Friday, September 29, 2006

My Greek Scholar and "delight directed" learning

On Wednesday Matthew told me something very interesting. He said that he tried to take notes on Sunday’s sermon in Greek. It took me a minute to realize what he meant. Then I asked to see the bulletin he used. He fetched it from his Bible, and there on the teaching notes page were Greek words interspersed with English. He actually did a Greek/English weave translating Greek words written in the Greek alphabet script when he heard them in the sermon. He even transliterated some of the English words into the Greek alphabet. I was amazed.

Some of you know that back in August, Matthew asked to start learning Greek again. Coty had shown him the New Testament Greek language program developed by Professor Hildebrand at Gordon College, under whose teaching Erin happily fulfilled her college language requirement. We had bought the teaching CD and book and that’s what Matthew chose to use. Now, this is truly “delight-directed” learning at it’s finest. How did it happen?

I had exposed Matthew to the Greek language three or four years ago. We were studying the Ancients and one of the things we learned about was the Greek alphabet. Matthew thought it was very cool, like a secret code, and asked to learn more. At that time, I purchased a program for him called, funny enough, “Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek.” (Actually, our Andrew is the French scholar in the family, but that’s another story). Anyway, for a couple of years Matthew plugged away at this user friendly and decidedly child directed language program. He enjoyed it but after about Level 3, his enthusiasm flagged and I let him stop. I was planning to do French with the boys, anyway. So, I chalked the couple of years of late elementary, early junior high Greek learning up as a fun learning experience whose time had passed.

When Matthew brought up his desire to learn Greek again back in August, I was happy to oblige. I figured he could pursue it as much as he wanted, and we’d still do French together. If he stayed interested in the Greek, fine, if not, fine.

A month into his studies, he is happily listening each day to his CD lesson, reciting Scripture in Greek, and telling me about declensions. This kid loves Greek. That’s what I mean about “delight directed” learning. He is delighted with his studies. He is delighted at the sound and appearance of the language. He is delighted with the differences in Greek and English and the clarity of Greek. And this delight is what directs his learning. I don’t have anything to do with it, except marvel. He is completely self motivated. Not only is he learning, he is now actively applying what he is learning. Taking sermon notes in Greek is a case in point. I must say, I am thrilled. I hope that he has now reached a level from which he will not want to retreat.

I pray that as this homeschool year proceeds, more of our studies will be characterized by this kind of delight. Imagine learning to balance chemical equations with this attitude. Thankfully, we are beginning to experience some thrills in our study of chemistry - the elegance of the Period Table, the still-to-the-boys mysterious way that electron arrangement determines reactivity. I keep saying things like, "You'll really think it's cool when you understand it." I'm waiting on the edge of my chair for those "ah, hah!!!" moments. They're coming. I can feel it in the way they ask questions. They know they're about to figure out something really amazing. And I'm not going to tell them. I am, hopefully, going to guide them to the discovery and when they make it, it will be their own, not just a fact learned, but a mystery revealed.

When I think about learning this way, I am intensely grateful to "dear CM" as some of her devotees call her. Reading Charlotte Mason has helped me more than anything, to want my children's education to be filled with relationships to their learning; to learn about rhetoric or reagents, algebra or atoms, Greek or grammar, not because we have to, but because we are greatly enriched by new knowledge and delighted in it. And I want them to understand, as I am quite sure she understood, that our delight in learning should be not only in our subject matter, but first and most in the Lord, the creator and sustainer of life, who is the author of all true knowledge. To Him be the glory!

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Proverbs 24:3,4


Jen Unsell said...

How encouraging to read this Beth!

Kelly said...

That's great! I'd love for our guys to learn Greek. What a wonderful way to read the Scriptures!!!