This page is my own notes as I study the original Charlotte Mason Home Schooling Series using Penny Gardner's "Charlotte Mason Study Guide" as an outline. There is nothing official about these notes, and I welcome comments and suggestions.
There are 20 Topics (chapters in the Guide, plus the Introduction and
an appendix with sample Narration. Many overlap - for example, #3, Child-Rearing
and Discipline, may easily be considered to be a continuation from #2,
The Child and Rights, and an introduction to #4, Habits.
Here is a quick shortcut to each Topic:
Woman of Wisdom, The Child, Discipline, Habits & Character, Motto of Education & Reforms, Ideas, Relations, Attention, Narration, The Will, The Reason, Goals, Religion, The 3 R's, Geography & History, The Arts, Masterly Inactivity, Outdoor Education, Nature Study & Notebooks, Method and Philosophy of Education, Useful Links, Twenty Questions, A Charlotte Mason Education, Book Review, Hints on Child Training, Book Review, For the Children's Sake, Book Review, , , ,
Here is the ordering information for the books I refer to if you need them:
"The Charlotte Mason Study Guide" by Penny Gardner.
Here is a link for ordering the Series from Amazon.com: The Original Home Schooling Series by Charlotte Mason.
Here is a link for ordering A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison. Subject by subject, how to implement the CM method. This book is reviewed in Topic #1, week #1.
Another often-quoted resource is the book "The Story of Charlotte Mason", by Essex Cholmondeley. This book is long out of print (but still under copyright) and you will have to search the used-book sites for a copy. I have placed a few quotes that I refer to HERE.
Introduction/ Topic #1
pages vii - 17
Readings suggested: CM's own Synopsis of 18 Principles, found in the Preface of each volume of the Series. Vol 2, p 127; Vol 3, p 170; Vol 4, p 32. Volume 6 has 20(!).
Quoting Penny Gardner's Introduction, on page vii: "The goal of this book is to break down and condense Miss Mason's books into easy to study chunks, making her set less overwhelming and intimidating. This guide is intended as a starting point and an introduction to her profound educational ideas."
The goal of this study will be similar. Miss Mason's books are thick, they are challenging to the mind. She intended them to be thought-provoking. She did not dictate how to teach, or what to teach. Instead she set out guidelines. Her first book of what became her Series was the result of a series of lectures she gave. Indeed, it consisted of her lecture notes, and was a best-seller. Her final book of the set bore the intriguing title "An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education". I like that - it's so unassuming, yet so typical. Charlotte Mason did not declare her ideas to be perfect or complete. She set out stimulating Ideas, and waited to see what you thought. She guided, rather than handing you a complete concept. Isn't this the way we want to teach our children? We want to hand them stimulation for the mind, present great Ideas, and let them tell us the portion that reaches their souls.
Have you considered what great Ideas you wish your children exposed to? How are you going to present them?
The Introduction to each of the six volumes includes 18 Principles, which Charlotte Mason considered to be the heart of her developing philosophy. These 18 (below) are titled "A Short Synopsis". If you are endeavoring to apply these 18 Principles in your home, you may be said to be giving your children a Charlotte Mason Education. The exact books, curriculum, and arrangement of your schedule is up to you. There is no set curriculum or program. There are sample schedules from the old PNEU Parent's Review magazine, yet they are clearly labeled as samples. The schedule and booklists changed regularly, deliberately, to stimulate both child and teacher. Therefor, the Principles are what we need to examine.
The first 4 begin with a discussion of the Child as being a Person, born complete. We might not consider this such a revelation, but in Charlotte's day it was unheard-of. Yet every mother knows her child is an individual- some are calm, some alert, and so on. Charlotte Mason decided this individuality was to be cherished, and decided we have only three permissible tools for education: Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, and a Life. Most of the rest of her books discuss the application of these three great concepts, and we will examine specifics in these Topics. The final three concepts embodied in the Principles are: Education is the Science of Relations, The Way of the Will, and The Way of Reason. We will return to examining these in Topics #7, #10, and #11.
How do you cherish your child's individuality and yet pursue a Plan of education? Tell us some of the ways you individualize your programs. How do you adapt a packaged curriculum, or enrich a Unit Study to utilize your child's abilities? I want specifics here! Does child #1 write the family newsletter, while child #2 researches Genealogy? Tell us!
