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

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Changing Landscape - Growing in Distance

The Voyage of Life - Youth by Thomas Cole, 1842

As we head past the transition between my reading most of the books to my oldest daughter and her reading her own school books - which happened progressively during YR4 & YR5 - I found myself a little sad at the prospect of her reading her own books; ones I'd never read, without me. I know some moms do, but I don't keep up with all her readings and I realized she is in uncharted territory and I'm not right next to her reading along like I used to be - the landscape is changing.

She still narrates to me for school, (sometimes if I'm not available she'll narrate to her little sister) and writes out her narrations a couple times a week. And we do still read together - this term we are reading the Iliad most days and Shakespeare and Plutarch on Fridays with her YR4 brother. But it isn't the same as reading with her.

I now spend most of that same time I used to spend with her, sharing readings with my YR4 son - The Incredible Journey, George Washington's World, Abigail Adams - he reads a paragraph, I read a paragraph, and teaching my six-year-old daughter to read. I've ditched the dry phonics books this time around and am so happy to be over that hump in my homeschooling career. We also have our almost three-year-old who joins in the mix at every turn of the day.

What I've found now on this side of the transition with my oldest is that, while it is a little sad not to be reading all of her books with her, it's a whole new enjoyable season. The books she reads and the ideas she gains from them are not unknown to me as I expected. Rather, they are the substance of the many conversations we have together throughout the day - in the car, during meals, sitting on the couch at night; she shares her thoughts, ideas, and opinions with us.

There is interest, curiosity, awe, humor, indignation, and living thoughts forming about all the things that go on around her and in her books, and there are poems about wanting her cat to sleep on the other side of the bed. What I thought would turn into a sort of distancing between us at this point has instead grown into a new, even more rewarding companionship. She is turning out to be a companion of the most interesting and wholly living sort, and we are so grateful for the living ideas that have fed this amazing person and helped form this rewarding relationship we are blessed to have with her.

While I do look enviously at her carrying her stack of books to go read - Galileo, Story of the Romans, The Sea Around Us, David Livingstone - as I change another diaper and read through Minn of the Mississippi for the second time, I am thankful for this new season and recall the advice a friend told us once a long time ago, "Your kids are going to be older, a lot longer than they are younger."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Magnanimous Way of Living

Do you ever find the truths behind the Charlotte Mason method peering at you in your books through the lives of others? I do. They really aren't her truths after all, she herself would say so; they were, and always will be, His truths.

"Shelley offers us the key to education when he speaks of 'understanding that grows bright gazing on many truths.'" ~Vol. 6, p.157

Here are a couple that caught my attention this week...

"'Green, green forest stretching as far as the eye can see on three sides, rising in mighty billows up the mountains, leaving bare only the rocky tops; high climbing, low dipping forest. A valley, like the trough of the wave of forest green.... In front the trees drop sharply down, like a cliff dropping to the sea, the green, green sea of the forest.' And the pool, the joy of their ravine, 'jade-green, clear, wonderful water-green, and when the angels are in a very kind mood they send a blue kingfisher to fish there. Then the pool is something quite too lovely for this everyday earth, and sets one thinking what the pools must be amog the green woods of Paradise. Then, too, it is deep, deep enough for diving, and its floor of clean white sand, the powdered dust of mountains. In this pool we, the holiday children and whoever is up with them, daily turn into water-babies.... If you have troubles, the pool washes them off. Worries are just kissed away.'" ~A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael

"I did not come to Schlonwitz in a glad or hopeful frame of mind.... but then everything turned out quite different from what I had feared. Instead of entering the stuffy world of theological bigotry, I found myself in one which combined much of what I loved and needed, clear theological work in companionship with others, who never let one be wounded by feeling one's own incompetence, but who made the work a joy; brotherhood under the Word which united us all without respect of person; and at the same time an appreciation of all that gives charm to the fallen creation; music, literature, sport and the beauty of the earth; a magnanimous way of living..." ~one of Bonhoeffer's ordinands in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

And last but not least, I love this quote posted by Brandy on the AO FB page this week:

"Another writes: 'On my arrival at Ambleside I was interviewed by Miss Mason who asked me for what purpose I had come. I replied: "I have come to learn to teach." Then Miss Mason said: "My dear, you have come here to learn to live."'" ~Essex Cholmondley in The Story of Charlotte Mason

Living truths. For ours and the children's sake.

Friday, February 28, 2014

YR6 Nature Journal Entries

Here are some nature journal entries from YR6 as we attempt to transition to Special Studies this year. Whether we are doing what CM truly intended or not, is hard to know. And I sometimes have to squelch the comparison bug that peers its ugly head when I see what others are doing. But as I read her and her students' writings, PR articles, and books she has recommended as reference on the subject, I am reminded that we are training a scientific mind, and inspiring a soul, not stuffing information.

Science.––Science herself, whose business it is to discover to us what we call the laws of Nature, is a teacher upon whom the conscience, seeking for instruction, must wait sedulously. The rash conclusions and reckless statements of the person who has had no scientific training make him mischievous in society––a source of superstition and prejudice. 
Scientific training is not the same thing as information about certain scientific subjects. No one in these days can escape random information about radium, wireless telegraphy, heredity, and much else; but windfalls of this sort do not train the mind in exact observation, impartial record, great and humble expectation, patience, reverence, and humility, the sense that any minute natural object enfolds immense secrets––laws after which we are still only feeling our way.  

Science distinguished from Information.––This scientific attitude of mind should fit us to behave ourselves quietly, think justly, and walk humbly with our God. But we may not confound a glib knowledge of scientific text-books with the patient investigation carried on by ourselves of some one order of natural objects; and it is this sort of investigation, in one direction or another, that is due from each of us. We can only cover a mere inch of the field of Science, it is true; but the attitude of mind we get in our own little bit of work helps us to the understanding of what is being done elsewhere, and we no longer conduct ourselves in this world of wonders like a gaping rustic at a fair. 

Patient Observation.––Let me again say that this is due from us, and is not a thing we may take up or leave alone as we think fit. Let each of us undertake the patient, unflagging, day-by-day observation of the behaviour of sparrow, spider, teazel, of clouds or winds, recording what we ourselves have seen, correcting our records as we learn to be more accurate, and being very chary of conclusions. All we find out may be old knowledge, and is most likely already recorded in books; vol 4 pg 102 but, for us, it is new, our own discovery, our personal knowledge, a little bit of the world's real work which we have attempted and done. However little work we do in this kind, we gain by it some of the power to appreciate, not merely beauty, but fitness, adaptation, processes. Reverence and awe grow upon us, and we are brought into a truer relation with the Almighty Worker.

~Vol. 4, p.100 - 101

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

31 Days of CM at Afterthoughts and The Flip Side of Habit Training

If you aren't familiar with Brandy's blog Afterthoughts, head over and check out her thought provoking posts. She has a lot to say about CM and education and current events and books and the kinds of things up our alley. And she's a fellow Californian :) In fact, I may even be meeting her in person next month! God willing.

She's just wrapping up her 31 Days of Charlotte Mason and has a directory of all the posts here, including one by yours truly on The Flip Side of Habit Training.

Isn't that the cutest graphic?

When I first learned about her blog, I knew it wasn't humanly possible for any one homeschooling mom to consistently compose as many posts as she does - well thought out, educated posts at that! - so I concluded she must have pre-written them and was now just posting them, one after the other! Well, I was wrong. She really is that amazing in her output and a pleasure to read too. Enjoy!