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

Friday, May 1, 2015

Scaffolding Towers of Glory and Excellence




I read this article today and it struck a chord that has been ringing at me for some time now. It's not anything unique to the CM community, it happens wherever humans are, because we are just that. But the nature of CM homeschooling really seems to scaffold this tower of glory and excellence in a way that draws us well-intentioned moms to often stumble at its feet.

In our pursuit of the very best education for our children - what mother doesn't want that?! - we read the CM's series, books, articles, blogs, attend meetings, conferences, follow CMers on Facebook, see their perfect lives on Instagram, their creations on Pinterest, Join groups, forums - to learn it all, do it all, keep up on all.

We trek out for nature study, research the BOC, institute the common place book, and wonder about mnemonics knowing we haven't even scratched the scratch of the scratch in notebooking. Throw in science journal, composer study, music lessons, art, and don't forget Swedish Drill, handicrafts, math, and the list goes on and on. Every corner you turn presents hours of reading and researching, because there is just so much and so little out there, and of course trying to access the one bit of information that is going to answer your question in the CM archives... won't open! on your computer because of some browser extension pdf glitch.

Add to that every reading must be narrated, audiobooks are a crutch, and we must be done early enough so their afternoons are free. You turn back to CM for encouragement only to find her referencing "perfect" execution, "perfect" exams, and "perfect" narration. And just when you begin to wonder if any human can possibly learn, implement, and achieve all of this with as many kids as you have, we find they do, with double the number of kids - completely, simply, no problem, hands tied behind their backs - PLUS blog, facebook, keep up on latest news, make and drop off meals, run their church's sunday school program, speak at conferences, write books, and brew their own kombucha.

Can we ever get anywhere near the tower of glory? It seems to have no end. Will we ever be good enough? have time enough? be mom enough?

For the children's sake? ...for our sake?

Is it any wonder we see women, friends fall by the wayside - given up, too hard, not smart enough, not good enough, unmet expectations, discouraged, exhausted, shame, depression...

In the article, Michael Lawrence says this about people filled with shame...
They’re hiding, hoping that others won’t see them. They might hide in reclusiveness, but are just as likely to hide in perfectionism, success, activism, or even brazenness. But like Adam and Eve, who after the fall tried to hide their shame with fig leaves (Gen. 3:7), our strategies don’t work because the shame remains. No matter how well we cover it, we know it’s still there.
In Ourselves CM talks about our soul...
What is there that baffles the understanding of a man, or that is out of the range of his thoughts, the reach of his aspirations? He is, it is true, baffled on all hands by his ignorance, the illimitable ignorance of the wisest: but ignorance is not incapacity; and the wings of a man's Soul beat with impatience against the bars of this ignorance; he would out, out, into the universe of infinite thought and infinite possibilities. How is the Soul of a man to be satisfied?
What is it that baffles the understanding of us CM moms, or that is out of the range of our thoughts, the reach of our aspirations?

The theme of Augustine's life...

You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.
Only the sweet balm of truth can set us free to truly find peace in this CM journey and in life...
Where, but in our God, the Maker of heaven and earth, shall we find the key to all knowledge? Where, but in Him, whose is the power, the secret of dominion? And, our search and demand for goodness and beauty baffled here, disappointed there––it is only in our God we find the whole. The Soul is for God, and God is for the Soul, as light is for the eye, and the eye is for light.
Good news ladies - "Christ removes our shame and gives us His righteousness."

It is done.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. ~Gal. 5:1
First, we need to be communities where the gospel is preached.
Even CM communities.

Set the tower aside, start where you are, do your best to learn what you can, implement what you can, seek truth, knowledge, wisdom, good counsel, and trust that CM is for you, and me, and your kids, and for the wise, and unwise, the smart and the ignorant, the capable and the not-so capable.
It may be that the souls of all children are waiting for the call of knowledge to awaken them to delightful living.






Saturday, April 11, 2015

Hidden Even to Ourselves (CM Vanity)


Note: This post was originally published on August 26, 2011 and is being re-posted - because I think we can all afford to hear it again and again. And because I haven't blogged in a very, very long time...
I resolved in my future conduct to redeem the past; and I can say with honesty that my resolve was fruitful of some good. You know how earnestly, in the last months of the last year, I labored to relieve suffering; you know that much was done for others.... [But as] I smiled, comparing myself with other men, comparing my active goodwill with the lazy cruelty of their neglect... at the very moment of that vain-glorious thought, a qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most dreadful shuddering.... I looked down.... I was once more Edward Hyde.
~Robert Louis Stevenson,
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


Robert Louis Stevenson, John Singer Sargent


Timothy Keller quotes this excerpt in Chapter 11 of his book The Reason For God. And I find it one worth pondering.

Charlotte Mason homeschooling has such high ideals; ideals I embrace so passionately that I blog about it, read about it, meet monthly to talk about it, etc. The words she wrote over one hundred years ago have set our feet in a very large and beautiful room indeed.

And then sometimes... when I come across others, I find I turn my chin up a little, comparing my curriculum with theirs, comparing my active care in educating my children with their drop-and-go style...

and then I get up on my pedestal and I feel oh so good about myself...

...and then all of a sudden, I see the truth and feel utterly disgusted, ashamed.