In "Straight from the Horse's Mouth" we have a visit with CM, using passages from "The Story of Charlotte Mason" by Essex Cholmondeley. This selection shows us how she loved Nature and her horse, choosing to travel by carriage rather than car. Her love for horses shows throughout her Series, where she often uses "horsy" proverbs to suggest practical ways of how to teach. Here is a quote from "The Story of Charlotte Mason" p175: "The children always pay absolute attention, nothing need ever be repeated, no former work is revised; they are always progressing, never retracing their steps, never going round and round like a horse in a mill... Therefor the current textbooks of the schoolroom must needs be scrapped and replaced by *literature*, that is, by books into the writing of which the author has put his *heart*, as well as a highly trained mind."
Our textbooks of today are almost all on a Spiral plan, where the children briefly meet a concept this year and every year. Math texts spend the first months of every year reviewing concepts the child should have learned years ago. I am not talking here of lessons including a few review problems. Neither does this quote mean that a child's mistakes should not be corrected- in the proper course. Do not "kill" an excited narration by insisting on precise details, nor in correcting grammer. In Math class insist on correct work, in Spelling and Dictation practice correct spelling. The textbooks assume that the child will forget. Charlotte Mason said that if we reached the child with living Ideas, they would never forget. Details, perhaps, but Ideas reach the heart. She was much more concerned that a child learn to THINK.
Encourage us here- give us some examples where your child demonstrates
an Idea has reached their heart, and that they have used this Idea as they
In "Twenty Questions" Penny Gardner has taken some common questions
about Charlotte Mason and her methods. This seems a good time to collect
questions from you. What questions do you have about CM? I don't promise
to have the answers, but we can examine them together. I will also attempt
to focus on them as we go through the Series. Send them in! There is no
such thing as a dumb question. (There are some dumb answers.)
And finally, a review of Catherine Levison's book "A Charlotte Mason Education: A How-to Manual". We will be using this book as well. While Penny Gardner examines the CM Philosophy through the Series, Catherine Levison has attempted to collect the applications of that philosophy in the common subject areas. Neither book is "better", they compliment each other beautifully! If you have not purchased either, and are looking for some specific suggestions as to HOW to implement CM in your home, you may want to obtain Catherine Levison's book. If you ask me specific "how" questions, this is a likely source for my answers.
Debi has posted her notes from a seminar with Catherine Levison, which
you may wish to examine:
Charlotte Mason Seminar Notes
"I recently attended a seminar lead by Catherine Levison. These are my notes from the meeting. Mrs. Levison is such a wonderful fount of CM-related information. If you haven't read her book yet these seminar notes might just whet your appetite for a bit more of her knowledge and expertise!"
Since I was asked, here are the 18 Principles (which expand to 20 by Volume 6):
I will type the 18 out here for anyone who needs them, because they are basic, but I can't type every quote and passage from the books. I hope you are able to beg, buy, or borrow a copy of the Series for yourself as soon as possible. There is so much to learn! Many of the Topics for this Study will be entirely quotes from the Series. They are in the Study Guide, so if you can't get the Series at this time do try to get the Guide. From the Preface to Volume 4 (which happened to be the top one on my stack): 1) Children are born *persons*. 2) They are not born either good or bad, but with possibilities for good and evil. 3) The principles of authority on the one hand and obedience on the other, are natural, necessary and fundamental; but - 4) These principles are limited by the respect due to the personality of children, which must not be encroached upon, whether by fear or love, suggestion or influence, or undue play upon any one natural desire. 5) Therefor we are limited to three educational instruments - the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit, and the presentation of living ideas. 6) By the saying, EDUCATION IS AN ATMOSPHERE, it is not meant that a child should be isolated in what may be called "a child environment," especially adapted and prepared ; but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live naturally among his natural conditions. It stultifies a child to bring down his world to the 'child's' level. 7) By EDUCATION IS A DISCIPLINE, is meant the discipline of habits formed definitely and thoughtfully, whether habits of mind or body. Physiologists tell us of the adaptation of brain structure to habitual lines of thought - i.e., to our habits. 8) In saying that EDUCATION IS A LIFE, the need of intellectual and moral as well as physical sustenance is implied. The mind feeds on ideas, and therefor children should have a generous curriculum. 9) But the mind is not a receptacle into which ideas must be dropped, each idea adding to an 'apperception mass' of it's like, the theory upon which the Herbartian doctrine of interest rests. (see pages 58-61 in Volume 3, School Education) 10) On the contrary, a child's mind is no mere sac to hold ideas ; but is rather, if the figure may be allowed, a spiritual organism, with an appetite for all knowledge. This is it's proper diet, with which it is prepared to deal, and which it can digest and assimilate as the body does foodstuffs. 