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Where Your Treasure Is: Reflections on Andy Crouch’s The Tech-Wise Family

“Principle 2: We want to create more than we consume. So we fill the center of our home with things that reward skill and active engagement.”

“The best way to choose character is to make it part of the furniture. 

Fill the center of your life together–the literal center, the heart of your home, the place where you spend the most time together–with the things that reward creativity, relationship, and engagement. Push technology and cheap thrills to the edges; move deeper and more lasting things to the core.” Crouch, p. 71 

A good complement to this process is to prioritize what, how, and why we structure the spaces in our homes. Andy Crouch spends a lot of time in his chapter “Sharing Space” on those powerful ‘nudges’ that help orient children toward a life of courage and wisdom simply by what is present and not present in their living spaces. Without ever being legalist, he asks great questions and gives effective answers on what that could look like for any household. 

On page 80, “the central nudge of the tech-wise life,” as Crouch describes it, is “to make the place where we spend the most time the place where easy everywhere is hardest to find.” 

He continues, explaining that, “This simple nudge, all by itself, is a powerful antidote to consumer culture, the way of life that finds satisfaction mostly in enjoying what other people have made. It’s an invitation instead to creating culture–finding joy in shaping something useful or beautiful out of the raw material of the world.” 

How does this principle hold for your family? How would prioritizing that kind of experience in each of our homes change our overall school culture? 

Summer is a great time to reset and renew one’s family’s commitment to grow together in “creativity, relationship, and engagement.” Instead of trying to keep a child busy through screens or intensively scheduled weeks, consider instead some life-affirming ways to continue the kinds of habit and character formation that he or she enjoys at RMCA. 

Your child’s homeroom and specialist teachers will certainly have ideas on what your child could do with you, siblings, and friends at home. Here are a few ideas and principles, based on Crouch’s experience as well. 

  • Prioritize simple over complicated, particularly when it comes to technology. Crouch cites several examples in his own family’s life, as well as research from the Barna Group, on how tech shapes a child’s engagement with reality. He consistently reminds adults how the real value-add for tech is to complement a child’s imagination and creativity, not replace it. Less is more, Crouch advises. Advocating for as little tech scaffolding as possible, he is very much in line with our Charlotte Mason-inspired philosophy at RMCA. Allow children to do and work and play primarily with real things, not digital images, and you will see very different responses and relationships present. 
  • Read, read, read! Read alone, read together. Read quietly and aloud. Read classics that amply give transformative ideas as a reward for one’s sustained attention. Read stories that inspire and give meaning to life’s challenges and opportunities. 
  • Develop a new artistic expression in one’s family. As a family, consider how you can enjoy one or more ways of doing art. Perhaps it could be a haiku night. Maybe bring a nature journal on a campout or hike. The options are endless. The biggest thing is simply to take time to pause and to enjoy expressing some aspect of the natural world and imagination together. 
  • Ditto for one’s relationship to athletics and sports. This is perhaps most important for families who are already active in one or more sports programs. Find time to grow one’s muscle memory and development together outside team sports. Your children will be using their bodies long after they leave that sport behind. 
  • Keep alive connections to disciplinary subjects like math and naration/writing. While you don’t need to be doing flash cards every day with your child (although occasionally, increasing in pace in late July would be a great idea!), look for ways to cultivate a relationship with mathematics and all of its connections to our reality. At RMCA, we strive to cultivate the perspective that math is not primarily found in books but in our lives. The same goes for writing and narrating. Both are natural products of our engagement with things. Both can be cultivated throughout the summer as a means of finding enjoyment, not simply completing assignments. 

Reflect on this whole endeavor as a means of growing in relationship and character, not simply filling the time. Each day that we have with a child is an opportunity to speak life and truth to him or her. Being conscious of that opportunity and choosing ways of growing together in courage and wisdom are at the heart of what it means to be an educator, teacher or parent. 

Get the book for more great principles, ideas, and hints on how to help your child continue to grow toward maturity. Share with other parents and your child’s teachers what you as a family choose to do this summer to grow in multiple ways. What each of us does impacts the community!