James K. A. Smith wrote a book titled: “You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit.” He proposed that if you are what you love, and love is a virtue, then love is a habit. This means that our most fundamental orientation to the world can be shaped and configured, formed and known, by imitation and practice. Developing new loves is like driving a car or playing the piano or swinging a golf club: it requires so much practice and habituation that you end up doing it without thinking about it. A habit is defined as “a regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up."
Plato wrote,“Education is teaching our children to desire the right things.” It is our responsibility as educators to help students desire what is true, beautiful, and good through habitually showing them examples in history, science, music, art, literature, math, and physical education, and ultimately through our living example. Teachers are called to be living curriculum. They seek to delight in knowing their students as well as they know their subjects. Our Academic Exhibition this week displayed the privilege we have of exposing students to music that is beautiful, literature that is true, and habits that are good.
Scriptures guide parents in fulfilling their responsibility to form the hearts and affections of their children. Deuteronomy 6 reads: "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. That last sentence is why we put quotes on the walls of our school. This morning the 2nd Grade recited The 10 Commandments. Those eternal truths get etched in our hearts as we read or recite them again and again.
It's not easy to thoughtfully form our affections. Some loves may be pursued by an act of will, and some loves grow naturally out of what our family loves. Other loves are acquired without our consciously choosing them. We breathe them in from the culture around us without exercising discernment. So, as you head out tomorrow, be aware of what is influencing you. Notice the music, the books, the traditions, the activities, the language, the ideas that surround you. Cultivate loves, desires, and affections that are true, beautiful, and good – because you will become what you love!
Have a wonderful Spring Break and Happy Easter!