Month: November 2014

The Steadfast Heart by Liz Cottrill

Thirty years ago, I embarked on the  homeschooling journey. I now compare it to attempting to cross an ocean in a rowboat with one oar and no compass. At the time, I thought a good education meant working through the best curriculum and covering “all” the right subjects. Thankfully a friend introduced me to Charlotte Mason fairly early on and I discovered a different approach to learning. Using living books, narration, and nature study opened my eyes to new ideas about education. But was I “doing it” correctly, were these things enough? Questions and doubts constantly assailed me. It took time for her philosophy to become clearer. Changing to an entirely different perspective on education is a process, and sometimes a slow one in which the teacher becomes the student. The questions and uncertainties I had along the way echo back to me from the hearts of younger mothers who share their fears with me to this day. I can only encourage them that I did not begin to overcome these insecurities until the year I began to read Mason’s own words in …

Postmodern Polymaths: A Charlotte Mason Perspective on Specialization vs. Generalization by Timothy Laurio

We no longer ask ourselves whether it is better to learn a few subjects ‘thoroughly,’ so we say, or to get a ‘smattering’ of many. These questions are beside the mark.—School Education, 75 During my teen years I had several discussions with my parents about the virtues of specialization versus generalization. Should you focus on one or two subjects until you are extremely good at them, or should you emphasize broad knowledge of many things? At first the discussions were just theoretical, but as I came closer to graduating, and having to choose a major and a career, they became increasingly urgent. In the end, I only half reached a conclusion, and the question still stands. Charlotte Mason, of course, believed that it was unhealthy to study only a single subject: she said that “specialisation . . . is to be deprecated” (Philosophy of Education, 53) and crafted her method to give students a rich, wide-ranging education. The result, at least among the Mason alumni that I know, is obvious. They have a plethora of …