Month: February 2013

Meeting Mason: Baptism Into Relational Education by Kara M. Stalter

  From the waters of fantasy to nonfiction, I made the Cathartic leap from a college graduate in May with a B.A. in history and certifications in early childhood, elementary, and middle school math to that of a professional teacher a few days before Gillingham Charter School commenced for its 2012-2013 school year.  With an exuberant, “Yes!” to the invitation to teach middle school math and Title I reading and math, I could not be prepared for just how special the experience would be.  It was an irrevocable baptism into Charlotte Mason’s relational education of which I knew nothing.  Even as a child homeschooled from kindergarten through sixth grade, I marvel that I had never been knowingly exposed to Mason’s philosophies prior to accepting this teaching opportunity. My earliest aspiration as a pre-school child was not to be a teacher but a “lollipop lady” to give lollipops away to children in need.  Prior to igniting the passion to be a teacher, I imagined myself as a Russian fugitive during World War II, world-traveling explorer and …

Reflections on Observation, Farm Life, and Technology by Carroll Smith

According to Mason, children have a high capacity for observation and a natural propensity for details.  She told the story of the father and son who, immediately after passing a store window, would take out a pad of paper and pencil and write down all the things they remembered seeing in the window.  The father could get up to about thirty and the young son could get up to forty.  She seemed to believe that children have a natural ability for observation and details that can become lost over time. As children grow and build life habits of careful, consistent, and intentional observation, they take in and appreciate fully what is around them.  This enables them to carry the beauty of those moments to nourish them for a lifetime.  Mason said in Home Education (p. 47), “The miserable thing about the childish recollections of most persons is that they are blurred, distorted, incomplete, no more pleasant to look upon than a fractured cup or a torn garment; and the reason is, not that the old …

Wendell Berry and Education On a Human Scale by Dr. Jennifer Spencer

I believe in love at first sight.  And well I should, considering that I met my husband on a blind date twenty-one years ago last week and we have been inseparable ever since!  But today I have a new love–an incident of “love at first read”–in Wendell Berry.  I have heard people talk about Mr. Berry for years, but I had not gotten around to reading any of his work until a few days ago, when I walked out of the library with an armload of books to preview for Willow Tree’s developing high school reading list.  One of the books was Berry’s What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth.  I checked it out thinking that it was, well, a book on economics, in the hope that I had found a living book on that subject.  A living economics book, indeed it is.  But what I did not expect was for the ideas to sweep me off my feet the way they did. For those who are unfamiliar with Berry’s work, he is a farmer, a …