Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lifelong Learners

Education would be so much more effective if its purpose were to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they don’t know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.”

– Sir William Haley

I am thankful for the early school years my children enjoyed in a place that made learning challenging and fun. I still think of learning as colorful, creative, tactile, wonderfully messy... and fun. There was a spirit of adventure and aliveness that undergirded our home's support of reading, puzzles, painting, cooking, travel and experimenting while learning to do our best in places where we could excel as well as when a child faced a challenge and surmounted the obstacle with effort.

I must confess, the photos in Ann Voskamp's blog post make me wish for the chance to be a homeschool mom and do it all over again--in the old school fashion--as her shots bring to mind memories of my own education in many ways. But we do not get to live our lives over again, so we deliberately choose our paths carefully.

Gifted teachers who poured energy and robust enthusiasm for life into their classrooms--for me and for our children--have a place in my heart. Others, undergoing a hard season personally, illustrated a quiet grace and confidence that they may have doubted occasionally as they led their students through the year the way they were learning to press on themselves: one day at a time. I had respect for their faithfulness in standing firm when life presented tough times.

Thank a teacher sounds like a worn bumper sticker, but I have been giving thanks for some memorable ones today.

My own dear fourth grade teacher is a woman of beauty and grace who has turned ninety years old. I thought of her again this week when I met her daughter and reminisced about my delight in her classroom.

And then it hit me: each of us is a teacher to someone. May we try to be among the best of them as God gives us grace to experience the joy of learning something new for a long, long time.

And I think again...

One daughter dressed herself for kindergarten and first grade career days in a smock and carried brushes and palette. Among all the veterinarians, doctors, nurses, firefighters and pro football players, she walked her little quiet self into the classroom and said she wanted to be an artist. Twice.

Years passed.

The little girl grew up.

She got her start in a place that encouraged a love of learning new things. She wrote an international training manual for a French company while in New York. She has researched human behavior and marketing and has worked in communications and product placement with some interesting people. She published a book chapter on autism in children. She appreciates a connection between creativity and the brain and may be continuing to pursue that point in her lifelong learning.

And recently, she began to put brush strokes on canvas. Small steps...one at a time... a bit of paint on the brush applied with, I suspect, the same spark of curiosity she displayed at age five. Isn't that we way we learn to do anything new?

Much to my delight and to her great enjoyment, she has completed some water colors and works of art in oil. She is taking the next step. That is all we have to do: just take the next step on the journey. Start something. Finish something. Learn from it.

May God guide our next step in living into who we are and who we want to be and do. Thank someone who has guided your next step as we continue to learn each day.

For in him we live, and move, and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also his offspring.' Acts 17:28

The Lord said to Moses, “See,...I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft." Exodus 31:1-6

Basket of Pears, by Rhymes Stabler taken from Photo by Rachel Kabukula who has other beautiful farmers' market finds on her blog.


  1. You are a wonderful teacher....thank you for sharing your gift along with Rhymes'artwork....Beautiful...