Children are Born Persons

A Philosophy of Education ~ Chapter 2

Children are Born Persons

“His mind is the instrument of his education and his education does not produce his mind.”  Pg 36

From birth and through the ages counted in months, a child devotes himself to learning by touching, pulling, tearing, throwing, and tasting. He will explore until he knows and then he will go on to something new. He reasons with his unending questions of “Why?”  He has imagination and the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong.

At school-age, “A child comes into their hands with a mind of amazing potentialities.”  Play, environment and motion are all good in education, but ideas are what connect the minds.

“Education, like faith, is the evidence of things not seen.” Pg 39

An idea is born of the spirit and desires to be explored and confirmed. The mind, like the body, begins with the business to grow. The body grows on food and the mind grows on ideas, appearing in stages of life. An idea is presented; we take it in, accept it, and for days after the idea will present itself in various ways, through what we read, people we talk to, and things we will see. This is how adults process ideas and children are no less. Therefore, as educators, it is our business to present the great ideas of life, clothed with facts but released to the child to do with as he chooses, for he knows what to do.

“History must afford it’s pageants, science it’s wonders, literature it’s intimacies, philosophy it’s speculations, religion it’s assurances to every man, and his education must have prepared him for wanderings in these realms of gold.” Pg 43

Every one of these subjects has a purpose, a value to the student.  A good education is broad to touch on many subjects and also equips a child for their exploration of them.

But what of motivation? Can we trust children to seek knowledge on their own accord?  Children hunger for knowledge, not information. The constant barrage of questioning only interrupts a child’s train of thought as they process ideas. It is not the requirement of a teacher to manipulate and control stimulation and attention from the student. If we understand the capacity and requirements of a child’s mind, these things come quite naturally.  They are due the dignity we give ourselves and those around us; children are born persons.

Beautifying the Mind: Picture Studies Pure and Simple

The Purpose Behind Picture Studies

The appreciation of art has the potential to shape the very people we are or are to become morally, intellectually and spiritually.  Charlotte Mason said,

“But we begin to understand that art is… of the spirit, and in ways of the spirit must we make our attempt.”                                        Volume 6, A philosophy of Education, pg 213

Appreciation of art is a skill the self seeks to acquire very naturally as in intelligence, imagination or speech.  It does not require even elementary understanding of art appreciation skills to be able to look at a masterpiece and have it affect you on one or all of these levels.  The purpose behind applying ourselves to this exposure is foremost, character development and secondly, to develop a general interest.  Both are closely tied together to form the roots of aesthetic sense; having a sense of the beautiful or characterized by a love of beauty.

How does art develop character?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”                                                       Philippians 4:8

When we put beautiful in, beautiful comes out, and that beauty which is stored inside in the form of memory, becomes treasures that cannot be stolen.  Furthermore, these practices help develop observation skills and offer reinforcement to the relationships developed in history, geography, literature and other cultures and socio-economic characteristics.

Practically Speaking

Charlotte Mason practiced picture studies regularly, looking at 6 pieces by one artist every term, and she had three terms a year.  A quick calculation brings us to an easy conclusion that if this is practiced throughout the child’s educational career, upon high school graduation they will have been exposed and considered 39 artists and 234 pieces of art!  Is that not a beautiful accomplishment for a practice that takes 10-30 minutes every two weeks?

When I do a Picture Study, I print out a color 8.5 x 11 reproduction of a single picture for each child.  I found Docucopies.com to be reasonably priced, particularly if I do the printing all at once for the year.  I also decided last year to give each student a binder for their pictures so that they have a sense of ownership of them and feel free to go back and revisit them as often as they like.  We combine this binder with their weekly recitation assignments and it is used regularly.

I will give each student their single picture for the session with the title and date on the back, and allow them to just look at it for 2-3 minutes.  They are encouraged to close their eyes for brief periods during this time and see if they can recreate the image in their mind.  If they can’t, they can open their eyes and continue absorbing the image’s details.

When the time is up, I will have the students flip their pictures over and have them “Tell Back” or narrate what they saw, giving them time and space to reimagine the picture in their mind and share what they recall.  When one student finishes, I will let another student fill in more details until everything has been shared.  Then, we flip the picture back over and review it again.  This time I will point out some details that may have been missed and offer some short biographical or historical information that is relevant to the appreciation of this piece.  This information I collected the night before on the internet.

