“Slowing” and Solitude

The Practice of “Slowing”

Ortberg says, “The most serious sign of hurry sickness is a diminished capacity to love. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time and time is one thing hurried people don’t have.” Jesus was never in hurry and if we are to follow him, we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives. How do we do that? Ortberg suggests two things: “slowing” and solitude.

Slowing involves intentionally putting yourselves in situations where you have to wait:

  • Deliberately take the slow lane, and pray for the people you would normally be zooming past.
  • Get in that long line at the grocery store and let someone go ahead of you, especially if you’re feeling rushed. As a parent, you can add “color commentary” to the things you do on a daily basis so that kids can understand and clearly see the spiritual disciplines or principles put into practice. This talking out loud is simply connecting the dots for your kids, especially the younger ones.
  • Smile AND make eye contact with the cashier, your child, your spouse.
  • Force yourself to chew your food 15 times before you swallow.
  • Don’t wear a watch for one day.
  • Say “no” to an activity that you would normally say “yes” to. Have the courage to say “no” to good things to say “yes” to an unhurried heart.
  • Find ways to deliberately choose waiting, ways that make hurry impossible. As we practice them, we should tell God we are trusting him to enable us to accomplish all we need to get done each day.

At a classical education conference, I heard about a teacher who started each day with, “God will give us enough time to get done all that we need to accomplish today.” This is an act of faith and humility- submitting and surrendering our time to God and trusting that He will supply all of our needs according to his glorious riches.

The second thing Ortberg suggests is to seek times of solitude, both within each day and extended times of solitude. This is a spiritual discipline that takes intentionality. Time alone with God often feels so unproductive, and you will have to fight for it. No one will say, “Mom, it looks like you need some solitude, why don’t you take a moment/day for yourself.” You have to put it on your daily schedule and on your monthly schedule. I call my days alone “Dates with Jesus”. I actually write, “Date with Jesus” on my calendar because that is how I want it to feel- like I am taking out time to be alone with the One I love so that we can reconnect in a face-to-face way. Ortberg and Richard Foster give excellent guidelines for practicing both daily and extended solitude, but Jesus is our best example. Before and after intense times of ministry, Jesus took time to just go be with the Father. It wasn’t a time to catch up on work or friends or anything like that. It wasn’t even a time to recharge or think about himself. It was a time to be with His Father. Jesus did get renewed, but that wasn’t why he sought solitude. He sought solitude in order to relate to His Father. So, how can you, how can I, intentionally make a date with Jesus, the Lover of our souls? Sit down with your spouse and ask, “What day can I carve out some space to spend time alone with Jesus?” Write that day on your calendar, and protect that time like your life depends on it…

Make Haste Slowly: Part 2

By Dusty Kinslow

“Festina Lente” essentially means to “make haste slowly.”  A more modern maxim is “Measure twice, cut once.”  It is about taking the time to do things well the first time.

For example, have you ever had a Saturday when you had lots of errands to run and things to accomplish, but you didn’t take the time to plan your day?  One recent weekend, I had several errands I needed to finish but didn’t spend any time the night before, or even that morning, to plan.  I ended up driving (with the kids!!) all over town and getting about half of what I needed to accomplish complete.  It was maddening!

It’s also like going to the grocery store because you know that you really need to but you don’t take the time to make the list.  You end up buying things you don’t need and not having all of the things you do need.  You are in the middle of making that delicious casserole your kids all love (right?) and realize you forgot that can of chicken and mushroom soup.  Again, maddening.

This is where the principle of “festina lente” can be applied.  Slowing down to plan the day saves time in the long run.  This applies to our days at home, as well.  In the UMS model, parents serve as co-teachers.  It makes such a difference in our success as co-teachers if we will take the time to look over the lessons and plan our school day before we begin.  We will make more progress than if we just rush headlong into the day.  Supplies will be gathered, hearts will be prepared, progress will be made and frustrations will be lessened because we have taken the time to make ourselves ready.  The same is true of our weeks; taking time on Sunday evening to plan for the coming week (meals, meetings, activities) is time well spent, especially if we submit the week to God in prayer, asking Him to order our steps aright.

