Month: September 2013

Gillingham, Granting Children Access by Christie Werkheiser

This morning when I awoke, the sky was a mist of gentle gloriousness; a peachy haze with edges of fiery lavender that barely concealed the sun.  It burned with a refreshingly, cool intensity and rested on the mountains in the distance, softly anointing the trees at the horizon…another way of expressing this idea would simply be…it was a lovely sunrise today.  What a disservice this would be to the extravagant beauty presented to me. One of the aspects of Relational Education that I have come to appreciate the most is the idea of close observation.  In my mind this concept defines the difference between “wolfing down” a scrumptious dessert and savoring every bite. Noted in An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education, “There is a series of small triumphs to be observed any day of the week, and these same triumphs are brought about by dramatic display, so ingenious, pleasing, fascinating….” Charlotte Mason. As one of the Administrators of Gillingham Charter School, my role includes much of the first contact with perspective parents and students.  Reasons …

Good Behavior VS. Good Character: A Redemption Story by Dr. Jennifer Spencer

Many of you know that, in my B.C. (Before Charlotte) years, I was trained as a public school educator, and I taught kindergarten and then second grade at a local elementary school. I was terrible. No, really, I was not good. I was so bad that I should thank my former principal for keeping me around so long. I don’t know that I would have re-hired that person. I think my early failure may have been because, as an idealistic person, I went into the profession with an unrealistic vision of what days would be like–about how exhausting it is to give all of yourself every minute of every day to a seemingly unmanageable number of children who aren’t really all that concerned if you are tired or if you haven’t had your morning coffee. I learned a new word that first year: ubiquitous. I remembered it because I associated it with my students. They really did seem to be everywhere at once.  It didn’t help that the curriculum was boring and I was required …

Creating a Mason Atmosphere on a Dime by Carroll Smith

Education as an atmosphere is one of Mason’s fundamental pillars for education.  What are the components of education as an atmosphere?  There are two broad categories in my mind:  Spiritual and Physical.  What do I mean? Mason used the word spiritual to describe all that is not corporeal or physical.  Her definition involved concepts of the mind.  In fact she says, “By spiritual I mean that which is not corporeal; and which, for convenience’ sake, we call by various names–the life of thought, the life of feeling, the life of the soul” (Mason, 1953, p. 168).  What might be some examples of spiritual atmosphere in the classroom:  1) relationships, 2) respect, 3) attitudes, 4) dispositions, 5) creative ideas, and many others?  These are not elements you can put your hands on.  These are concepts of the mind and can only be conveyed by persons.  In considering these spiritual components of the classroom the question is:  Does the classroom have an atmosphere of working together, supporting one another, developing habits, developing relationships and others?  These are …

A Handy Boys Lego Club: A Somewhat Surreptitious Attempt at Handicrafts With Boys by Jeannette Tulis

Ok, I admit it. Charlotte may not have approved. After all she encouraged us to inspire with admiration, hope and love. I do not see subterfuge and baiting on that list. But one does what one must do. For many years I have led or helped to lead workshops on handicrafts at the ChildlightUSA Conference (now known as the Charlotte Mason Institute Conference). And now, another confession is in order. I was quite faithful to include handicrafts in my daughter’s lessons. But my track record was less than stellar with my three younger children, all boys. My daughter took to handicrafts like a duck to water. To encourage her I even started a little club of girls near her age. We called it Hearts and Hands and combined teaching a serious handicraft with a Bible study on Christian character. It was a lovely group which met for several years and my daughter and many of her friends learned how to embroider, knit, crochet, quilt, hand sew—all skills which have stood her in good stead in …