Festina Lente: Make Haste Slowly
Have you ever heard of the phrase festina lente? It means make haste slowly.
Make haste slowly. Let’s think about that for a moment.
I’m 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.
Festina Lente: Make Haste Slowly
These days everyone is in a hurry.
- In a hurry to get our babies walking and talking.
- In a hurry for them to learn the alphabet and to write their names.
- In a hurry to get our preschoolers and kindergarteners to read, write, and learn math.
- In a hurry to see your elementary kids grow up and have detailed discussions.
- In a hurry to see your middle school kids do high school level work.
- In a hurry to see your high school teens start college, turn into adults, and move out.
You’re in such a hurry to get on to the next stage that you forget to savor the now. And then the kids are grown up and out of the house.
To be honest, does all this hurrying and pushing really get you ahead?
You can push all you want, but babies don’t start talking or walking any earlier. You can’t rush your kids through basic math and into algebra with good results.
In your haste to move faster, get farther, and hurry to the next level you miss the beauty that surrounds you. You forget that classical education is more than just a checklist of to-dos.
It’s about mastery, beauty, virtue, and truth.
When you rush through life and our homeschool, you’re not able to savor the beauty of the moment. You’re too busy pushing to get the next task finished to enjoy the task you just completed.
Let me ask you a few questions.
- When was the last time you sat down to tea and cookies with your kids to discuss poetry or Shakespeare?
- When was the last time you stopped school for a day to enjoy a long nature hike in the spring air?
- When was the last time you stopped calculating the number of lessons before you complete the math textbook so you can move on to the next?
- Shouldn’t you start algebra in the 7th or 8th grades, or you’re already behind the curve?
Let’s look at math.
You’re in such a hurry to move on to the next lesson, the next chapter, and the next book that we forget mastery is the goal.
You race ahead.
The kids suddenly hit a roadblock. They don’t understand, they’re struggling with the concepts. Because you moved so fast that the kids never mastered the lessons. You need to go back and review.
That’s what I did with my oldest kids when they were learning to read.
We completed one page of Phonics Pathways every single day. It didn’t matter about the tears or bribes. We finished that page.
Inevitably the kids would come to a point where they struggled until I’d give up and go back a couple of months in order to review material the children should have mastered the first time through.
I thought of it as the two steps forward, one step back approach.
What’s fascinating is that my youngest daughter and I are taking our time.
We’re only completing a third of a page a day before practicing reading elsewhere. We haven’t needed to go back and review old material. She has the time she needs to master the material.
We’re making haste slowly.
That’s the thing with homeschooling, you make better and more comfortable progress just by moving at a snail’s pace than you will be racing through the pages.
What I’m trying to say is to gently move at your child’s pace, not at society’s pace.
- Finish the textbook completely before moving on to the next one.
- Give your children time to master the concepts.
- And don’t be afraid to spend extra time on a topic a child is fascinated by or struggling with.
Get rid of the timetables of education.
Pack them up and throw them away. Instead, concentrate on teaching your child today.
Master math concepts. Write a paper. Read some books. Recite poetry. And study Latin.
Don’t rush. Just keep on doing the next thing.
By making Festina Lente: Make Haste Slowly a central principle of your homeschool, you’ll enjoy your homeschool and make better progress than by constantly rushing to the next stage.