Q's & A's
Lifestyle of Learning
By Barb Shelton and Friends
(and one "A" from Marilyn Howshall)
Q: What's the difference between "Lifestyle of Learning" and "Wisdom's Way of Learning"?
A: Wisdom's Way of Learning (which we will abbreviate to "WWOL" hereafter) is the foundational book of or for the Lifestyle of Learning ministry. The original version of Wisdom's Way of Learning was a large, comb-bound book; the newer version is in four smaller books.
What's the difference between the new and old versions of Wisdom's Way
A: The first edition of WWOL was one big huge book; the later version ($10 less at the time of this writing) is broken down into four smaller books. The information has been reorganized and updated. It's now much more easily digested. The old version of WWOL isn't outdated; the new is just much *better*! ... If you are able to get the new version, I highly recommend it. If an author goes to the trouble and expense (and believe me, both are HUGE, especially to home-based homeschool businesses) to update a book, you can be sure there is very good reason. Plus, in so doing, (purchasing a new copy from the author) you help this ministry continue on. Buying used books is fine, but it doesn't help the authors. It's very expensive for homeschool ministries because of the proportionately small percentage of people who are homeschooling, not to mention the proportionately small number of people within the small homeschool community who are interested in pursuing a way that is "off the beaten textbook path." It's also very expensive because of how much it costs to self-publish. (We do too. But for the grace of God, we couldn't do it.) So we hope more homeschoolers will consider purchasing directly from authors and consider it a donation to their ministry ~ only because it IS!!!
A: It's "Lifestyle (singular) of Learning"; not "Lifestyles," a mistake people commonly make. I've even seen it incorrectly on message boards! And the way to refer to it, if you're interested, depends on what angle you're coming from. You would say "We have our own lifestyle of learning" or "We have a lifestyle of learning." Referring to the message, I'd say "It's the Lifestyle of Learning message."
Q: Can you tell me more about what this Lifestyle of Learning message is all about? Is it a curriculum?
No, it's not a curriculum. For my brief introduction to this
message, you can read through all the pages here at my website, in the Lifestyle of Learning section
~ where you will find a variety of information on this message, like
reviews, testimonies, excerpts of Marilyn's writings. If, after
reading all this, you have further questions (and you can be pretty sure
that you will!), you'll want to get your answers from Marilyn Howshall,
the developer of this message. She has prepared an introductory booklet
which is available on
this page. (It's the tenth ~ or very last ~ item.)
Q: Is this yet another thing I'm supposed to attain to? Some "lofty" or unrealistic way I'm supposed to do it? Is there a "best way" to do it?
A: There is no one "right" or "best" lifestyle of learning; each individual family has their own, whether they have planned it or not. You are always learning something, whether it's good or bad, healthy or unhealthy. For instance, even if all you do is watch television, you are learning to rely on something outside of yourself to determine the best way to learn or spend your time. Or if your family has continual strife, arguing, unrest, you are learning (teaching your children) that this is acceptable. Your lifestyle reflects your values, whether you have ever given it a moment's thought or not. One of the goals of the Lifestyle of Learning message is to help families "redeem the time" and "make the hours of their day more profitable." It is much deeper and broader than that, but that gives you an idea of what it is ~ and isn't.
Q: Will my children be ready for college or work after they graduate or when they turn 18 if they have been allowed a delight-directed lifestyle of learning?
A: [from Marilyn Howshall] There may be an assumption that a lifestyle of learning or delight-directed path is void of academics or academic excellence. This false assumption usually includes the subtle suggestion that children will always be children, unable to learn anything for themselves, thus they must be provided with a heavily force-fed schedule of academic disciplines which are then repeated year after year until they "get it". The following sums it up nicely:
From Will My Child Be Ready? Special Edition 1999 page 12
This next one is actually a
comment or a challenge rather than a question,
but I still want to address it.
Q: People say this message leads them to God; the Bible is what does this for me. (So what they're really saying is "I don't need this message if I have the Bible.")