I have three questions I picked up from John Muir Laws, a nature journalist, that I use to guide our investigations in every subject of study, including art.  I ask my students to consider these three thoughts:  I notice…, I wonder…, and It reminds me of….  These three questions stir just about every consideration the engaged mind might have and helps direct the processing of new ideas in a personal way, awakening curiosity and inquisitiveness.

Older students, maybe 3rd grade and older, might enjoy the reading of a biography of the artist.  It is imperative that this book not be “Twaddle”; just a dry compilation of facts about the artist and their work.  Instead, search for a piece of literature that will create a relationship with the artist.  To do this, we need to get to know them; their character, their thoughts, their challenges, the culture they lived in and how they responded to that culture.

You may ask, “What about form and composition?  When do we discuss color or movement?”  Yes, yes, yes.  These things come all in due time, but try to avoid clouding the study with analysis, sacrificing the relationship and personal joy your student is having.

For the older students, after the second viewing is complete, a great conversation is ready to take place.  Notice I did not say LECTURE.  A conversation requires input from more than one person and that is what you are looking for.  Within that conversation, you can bring up one or maybe two of these concepts as pertinent to the picture.  From a few articles I have a list of questions to choose from but again, I will use only one or two per study and they should be significant to understanding the piece.

  • Describe the use of space
  • What types of shapes do you see? Lines?  Colors?
  • What feelings or emotions do you feel when you look at this picture?
  • If you had done this painting, what would you have called it?
  • What do you think the artist is thinking or feeling while he created this piece? What are they trying to communicate?
  • What is the focal point and why does it stand out?
  • Look at the picture with your eyes half shut to see divisions and shapes of light and shade, balance and tone
  • What is in the foreground? In the background?

Last Minute Pointers

  • As tempting as it may be, be the guide but not the leader.
  • Refrain from sharing your observations and allow your students to find their own.
  • Lessons for younger student should not be longer than 10 minutes, older students can go as long as 30, but it is really nor necessary most of the time.
  • Don’t worry about teaching the different “schools” of artists.  After developing a relationship with 2 or 3 artists from the same school, your student will naturally notice similarities and identifying styles to their own joy and delight.
  • Art is a beautiful way to communicate a culture or time of history.  Try to pair your studies with where you are in your history timeline to offer another dimension to history and literature studies.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to incorporate three-dimensional art like sculptures, engravings, metal and ceramic creations.  An architectural study is fascinating when studying the middle ages.

References

Goegan, N. (2015, August 30). Corot Picture Study. Retrieved from Living Charlotte Mason in California: http://livingcminca.blogspot.com

Jimenez, G. (2007, June 18th). Looking at Art. Retrieved from Bright Kids: http://brightkids.wordpress.com/2007/06/18/looking-at-art/

Laws, J. M. (2016). The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling. Heyday.

S, J. (2015, June 10). Artist (Picture) Study Workshop. Retrieved from Charlotte Mason in the Bluegrass: http://www.cminthebluegrass.com/artist-study-workshop.html

Smith, C. (2013, May). Elenor M Frost and the Narration of a “Picture Talk” Part 1 & 2. Retrieved from Charlotte Mason Institute: http://www.charlottemasoninstitute.org

Vencel, B. (2015, September 1). A Beginner’s Look at Picture Study. Retrieved from Afterthoughts Blog: http://www.afterthoughts.net

 

Self Education

Philosophy of Education ~ Chapter 1

Self Education

“A person is not built up from without but from within, that is, he is living, and all external education appliances and activities which are intended to mold his character are decorative and not vital.” Pg 23

 Charlotte Mason had a respect for people that is unprecedented in most educational methods I’m aware of. She insisted that children were not gardens and we, the educators, not the gardeners. How brazen we are to assume we have that level of power and influence over another human being that we can manipulate and form them to our liking.  Education comes from within.

“Life is sustained on that which is taken in by the organism, not by that which is applied from without.”   Pg 24.

We cannot impose our will on another to any level of success more than their willingness to submit to it. Let us consider individuality, personality and independence; hallmarks of our Creator’s fingerprints; To disregard these, is a dishonor.

