I spent the better part of last week at a conference hosted by the CiRCE Institute. It was entitled "A Contemplation of Nature - A Return to Sound Thinking" I went with my friend Cindy who has attended CiRCE conferences before and always spoke highly of them. I really needed some encouragement in my homeschool and so decided to attend this year. The first night there was a reception and as I looked around at all the people and realized that everyone was drinking wine I determined that this was not your usual home school conference! It actually wasn't technically a home school conference as it was attended by both home schoolers and private Christian school teachers and administrators. I don't think I could ever go back to a "normal" homeschool conference again.
There is a national radio personality based here in Atlanta who I listen to periodically. He is a pagan libertarian and we are on opposite poles on many matters, but on many issues he gives much food for thought. He speaks frequently on education and rants against government schools. He contends that they exist to make good citizens and they accomplish this by keeping people dumb. He has ample evidence to prove his point. It is easy to point fingers at government schools, but we as homeschoolers sometimes think we are doing much better when all we are doing is sprinkling God throughout the curriculum. CiRCE hopes to change this. The CiRCE Institute exists to provide support for classical Christian educators. Classical education as they define it is "the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness and beauty". In his opening talk, Andrew Kern, made several points which made me think. One he contends that we are in a "post human" culture and to the extent that I am schooling to this age I am contributing to post humanism. He talked a lot about the nature of things (theme of the conference) and how we go about getting our students to think! He talked about the history of things and how Francis Bacon's ideas led to replacing truth with utility and how so much of our education today is based on utility - in effect practical Darwinism. He brought up the point that schools are the most successful tools for changing culture, but that virtually nothing that happens in school today leads to a renewed mind. (Rom. 12:2 "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind...") I cannot convey all that he said and I would encourage anyone interested in education to order the CD. They will have the individual talks available in a few weeks.
That was only the opening talk. Then we had 2 1/2 full days of talks, mostly philosophical - designed to get us to think and then make our own applications; although, there were some highly practical things also. There were some great talks on the arts and how to incorporate those in the curriculum and some quite practical talks on educating boys. I met some great new friends including a wonderful woman who teaches Latin on line to homeschool moms so that they are better prepared to teach it. I loved it and wish I had started going earlier. I have much to contemplate as I think of this upcoming year and how our school will look. I pray that I will be able to cultivate wisdom, virtue and sound thinking into my children.
Of course I had to come home from the lofty philosophical pillars into reality. I came home and Eric left to go out of town. I was looking forward to a good night's sleep as I didn't sleep well at the conference. However, I was awaken by the phone early Sunday morning with Scott calling to tell me Amy had been bucked off a horse and had a mild concussion. Apparently the wranglers had gone to watch the sunrise on horseback. So that is how the week began. I still haven't unpacked all of my suitcase and just keep stepping over it each time I go in my room. But the thoughts are still with me as I mull over them daily and I look forward to going to CiRCE again.