What is Scholé?

"My soul is restless until it finds rest in You."

Scholé, in the words of Dr. Christopher Perrin, is an “undistracted time to study the things most worthwhile usually with friends with good food and/or drink.”  It is a slower learning shifting from assessment focused to delight focused.  Or, as Josef Pieper, a German philosopher wrote, scholé is a “contemplative beholding.”  It is the practice of opening one’s self up to receive insight and truth  and to see this as a gift. Scholé assumes that human beings are designed to puzzle, wonder, design, contemplate and reflect.  Scholé is not about useful, utilitarianism and qualitativeness, but rather a pause of the chronos, chronological, always moving forward time, to enter into the kairos, non- moving, pivotal, sacred time, seemingly immeasurable by length, so that we may together contemplatively behold beauty, weighted by truth, with wings to soar with purpose and direction into goodness, our vocation (calling).

Philosophy must dance with practice, however.  How do we take these ideas and do them practically? For starters, do less at one time (much not many).  Integrate.  Within your family,  are you moving together towards one aim (telos), or are the members acting more independently and thus moving apart? Within our curriculum, can we study the same things and read the same books so we can all be a part of the same conversation?  Can we see the subjects not as stand alone fragments but integrated parts that build upon and shed light to the others?  Can we seek to create space to rest, to seek truth, to recognize goodness, to behold beauty, and to be present to others in conversation, celebration and feasting throughout our days and weeks?

This, however, of course, does not mean that all we do is rest and contemplate.  We are of course called to work. The work of the vita activa, or the active life, is business, orientation towards the necessities of the present life, rationalizing with a reaching hand, and the “under the sun” mindset.  The “work” of the vita contemplativa, or contemplative life, is the searching for truth and a gazing upon beauty, a pondering and savoring with an open hand, and an orientation towards the eternal, the “under Heaven” mindset. Both are necessary. It is a call, rather, to harmonize a restful life with an active life.   We can think of it as  1/7 balance.  St Augustine stated, “Ora et Labora,” or pray and work. Or, perhaps we can say, “Work- Play-Scholé!”  Surely we can set aside one hour a day, one day a week and one week a term to pause, rest, reflect, contemplate, behold and celebrate.  But do we?   Devin O’Connell wrote in his book Age of Martha: A Call to Contemplative Learning in a Frenzied Culture, “When that work (which in itself is not bad) becomes our master, when labora, work, subordinates and eclipses ora, prayer, and when work is unaccompanied by purposeful Sabbath and leisure, we are then cut off from being fully human, restrained from fulfilling our potentials as the images of God,” who is not just material, but has essence and eternal purpose. 

How then do we recover this in the lives of our children?  Well, first we have to know and experience it ourselves, before we can fully model this for our children and begin to implement it in our family rhythms.  This is one of the hopes of Still Waters Scholé  in our weekly Parent Mentorship online gatherings- to seek out rest, or scholé, together fostering the ideal that  “the faculty (you all as parents are our facility as you embody the role of teacher in your home) of a school is a fellowship of friends.” As we seek out Christ, the Great Pedagog, “teacher of the little ones,” together the inner workings of our relationships, families, homeschools and communities will be impacted.

 I will close with another quote from O’Connell’s book where he closed by stating, “Scholé is itself a way of seeing the world, but it does not look upon things with a hungry eye, consuming a beautiful painting, for instance, and moving on to devour some other new attraction or activity.  Scholé must be rooted in love (which is Christ). Love is patient.  It is not hurried or worried.  It is not anxious or distracted.  Leisure moved by love is essentially receptive, finding wisdom though the patience of slowing down and intentionally giving room for contemplation.  When confronted with doing more or seeing more, Mary (from the Mary and Martha story from the Bible) choses to limit her gaze, to look with the eyes of her heart and mind in worship.  Scholé anchors the activity of learning to the aim (telos) of worship.  Education guided by these principles will result in the right instructional practices, just as Mary’s love for the Lord led her to the right and highest activity.  And sitting at the fee of Christ proved no waste of time.”

You can learn more about scholé at this podcast with Dr. Christopher Perrin.