In Everyday Scholé this year, Chelli of The Planted Trees, Tonia of The Sunny Patch, and I are slowly working through Dr. Perrin’s list of 8 Essential Principles of Classical Education and discussing each one. These principles are vital for classical homeschoolers to understand and implement in our homeschools.
This month we’re discussing the principle of multum non multa, which simply means much not many.
Multum non Multa
Multum non multa, or not many things but much, was articulated by Pliny the Younger. The thought means to go deep into a few subjects rather skim through everything. Essentially this means choosing the best instead of trying to do a little of everything.
Let’s look at multum non multa a little more in terms of the modern homeschool.
A Life of Multa
I don’t know about you, but these days there’s so much pressure to add to the school day, put kids into all sorts of activities, and schedule every second of summer vacation.
Kids must be part of co-ops and outside classes. You can’t do it on your own. What do you mean your child doesn’t take ballet, piano, and art lessons? What about soccer practice or skiing lessons? Surely you have time for the latest nature study class we’re putting together. It’s a wonderful opportunity for your kid.
What about subjects, aren’t you teaching your children all about American history, world history, and non-western history? Surely you’re doing nature study, chemistry, ecology, biology, astronomy, physics, and geology this year?
What about literature? If you’re not reading 20 books this quarter, you’re behind the times. And didn’t you know, it’s all the rage to complete two or three distinct math programs with your children.
If you want your child to succeed you need to push, push, and push some more. Cover everything, do everything, and hope no one has a mental break down.
Trying to keep up with this level of business is living a life of multa. You’re doing many thing, but where is the free time to contemplate what your studying. When do you have time to breathe?
The principle of multum non multa in scholé speaks of a need to slow down and thoughtfully consider where we put our time. It’s not that any of the options of multa are bad. They’re actually wonderful opportunities.
They’re good, indeed great, things to do. But to have the best life has to offer, you must say no. Say no to the busyness of living a life of multa. Say no so that you can say yes to a life of multum.
A Life of Multum
A life of multum is not one where you become hermits in a cave. Instead it’s a life where you carefully contemplate where your family’s resources of time, energy, and finances are best invested.
You carefully choose from the plethora of subjects which ones are best for your children to study this year. Likely reading, writing, and math will make the cut.
What about Latin? While many classical homeschooling families choose to study Latin for many good reasons, there are a few who choose to study Greek for the simple reason that it’s a better choice for their family.
A life of multum should be one with challenging subjects. Subjects that make you and your children think about the world in a different way. Subjects that expand your minds, introduce you to beauty, and make you better people.
You need to make the same choices for the curricula you choose and the activities you participate in. Choose curricula that encourages you to take your time, dive deep into your studies, and develop a livelong fascination with the subject.
Choose activities which bring your family joy, and activities which encourage your children to practice, work, and develop discipline. Carefully choose where you put your families time and energy because there’s always another wonderful opportunity coming around the corner.
There’s such a thing as too many activities, especially if the activities take away from your time to contemplate the world, crawl after the ants to find the ant hill, or study a slug eating a leaf.
A life of multum isn’t one of non-stop studies. Instead it’s life that’s rich with opportunities and well-thought out choices. One that allows a child to dive headlong into a passion, or slowly exposes another to the wonders of the world.
Multum non multa recognizes that raising and educating children isn’t a race. There’s no prize for the first child to the finish line of graduation because there is no finish line. We and our children are merely exploring an unknown land of wonder and awe.
In order to make the most of this beautiful world, we need follow the principle of multum non multa and find the nougats of gold hidden in the plethora of good. We need to make time for the best life has to offer.
Be sure to read what Tonia and Chelli have to say about Multum non Multa!