“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 3:5
What makes a quality education? How do you develop skills and knowledge in a way which sustains and builds what it takes to succeed?
I work with young children to give them the tools for lifelong learning. And it all boils down to this – it’s a stamina issue.
What does it take to learn at our optimum level?
Not just focus – focus on the right things. Sustained focus. Focus for the long haul.
That sustained focus requires a good core – students need to be strong enough to sit at a desk, maintain attention, and have the flexibility and balance required to both listen and actively engage with their learning (which usually involves writing things down in order to remember them.)
Which brings us to fine motor skills.
Proper pencil grip. The ability to manipulate small objects with ease. Controlled use of scissors. Manual dexterity goes a long way toward solid learning.
And with young children, it’s almost always a stamina issue.
Because they are young, their optimum focus ‘allowance’ is smaller. Their cores are just being developed. Their cutting, gluing, drawing, and printing skills are in their infancy.
And because of this, their learning needs to be handed out in small chunks with lots of breaks in between. They need to move and play because these are the very activities which build the key skills in the first place.
While these skills are developing, the brain is occupied in the task itself, not the learning.
What do you mean, you ask?
When learning to form letters, for example, the brain’s operational power is entirely taken up in naming the letter, remembering if it has straight lines or curves, remembering where those curves come and which direction they flow in. In the time it takes a wee little to write the letter ‘b’ correctly, you and I have finished our paragraph.
Which is why we need to develop muscle memory and fluency.
You and I have written several million ‘b’s by now. We don’t need to even think about it. It is to the level of complete automaticity. We are free to focus on the information being presented, rather than in the actual skill of taking notes.
And how to we get there?
Practice, practice, practice…
I was just thinking this morning of all the times I’ve noted a lack of stamina in a little at some point in their educational development, and suddenly realized something about my spiritual progress.
It’s a stamina issue.
I start well. I set off to conquer the world and establish good habits and pray more and be kinder and –
I fizzle out.
It starts with focus.
Every time my focus shifts from others to myself, I lose stamina. When I neglect to focus on maintaining a godly balance in my life, I lose the ability to concentrate on the right kinds of things, and begin interpreting my circumstances in unhealthy ways.
Then, core strength.
It doesn’t take long to get a weak core when we aren’t using our bodies properly. In the same way, my moral core gets weak when I don’t flex my faith muscles! Qualities like kindness, compassion, generosity, and selflessness get dumped while I’m focused only on meeting my own needs.
It ends with manual dexterity.
The ability to physically put into practice what we know to be true and good and right. Hands that hold doors for the elderly, serve food to the hungry, offer grace to one who has made a mistake.
And notice who directs this quality education?
‘May the Lord lead your hearts…’
‘…the expression of the love of God…’
‘…the patient endurance that comes from Christ.’
It’s a stamina issue.
We need to practice.
And the practice opportunities and curriculum will come straight from heaven itself.
Allow God to develop some stamina with me?
Father, how we need these key critical skills in order to live lives fully devoted to Your kingdom! Direct our learning today. Develop stamina and strength in us as we prayerfully depend upon You and Your guidance today. Amen.