 Education comes from within. As the body is sustained by food, care and exercise, the mind is sustained upon ideas. Many are out there to be conceived and pondered but let us consider the ideas that influence character and conduct. Charlotte Mason believed these passed from mind to mind and outside educational efforts could not influence them.

 “We feed upon the thoughts of the mind; and thought applied to thought generates thought and we become more thoughtful.” Pg 26.

Just as no one teaches us how to digest food, but that we are born with the ability and desire, so our minds are born with the ability to reason, compare, and imagine and the drive to do it comes from within.

Education comes from within. It is a matter of the spirit; it is and can only be self-education. Our business then becomes to provide these ideas in quality and quantity through books and many of them. The information (facts) from these books hang on a principal, inspired by an idea, and remembered because of the created relationship.

Education comes from within. What are the advantages to this theory? Self-education fits all ages and all levels of aptitude. It secures interest and attention without effort from the teacher. Children learn to express themselves well and develop excellent vocabulary. Parents remain invested in the education. Children delight in books and grow a love for knowledge.  This desire to know is to be differentiated from a student motivated by good marks but failed to consider self-application to the information.

 “I am. I can. I ought. I will.”  Pg 29.

This communicates the power that belongs to the person. We would do right to remember this and respect it if we should hope to encourage a desire to learn for a lifetime in others. That desire is already there but needs to be protected from being extinguished by our own poorly directed intentions.  Education comes from within. 

“The teacher who allows his scholars the freedom of the city of books is at liberty to be their guide, philosopher and friend; and is no longer their instrument of forcible intellectual feeding.”  Pg 32

The Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason ~ The Introduction

The Brain vs the Mind

                Charlotte Mason uses the Introduction to address some broader concepts of education and define her purpose and goal with this volume.  She begins with the role of the brain in education.  Is thought just a function of the brain?  How do we define the brain versus the mind?  What part does the brain play in education?  And as education goes, what are our goals?  Do we want an education that “qualifies for life or earning a living”?  Won’t the first make a better person and a better service for society?

In an attempt to define the brain and the mind, she looks at the role of Darwinism in the utilitarian schools of Germany that had become so popular prior to World War I.  She points to their attempts at removing the mind and training only the brain, using natural selection and survival of the fittest to accomplish Germany’s goal of a “super state”.  She concluded when we derive our code of ethics from the laws of science instead of spiritual laws, we get the manifestation of brutality and an emancipation from moral restraint.

Science would define the brain as a mass by which electric pulses travel, emitting chemical ergo chemical reactions to create a series of thoughts, memories and emotions.  But what of the mind?  Could it be, if we dare to consider, that we are made of more than matter but spirit as well?

Charlotte Mason and the PNEU arrived at a working theory of education based on her last 35 years of practice, five previous volumes she wrote, and her experience and observations of thousands of children in her schools.  This theory differs from current practice of the time in a few ways.

For one, the children are responsible persons and do their work by self-effort.  The teachers are available and offer guidance but are not responsible for the actual work.  Thousands of pages are read, according to age, skill and maturity, from a broad variety of well written books on many subjects.  Done well, each child is able, after only one reading, to narrate or write on the passage.  These children delight in their books and desire to learn without need for prizes or punishments, bribes or blame and with a well-developed habit of attention.  These methods work well for all children, clever or dull.  It takes less time than ordinary schoolwork without homework and leaves time for vocational work, interests or hobbies.

A Child’s Mind

                In CM observations, the child’s mind rejects abstract concepts.  It takes in only what it needs as a means to feed the growing curiosity they are cultivating.  Children are well equipped to process ideas with their appetite for knowledge, imagination and judgement, without the need of explanation, questions and summaries.  These practices actually inhibit the mind’s processing of these ideas.  “In fact, the Desire of Knowledge (curiosity) is the chief instrument of education and the use of prizes develops self-emulation (rivalry), avarice (a hoarding greed), ambition and vanity (excessive pride).”

How badly do we really need knowledge?  CM’s observations found the curiosity of a child is so insatiable that the whole world and all its history are barely enough to satisfy it.

What is knowledge?  “That only becomes knowledge to a person which he has assimilated, which his mind has acted upon.”  Consider this now.  All the information in the world can be put before me, but I will only take in what I notice and consider interesting.  At that point, my brain has acted upon it and I have made it mine.  If this be the case, is there anything within moral value that a child should be restricted from?  I would say no!  To withhold knowledge would starve the appetite for it!  Our responsibility is only to ensure the right portions so as to avoid a choking reflex.

