New Horizons

We are living in extraordinary times. Who would have guessed a month or two ago how dramatically daily life would alter. Who could have imagined how narrow our horizons would suddenly become?

The unexpected disruption of life’s pattern is hard. Figuring out new ways to manage everything, including Learning at Home, is unquestionably demanding. And yet…

One of our goals at Heritage is to cultivate ‘the life of the mind’ or ‘an inner life’. It is a big idea. Seeing the goal of education in terms of obtaining qualifications, important as they are, is a shadow by comparison. Someone with a rich inner life possesses an imaginative capacity to go places, to discover delightful oases, to find inward re-creation and nourishment, to relish truth. Such a person also knows where to find the resources to live generously, even in a season of unusual pressure. 

We can learn lessons from grandparents. Our wisest elders find satisfaction in quieter, more local pursuits, in part out of necessity, but also due to regular investment in wholesome interests. Many of our elders have understood the point I’m trying to make: the inner life really does matter.  

In order to flourish, the mind, like the body, needs a healthy diet of good food. When we partake of a good meal of mind food, we are satisfied by it. If we take this seriously, we ought, for starters, to be attentive to our own needs, especially now. Hopefully this truth helps us to frame Learning at Home in the right way. Children too are hungry for knowledge and the curriculum is intended to be enjoyed, even to bring delight. 

Teachers are working hard to prepare hearty meals of stimulating activities and readings for the weeks ahead. The good news is that satisfying mind food is available to us in greater abundance than ever, although in this age of information saturation we also need to be discerning. The mind needs real food, not ‘twaddle’ as Charlotte Mason used to say. She described the best books as ‘living’ because they possess vitality, originality, and interesting ideas that grip you. Real things also feed the mind, so in addition to enjoying books, let’s try and be outdoors as much as possible and make time for activities such as baking, music and art or learning a new skill.

Of course, our primary concern in these anxious days is to support all those adversely affected by the coronavirus. At the same time, children happily remind us that life is irrepressible. Although it feels like our horizons have narrowed, it is not too much to hope we and our children can yet glimpse expansive new vistas in the weeks ahead.