Month: November 2008

If You Want to Build a Ship by Laurie Bestvater

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery The 2009 ChildlightUSA conference will take the theme of Beauty in a Charlotte Mason Education and I have been thinking about what that means. In what has become almost a cliché, it often seems to an onlooker that a Charlotte Mason education is about Victorian lace, fine china, Stravinsky waltzes and coloured pencils.  As Van Pelt and Rusby Bell so aptly pointed out at last year’s conference, as one goes deeper into Mason, one begins to have with her the “Great Recognition” that what we really want to do in education is to trace the workings of the Holy Spirit in all the fullness and glory that that implies. …that God the Holy Spirit is Himself, personally, the Imparter of knowledge, the Instructor of youth, the Inspirer of genius…every fruitful idea, every original conception, whether in Euclid, or …

Naked and Blue at My Back Door by Sandy Rusby Bell

Several years ago I opened my back door to call the children in for a snack. I was greeted by my seven, five and two year olds, all completely naked and painted blue. We had recently been reading about how Julius Caesar fought the Celts in Britain. Susan Wise Bauer told us that the Celts “were tall, muscular, warlike men. They were so proud of their height and strength that they went into battle naked! They wore only metal collars and tall metal helmets that made them look even bigger. They carried heavy iron swords and wooden clubs. And they painted themselves blue all over, because they thought that the blue lines would magically protect them from swords and arrows” (Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times, p 276). Embarrassing as this incident was, living as we did on a corner lot in the suburbs, I knew my children had truly made the story their own. And almost seven years later, they can still describe it in great detail. When I speak with other …

Nature Study: Q & A by Deborah and HollyAnne Dobbins

Nature Diaries-As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child.  Every day’s walk gives him something to enter: three squirrels in a larch tree, a jay flying across such a field, a caterpillar climbing up a nettle, a snail eating a cabbage leaf, a spider dropping suddenly to the ground, where he found ground ivy, how it was growing and what plants were growing with it, how bindweed or ivy manages to climb. Innumerable matters to record occur to the intelligent child.  While he is quite young (five or six), he should begin to illustrate his notes freely with brush drawings; he should have a little help at first in mixing colours, in the way of principles, not directions.  He should not be told to use now this and now that, but, ‘we get purple by mixing so and so,’ and then he should be left to himself to get the right tint. As for drawing, instruction has no doubt its time and place; …

How a CM Education Can Grow An Artist by Jeannette Tulis

One aspect of a Charlotte Mason education that was very attractive to me was the emphasis on the arts. I loved the idea of presenting children with the very best paintings, music, poetry and drama. The analogy of spreading the feast was a delightful one. This is what I longed to do – to spread the table with delectable words, ideas, pictures and let my children take a morsel here, a dollop there or any large chunk that appealed to them. Soon after we were engaged, my husband-to-be gave to me Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake explaining that this is how he would like for us to educate our children, should so God bless us. The words in this book inspired me. “‘Let the children at the best of life!’ is Charlotte Mason’s challenge to us. Life includes not only living experiences, but also the best that mankind has produced in art, music, books ideas, and many more areas.” When I started to home educate our first, a daughter, I turned to the …

EDUCATION IS FORMATION, NOT INFORMATION by Naomi Heidorn

Education is formation, not information.  Here is an idea worthy of meditation.  If you truly embrace this ideology, the implications for the education of the students entrusted to you can be spectacular. Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher, liberal political theorist and contemporary of Charlotte Mason, put it this way, “Education has for its object the formation of character.”  Although dear Charlotte certainly disagreed with Spencer on some things, this wasn’t one of them. Charlotte said, “The formation of habits is education, and education is the formation of habits.”  Charlotte spoke and wrote prolifically on the development of good habits.   But why all this fuss about habits anyway?  Because, she says, “the habits of the child produce the character of the man.” Oh, so that’s what it’s all about – producing character.  I see.  But wait, is that really so?  Can we produce character?  Think about that one for a minute. About five years ago, I came together with several other pioneer types (under the prompting of the Holy Spirit) to open a new school in …