“Mind appeals to mind and thought begets thought and that is how we become educated.”  Education is not achieved by what we see or do but by the connection of our spirit.  To put the spirit in touch with great minds is to beget great thoughts, we, the educators, open the doors to a vast array of worthy books for them to delight in.

Now, how do we secure attention from our students.  Charlotte Mason did not find the responsibility to rest in the teacher’s charisma or subject matter.  She goes back to the idea that children are persons like ourselves, with the same motives.  The desire for knowledge is a strong craving, natural to everyone and can be duly stoked to grow with the right encouragement or lack of discouragement present.  Again, we see the need for a wide and varied curriculum through reading… reading to know which is more than reading to complete.  It’s more than listening or even listening to tell back.  Reading to know requires assimilation of ideas which are expressed in a good narration, requiring the brain to work various places and parts.  If they are consistently expected, the habit of paying attention will quickly be established.

Children are perfectly equipped to process knowledge.  They have an intellectual appetite, a desire of knowledge, an unlimited power of attention and power of retention.  Therefore, if a lesson isn’t holding their attention, maybe the fault is in the lesson.  We must restrain ourselves from questioning throughout the lesson for it interrupts the processing of the brain.  We can question in the beginning for review and at the end for emphasis, but let us leave the center of the lesson for the child to listen and reflect on the great thoughts we are presenting.

Method Summarized

  • A child is a person with the spiritual requirements and capabilities of an adult.
  • Knowledge nourishes the mind like food nourishes the body
  • A child requires knowledge as much as he requires food
  • He is equipped with a desire for knowledge (Curiosity)
    • To grasp knowledge (Attention)
    • Powers to process knowledge without help from the outside using Imagination, Reflection and Judgement
    • Interest in all knowledge
    • And power to retain and communicate knowledge; all that is necessary to him.
  • He requires knowledge to be communicated to him, in most cases, in literary (book) form and reproduces the knowledge acquired, only that which touched his personality.
  • The child is naturally equipped to assimilate knowledge but moral control is necessary to secure attention.
    • This habit is developed when narrations are consistently and regularly required for each reading.
  • Children have the right to the best knowledge we possess, so the best books should be made available.
  • Lecture and questions are distracting. Allow the child to own their learning and seek your help if necessary.
  • They require a wide range of knowledge so a wide curriculum should be made available.
  • The teacher offers direction and support in the studies but does not necessarily lead the child in an educational conquest. The responsibility of learning remains with the child.
  • Pursued under these conditions “studies serve as a delight”

                 These ideas must be applied with consistency to expect positive results.  She uses the example of the knowledge of bacteria.  To know of the presence of bacteria or to understand the use of antiseptic is not enough.  Antiseptic treatment to the surgeon’s tools has to be complete and consistent to be effective.

Coming Full Circle

                Charlotte Mason concludes, education occurs in the mind.  It is in the mind, indelibly linked with the spirit, that craves knowledge and is able to receive or assimilate it with its powers of attention and reflection.  A child will learn only the facts it can hang on nourishing ideas.  The results of these methods seem to develop capacity, character, countenance, initiative and responsibility available to all, in varying capacities.

“The stability of mind and magnanimity of character which are the proper outcome and unfailing test of a liberal education” should be available to all men in all classes.

 

Come Ye Sinners, Poor & Needy

Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy ~ Hymn Study

Music Selections found on YouTube:

  • Fernando Ortega (with Amy Grant) Contemporary version

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6q_-jVbpLFM

Music Selections found on Spotify: 

  • Fernando Ortega w/ Amy Grant on the Storm album

 

Author’s Biography

Joseph Hart was English.  He resisted Christianity while growing up in a Christ-centered home, and eventually even wrote against the preaching of many of the popular preachers (like John Wesley).  In 1757 the prodigal son returned as he came to know Christ and became an independent Calvinist preacher himself.

 

Overview

This hymn was written in 1759, just two years after his conversion.  It rings with the very real knowledge of being a sinner and the grace that frees.  Hart had the revelation of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane showing him that His sufferings were for him (and the Church), a beautiful expression of love and sacrifice.

