Month: March 2008

Relational Leadership: A Key in the Framework of School Leadership for the Children’s Sake by Nicolle Hutchinson

As a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, I’m currently earning both a masters degree and principal certification for Pennsylvania, and my quest is to develop a framework of school leadership based on Mason’s ideas. Not only do I love learning about educational leadership and training to be a principal, but I’m also thrilled to read the plethora of current work and research in education and leadership that concurs with Charlotte Mason’s ideas. As she presaged, educators are moving away from behaviorism toward human-centered pedagogy because research shows that humans learn best in ways that respect the whole person. Without a doubt, Carroll Smith was correct when he said that Mason was way ahead of her time. As I read (and read and read and read), I feel as though the world of education is finally catching up to her, and it instills in me much hope for the future of education. Most of my hope lies in the direction in which educational leadership is heading. Thus far in my studies, I have garnished …

Charlotte Mason and Special Needs Children by Tammy Glaser

The Charlotte Mason philosophy of education fits well with my autistic teen. Other special needs students also benefit from this style of learning. A few years ago, I wrote an article spotlighting the elements of her philosophy that work for these learners. I have revised it to reflect what I have learned since then: * Short Lessons – Special needs children often have short attention spans. Moving quickly through short lessons, shifting from one topic to another, helps them gradually lengthen their attention. The advice given to Inconstant Kitty’s mother in Formation of Character (Volume 5) is perfect for children struggling with inattention. Charlotte considered attention the most important intellectual habit, and all children benefit from improving their ability to focus! * Habits – Rushing special needs children develops the habit of frustration. They thrive in a gentle atmosphere where they can develop habits slowly, one at a time if necessary. Often the steps required in learning a habit must be broken down into very tiny, baby steps. Over the long run, baby steps add …

Reflections on History and Composer Study by Megan Hoyt

It’s been my experience that learning often comes in spurts with long stretches of desert time in between. Step by step, precept upon precept, ideas are cemented; skills and concepts are mastered. Then one day, the baby who couldn’t even crawl is running a marathon. My daughter’s first history narration went exactly like this — word for word: “History is a wonderful thing. It’s so… historical.” Thankfully, we’ve seen some improvement since that disappointing day! The good news is that these minor setbacks sent me back to my handy six volumes, much the same way trials send us to our knees in prayer. Here’s what I found. According to Charlotte Mason, a brilliant, intuitive educator who I am continually convinced was born eons before her time, a comprehensive study of history would occur in three stages. The first stage – before the age of eight or nine – would best be spent engaging the child via story with vivid pictures. The next stage involves developing a sense of history via charts or timelines. As each …

No Teacher Left Behind by Dr. Jack Beckman

The space of the classroom may be viewed as an inert rectangle filled with other rectangles. Left alone it is a space which is defined by silence. The other rectangles of the classroom – windows, books, doors, desks, carpet, and computer screens – all collaborate together in stillness and anticipation. And yet when anticipation reaches its breaking point, there enters into this bounded space vitality – children, teachers, noise, ideas, music, movement, community. And here the space has its meaning and we can see Charlotte Mason’s pillars of education realized – atmosphere, discipline, life, science of relations. This once inert rectangle now fairly buzzes and hums with activity of the mind, heart, and body. If we were to look into this welter of persons, books, and things, what would strike us? Being of Charlotte Mason mind, we would probably focus on what the students were doing. After all, this forms the preponderance of her life and work. We are here to re-vision the true work of the child as engaging the world of ideas. Fair …

Grace and Learning by Lisa Cadora

I’ve been thinking lately about what conditions are necessary for genuine learning and whether or not it is possible, once they are identified and articulated, to deliberately bring those conditions about for our students and watch real learning occur in them. It’s a difficult ponder, and immediately, even as I write this, I’m asking myself to define my terms: What do I mean by “conditions”? What is the evidence of “genuine learning”? How would “deliberately” bringing the conditions about differ from those conditions occurring naturally? What about the mindset of the learner? Nevertheless, it occurs to me that other than the right curricular topics, the best materials, the most age-appropriate methods, or developmentally appropriate tools and techniques, the most important and indispensable condition for learning is grace.I experienced grace in a learning situation recently. Because I was both the teacher and the student, the grace that enabled me to learn was given to me by my very own self. We’re always most gracious with our very own selves, aren’t we? It occurs to me that …