Thursday, April 23, 2009

Together with Charlotte: Volume I, Part I

Charlotte Mason, Wikipedia

I don't know about you, but WOW!  There was just so much meaty goodness upon which to gnaw that I'm still picking the remnants outta my teeth.  Here are a few of my fave excerpts:

God has given to the child all the faculties of our nature, but the grand point remains undecided––how shall this heart, this head, these hands be employed? to whose service shall they be dedicated? A question the answer to which involves a futurity of happiness or misery to a life so dear to thee. Maternal love is the first agent in education (p. 2).

The parent who sees his way––that is, the exact force of method––to educate his child, will make use of every circumstance of the child's life almost without intention on his own part, so easy and spontaneous is a method of education based upon Natural Law. Does the child eat or drink, does he come, or go, or play––all the time he is being educated, though he is as little aware of it as he is of the act of breathing (p. 8).

Let the child perceive that his parents are law-compelled as well as he, that they simply cannot allow him to do the things which have been forbidden, and he submits with the sweet meekness which belongs to his age (p. 15). 

Many a little girl, especially, leaves the home schoolroom with a distaste for all manner of learning, an aversion to mental effort, which lasts her lifetime, and that is why she grows up to read little but trashy novels, and to talk all day about her clothes (p.16).

Deal with a child on his first offence, and a grieved look is enough to convict the little transgressor; but let him go on until a habit of wrong-doing is formed, and the cure is a slow one; then the mother has no chance until she has formed in him a contrary habit of well-doing. To laugh at ugly tempers and let them pass because the child is small, is to sow the wind (p. 19).

The child has been doing sums for some time, and is getting unaccountably stupid: take away his slate and let him read history, and you find his wits fresh again. Imagination, which has had no part in the sums, is called into play by the history lesson, and the child brings a lively unexhausted power to his new work (p. 24). 

My endeavour in this and the following volumes of the series will be to sketch out roughly a method of education which, as resting upon a basis of natural law, may look, without presumption, to inherit the Divine blessing. Any sketch I can offer in this short compass must be very imperfect and very incomplete; but a hint here and there may be enough to put intelligent parents on profitable lines of thinking with regard to the education of their children (p. 41).

My first practical response to this reading is to take a long and hard look at the habits I've allowed in my children because they were once cute when they were smaller children.  More recently, after changing maths curriculum, one which required more of my hand in guidance and one which requires more effort on his part, with my son, there has been a decidedly desperate struggle happening each morning in our home school.  The previous maths curriculum came so easily for him that he oft worked alone and swiftly, without needing much guidance from me at all.  At such a young age, this amount of freedom in his studies has produced an iron will, one which will be quite slow in bending to his new circumstances.  Although painful, I'm glad to have learned this lesson early enough so as to not repeat it ever again in this short lifetime.

Secondly, I am rethinking our Spring Schedule.  As much fun as it has been to get out-of-doors first thing in the morn, our afternoon lessons have been pathetic and shoddy to say the least.  No one can focus, myself included, and there are too many afternoons during which we just vegetate and recover from our morning sun parade.  I do think that Charlotte Mason's purported principles of having the best of Mother and making the most of the mental freshness of the morning hours ((for all of us)) is quite foundational indeed.  So here goes:

1. Mom wakes, starts laundry & exercises
2. Kids wake, dress & make beds
3. Bible reading together
4. Breakfast & Chores
5. Core Lessons: Maths, Languages & Living Books
6. Lunch & Clean-up
7. Handiwork; Music, Nature & Artist Studies
8. Outdoor Time

We'll see if this works any better for us!

Finally, I'm also rethinking the scheduling of our school year in order to make the most of Spring, which is the best time to be out-of-doors here in northern California, in my opinion.  Our Summers are scorching, killing every living thing save the lizards and snakes, and our Autumns are too short, hovering between the scorching and the raining.  Yes, believe it or not, it does rain quite a bit in California---all winter long here in the north.  So, I'm thinking Spring will be our new Summer break.  Don't you just love that as homeschoolers, we have the privilege of thinking way outside the box?!  I know I do.

So, how did y'all do this week?  Did you find that there was more than a mouthful, or were you rather understimulated?  Please share what you've gleaned this week, in any which way but loose.  I love that we are all uniquely fashioned and knitted together and, therefore, have homeschools which reflect those special qualities providentially ordained by our Creator, don't you? 

For next week, we'll read just the first seven sections of Part II, Volume I, of Home Education.  Thanks for reading & gleaning with us from the mind and writings of Charlotte!  And, as promised, I'll post each week's link on the sidebar, so you can jump in whenever it works for you---the more minds, the merrier!!


  1. Thanks for the comment today on my blog. :) Glad I could help you identify your lupine.

    We pretty much stick to a schedule close to your new schedule and it has worked for us for a very long time. We get the academics done first thing and then lunch and then all the other stuff. It isn't that I don't think the afternoon activities are as important as the morning subjects but it seems to flow better for us.

    This year we went back to school in July since it was blazin' hot and then we took October off instead. It was glorious. We also just got back from a two weeker where we stayed around home and did day trips. It was another great move on our part. Don't you just love the freedom we have as homeschoolers?

    Anyway, I guess I didn't realize until just now that we probably live fairly close to each other. We are about two hours from the GG Bridge. We rarely find ourselves that way since I truly detest SF. No offense to anyone who lives there, I grew up in the Bay Area but I am always glad to come back up to El Dorado County. :) Sigh.

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  2. Hee Hee - you've got my daily routine almost exactly!! Hope it works for you.

    MEP gets easier, David, honestly. New concepts take a bit of time, but mostly we get through it pretty well now. Hang in there.

    We too take different hols to the schools. We break at the end of October and return to work in mid-Jan. That way we can enjoy Advent and the lead up to Christmas, as well as enjoy swimming every day, before the scorching hot days of late Jan and Feb.

    You're right, we are all unique, but that doesn't mean we can't learn from each other, does it?

    Have a nice weekend.

  3. hmmm, I may have to join in on reading through Charlotte's original work. I've read lots of books written about CM homeschooling, but never her original work...

    BTW, I got my prize in the mail today! Thanks so much for the GC, I can't wait to splurge at Border's.

  4. What an inspiring post. I've been chewing on Charlotte Mason morsels lately and thinking a lot about habits - especially since mine are younger (4.5, 2.5, 13m). I have not just read thru her original works. I might just have to join you guys.

    Thanks for the wonderful quotes!

  5. OK I am joining in! I have Volume one all in a nice spiral bound book that I picked up at a book sale last week :) When are you all posting about the current weeks reading? I am going to try and get caught up this weekend with the first assignment.

  6. Oops...that should have read at a hs book sale LAST YEAR!!! LOL

  7. Hi Laura! I will be joining in! I had one crazy week and am just coming up for air. Loving reading Charlotte though :-)


I'm gonna shut up now. Please, tell me what YOU think.