 

Bible Verse for Reading, Narration and Copywork

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”         Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

The Prodigal Son as told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32

Lyrics

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

Refrain

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you night

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

Refrain

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Refrain


Vocabulary

Charms:  a power of pleasing or attracting, as through personality or beauty

Bounty:  a generous gift

Nigh:  near in space, time, or relation

Laden:  burdened; loaded down

Tarry:  to delay or be tardy in acting, starting, coming, etc.

Prostrate:  to cast (oneself) face down on the ground in humility, submission, or adoration.

Suffice:  to be enough or adequate for; satisfy

Incarnate:  embodied in flesh; given a bodily, especially a human, form

Ascended:  to move, climb, or go upward

 

Venture:  to take a risk; dare; presume

 

 

References

(n.d.). Retrieved from CyberHymnal.org: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/h/g/hgwlight.htm

BibleGateway.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from Bible Gateway: http://www.BibleGateway.com

Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from Dictionary.com: http://www.Dictionary.com

United Methodist Church Discipleship Ministries. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-come-ye-sinners-poor-and-needy

Holy Ghost with Light Divine

Holy Ghost with Light Divine ~ Hymn Study

Music Selections found on YouTube:

Music Selections found on Spotify: 

  • Walden Grove Orchestra (instrumental)
  • Remedy Collective (also found on YouTube) This version has a current melody with a beautiful horn sequence.  They only sing verses 1, 3-5 but I really enjoy it for personal listening pleasure.

 

Author’s Biography

Husband of hymn­ist Eliz­abeth Reed, An­drew Reed (1787-1862) at­tend­ed Hack­ney Coll­ege, Lon­don, and be­came a Con­gre­ga­tion­al min­is­ter. He was pas­tor at the New Road Cha­pel, St. George’s-in-the-East, then at Wy­cliffe Cha­pel, which he helped build in 1830. He al­so earned a de­gree from Yale Coll­ege, and found­ed the Lon­don Or­phan Asy­lum and Reed’s School in Cob­ham, Sur­rey. He wrote 21 to­tal hymns

 

Overview

This hymn is an important teaching on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life.  The Holy Spirit, if regarded, can offer direction, reveal Truths, sanctify my life, and be a strength and power to enable God’s ministry to flow through me.  Complete surrender to the Holy Spirit is complete surrender of our lives to Christ.  (Osbeck, 1985)

 

Bible Verse for Reading, Narration and Copywork

15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.                                         John 14:15-18 (NKJV)

Lyrics

Holy Ghost, with light divine,
Shine upon this heart of mine;
Chase the shade of night away,
Turn my darkness into day.

Let me see my Savior’s face,
Let me all His beauties trace;
Show those glorious truths to me
Which are only known to Thee.

Holy Ghost, with power divine,
Cleanse this guilty heart of mine;
Long has sin, without control,
Held dominion o’er my soul.

Holy Ghost, with joy divine,
Cheer this saddened heart of mine;
Bid my many woes depart,
Heal my wounded, bleeding heart.

Holy Spirit, all divine,
Dwell within this heart of mine;
Cast down every idol throne,
Reign supreme, and reign alone.

See, to Thee I yield my heart,
Shed Thy life through every part;
A pure temple I would be,
Wholly dedicate to Thee.

 

Object Lesson on the Holy Spirit

I can’t imagine a child that hears about the “Holy Spirit” or the “Holy Ghost” for the first time and doesn’t picture an actual ghost inside them.  This can be a very confusing topic to explain so I found this study for families with a great object lesson that will make explaining the Trinity a little easier.

http://www.discipleblog.com/2015/04/teaching-kids-about-the-holy-spirit/

Vocabulary

Divine:  coming from God: divine laws; divine guidance. Extremely good or unusually lovely.

Dominion:  the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority.

Woes:  grievous distress, affliction, or trouble:

Idol:  an image or other material object representing a deity other than God to which religious worship is addressed.  Something regarded with blind admiration, adoration or devotion.

Reign:  to have control, rule, or influence of any kind.

