Plant the Seeds for a Lifetime of Learning
— Stephanie Boss · Thursday, June 24, 2021 —
I am not a Covenant graduate, but I got here as fast as I could!
One of the things that drew me to Covenant was the rich learning environment. From the curriculum listed on the website to the first moment that I set foot on the campus, I knew this was the place for my family to grow and flourish.
I wanted in and I wanted to drink deeply from this fountain.
Of course, there are many domains of learning for which to love: mathematics, botany, woodworking, athletics, art, music, philosophy, but the one that sparked a fire in me was the love of literature.
Obviously, I had read books before. I was an adult. In fact, I loved books.
As a kid, I longed for library visits, and I've carried a book under my arm since I was only 3 years old.
I will confess that my early reading was basic — Billy and Blaze and then Ramona and the gang. When I began attending a Catholic school in the 5th Grade, my love of reading became deeper, but still on the Ramona level. I longed for our weekly visits to our school library on the second floor. It consisted of two whole rooms filled with book-lined walls and heavy, long, dark, wood tables for seating. Enchanting.
And then in 7th Grade, there was Celeste Gregory. She was a READER. Her claim to fame was that she could finish a book in one day/night that anyone challenged her to read. I remember well the day the challenge was The Scarlet Pimpernel, over 300 pages long, and she did it. Ramona and I were a bit jealous. But thankfully I soon realized that we read and learn at our own pace. We should not be threatened by the Celeste Gregorys of this world. Challenge yourself, but run your own race.
In fact, speaking of fast readers, my 84-year-old mom, blows past me all the time while reading books. I bought her the 690-page book The Great Tradition edited by Richard Gamble for Mother’s Day one year because she was interested in mine. What? No flowers or candy? Nope. Books are her love language. She got ahead of me in no time and began quoting pages to ME as I had done to her. Yeah, getting bested by your mom can be tough, but again, it is a know-thyself-go-at-your-own-pace-kind-of-thing. (Full disclosure: She has finished the book while I have only read excerpts.)
Fast forward to now. I have been immersed in the world of literature at Covenant for 15 years now, and I cannot get enough of it. The depth, the plight, the humanity, and the connection to others is a deep well.
I also experience the joy of teaching literature to the 5th Grade classes at Covenant. Themes — such as perseverance and providence, humility, and hard work — as well as life lessons and the faithfulness of the characters (or not!) provide delightful fare for classroom discussions.
The students know that I love the books we are reading. I had a student once tell me that she loved how I spoke of the characters as if they were real. Aren’t they?! They have been my constant companions these 15 years.
So, in class one day when the topic of the Portrait of the Graduate came up, we discussed the eight topics briefly. One student piped up and said: “I’m not sure that I love everything I’m learning.”
Oh, the beautiful honesty of that moment!
My response: “I appreciate the honesty! Me either!”
It is freeing to remove the pressure to love everything and to love it right now!
I shared with the class that even though I loved books while growing up, I was in 5th Grade before I had a true love of books, and that it has developed even more deeply as an adult.
Becoming a lifelong learner takes time. Seeds are planted which need time to sprout.
We all catch fire at different times and about different things, and the spark for learning may ignite at different times and ways along our various paths.
We are on a path of learning and growing that will eventually flourish. It takes time to glean rich mineral goodness from the ground before the blossoming and bearing of fruit. Human flourishing is a process.
So, you might not feel like Abe Lincoln burning the midnight oil to read all the books … yet. But keep adding fuel to the fire, keep pursuing avenues of interest, and eventually there will be an uptick, a huge swoosh. Ignition!
Recently, at the suggestion of a colleague, I joined LinkedIn. To my surprise and joy, almost 20 percent of my connections are former 5th Grade students who are thriving. They are all grown up! Human flourishing at its best.
The love of learning is a lifelong endeavor and cannot be rushed overnight like a UPS package. The waiting and travel time are part of the course of events.
Whenever you finally arrive at something you love, plunge in with gusto, no matter the age or stage.
For example, my mom — who we met earlier as she was blitzing past me — is a reading machine. While on the phone discussing Chapter 8 “Build a Bookshelf” in Ben Sasse’s The Vanishing American Adult, she exclaimed: “I’ve missed so much literature because I was reading textbooks. I’ve missed so many good books.”
My reply: “That’s how I feel. Too many to read them all. But enjoying all that I get to read.”
So how would I sum up the Portrait of a Graduate principle of Love Learning? It’s a wonderful journey so get there as fast as you can!
By Stephanie Boss, CCS 5th Grade Teacher