(I'd put "A,"
but since they're not asking a question, this is just my Response.) Yes, and that's as it should be. But
the vast majority of homeschool moms who are faithfully reading and living
by God's Word
are still completely missing what it has to say about education, God's idea of education. They are unknowingly following the world's way. WWOL opens up and applies the Word in a new
way and new light so that those who are immersed in our ideas of our society's concept(s) of education, and laboring and burning out trying to imitate it, can more "accurately divide the word of truth" and appropriate its truths to this area.
Many moms have even put their children back in school because they just couldn't do
~ live up to ~ what they thought they were supposed to do for/with
their children, education-wise!!! It's likely that most of these mom read the Bible every day, attend in-depth Bible Studies, and love the Word.
Yet they have still missed God's simple, freeing message of coming to Jesus and learning of
Him, and letting Him give them a
burden ~ an educational burden ~ that is light, a yoke that is easy and
that is a right fit. That is who her writings are directed toward and minister to.
If a person is not in a place where they need the WWOL message, that's
fine. But they need to remember...
Q: How are your (Barb's) and Marilyn's messages related?
A: [From Barb:] In a nutshell, my message points the way to Marilyn's. But it is much more than that. The Lifestyle of Learning message is the heart and soul of everything I believe in relating to homeschooling. If you have not read anything of this message, you are missing out on what I know to be "the very best part" of homeschooling! Remember the Mary and Martha scene with Jesus? Well, if all you get of my message is the forms and formats and ideas for creatively teaching your children ~ and encouraging them to learn for themselves ~ then you are just getting the "Martha part." I do also have a lot of "Mary's part" in my message, but there is soooooo muuuuch mooooore! And that is what Lifestyle of Learning offers and is all about.
As far as I'm concerned, this message is non-optional for every reader of my book. I know, I'm sounding very pushy and bossy. I guess the effects of being the oldest of seven children will never wear off . But at the same time, I KNOW that I KNOW what this message will do for you, and how it will change your life and your thinking! My message will start you on this path; Marilyn's will get you securely grounded in it!
My hope and prayer is that NO one will miss out on it because of thinking they don't need it, or a misperception about it. I am going to let a few homeschool moms continue to answer this...
A: [From Fran:] I first read WWOL about 4-5 years ago when the Davis family of ElijahCompany (in Tennessee) recommended it as one of the most important books they had read that year. I've read it twice and reread parts of it. I think it lays a foundation of education ~ you know, just what IS this thing called education? Is what we're accustomed to the real thing or is there a completely different system that is based on TRUTH? Maybe the key word is system, knowing from God's Word that the world has its own system ("wiles" in KJV; "methodia" in Gk) Eph. 6:11. I wanted God's system for my children. Barb's message is concerned about the foundation too, but to me it is do-able ~ practical ~ hands-on. It shows me the leading of the Holy Spirit in Barb's life on a day-by-day basis.
It's more than that, though. One just has to read it to see how the Holy Spirit will work the written word into the reader's life. (He just reminded me that when I showed WWOL to a sister in Christ, she recommended that I dedicate the book to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to show me what He wanted me to see each time I opened it. So WWOL was the first book I ever dedicated, and Form+U+la was the second.) I thank God for such sisters as Barb and Marilyn who step out in faith and are such an encouragement to the Body of Christ.
A: [From Trish Nonaka:] I think the answer is pretty simple. Barb's message gives us a way to document our own "lifestyle of learning" and the things our children accomplish in a way that "the world" can grasp and equate to. While we focus on character and godliness in our children that often doesn't count for much in the "education" arena. Barb helps us to see what we are doing by the Lord's leading is "transferable" into education-ese WITHOUT compromising what God would have us doing to help fulfill His Will and Plan for that child!
Here's what one homeschool
mom, Melanie (who you'll be hearing a lot
more from in a moment) told me:
"Which method works for a family
would be dependent on the way that the Lord
leads, guides and directs any particular family.
Both approaches are WONDERFUL; one might work
well for one household, another for someone else.
The freedom of living a lifestyle of learning
AS THE LORD LEADS YOUR FAMILY
is a major component of both
methods. In that, the heart
of both messages is
And to close this question
about how the two messages are related,
another homeschool mom told me:
of us "burned out" moms. We have so
needed your and Marilyn's message.