Keller writes:
Edward Hyde is so named not just because he is hideous but because he is hidden. He thinks solely of his own desires; he doesn't care in the slightest who he hurts in order to gratify himself. He kills if someone gets in his way. Stevenson is saying that even the best of people hide from themselves what is within - an enormous capacity for egotism, self-absorption, and regard for your own interests over those of all others.

Hideous and hidden - even to himself.

Sin and evil are self-centeredness and pride that lead to oppression against others, but there are two forms of this. One form is being very bad and breaking all the rules, and the other form is being very good and keeping all the rules and becoming self-righteous.

If we do it all so amazingly well and our children turn out so wonderfully fantastic, then we will be so very, very good.

This is a deadly turn of events. For the first time Jekyll becomes Hyde involuntarily, without the potion, and this is the beginning of the end. Unable to control his transformations any longer, Jekyll kills himself. ... Why would Jekyll become Hyde without the potion? Like so many people, Jekyll knows he is a sinner, so he tries desperately to cover his sin with great piles of good works. Yet his efforts do not actually shrivel his pride and self-centeredness, they only aggravate it. They lead him to superiority, self-righteousness, pride and suddenly - look! Jekyll becomes Hyde, not in spite of his goodness, but because of his goodness.

The loveliness we think we see is often ugliness of the worst sort. I wonder how many may have seen the ugliness of Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers?

Women who have to work and cannot stay home with their children? Women who submit to pressure from family to send their kids to school? Women who lack the confidence to homeschool? Women who are unable to manage it all? Women who go through a secular Charter School? Women who blend Charlotte Mason with other methods? Women with special needs children? Women on Instagram... Facebook... Blogs... Forums?

What is ugliest of all is that it is only by the grace of God that any of us have come to know about Charlotte Mason's philosophy and methods, and yet it is His very goodness we set aside and forget, in order that we can step up to glory.

Hideous and hidden.

Charlotte herself, said this about 'her' methods:
One discovers a thing because it is there, and no sane person takes credit to himself for such discovery. On the contrary, he recognizes with King Arthur,––"These jewels, whereupon I chanced Divinely, are for public use."
And I believe this sound view of hers came from her clarity on the gospel truth.

Keller goes on in his chapter to describe this truth for us:
The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.
There is beauty in truth and it is here that we will find it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

YR7 Commonplace Book Entries



Smart Sept. 2, 2014

My dad gave me one dollar bill 'cause I'm his smartest son,
and I swapped it for two shiny quarters 'cause two is more than one!

And then I took the quarters and traded them to Lou
for three dimes - I guess she don't know, three's more then two!


Ivanhoe Sept. 16, 2014

"Silence, maiden; thy tongue outruns thy discretion."


1 Samuel 16

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward apperance, but the Lord looks on the heart.


Weather Book

Knowledge alone is the being of nature,
Giving a soul to her manifold features
~Bayard Taylor


How to be your own selfish pig

"No man can live without a world view; therefore, there is no man who is not a philosopher." ~Francis Schaeffer


Grammar of Poetry

Remove the outside, cook the inside, eat the outside, throw away the inside.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Adventures with a Microscope - House Fly

New for us this year (AmblesideOnline YR7) is Adventures with a Microscope.



Today, our daughter chose the chapter on how the fly walks on the ceiling. Instructions are to catch a house fly in a jar and use chloroform to kill it. We didn't have any chloroform so she caught one and we covered the jar in plastic wrap, secured it with a rubber band, and popped it in the freezer.  



She asked me to help her remove an eye with a scalpel - um. okay. Oh the situations we homeschooling moms find ourselves in! It got rather bloody, but we managed. 


Here are its claws and the sticky pads which allow it to walk on walls.


And here is its wing structure. 




One good thing about the microscope is that the dust from our container that stuck to the fly is unidentifiable as such ;-p

YR7 students choose 3 of these adventures per term. Additional adventure possibilities exist in what we find locally, like our beaches. Even though it won't be in the book, it potentially means more when it's something we live among and see in our pattern of life. 

She could look up the anatomy of bryozoa or a sand crab and craft a similar adventure. YR8 will bring even more adventures.  

What benefits her in these adventures, I think, is that she has a level of choice, and it is her learning and discovery. She craftily caught the fly right here in our home. And I am here to help as she needs - like hacking a fly's eye off - otherwise, she manages what she is capable of. 

I showed her all the functions of the microscope and how to switch the lens to the camera to take pictures for future reference. When I told her the slide container had a labeling system, she also decided to keep a slide of each to begin a collection to share with friends. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Fat Cat and other Poems

Some fun and interesting poems found scribbled in a child's notebook...

The Fat Cat

There was a fat cat
who found a hat right in
the middle of the street.
He picked it up with
a good enough pluck to pick
up an overweight horse!

That horse neighed until
he was bade to dance
with an Irish jade

And that fat cat sat
atop his hat watching the horse neigh and bray
'til he was done with
his jig and jade.



Naughty Cat

Kitty cat, kitty cat sleeping
on my head
Why can't you sleep on that
side of the bed?


Spring

Spring has come, and all flowers
are bloomed
Winter has gone and all
his storms are doomed.
Summer will come still on
the run, of course without
delay.




Day and Night

When the sun rises,
the birds too must rise.
When the moon rises,
the birds must say their
goodbyes.


For a Younger Brother

Tap a tap-tap, goes the
rain on my hat.
With a rap a rap-rap-er-doo.
So I'll take a hap with
the rain on my hat, in the
middle of winter blue.