Month: September 2011

As For Knowing the Thing Itself by Art Middlekauff

“Well, I don’t say but you may get to know about most things from books, but as for knowing the thing itself, let me be introduced by him that knew it before me!” (Volume 5, p. 123) When I began to read Charlotte Mason’s writings in early 2005, my purpose was to become a more effective homeschooling teacher. I trusted that Mason’s method was effective, but I realized that I had to learn it in order to apply it properly. So began the long process of reading, experimenting, applying, and (slowly) improving. I knew from the start that nature study was an important part of a Charlotte Mason education. This seemed to loom before me as the biggest challenge I would face. How could I follow the Mason method and not do nature study? And yet I knew nothing about nature or how to study it. To the books, then! Surely they will show the way! My first step was to order several guide books: some field guides, and some books about local parks. I …

Masterly Inactivity in the Charlotte Mason Schoolroom by Mary C. Gildersleeve

“WHY, William, on that old grey stone, Thus for the length of half a day, Why, William, sit you thus alone, And dream your time away?   “Where are your books?–that light bequeathed To Beings else forlorn and blind! Up! up! and drink the spirit breathed From dead men to their kind.   “You look round on your Mother Earth, As if she for no purpose bore you;                           As if you were her first-born birth, And none had lived before you!”   One morning thus, by Esthwaite lake, When life was sweet, I knew not why, To me my good friend Matthew spake, And thus I made reply:   “The eye–it cannot choose but see; We cannot bid the ear be still; Our bodies feel, where’er they be, Against or with our will.                                     “Nor less I deem that there are Powers Which of themselves our minds impress; That we can feed this mind of ours In a wise passiveness.   “Think you, ‘mid all this mighty sum Of things for ever speaking, That …

Children are born persons, Revisited by Leslie Noelani Laurio

As my kids are getting older, and my friends’ kids are getting older, Charlotte Mason’s “Children are born persons” is meaning something more to me. Or maybe it’s just hitting home more. For years, I’ve heard that if you “train up your child in the way he should go, when he’s old he will not depart from it,” and various interpretations of that — if you train them to be good, they’ll always be good, if you teach them right, they might stray, but they’ll always come back. At a recent gathering of moms, one of the moms said that “raise up your children in the way they should go” means that we guide them in the unique direction/career God has planned for them — as if we could be presumptuous enough to know what God has planned for them. I’m not sure I’d even want to arrange a marriage for my child, much less their entire life. I think of all the things I’ve attempted to do with/for my kids, like instilling values, presenting …

Singing is to the Song Thrush as Narration is to the Child by Nancy Kelly

Now this art of telling back is Education and is very enriching. (Mason, 1925/1989, p. 292)  My frazzled friend wrote to me with the following query, “With all the different levels and subjects of my children, are my days going to consist only of narration?”  So I wrote back, “Well, to a great extent, yes!  That is, if you want your children to be truly educated.”  While my concerned friend had a dreary vision of children standing in line to retell stories to her all day long, I think she has an incomplete view of what Mason so stylishly calls “The Art of Knowing” (1925/1989, p. 292). First, we all know that if you can’t tell it back, you don’t really know it.  “Whatever a child or grown-up person can tell, that we may be sure he knows, and what he cannot tell, he does not know” (Mason, 1925/1989, p. 172). Next, there is more than one way to narrate.  While oral and written narrations may be the primary methods, retelling may also be in the form …