Month: October 2011

The Imagination by Lori Lawing

Up into the cherry tree  Who should climb but little me?  I held the trunk with both my hands  And looked abroad on foreign lands…   If I could find a higher tree  Farther and farther I should see,  To where the grown-up river slips           Into the sea among the ships,    To where the roads on either hand  Lead onward into fairy land,  Where all the children dine at five,  And all the playthings come alive.     In “Foreign Lands” from A Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson paints a picture for us bigger people of just what is happening in the mind of the child who climbs that tree.  What’s he doing up there? He’s looking.  He’s imagining. My heart swells when I recall the early years with my children.  Stevenson is brilliant.  In his poetry he captures the beauty of childhood in verse:  the playfulness, the youthfulness, the imagination.  But he does more.  For the mother who reads it aloud, he instructs:   Listen, gentle Mother, this is how your …

Getting Ready for High School Science: Wonder and Order by Beth Pinckney

For the last year or so on the ChildlightUSA blog, I’ve told you about my adventures with science teaching, Charlotte Mason style.  I am again teaching a group of homeschooled students, but this year those students are high schoolers studying biology.  Some of the middle schoolers who studied field biology with me last year are continuing with this year’s high school class.  Other students are new to me with this class. It is a delight and a privilege to work with these students.  As we delve more deeply into our study of living things, I am noticing as I did last year, that there are certain qualities among my CM educated students that set them apart, certain aptitudes that seem to be more developed among those students than among those that have not received a CM early education.  So, I’d like to share with those of you who have younger children, in particular, a few observations about how growing up and learning Charlotte Mason style helps to prepare children for later science studies. First, let’s …

A Few Thoughts on Habits by Carroll Smith

Habits, when done correctly, offer us sustainability in life. Once I was in a school that, in my opinion, viewed the habits that Mason spoke of in her works as rules and a new form of legalism.  At this school sometimes it felt like habits were more important than the content children should learn or even the children themselves.  I have mentioned this before somewhere else and here I come around to it again, this time with additional thoughts. Mason in the fall of 1922, at the end of her life, wrote to Henrietta Franklin that she still believed that her ideas about education were true except that she would emphasize habits less and the mind of the child more.  Her years of experience had taught her some lessons about the teaching of children and their learning processes as well as something as seemingly insignificant as habits.  Go figure, habits?  Are you kidding me?  What do habits have to do with education?  Age which had given her the advantage of reflecting on six decades of …

Shared Culture and Citizenship by Timothy Laurio and Hannah Hoyt

The perspective of two graduated Ambleside Online students, happily engaged, both currently studying abroad in Europe. (All page numbers refer to A Philosophy of Education.) The two of us started reading through Volume 6 together this summer, the first time for us both. We didn’t get very far; life, especially the part called School, caught up with us. One thing that struck us in what we did read, though, was that amid all the talk about narration, nature study, furnishing the mind with ideas, and forming a habit of attention, Charlotte keeps bringing up the idea of citizenship. We were surprised at how visionary she was. She was not thinking just about teaching the material, or even of helping students to form relationships with their studies—though that is important—but about how to shape great men and women to make the world a better place. She wanted to educate people of character who would help to create a healthy society: people who could be leaders and servants for their fellows, people who would be knit by …

The Difference by Dr. Cindy Swicegood

For several years now I have been dabbling in the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason, helping with the annual conference at Gardner-Webb University, implementing an idea or two of Mason’s into my homeschooling.  This school year (Thanks to Carroll Smith for inviting me to pilot a new curriculum.)  I have actually been “doing” Charlotte Mason.  What a difference her philosophy has made in my life! I have two speeds: go and stop; all-out passionate and Sabbath restful; intense and relaxed.  Many people would describe me as a disciplined person—and that I am, in many respects.  However, until I met Charlotte Mason, that discipline was used in isolated situations; it was not an integral thread through all of my life. I am a pianist.  I am a basketball player.  I am a photographer.  When I have a project or specific goal before me, I am well able to work toward that goal fairly relentlessly.  I work hard.  I practice the piano diligently and can do so for hours (because, intuitively, I focus on one small section …