Friday, June 6, 2014

Home Education by Charlotte Mason - part 1

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Hello!  Welcome to the first week of our series discussing the book Home Education by Charlotte Mason.   I'm hoping that these discussions will be really practical and encouraging for all of us!  I will bring up some areas of the chapter that I'm trying to implement in my home this summer, and I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Some Preliminary Considerations

This book is fascinating if nothing other than that it was written in another time and place!   Were you able to orient yourself to what life was like in England in the 1800's?  I could definitely stand to know more about history.  It seems like she was trying to convince parents to do something in regard to educating their children.  As homeschool moms, this is obviously already a high priority for us already.

I was encouraged by the quote that I put up in the picture above:

"The parent's chief care is, that that which they supply shall be wholesome and nourishing, whether in the way of picture books, lessons, playmates, bread and milk. or mother's love."

I like her way of looking at life as a whole.  Education is not an isolated time of 2 hours in the morning.  As parents, we need to be providing our children with good things all the day long and all those things are connected.  A big challenge I took away from this whole chapter was about loving my children.  As a homeschool mom, I can get caught up in lessons and training, but I need to remember to be loving my kids in a wholesome and nourishing their mom.  I am going to be more conscious of that.

I did have a problem with her opinion of children being property of the nation.  I'm trying to understand what was going on in her time to make her think like this.  Do any of you have any ideas?  

"The children are the property of the nation, to be brought up for the nation as is best for the nation, and not according to the whim of individual parents."  I had no idea that Charlotte Mason thought this way.  I certainly do not agree and I don't think most homeschoolers do either.  Can you help me understand?

One other pause before I go on: What do you all think about the more science related things she talked about (brain activity, healthy eating, ventilation, etc.)?  I won't take time on this, but it sure is interesting to see how times have changed and how we live so differently now!  What things do you see merit in, and which things to you think we understand differently now?

Code of Education in the Gospels

Charlotte Mason mentions some of the passages in the Bible that refer to children.  Of course I am familiar with these, but I had never really looked at them all together or in the way that she did.  Here is the conclusion that she reaches:

"The chief thing required of grown-up people is that they should do no sort of injury to the children:  Take heed that ye OFFEND not --- DESPISE not --- HINDER not--- one of these little ones."

This is something that is going to be on my mind more.  It seems like in her day, children we thought very lowly of and she wanted children to be thought of as persons.  Today the world is very child centered and most families are as well.  I wonder if this is what she had in mind or if we have gone farther than what she envisioned.

Regardless, I will be more aware of times in my day when I might be offending, despising, or hindering my children.  All the while being careful to not let "the little trespasses be allowed to pass." Does anyone else find this challenging?  How do you most effectively train your children to do right without turning in to a sergeant who is disciplining all day long?  Ms. Mason classifies allowing your children to do wrong as offending them.  I thought that was a very interesting way of thinking about it.

Conditions of Healthy Brain-Activity

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I love this quote! Ms. Mason talks about how our brains need exercise to work well just like our bodies do.  My son struggles with this.  He gives up easily on anything that looks like it might take a bit of effort.  I desire so much for him to 'do what is right at the sacrifice of ease and pleasure.'  I really hope she talks more about this later on in the book.  I really want to work on this idea this summer.   I want my children to be hard workers and to love putting effort into things because of the beautiful result that will follow.  Do any of you have tips for this?

Charlotte Mason encourages children to be outside all afternoon.  If they cannot be outside, then the afternoon should be spent learning to do things with their hands (sewing, drawing, practicing instruments, etc.)  This is probably the biggest thing we are working on this summer (and summer is a great time to be working on it)!  My goal is for the kids to be outside at least 3 hours a day.  Really, this is not that hard, but I like it because it gives me a number to keep in the back of my head.  In reality, mot days we are out for longer.  I'm hoping that developing this habit will help us to continue out outdoors time into the fall and even a bit in the winter!

Pin ItI had a friend tell me about a website called 1000 Hours Outside.  Have you heard about it?  The idea is to have the goal of spending 1000 hours outside this year.  Pretty neat!  They reference Charlotte Mason as their inspiration.  Check it out if you need some extra encouragement in this area.  Or if you want to have some sort of accountability or more encouragement here, let me know and we can try to come up with some ideas!

Conclusion of Part 1

Ms. Mason said that she spent so much time talking about these physical matters in this first part because even though they are the 'lowest round of the educational ladder' it is a necessary step to all the rest.  I am looking forward to where she goes from here!  She says that the rest of the book will sketch out a method of education that is based on these principles .

"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."

This week only, you can find amazing resources at a deep discount to help you with your Charlotte Mason plans for this summer and next year!

