Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lessons as Instruments of Education - part 2

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This post contains an affiliate link to the book we are discussing.

Hello!  Welcome to our continuing 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!

Lessons as Instruments of Learning

We are back to finish talking about Part 5 today.  I really enjoyed this read, although it was very long!  I enjoyed picking out the similarities between the Charlotte Mason style and the classical method of education.  Like I discovered last week, there are definitely some differences in the teaching methods, but there are also many similarities!    This part of the chapter covered many subjects, so I will just hit some of them and pull out what was interesting to me.  I'd love for you to share the parts that interested you as well!


This is what I think of when I think of  when I think of Charlotte Mason: copywork, dictation, narration, etc.  I love copywork.  If you follow this blog, you probably know that I have another site, Classical Copywork, dedicated just to copywork.  I like how she said to have the child produce something copied perfectly.  I am probably not as strict as she would be in this matter, but copying something exactly is the point of copywork, so I do keep that in mind.  She also mentions keeping it to no more than 10-15 minutes.  That is always a good reminder for me, because my son sometimes takes forever to do copywork and I need to remember to probably require less of him (but still quality writing) or else have him stop after 15 minutes and come back to it the next day.

One thing that I have never done is transcription, but I think I would like to start using it.  Do any of you use it?  If you are not familiar, it is having a child look at a word and then write it from memory.  Charlotte Mason says it is the start of learning to spell.  I am sure it follows her "picture the shape of a word" method, which I don't love, but I can still see the merit of it.  It is like a bridge between copywork and dictation.  She suggests having a child pick a verse from a favorite poem and write it using transcription.  Have your child fill a notebook with transcribed verses like this.  I think that would be such a neat thing to do!

The last part here under the subject of writing would be composition.  I loved how her ideas on composition reflected the classical model so well.  Here are a few quotes showing how she clearly thinks that young children should be soaking up information, not coming up with unique ideas of their own:

"The proper function of the mind of the young scholar is to collect material for the generalizations of after-life."  

"For children under nine, the question of composition resolves itself into that of narration". 

"Composition is as natural as jumping and running to children who have been allowed due use of books.  They should narrate in the first place, and they will compose, later readily enough; but they should not be taught 'composition.'"

Of course you probably know that I am going to disagree with that very last statement that children should not be taught composition.  I surely don't think that grammar stage children should be taught composition, but I think it should be taught as a child grows older.

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Demonstrate everything.  Use manipulatives and let young children use them freely in their lessons.  Don't move onto using abstract symbols until your child understands the concepts using manipulatives.  I really appreciate Ray's Arithmetic for this reason.  I think it is just the type of math curriculum that Charlotte Mason would have liked. (It doesn't cover all mathematical subjects, but it definitely gives your child a great understanding of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.)

Geography & History

I think she approaches the subject of geography using the idea of Multum non Multa (Much not Many).  She recommends a child learning everything they can about a part of geography that they are interested in.  Then at some point, maps need to be brought in.  She encourages children to learn to draw plans of a room, then of a yard, town, etc.

The same goes for history.   I love these quotes:

...A  subject which should be to the child an inexhaustible storehouse of ideas.   

Let him linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home  in the ways of that period.  Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age. 

I love those!  She also recommends the ideas of keeping a timeline (book of centuries), drawing favorites scenes of history, and 'playing' history.

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Art & Handicrafts

Once again Charlotte Mason shows her classical ways by saying, 

A six year old should begin to both express himself and to appreciate, and his appreciation should be well in advance of his power to express what he sees or imagines.

She recommends studying one artist at a time, studying a few works from that artist. And one more beautiful quote:

We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child's sense of beauty...he is enriched more than we know.

Last up is handicrafts.  I have always loved this idea.  I have tried starting a few simple things with my children, but they are still pretty young for this.  Do you have a time in the day for your children to work on 'handicrafts' of some sort?  What do you do?  She tells us that the projects they are working on should be pieces worth something, not just things to throw out. She encourages us to teach our children to do things well, keeping in mind their scope of ability.

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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