God bless you as you continue to reach
others for God's kingdom."
Q: How do Wisdom's Way of Learning and Senior High Form+U+la differ?
A: [From Barb:] I asked the Sr. High Form+U+la SHF-L List listees to explain the difference between the two messages from their perspectives, and here's what several moms said...
A: [From Wendy:] Form+U+la is like a bridge between traditional "school" and Lifestyle of Learning.
Jolyn:] I have truly been blessed by both Marilyn's writings and yours. I was
heroically (and often exhaustingly) "bringing school home", and my
husband would remind me that character issues and relationships were of
greater importance than academic schedules. When I read WWOL, I finally
understood. What a relief to hear truth that echoed the work God was already doing in our hearts and was also academically sound (God's ways
always are sound ~ ridiculous how we often don't trust them).
A: [From Patti (in Florida):] I would say Wisdom's Way of Learning is the philosophy of education behind Form+U+La. I see Barb's book as how to put WWOL into practical use. It is just me, but while WWOL helps to understand the philosophy ~ I put practical first. I used Form+U+La for years and years before I ever read WWOL. It didn't really change what I did, I just understood what I did better.
And here's a long
response, from Melanie (quoted above)
but it's very good!!!!!
(I hope you won't skip it just because it's long!)
[From Melanie] YES, there is a difference
but it can be difficult to put into words! I will TRY to put my two
cents in on this without being too lengthy...
key is: LISTENING TO THE LORD's voice AND FOLLOWING HIS INSTRUCTIONS FOR
YOUR FAMILY rather than using a generic, one-size-fits-all man-made plan.
God leads some in this way and some more in a step-by-step matter. For
those who are very much 'big picture" and need some tools to help
them see the nitty-gritty details to be looked after to "color
in" the big picture, Senior High Form+U+la is a ton of
Q: How does the Lifestyle of Learning approach differ from Charlotte Mason's ideas?
There are overlaps and dovetails, but they are quite different in focus and approach.
The Lord is gentle and doesn't usually have us scrap anything, but rather has us just continue pressing in to Him and then
He gradually brings about the changes He wants in us. I would suggest that you just keep reading all you can of Marilyn's message ~ every one of her books (and they are VERY reasonably priced, and worth their weight in gold) ~ and you gradually see for yourself.
Probably, but rather than trying to hold on to ~ or let go of ~ CM, or
really focusing on that at all, I would just focus on getting an
understanding of the LOL message, and then you will know what to do with CM.
There is sooooo much more to the LOL message
than what I have presented here at my website! This is just a little
taste! You really need to get her books ~ starting with Wisdom's
Way of Learning ~ and begin just taking them in, asking God to speak to you "between the lines" of what you are reading. It is going to be deeply life-changing.
A continued: Good for you! AND your children ~ that you're not wanting to get caught up in that. But, you know, this can happen with ANY approach! Even Lifestyle of Learning!
Q: How can I get Marilyn's books? I can't find them in any homeschool catalogs.
A: We (the Sheltons) carry their books right here at our website! Click here to go to the Lifestyle of Learning section of our online (secure!) catalog!
Q: How long does it usually take for an order to arrive? ... How can I find out when I'll receive it if it's taking too long?
My husband, Dave, is VERY speedy!!!
Probably the fastest service you will get anywhere!!! If we have
the books in stock ~ which we usually do ~ then you will receive your
order as fast as the Post Office can get it from Washington State ~ the
northwest corner of the U.S. ~ to wherever you live. In the meantime occupy yourself
at my website!!! I bet you can't get everything at my Lifestyle of Learning
area and my Article
Chart read before your order from arrives!!!
(And if it's taking
longer than a week, it's only because Dave was gone for a few days (not
often) or we didn't have a book in stock and had to wait for it to arrive
from the Howshalls. (Because we are extremely busy with the
"wonderful life" the Lord has given us, we would greatly appreciate you
not emailing or calling to ask when your order was sent until it has been
at least 2 weeks since you ordered it. It only takes more time away
from doing the other things the Lord has called us to to have to explain
"all the above" ~ which is all I would do.)
