Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom
This world spins fast–and we twirl dizzy along with it. Round and round, we juggle more to do: more buttons to click and status updates to check and details to accomplish.
We have more ways to measure ourselves than ever before–How many friends (online or off), how many “likes,” how many tasks checked off? It’s never-ending.
Our kids are not immune to this–how could they be?
We measure them too–with ever-increasing focus on standardized testing and our tendency to push, push, push. We treat them like adults before they’re ready, eager it seems, to get them spinning right alongside us.
Can someone slow down this crazy train, please?
Thankfully someone has. My friend Tsh Oxenreider from The Art of Simple reminds us just how much our fast-paced culture influences our lives in her newly released memoir, Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World.
In it she describes her family’s experience moving from the relationship-based culture of Turkey back to a productivity-driven culture like the United States.
“Is it possible to live slowly in America, or is it wishful thinking?”
~ Tsh Oxenreider, Notes from a Blue Bike
In one chapter Tsh describes a visit she and her now-husband Kyle took to Greece. There they saw a sign in a restaurant that announced what the place served: SLOW FOOD. Believing this to be a cultural blunder of the term “fast food,” Tsh laughed.
Only years later did she realize that slow food is a real thing, a dish lovingly-prepared from scratch–a type of meal that fewer and fewer people regularly experience these days.
When I think of “slow food,” the image of a crock pot always comes to mind. What’s the most successful element of a crock pot meal?
Photo by Janine
We place ingredients inside, in the right environment, and then we leave. Slowly over a period of hours, flavors converge, the smell fills the air, and voila–dinner is served.
Time is the secret ingredient.
“Adults could learn a lot from watching our kids freely explore when they think no one’s watching.”
~ Notes from a Blue Bike
Tsh’s story made me wonder: Could there be such a thing as a slow education? And could it be that a slow education might offer our families and kids certain advantages that a results-driven method can’t compare with?
Is it possible that time just might be a secret ingredient in learning as well?
Here’s what I imagine a slow education looks like:
- not frantic or based on the fear of our child “falling behind”
- grounded in deep-rooted joy and inspiration instead of compulsion and force
- we work hard to surround our children with the right environment (remember the crock pot?) and we let that environment influence and nurture them over time
- we recognize that education is not a race to win or a finish line to cross, but a journey we take–for our whole lives–in our own time and at our own pace
This type of education is possible if we dare to choose it. Our kids won’t thrive without the slow and steady nourishment their bodies and minds deserve.
With courage and attention, we can provide both types of sustenance in our homes with ease.
It boils down to intention–not merely accepting the cultural norms that surround us–but questioning them and deciding what our family really wants, what our children truly need.
Tsh is one of my mentors when it comes to intentional living, and like a good friend across a coffee table she shares her wisdom in Notes from a Blue Bike.
Tsh breaks her book down into five categories–the areas she believed most important in her family’s path toward simplicity: Food, Work, Education, Travel, and Entertainment.
Void of pat answers, I see Tsh’s words as an acknowledgement that simple living isn’t always easy–but that part of being a grown up is the work of choosing our lives, instead of allowing our culture to set the pace for us.
My takeaway from Tsh’s book: Intentional living doesn’t have one definition. I love that she doesn’t prescribe a specific response but leaves it up to us to do that work for ourselves.
As a dear friend for years now, I know that Tsh’s beautiful heart matches her inspiring words–I believe Notes from a Blue Bike would bless you and yours. I hope you’ll take the time to check it out!
As for me and my family, our home now overflows with unhurried time to fall in love with learning–an advantage we’d never have the chance to enjoy if we hadn’t gone in pursuit of a slower education.
“Do whatever it takes to increase your sensitivity to the little things in life you wouldn’t otherwise notice, much less savor, if your autopilot setting is hurry.”
~ Tsh Oxenreider, Notes from a Blue Bike