vol 6 pg 110
Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food.
As always, Charlotte Mason’s writings inspire me. I thought of all the sources of ideas ~
- the Word of God
- Written words
- Great literature
- Musical symphonies
- Masterpieces and great Art
- Inspiring Speeches
Just as I plan, purchase, prepare and offer nutritious meals for my family, so I must source and present such life-giving ideas for my children’s education. And we are certainly living in times of abundance! For most of us, it is not hard to find the richest and finest inner-life food for our children, but the difficulty is often what to select and what to leave out!
This takes time.
And then courage to begin.
Probably he will reject nine-tenths of the ideas we offer, as he makes use of only a small proportion of his bodily food, rejecting the rest. He is an eclectic; he may choose this or that; our business is to supply him with due abundance and variety and his to take what he needs.
Now, as I read her second paragraph, I am reminded that my child cannot, could not and never will be able to take everything in. I must present life and ideas, skills and methods when my child is ready. Just like potty-training, it is always easier to train and teach a child when they are physically, emotionally and spiritually ready.
In my 12-odd years of homeschooling, I KNOW that each child is different. The same curriculum, books and projects produce different responses from each child. I have changed, too. In the beginning, I trusted the professional schedule. I ticked off the boxes. I stressed about falling behind. But now, I linger where there is a sparkle of interest. We take detours to places of discovery and exploration. Take tangents. We slow down, and then catch up again.
Isn’t Charlotte Mason’s advice great? Give them variety. Abundance. Allow them to be eclectic. Let them chose.
How does my teaching approach allow for this? Do I believe that my child will choose and become educated?
My passion as a teacher is motivation and enthusiasm! I love children whose eyes sparkle and who laugh, who enjoy learning, who want more! When my schooling days lose this, then I know we will all lose out. Now, not all can be accomplished in this way. We need balance. Discipline. Some work must be done whether we love it or not. Again, it is about balance.
In my opinion, narrations make this enthusiasm possible. When I ask my children to present their narrations, they always reveal what they understood, what facts and details they remembered. And if they can chose how they want to present their narrations; whether orally, writing notebooking pages, dictating their thoughts, making models, creating projects, then they can express these ideas best.
Look at Miss. Mason’s clear warning ~
“Urgency on our part annoys him. He resists forcible feeding and loathes predigested food.”
What suits him best is pabulum presented in the indirect literary form which Our Lord adopts in those wonderful parables whose quality is that they cannot be forgotten though, while every detail of the story is remembered, its application may pass and leave no trace.
We, too, must take this risk.
When I recently read this quote I was filled with gratitude.
Although Miss. Mason advocates lofty ideals and sets such high standards for a child’s education, she know there are …
I must present these wonderful ideas and gently help develop my children’s learning skills.
Then, encourage them to do their very best.
What then, is the risk?
Despite the best curriculums, the risk is that it may not be the “right fit”. Can we adapt it? Do we start again with something different? Many, many moms have had this crisis. But I believe Miss. Mason encourages us to think beyond the package, and check our expectation of how our children learn. Education is filled with myriads and millions of ideas which we present and make available. The risk is ~ the faith to believe they will be open, chose and learn and grow and have enough.
Do our children eat good food and live? ~ Yes!
Will they learn and grow if we open up to them the wonders of great ideas and life? ~ Absolutely YES!
Are you encouraged?