Yield:   to give up or surrender (oneself)

Devotion One

The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.  He intercedes in our prayers before the Lord, bringing even the cares of our heart that we can’t put to words.  He is our helper, always seeking to build relationship between us and the Lord.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[a] with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.                                          Romans 8:26-27 (NKJV)

 

Devotion Two

The Holy Spirit points out sin in our hearts and minds.  He encourages us to repent and choose a path that will honor the Lord.  He teaches us God’s Word so we can understand and obey it.

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.      Galatians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

 

Devotion Three

The Holy Ghost is the giver of hope, one of the greatest powers in the world and in a Christian’s tool box of disciplines, able to overcome evil.

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.              Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

 

References

(n.d.). Retrieved from CyberHymnal.org: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/h/g/hgwlight.htm

BibleGateway.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from Bible Gateway: http://www.BibleGateway.com

Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from Dictionary.com: http://www.Dictionary.com

Osbeck, K. W. (1985). 101 More Hymn Stories. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

 

Mason and the Older Child

In August, I attended the Charlotte Mason Institute Western Retreat in Los Angeles, at the American Jewish University overlooking the Getty Center.

Let me start by saying that these retreats are really unlike anything a home schooler has experienced.  I have gone to conferences and conventions aplenty!  They are great experiences and I generally come home wiped out from trying to drink from the fire hose of ideas and suggestions they provide.

I noticed a marked difference in myself when I left my first CM retreat.  To begin with, I wasn’t frazzled or belabored.  As I packed my things to leave, my mind was FULL of new concepts and ideas that I had been taught, better equipping me for the tasks that lay ahead.  I was mentally busy considering new ways to approach challenges and offer inspiration in our learning experiences but it wasn’t overwhelming.  I had experienced a rich banquet laid before me in a peaceful and thoughtful setting and I was returning home refreshed, energized on every level and ready to be a better educator for my family.

I attended a Preconference Immersion class for the first day on Teaching the Older Child by Kerri and Kathryn Forney.  This presentation was a very good overview of some of the basic CM concepts and then how to apply them to older child.  Here were the ideas I was inspired by:

  • Systems vs Methods: A system is a set of plans which, if used as directed, should produce a desired result.  A method is a “the result of principles, living organisms, which have powers of growth, expansion and adaptability.”  I found significance in the idea that our children deserve respect enough to be the individuals that God created them to be.  No system will serve all because of their individuality and therefore, they are worthy of nothing less than a method with built-in flexibility to accommodate.
  • It’s all or nothing… we either apply the methods as a whole or don’t use them at all.  We can’t encourage a child to flourish in the joys of a book for one subject and then mine for facts in the textbook of the next subject.
  • “The function of education is not to give technical skill but to develop a person; the more of a person, the better the work of whatever kind.” CM v6p136  Life is bigger than the hoops we jump through.  Are we aiming for the hoops or the goal on the other side of the hoops?
  • We seek to develop the whole child.  Transformation is the end goal of education, not completion of a workbook.  They have a natural craving for knowledge and if offered a rich feast, they will happily partake in it.  Oh, and I loved this idea; Knowledge is not what he knows but who he is.  It is the consumption of an idea and the application of it.
  • Education is not information.  It is a relationship or an experience; it is a full life.
  • The role of educator is guide. It is the teachers responsibility to open many doors in different directions, staying in the background with enough direction to enable the student to explore with success.  Promote self-education and not forced intellectual feeding.
  • Information does not become knowledge unless the child decides to “know” it themselves.  Guide toward self-education.
  • Narrations:  We read- we narrate- we know.  What we do not narrate, we do not know.  But narrations are not a regurgitation of what was heard.  It requires the narrator to process the information again, from auditory to verbal skills and share the connections that were made.  What they get, they get.  Be okay with what they don’t get for the time.
    • Some ideas for varying narration:
      • Write in the style of the author
      • Make illustrations of the reading
      • Write 5 questions about the reading
      • Do you agree or disagree with the character’s decisions in your reading?  Why or why not?
  • Scheduling: Consider completing all book work in the morning while all our mind’s are fresh.  Try to keep the subjects no longer than 30-40 minutes (for older children), a total of no more than four hours.

Each one of these points are worthy of their own conversation but that will have to be for another time.  These were the nuggets I took away from the class and I continue to work on implementing them.  I think my biggest challenge is stepping back as an educator and developing self-education in my children.  How about you?  Where is your biggest challenge with the ideas mentioned?