Fill Yourself

Historically, the opportunity to study the “liberal” arts was the privilege of the free and wealthy, while slaves and the poor would engage in the “servile” arts. Now, we are both relatively free (for the time being) and wealthy (at least compared to most of those in the past), and if we wish to retain our freedoms, we would do well to aggressively pursue the study of the liberal arts. Thomas Jefferson rightly noted the importance of this: “If a nation expects to remain ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

This helps answer the question of what to study. The liberal arts in the traditional sense are seven: the Trivium, consisting of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, and the Quadrivium, being mathematics, geometry, astronomy (and by extension all the natural sciences), and music. These are the arts of language and the arts of science by which we can better understand the incarnate Word and His creation; these are things that we are free to study in order to better know and appreciate our God and His universe. In pursuing these things, we begin to fill our soul with His truth and beauty. However, we are limited in time and energy and won’t be able to study everything we might want to learn.

Therefore, choose something from the great liberal arts menu—something that interests you, something you perhaps always wanted to learn but never had the chance. Maybe you’ve always wanted to study another language (Latin is the best place to start!) or revisit one of the sciences, or you might pick up with math where you left off in school or return to the study of a musical instrument. All are good choices; any one of them will help you begin the process of developing empathy, preparing yourself to teach more and to inspire your children.

And there will be an interesting side benefit: Your children will be very curious about what you’re doing. You may, in fact, have to shoo them away to play while you study (which will, of course, cause their interest to soar). And inevitably you will talk about what you are learning, the trivia as well as the insights, and the children around you won’t be able to ignore your excitement. They will learn by osmosis, or we might say, by the overflow from your heart to theirs.

This has happened to us time and time again, and in retrospect it seems that it was the best kind of learning that ever occurred in our home. My enthusiasm became contagious, and the children couldn’t help but imitate me to some degree. I suspect, however, that I will continue daily study, at least a little bit, even after they have all left home, because I have experienced a joy that can be had only by filling one’s self through learning. Try it!

Andrew Pudewa is the director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing www.excellenceinwriting.comand a homeschooling father of seven. Presenting throughout North America, he addresses issues relating to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music with clarity and insight, practical experience and humor.He and his beautiful, heroic wife, Robin, currently teach their two youngest children at home in northeastern Oklahoma.


Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

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