Beauty, Christianity, Habit Formation, personhood, Philosophy, relationship
Comment 1

A Well-Balanced Life by Tara Schorr

I have found myself repeatedly coming back to the importance of a balanced life
ever since the Eve Anderson Tea a couple of conferences ago. Melanie Walker
mentioned her belief that Charlotte Mason was influenced by St. Benedict, and
some discussion from the audience that agreed with that sentiment ensued when
she was closing. I was haunted!
I spent some time that summer reading up on St. Benedict’s life, including the
lively biography that Pope Gregory wrote about him. I also picked up a book
entitled The Rule of Benedict: Insights For the Ages, which has his rule, and
commentary written throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed it all. If Charlotte Mason
was not inspired by St. Benedict, she was certainly a kindred spirit! The balance
between working with the mind, working with the spirit, and working for
productivity, all neatly tied together with the discipline of the schedule is a perfect
I began thinking about the profound wisdom of Mason’s rotation within her
schedule to use different parts of the brain, the short lessons, the challenging
materials, the beauty, and the outdoor refreshment. Everything compliments and
strengthens the other. I have always appreciated that, but I had never thought
about how the balance facilitates all those components into becoming a lifestyle.
Think about those things you got excited and gung-ho about. Did they all last?
Anything that takes over too much of our time and energy can burn us out or get
crowded out by the business of life. The small addition woven into our day and
consistency over time produce the same results as a die-hard effort, but with
more lasting results. It also leaves room for the other things that shouldn’t get
lost by the wayside.
All of this was on the forefront of my mind as I embarked on a new adventure to
start a school. My job was not to educate the students, it was to cultivate a
lifestyle that could be maintained for the rest of their lives! While building on the
foundation of Christ-centeredness and a Charlotte Mason education, there were
a couple of areas that I wanted to ensure were not overlooked.
Letʼs consider for a moment a few aspects of the Hebrew calendar. Sunset
marks the start of each new day. The tone is set with a heart that embraces the
arrival of a fresh, new start and the indulgence of sweet rest. Each week also
has a Sabbath day which gives regular and consistent rest.
How different that is from the over-scheduled lives people tend to keep today!
Children are picked up from school exhausted from a day that included little
break or playtime and run from one activity to the next, only to face a stack of
homework when they get home. Conversely, the healthy boundaries of Charlotte
Mason short lessons protect a childʼs much needed recreation and downtime. I
made a point to set limits on homework and to have a schedule that has regular
weeks off for break.
The Hebrew calendar also has feasts, which are called the “Lordʼs appointed
times” or “designated times”. There were scheduled times to celebrate! This is
an area that I can easily neglect. Somehow, the recognition of the gravity of
responsibility in participating in the education and raising up of each unique child
can get weighted down with being overly serious. Life is a delight and is to be
enjoyed and savored. So, a long lunch and recesses are included in the day.
While that is important, I know that our relationships and atmosphere of our
school would be improved if I was more intentional about designating times to
just have fun.
With these rhythms of life given proper place and proportion in our childrenʼs
lives, I am confident that what is “done” in schooling will become how they live
and part of who they are as adults.

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Carroll Smith has spoken on various topics related to Charlotte Mason. Currently he teaches at Gardner-Webb University and enjoys working with children, teachers, college students, and Charlotte Mason Institute. He was a teacher and a principal for 21 years before coming to Gardner-Webb University where he has been for six years. Having grown up in eastern North Carolina, he attended East Carolina University for his undergraduate degree and his master's in school administration. He completed his terminal degree and wrote his dissertation on Charlotte Mason at Virginia Tech. Carroll enjoys reading, gardening, and discussing ideas with friends. He and his wife, Andra, and their two young adult college-age children, Corban and Anna, enjoy living, working and playing in North Carolina.

1 Comment

  1. Tara,

    I love your comparisons of the Hebrew calendar, Sabbath, and feast days to a CM lifestyle! This is fabulous and ‘real life’ to me! A blessing that my husband reads on Shabbat is this and embodies what you are saying about the need for rest: “Blessed are You, Adonai, the Eternal One, who sanctifies us in Yeshua (Jesus) and gives us special times and seasons for rejoicing. Shabbat reminds us of the times for celebration, recalling the creation of the world and rest from that work. Shabbat is a liberating time, reminding us of the Exodus from Egyptian slavery and freedom from slavery…You have given us the Sabbath, full of joy and inspiration. Blessed are You, who sanctifies the Sabbath.”

    Children need to be challenged, their minds, their spirits, their bodies. But, as you say, today’s average school-aged child is so OVER-challenged, they have no rest, no time to just take joy in the everyday-ness of their little lives! This even happens in many homeschool families that feel they must ‘keep up’ with their school-going counterparts.

    A refreshing article, Tara. Thank you!


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