11) This difference is not a verbal quibble. The Herbartian doctrine lays the stress of education - the preparation of knowledge in enticing morsels, presented in due order - upon the teacher. Children taught upon this principle are in danger of receiving much teaching with little knowledge ; and the teacher's axiom is, "What a child learns matters less than how he learns it." 12) But, believing that the normal child has powers of mind that fit him to deal with all knowledge proper to him, we must give him a full and generous curriculum ; taking care, only, that the knowledge offered to him is vital - that is, that facts are not presented without their informing ideas. out of this conception comes the principle that - 13) EDUCATION IS THE SCIENCE OF RELATIONS ; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts : so we must train him upon physical exercises, nature, handicrafts, science and art, and upon *many living* books ; for we know that our business is, not to teach him all about anything, but to help him make as valid as many as my be of - 'Those first-born affinities That fit our new existence to existing things.' 14) There are also two secrets of moral and intellectual self-management which should be offered to children ; these we may call the Way of the Will and the Way of the Reason. 15) *The Way of the Will*. - Children should be taught - (a) To distinguish between 'I want" and 'I will'. (b) that the way to will effectively is to turn our thoughts from that which we desire but do not will. c) That the best way to turn our thoughts is to think of or do some quite different thing, entertaining or interesting. (d) That, after a little rest in this way, the will returns to it's work with new vigour. (This adjunct of the will is familiar to us as *diversion*, whose office it is to ease us for a time from will effort, that we may 'will' again with added power. The use of suggestion, even self-suggestion - as an aid to the will, is to be depreciated, as tending to stultify and stereotype character. It would seem spontaneity is a condition of development, and that human nature needs the discipline of failure as well as success.) 16) *The Way of the Reason* - We should teach children, too, not to 'lean' (too confidently) 'unto their own understanding,' because the function of reason is, to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth ; and (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case reason is, perhaps, an infallible guide, but in the second it is not always a safe one ; for whether that initial idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs. 17) Therefor children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching, that the chief responsibility which rests upon them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of initial ideas. To help them in this choice we should give them principles of conduct and a wide range of the knowledge fitted for them. These three principles (15, 16, & 17) should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need. 18) We should allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children ; but should teach them that the divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their continual helper in all the interests, duties, and joys of life. [personal note - the exact wording varies a little, and Volume 6 numbers 20 Principles]
Specific quotes taken from: Vol. 1, ps 12, 20; Vol. 3, ps. 36, 65, 172, & 223-224.
Extra-Credit question: Compare and/or Contrast CM Children's Rights with those in
The UN/UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child
Jots' N Tittles A Pastor's private response to the Convention.
Almost unique for her time, Charlotte Mason believed that children are persons. One of the first things she teaches, on page 12 of Volume 1, is a synopsis of how to teach based on the words of Christ. Her condensation runs: "Take heed that ye OFFEND not - DESPISE not - HINDER not - one of these little ones." She continues on this concept for the rest of the section, on page 20 she says "The mischief lies in that same foolish undervaluing of the children, in the notion that the child can have no spiritual life until it pleases his elders to kindle the flame." In volume 2 on page 260 she says "A child is a person in whom all possibilities are present - present now at this very moment - not to be educed after years and efforts manifold on the part of the educator." She gives us "An Adequate Doctrine" on page 65 of Vol. 3, saying "The person of the child is sacred to us; we do not swamp his individuality in his intelligence, in his conscience, or even in his soul,...." On page 172 she gives us a look at "Children As They Are"; "...with intelligence more acute, logic more keen, ... in fact, in all points like as we are, only more so; but absolutely ignorant of the world and its belongings...." Finally, on pages 223-224 of vol. 3, she talks about the idea of the "child-mind", which concept was popular in her day, and comes down firmly AGAINST it's existence, saying in part "Nor should knowledge be ... diluted, but offered to the child with some substance in it and some vitality."
Charlotte believed these things so firmly that she proposed something unheard-of for her time (when children and often women were considered chattels, or property). She proposed a selection of Rights for Children. Here are 9 of her suggestions, from Vol. 3 p. 36-43:
1) Children should be free in their play.
