Month: April 2009

Reading – A Habit and a Delight by Dr. Donna Johnson

It’s finally spring in Minnesota. The end of the school year is fast approaching, and the news in my classroom is both good and bad. The good news is that books and reading have become a source of – in Charlotte Mason’s words – “interest and delight” for me and my students.  Living books capture our minds and spirits; reading them together is the best part of each day. In the past weeks and months, my students and I have read The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Now we are reading two books more recently published and perhaps less proven, but that I feel can be categorized as living books: they are Holes by Louis Sachar and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Holes was first enjoyed by many of my students as a movie; they thought they “knew” the story but are finding that you “should never judge a book by its movie.”* The book is so much richer and …

The Rescued Daisy and Three Mason Applications: A Story from My Garden by Beth Pinckney

Three years ago, I rescued a sad looking plant from a neighbor’s kitchen window sill.  It had been a bright red gerbera daisy, blooming and filling her kitchen with color.  But after a few weeks of inattention, the plant began to wither and droop.  The soil in the pot got dry and crusty, resisting the water that my friend poured on it, in hopes of reviving it.  Eventually, she just gave up and the little plant languished, almost dead.  Being the hopeful gardener that I am, I attempted a rescue.  First, I removed the plant from its pot, soaked it in a bucket of water for a few hours to allow the water to thoroughly saturate the soil, spread the pot-bound roots a bit, pruned back the dead and dying leaves, and then planted it in my terrace garden.  The soil there was rich and moist, full of good compost.  The spot was sunny but somewhat protected from the wind.  It enjoyed the advantage in the wintertime of a microclimate created by the dryer vent …

Books for the 5th Annual Charlotte Mason Education Conference

It’s time to start thinking about the ChildLightUSA 5th Annual Charlotte Mason Education Conference: “For the Beauty of the Earth” (Information is available on the website, www.childlightusa.com )   “People are naturally divided into those who read and think and those who do not read or think….” C.M.   CLUSA conference goers have developed a custom of doing some preconference reading and sharing in a book discussion or two at the conference.  This year we have selected  1. “Leaf by Niggle,” by J.R.R. Tolkein.  A beautiful short story that elicits imagination, examines beauty, and is a metaphor. Here’s a review from the Tolkein Library. It is good for teachers and students. (You will probably find it in an anthology.) http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/reviews/leafbyniggle.htm   2. Alfie Kohn’s essay, What Does It Mean to Be Well Educated?  http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/welleducated.htm   3. The Christian Imagination, edited by Leland Ryken, revised and expanded It contains essays by Schaeffer, Annie Dillard, George MacDonald, Lewis, Luci Shaw, Gene Edward Veith, Flannery O’Connor, T.S. Eliot, Peter Leithart, G.K. Chesterton (Did you know that he married the secretary of the P.N.E.U.?), Wendell Berry, Brian …

Studies in the Art of Standing Aside by Laurie Bestvater

While living in Korea, my son had the privilege of studying violin with a student of the great Shinichi Suzuki.  He was a lovely, unassuming gent of indeterminate years who often had my young son sit on his knee, who invited us for lunch at his home and took us on long walks.  At first this behavior really mystified me; what I wanted, what I was paying for, was violin instruction for my son, not walks and luncheons.   In time, I became more relaxed with these “idiosyncrasies” accepting them as simply part of the package required to have this well-known and highly successful teacher. (Many things required my adjustment in Asian culture!)   Eventually, my distractible son blossomed under Dr. Kim’s care and really solidified his relationship to the violin.  As it came time for us to leave Korea, I asked Dr. Kim what I should look for in a teacher when we returned to North America, thinking he would say, “Someone who can do the Suzuki method,” and give me some addresses or at least, …