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A stream of consciousness from a few Charlotte Mason homeschoolers in California.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Consider This: Charlotte Mason and The Classical Tradition

Have you ever wondered how CM compares to a Classical Education? We hear so much about Classical Ed in Southern California with Classical Conversations, and the church we attend is actually a classical school during the week where some of my friends work and many of the children my kids know attend.

So where does CM fit in to it all?

We read the classics; unabridged.
We study Latin.
We read Shakespeare, Plutarch.
It seems classical enough... but always more obscure in the educational realm and somehow not quite legitimately academic enough to be considered "classical."

Truth be told, my general understanding of the difference lay somewhere between today's classical educators' application of the trivium - i.e., the three stages of a child's learning - memorizing declensions, and the fact that CMers do outdoor nature study while classical students seem to study nature in their classrooms.

All that is changing now, thanks to Karen Glass' soon-to-be released book, Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition.



In this simple, straightforward, well-researched book Karen maps out the foundations as well as some of the fallacies of classical education, resetting our course towards intrinsic truths in education and inspiring us to pick up this vital torch for the children's sake. Brimming with quotes for our commonplace books, Consider This widens our view of the Charlotte Mason education we know, aligning her philosophy with some of the greatest thinkers of all time. And whether Charlotte Mason's pedagogy ever comes to be called "classical" or not, as a CM educator, you will be inspired knowing that the education you bring to your children has its foundation in "understanding that grows bright gazing on many truths." Consider This will be right next to For The Children's Sake in my recommended reading for people new to her methods.

Currently, the release date is set to October 25, 2014. To be notified of any updates you can subscribe on Karen's website at www.karenglass.net. We will also be reading through Karen's book at our local CM meeting beginning in November (if the book is released as scheduled).

Friday, May 30, 2014

Our 3yo and The Children's Art

While CM may not quite call this a 'fit incantation', it still does seem to confirm Arthur Burrell's point, as quoted in CM's Vol. 1, p. 222 - 223:

"There is hardly any 'subject' so educative and so elevating as that which Mr Burrell has happily described as 'The Children's Art.' All children have it in them to recite; it is an imprisoned gift waiting to be delivered, like Ariel from the pine."




Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival - May 20, 2014

Welcome to the May 20th, 2014 Edition of the 
Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival!



This is the carnival's second month on the theme "A Master Thought". You can find the first at Dewey's Treehouse here

In this section, we find Charlotte Mason making a distinction between teaching good habits, both intellectual and moral, and the extreme of that idea; that doing such-and-such will produce a top-notch quality child.  
The third conceivable view, 'Education is a discipline,' has always had its votaries, and has them still. That the discipline of the habits of the good life, both intellectual and moral, forms a good third of education, we all believe. The excess occurs when we imagine that certain qualities of character and conduct run out, a prepared product like carded wool, from this or that educational machine, mathematics or classics, science or athletics; that is, when the notion of the development of the so-called faculties takes the place of the more physiologically true notion of the formation of intellectual habits.
The difference does not seem to be great; but two streams that rise within a foot of one another may water different countries and fall into different seas, and a broad divergence in practice often arises from what appears to be a small difference in conception, in matters educational. The father of Plutarch had him learn his Horner that he might get heroic ideas of life. Had the boy been put through his Homer as a classical grind, as a machine for the development of faculty, a pedant would have come out, and not a man of the world in touch with life at many points, capable of bringing men and affairs to the touchstone of a sane and generous mind. It seems to me that this notion of the discipline which should develop 'faculty' has tended to produce rather one-sided men, with the limitations which belong to abnormal development. ~Vol. 3 pg 151

"...in touch with life at many points..." 

In case you missed it last month, here is a description by "H.E. Wix" from the L'Umile Pianta on just what that looked like in Charlotte Mason's Elementary Schools: They Live Closer to Life

From Harvest Community School, Toebiters and the Three Faces of Education!
"Some believe atmosphere depends upon classroom decorations, appealing graphics in textbooks, modern technology, and kid-friendly books that entertain while educating. However, we think bringing the world down to a "child's level" dulls the mind."

From journey-and-destination we have Notebooks for Nature Study, Science, Bible, Poetry & Hymn Study "I thought I'd share some of what we've done with various notebooks over the past 15 years." 

From Dewey's Treehouse, If you've read Ivanhoe and want to laugh. A book review of Knight's Castle, by Edward Eager. 

From All Things Bright and Beautiful we have Jacob von Rueysdale - A Cottage and a Hayrick by a River, Georg Philipp Telemann - Musique de Table, A.A.Milne - Vespers "Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day. And what was the other I had to say?"

From rarefied, Sloyd Pinwheels. "I am now convinced that kids today need handwork more than ever."

From Joyous Lessons, Second Grade in Our Home :: Fine Arts "I'm already planning how to fit art into our days for next year. I'll have an infant again, which always makes things a bit challenging, but I'm hopeful!"

From Letters from NebbyCharlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series: Wrapping Up "Charlotte gives a very broad definition of knowledge. It is this knowledge which she believes has become so lacking in her day and, if anything, is even more so in our own"

From Simply.... Writing and Sharing........In Which I Ponder the Impact of a CM Education "How information is received can have a direct bearing on how much the student may care about that knowledge. In order for information to have a personal context that engages the student, there has to be a sense of ownership."

From fisher.academy.international., The Need for Balance. A Craving for Unity. "This is the way things are. As persons fashioned after an infinite God, we are complex beings. We must consider ALL our intricately interwoven parts when we think about educating persons."







Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sunflowers like God


After a recent trip to the Spotlight Awards where a handful of phenomenally talented kids, out of countless thousands, win prestigious awards and scholarships, one of my children the following morning, observing the flowers blooming out front, said:

Superstars are like Morning Glories, they bloom for one morning.
Sunflowers are like God, they're eternal. 

That was enough for me :)

They live closer to life




This is a really inspiring description from the April 1923 L'Umile Pianta of what one "H.E. Wix" described as the distinguishing points of Charlotte Mason's elementary schools:

What is it that distinguishes P.N.E.U. Elementary Schools from the ordinary School? It is a difficult question to answer, primarily because the “ordinary school” is indefinable. Many persons think that all “ordinary” elementary schools follow a similar clearly defined curriculum and that the teachers teach after a set plan. But it is not so. Nowhere is there more variety of method, syllabus, or “atmosphere.” There are, for example, schools where amazingly good compositions are freely and easily written – not as a result of wide reading, but rather of careful teaching, sometimes on the same lines as those followed in French schools. There are also schools where literature is really read and enjoyed, where history lives, where good story books are numerous, where the children even keep nature notebooks.  
And yet, the least satisfactory P.N.E.U. School has something which these others lack, even the best of them – what is it?  
It is not easy to lay one’s finger on, nor easy to express. Is it that these P.N.E.U. children are fuller of humble enthusiasms for all the great things of life? Is it that they – maybe only dimly realize that every new thread of knowledge leads them on to a further appreciation of the knowledge which is indivisible? Or can it best be summed up in: “they live closer to life?”

Wix goes on to describe how children and teachers travel great distances to see performances and Ms. Mason herself. And as it is in memorium, it concludes...

Perhaps the most visible gift that P.N.E.U. schools owe to Miss Mason is happiness; happiness in learning, happiness in teaching and the consequent happiness in giving and in living. A real joy in knowledge, a love of it as of a friend, is a lasting treasure. Too often it is merely as a “means to an end” that children are taught to acquire a necessary amount of information. But to a P.N.E.U. child knowledge is “lovely.”
 What is the distinction? It's not how much they know, but how much they care... knowledge is lovely... they live closer to life.