I would also pause here to say that I find it useful to include my husband in the planning of the week.  Simply asking, “Honey, do you have anything I need to include on the calendar?” communicates respect and unity.  It is also important to communicate the week’s schedule to him.  For example, “This is what we have coming up this week.  Is this all okay?” puts everyone on the same page and shows honor and submission to our husbands.

In our model of schooling, we grasp “festina lente” when we see the list of assignments to check off for the day, and rather than rushing through them, we instead slow down to check for mastery.  Mastery is what we want.  While it is tempting to push through so that we can finish each piece of curriculum, it would serve us well to remember those books are just tools to teach math or spelling or Latin.  The books are only maps to show us where to go- they don’t always determine how fast we get there.   At Austin Classical, we are more concerned with mastery than with making it to the end of the book.  We want to “make haste slowly.”

 

Make Haste Slowly: Some guiding principles for our days (Part 1)

By Dusty Kinslow, Austin Classical School

Take a moment to ponder the following words:

  • Curiosity
  • Wonder
  • Cultivate
  • Grapple
  • Habits
  • Discipline
  • Formation

What thoughts or images do these words evoke in you?

These words are the vocabulary for classical education.  And, if you’re like me, they are novel words for speaking and thinking about how students learn and teachers teach.  These words are in almost complete opposition to other, more progressive words that characterize conversations about education today.  Words like:

  • Accountability
  • Assessment
  • Incentive
  • Entertaining/Fun
  • Accommodations
  • Individualized
  • College-Ready

These are not bad words or negative concepts in and of themselves, but their aim is low.  The goal in most educational settings with which we are familiar is “college-readiness” or preparing graduates to enter the workforce.  Again, these are not bad goals, just short-sighted and soul-quenching.

Classical educators, instead, work to aid the embodied souls of our children to become fully trained people, ready to learn, love and serve well.  Our goal is to help raise up a generation of wise and virtuous young men and women who love and pursue the True, the Good and the Beautiful.  This is, in comparison, a quite lofty and soul-thrilling aim.  However, the question remains- “How do we get there?”  Well, we get there slowly.

Over the next few months, we will consider 2 principles that were presented to me as classical pedagogical principles[i].  In other words, they were presented as ways that we should teach classically. And, while I definitely agree that they are sound instructional principles, I have found that they have a deeper, spiritual connection to how we go about our days.  In other words, HOW we teach is more influential than WHAT we teach.

Those of us choosing a classical, University-Model® model of education for our children and our families are conscientiously choosing to go against the flow of most of the world.  Because of this, we will have to be very intentional about continuing to choose to live our days well.  That said, we must be patient within classical education.  It took education decades to move away from classical values and it will likely take us decades to regain.  Take heart!  We are part of a movement- a Re-Form movement- in education.  We are reclaiming the minds and hearts of children and that is exciting!  But it also takes time and grace.  We must “make haste slowly!”

Please join us in the weeks ahead as we consider two fundamental principles of classical education:

  1.  “Festina Lente”
  2. “Multum non Multa”

As we discuss these principles, we’ll learn how they apply to teaching our students classically and how they can be applied in a broader sense within our individual, interior lives and the lives of our family.

 



[i] Dr. Christopher Perrin, founder of Classical Academic Press and leading classical educator, presented “The Eight Essential Principles of Classical Pedagogy” at the Society of Classical Conference in June 2013.  He’s followed up with several web-based seminars on these principles.  His teaching has caused me think deeply and to share these thoughts with the teachers and parents of Austin Classical School.  If you’d like to hear more excellent teaching from Dr. Perrin on these classical principles, please visit his website at http://insideclassicaled.com/.