2) Organized Games are not play. (let them use their imaginations)
3) Personal Initiative in Work. (give them time for their own projects)
4) Children must stand or fall by their own Efforts. (allow children to fail)
5) Boys and Girls are generally Dutiful (following #4, allowing them to learn to develop personal volition)
6) Children should choose their own friends (after training in general principles of conduct and character, give them confidence)
7) Should be free to spend their own Pocket-Money (after training, trust them)
8) Should form their own Opinions (carefully. We teach living principles, not opinions.)
9) Spontaneity. ("In so far that it is a grace, it is the result of training, - of pleasant talks upon the general principles of conduct, and wise 'letting alone' as to the practice of these principles.")
Now do notice that none of these suggestions stands alone. For example, number 1. Charlotte believed in free play under supervision, such as in the yard with a box of props and dress-up clothes, or taken to the park where mother reads quietly on a bench or plays with the children. What she is saying here is the difference between sandlot ball and Little League. (Which has a place, but is a different place.) For number 6, remember that this is a time when upper-class children knew not to speak to children to whom they had not been "introduced" socially. This had a lot to do with the idea of a child being born "good" or "bad" by their class, which we discussed before. Charlotte did not support this idea - she says we should teach the children, then trust them to apply the principles. If the washerwoman's child and the Princess have a mutual love of painting, let them be friends if they so desired!
So, tell me what you think about Children's Rights, and the personhood of children. To my examination, CM Children's Rights are granted upon the mastery and exercising of principles. Freedom is within protected boundaries, not a right of birth. A Right is much the same as Authority, and with Authority comes Responsibility and often Accountability.
"Hints on Child Training" by Trumbull (book review)
Mr. Trumbull was an American, who lived at about the same time Charlotte Mason did and clearly practiced much of the same philosophy. His collected, Grandfatherly advice is still as practical as ever. His book is back in print and is well worth reading!
Study guide pgs 22-30
Suggested Reading: Series Vol. 1; Vol. 2, Chapters II, XVI; Vol. 3,
Chapters I. II, III; Vol 6, Chapter IV
A Charlotte Mason Education, "The Formation of Habit", pgs 73-77
Educating the Whole-Hearted Child, Chapter 2, pages 27- 29 "Heartbeat #2"
Charlotte Mason Companion, Chapters 7, 9, 10, 11
There is always a lot of discussion on discipline. Charlotte Mason was a VERY gentle person, and recommended talking to the child and convincing them of error. They were to be convinced and their will strengthened to do what ought to be done by their own choice. Younger children were to be distracted from troublesome behavior, and extra attention was to be paid by the mother to instill a new good habit of behavior. Chastisement may be necessary, but it is never a complete solution.
Most of Volume 1 of the Series deals with basic training, which certainly includes both Child-Rearing and Discipline. Large sections of this are Positive; that is, they help us learn how to instill the Habits that Charlotte Mason believes will aid our children to discipline themselves.
Penny Gardner says, "With young children, you can change their habits almost without their notice. With the older child, 'You can only aid and abet; give the impulse; the training he must do for himself... The child must train himself, and the parent must feed him with motives.' Discuss the problem with the child but the child must improve himself." (quotes Series, vol 1, p 96)
Now, I have been having a great deal of trouble with discipline in my own home this Spring. I am quite certain that it is because we have been studying Discipline. We covered it a few months ago in the "Educating the whole Hearted Child" study, and here we are again. For the last few weeks my child-training has been challenged at every turn. I am certain that it is old smutty-face at work, testing my determination to use this method. We have in the past used some others, none of which worked very well and none of which are suitable for older children. Now my children are taller, stronger, and faster than I am. While I might with difficulty be able to force my will, I am not interested in that. I want my children to do what is right because it is Right, by their own Will instead of by mine. I find the hardest part is to explain what they need to do and why, and then stand back and allow Natural Consequences. To a great degree, this is a continuation of the discussion of Authority and Responsibility in Topic #2.
I am not talking here about keeping a baby's fingers away from a fire
- that's a given! Parents must protect children from actual harm! I am
talking about allowing teens to handle their own pocket-money, including
refusing to give them any more. I am talking about requiring manners, teaching
them how to treat friends, and how to respond to authority. While all of
these have been covered in childhood, teens have reached the point where
they must choose to do right.
What are some ways you encourage teens to choose Right, even if it isn't fun; to consider long-term results?
