Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stop cleaning...and read a book

I will go back to blogging about our trip to CA, but I read an article today that I wanted to post about.
The Memoria Press catalog often has articles that I really enjoy. Susan Wise Bauer, the author of "The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home" wrote an article for the summer issue of the Memoria Press catalog titled, "Stop cleaning the kitchen and read a book."
I wanted to quote the article: "So now you've resolved to educate yourself through reading. But when? You have kids, you have a job, you have this home education thing which takes up some of your time. How do you find the time to do a project like this? We all juggle jobs, housework, bill-paying, family, kids, and late night television; but I think for women, and for homeschooling moms in particular, finding the time to read is vital. As Lydia Sigourney warned us over a century ago: The contemplation of little things puts us in danger of losing our intellectual appetite."
Here are some of her principles:
1. Morning is better than evening. It's a lot better to spend 20 minutes before breakfast reading...than to try to schedule an hour or two in the evening, after you've spent all day with your small children.
2. (This principle really jumped out at me.) Recognize that you may be reluctant to read because, on some deep level, it doesn't seem worthwhile. Activities that produce an immediate result are always more satisfying than activities that don't. We need to acknowledge to ourselves that we enjoy seeing visible results for what we do. In many ways, it's more rewarding to get up in the morning and clean the kitchen than to get up and read. If your house is filthy, the baby is screaming, and you have a book in your hand, you won't feel at all rewarded. That baby will eventually grow up. Eventually he'll come and ask you questions. If you have spent the last years every morning getting up and doing what is immediately visible and rewarding, you may not be able to answer his questions. But if you have spent some of that time reading, thinking, and preparing yourself by educating your own mind, you will be able to have those conversations with your child.
That conversation with your teenager is a long ways away. Remember that the ability to put off immediate satisfaction (clean kitchen) for the sake of future gain (meaningful conversation with growing child) demonstrates self-discipline and maturity. The project of self-education requires you to take a very long view. It requires you to sometimes ignore immediate rewards in favor of a much greater reward down the road. If you can't have that conversation with your child, then who is going to have it? You are going to have to outsource to somebody else. Is that really what you want to do? As you try to carve out a small amount of time to educate yourself, think about your priorities-both now, and for the future.
3. Guard your reading time.
4. Forget about speed. The process of understanding can't be rushed.
To read for 20-30 minutes every morning is a very small revolution. It is a meaningful one. Remember that you are modelling your priorities for your children. You're not just educating yourself. You are creating a sort of mini-world within American culture where a different ethic and a different system of values is at work.
I typed out much of this article, but you can read the whole article at http://www.memoriapress.com/. If you are a homeschooler, I would highly recommend getting on their mailing list-even if you don't purchase their materials. Whether you are a homeschooler or not, I would like you to think about principle #2. Tomorrow I will post about my plans for educating myself through reading.


Anonymous said...

Great article; thanks so much for sharing it with us!! I definitely need to fit more reading time into my day, but feel like I'm neglecting something when I do. And it's so true that it is harder to read when I push it off til nighttime when I am tired.

Dakotapam said...

I need to do more reading. My reading has been limited to blogs lately. But I read a ton while pregnant, not sure why...so I'm sure I'll be reading a lot more in the coming months!

Oh, and by the way, the preggie pops work great...I bought another container today at Motherhood when I picked up a second church dress. I also found the ginger chews someone else suggested. They are STRONG, but they seem to do the trick, ginger ale does not cut it for me, since fluids seem to be one of my nausea triggers (odd eh).

So thanks again...I've had coffee in my new mug two days in a row now, but back to work for two shifts tomorrow!