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  1. I appreciated this quote in regards to mothers...
    "...They will doubtless feel the more strongly that the education of their children during the first six years of life is an undertaking hardly to be entrusted to any hands but their own. And they will take it up as their profession––that is, with the
    diligence, regularity, and punctuality which men bestow on their professional labours."
    A call to be diligent and to work hard as we educate, teach, and train our children!!! Also to encourage ALL parents to have an active role in their children's education and training whether you homeschool or not.

    1. I love that too! I love how she places so much importance on the rearing of children. Our country definitely doesn't do that these days, sadly =(

  2. Thank you for hosting. Lots of great ideas to consider with Ms. Mason's writing.

    You touched some on the question of Charlotte's culture & considering the period of time she wrote in. As a historian, I find it fascinating that Ms. Mason's writings are still relevant in our home education today, and that many human "struggles" she sought to address in her educational method are still issues and struggles for this day!

    I see in her writings a struggle between two extremes in her culture: the looking down on children vs. the worship of children. Ms. Mason addresses this briefly in the 1st chapter of Home Education:

    "That children should do as they are bid, mind their books, and take pleasure as it offers when nothing stands in the way, sums up the old theory; now, the pleasures of children are apt to be made more account than their duties.

    Formerly, they were brought up in subjection; now, the elders give place, and the world is made for the children."

    How true and prevalent are these two struggles still, in society today?

    I am still schooling a younger child and two teens, utilizing the Charlotte Madon method. Reviewing the 1st chapter of Home Education has brought to light a few struggles that need my attentions and prayer this summer.

    • "The Code of Education in the Gospels" sets forth a few reminders to consider becoming less of a stumbling block to our children. Balancing a home life that neither offends the child, maintains "masterly inactivity" & avoids nagging has been difficult for me recently by raising teenagers. I would covet your prayers in this area.

    I tend to lean heavily toward being "compelled by the law" and have left little room for grace.

    In short, I am prayerful reviewing, rumenating and meditating on all of these rich ideas on educating from Ms. Mason. I look forward to deeper discussion & fellowship over these "great ideas". Thanks for tuning in to my humble thoughts.

    1. Thank you for shedding some more light on the history of Charlotte Mason. It sure is interesting that we have the same struggles as she did in her time.

      Like you, I also lean more toward being compelled by the law. I knew that the gentle nature of CM would be good for me =) I am glad that we can encourage one another in these manners!

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I am excited to be a part of this discussion. I have been wanting to learn more about Charlotte Mason Homeschooling. My children are still toddlers and I want to prepare myself to be the "teacher" that God would have me be when they officially starting homeschooling in a couple years. So first off, thanks for hosting this.

    I wanted to comment on your question about children being property of the nation. I don't believe how you stated it is what she means. Two things.

    One - In the time in history that she lived, people had a better understanding that they could not live life on their own. What I mean by that is that everyone was dependent upon each other. They were a community and they each had to contribute something in order for life to have the quality to which they were accustom. It is still the same for us today in all reality. However, we have more of an individualist approach, especially in the US. I can see how this would be understood differently in our day since we tend to look at life through the lens of self and not the lens of community.

    Two - Look at the words she actually uses. "The children are, in truth, to be regarded less as personal property than as public trusts, . . ." She doesn't mean property of a nation, but rather members of society. So in order for them to be healthy contributors to society, parents can not treat them a personal property (like slaves were), but as a person who must be trained to become that influential person in his community. I believe she is right. In our church we dedicate our children. This is a time when parents commit to God that we will be responsible for the spiritual nurturing and training of our child for the amount of time that he has intrusted them to us.

    I guess my take on this is that she believes that if we train our children just to serve our selfish wants or whims, they will grow up to have little to no value to society. I don't believe she is saying that we have to train our children to be what the nation wants them to be, but rather to be someone who will make a difference in the world.

    I hope this make things a little clearer and that I have not made it more confusing. Let me know. I enjoy the discussion.

    1. It is wonderful that you are thinking ahead for when your children are a bit older! I am sure that you can even apply some of these concepts to you little ones.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the whole concept of "public trusts." It is an interesting concept! It makes me want to learn more and more about what life was like in different times in history. I look forward to learning that kind of thing along with my kids as they grow.

      I like what you said about not treating kids like personal property. If that is what she meant, that makes sense to me. Maybe I would less likely to push back if our nation wasn't so opposite of what I want my kids to be =)

      Thanks for sharing your take on it!

  4. I know quite a few very intelligent people who were home schooled. I think there's something about the bond between a parent and the act of learning that just works so well.


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