Q: So which of Marilyn's books should I buy ~ start reading ~ first?
say... whatever stands out to you. Everyone is in such a
different place! But I don't think it matters too much because everything
Marilyn has written is going to minister you. Even titles that seem
very "elementary" or that don't sound like something you think
you need, I guarantee will be addressed in a manner totally
different from anything you've ever read. EVER!!!!!!! And I know
it will be edifying to you! So don't get hung up or too concerned
about what order to read things in. You'll have to read it all at least
three times before it makes sense anyway! So my profound advice to
you is this: just jump in and start getting familiar with the
I guarantee that you and your home(school) will never be the same!
One more note: You will most likely start feeling a great deal of "discomfort" and even conviction at times. Dear sister: God will give you the grace to walk through this! Do NOT shrink from the discomfort. If ground (dirt; earth; soil) could "feel," the process of breaking up the soil, digging, planting seeds and pulling up weeds would all be very painful. But what LOVELY fruit (or flowers) it yields "in due season" when the process is complete! "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." For now, just let Him begin it!
How do I incorporate
delight-directed learning with the concepts of Barb's Senior High
Form+U+La? What I see in Form+U+La is that we set educational
goals WITH our children, set up a structure to attain those goals and then
guide, encourage and hold them accountable for those goals. When I read
Marilyn Howshall's materials it looks like the educational experience just
evolves out of interests with one interest leading to another and no
overall plan or structure is implemented. Aren't these mutually
Lesli:] (I, Barb couldn't have
answered this any better myself!!!)
It took me several years to
conclude that "bringing school home" was NOT satisfying my children. I
didn't learn well in the "traditional school" environment, but I didn't
think I could do something different. (I started homeschooling in 1985.)
That's how almost EVERYONE homeschooled that I knew back then. We all
became frustrated and burned out, so I pulled some homeschool reference
books together and started doing fun unit studies with the children.
We've done a bit of different things over the years. When I bought Barb's
book, Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la, I felt even more
freedom ~ much more for the high school years. I also have Marilyn
Howshall's Wisdom's Way of Learning and wondered how the two could
"meet." As I have implemented various aspects over the last two years,
I've seen how well it works!
I have used her Master Framework approach as this one is easiest for me at this time, and determined what they may do for high school. The "trick" (if you will) is that it's all WRITTEN IN PENCIL. As I/we discover a delight-direction, THAT gets attention and is added to (or gets its own) Class Content Plan sheet. Sometimes it may be sewing projects my daughter gets into and spends days on (also working on other stuff, but this mostly), or art projects my younger daughter loves to do. As the Class Content Plan sheets have grown, I can remove other sheets that may not then be necessary.
waiting on the Lord to show us more clearly. I thought I'd be anxious
waiting, as the children aren't getting any younger. But as someone said
just this week, Jesus' yoke is easy and His burden is light. When I am
truly trusing Him, it is easy to rest in Him and accept that He is in
control and knows our hearts. He WILL help us ~ you and me. He has
always helped me. That doesn't mean I will have a smooth road, but it's
not such a chore with Him leading the way and straightening the path.
This may not look like Marilyn Howshall's way, and it isn't entirely, as I
am still learning as I re-read her books. But I have come a long way; and
I must say, my children love to read and seem to enjoy learning this way
as opposed to the "traditional" way of schooling. Also, Barb's book is
filled with "heart encouragement". I went through it pretty thoroughly
lately and saw God's fingerprints throughout it.
Some may live in areas that require strict accountability with records,
others may know where they want to work or go to school and what they
require (records or port folio). It is kind of funny how I find as I
use the forms, the weight (I once had) to bow down to them is gone.
Praise the Lord! (I wonder if this may have been one of Barb's goals.)
And I will close by quoting
another homeschool mom, Shalia, who said
this of Marilyn's books:
"Thin books, but fat in
information and insights that God
has used to challenge and stir me
into His plan for this family."
If you have further questions of a technical nature (as
above), please email me (Barb Shelton) with them. Please note,
these are not "official" answers; they are just what I
tell people when I'm asked. (which is often!)
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