By the glow of fire, we see things as they are meant to be seen. 
We see truth. We see living ideas. 
Something in us becomes illuminated. Inspiration flashes and ignites creativity, passion, wonder. 
At the hearth our torches are lit, torches which we will carry out to the corners of our world and light our varied paths. 

The hearth says, you were made for discovery.

~ Invitation ~

The hearth is a place of invitation. 
First, we gather as family. 
And the circle expands to friends, neighbours, and others we know and love.
The fire is always bright enough for more. The circle extends to those for whom our windows glow as beacons in the night. 
It is not ours to hide under a bushel, but to blaze as a signal on a hill, summoning hope and signalling home. 

The hearth says, you are always welcome. 

This is the image I want to keep burning in my mind's eye as we forge ahead into our next chapter of home education. 

* image: By the Hearth, 1894, by Philip Eustace Stretton

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