Earlier this month I attended a Homeschooling from Rest retreat at Lake Retreat Camp and Conference Center in Ravensdale, Washington. The retreat was organized by Jennifer Bascom of Schole in Seattle. Our speaker was Jennifer Dow of Expanding Wisdom, and it was a great privilege to meet her and hear her speak.
Lake Retreat Camp and Conference Center is lovely, and it worked particularly well for some of the focus of the retreat. My absolute favorite part of the retreat (other than meeting Jennifer) was her reading of The Nightingale and then her leading of the discussion comparing The Nightingale to classical education. She truly brought home the point that comparing two things and allowing each person to take part in the discussion and own it leads to a personal relationship with the ideas. I will remember the ideas we discussed during that time more than anything else about the retreat. It was beautiful!
[As a complete aside, I have a little story. This past week, as we were driving together on our way to a hike, I told my sister about The Nightingale. I had just arrived at the cow mooing part when Lola (5), not part of the conversation, piped up in the seat behind me. “Such a large voice for so small a creature!” She has been listening to a large collection of fairy and folk tales on CD. I am astounded, constantly, at what she retains. It is true: listening to excellent stories, repeatedly, imbeds sophisticated language patterns in these children’s brains!]
Jennifer also shared with us the nourishing tradition of classical education. One of my favorite ideas that Jennifer presented during this time was that the Greeks were ripe to receive Christ because they were thirsty for a harmonizing principle. They believed the universe was ordered and the goal of education, or Paideia, was to align oneself with the ordered cosmos. They believed man should seek virtue in body, soul, and spirit as well as seek harmony with self, community, country, and the cosmos. Christ was the embodiment of that order, the Logos.
After lunch, we participated in small group nature study and discussion and were introduced to the highlighting system for close reading.
The additional hours were filled with delicious meals, Orthodox prayer services, entertaining and edifying conversation, and soaking up the heat (it was a bit steamy by Friday afternoon and evening). I met many wonderful new friends.
2: a place of privacy or safety : refuge
3: a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director