Here are some sites I found while looking up discipline:
Charlotte did use the word 'punish', although certainly not suggesting we "put an end to" our children. For example in Vol 1, pg 66, on "Education is a Discipline" ; education should " deal curatively and methodically with every flaw in character... Discipline is not punishment.". On pg 172, "the need for punishment is mostly preventable..."..."not drastic enough to cure the child of the offense. Instead, we need to find that weak place in character, [that] false habit of thinking". So, for discussion, please tell us some creative ways you have found to train your children into the habits that will serve them for a lifetime. Be sure to specify the ages and the specific behavior you were working on. Don't name the child, but it might be useful to know if you were dealing with extra needs, such as ADHD.
Here is some of the discussion from our list, including specific Q&A.
> Hi all, > THis topic comes at a very appropriate time, as I have been having > problems with my recently adopted 13 year old daughter. > Most of my past discipline has been based on behavior modification > techniques and not at all with reasoning with the child. Our daughter comes > from a very abusive background, and has lots of resulting problems. She had no > good examples as she grew. Now I am basically starting from scratch with her. Hi Louise, Blessings on you for loving this child enough to adopt her! I totally agree with you about "Teenager stuff seems so much harder!!! " I am reminded here of the fact that we are all adopted as well - adopted into the family of God. And, I suspect, we are incredibly troublesome! Isn't it wonderful to know we are loved even when we are such a mess? Now, Donna asked and I was going to comment on the ages. I confess, I copied the paragraph above completely from Penny Gardener's book without checking the page reference. I have gone back and read the chapter, and cannot find the exact CM quote she uses. It is certainly not on page 96, though it is consistent with the chapter. So, let me interpret the chapter a little. This chapter is on how she developed the line "Habit is ten natures", which is from a sermon she heard. The more she thought on it, the more she realized it was true. Nature is what you are born with, abilities, tendencies, health. Most people simply follow that Nature. But Charlotte Mason decided that Nature must be guided, and Habit is the tool. (Habit is next week's Topic, so I will only touch it here.) Now, a young child to CM was a pre-school child. But, pre-school to her was a little older than we think of today. Volume one is the training of children under Nine - preschool. While this is the age of learning to read and write, it is still the age of greater freedom. Short lessons, lots of play. This is the age where a child is easy to guide with a suggestion. Establishing a habit can be as easy as a few moments attention to training and reminding. (Psalm 32: 8), being guided by a look. Donna's child is leaving this age, but is probably still very malleable. Children who have begun well will be easier to continue to work with. Now, older children are something else (as we have all noticed!). In CM, these are the children who have begun journaling and essay work - about age ten. I am interested here in the comparison to the Classic Trivium and Quadrivium, because this is the age where children in those programs begin learning logic and debate. I taught my dd the rules of logic and debate at this age, and she took to it like a duck. And, these are the children who must have everything explained to them. They don't seem capable of doing it because mama said to. At this point, you can only give the impulse. The child must make their own decision to correct the behavior. Now, once the decision is made mama may help with gentle reminders, but you are only a friend and helper in this. You are assisting the child to train themselves. This is more like (Psalm 32:9), having to be guided by bit and bridle. Now, let me see how this applies to this particular girl-child. Poor thing, she has a bad beginning and will have to learn to trust your love. Win her heart, and the rest will follow. She is too old to simply say "do this and do that", which a little one will do out of trust. There is absolutely nothing the matter with using behavior modification techniques to help her - but you must explain to her what you are doing. For example, "Honey, we talked about you learning to speak politely and I know you are trying. So, I will use these tickets to help you remember. I will give you one with a smile when I hear you doing it right when I know it is hard." Be consistent on your part, and soon the smile will be the reward! The bit and bridle are needed for the training, yet your goal is the guiding by eye. Soon she will need no guidance, because the training will be in her heart. She will see with your eye, or better yet with Christ's. While I am sure you see many areas where this girl needs help, it would be best if you pick out only one or two at a time to work on! Tell her this is what you are doing, and attempt to secure her cooperation. If you cannot secure her cooperation in a certain area, lay down hard rules (a curb bit), and go work in another area. Topic #4 will discuss forming and correcting habits. Pick something very basic. From your post, I could suggest working on temper control and practicing acceptable ways to disagree. Her self-esteem will soar once she begins to see that she can accomplish. I would pick an area of her talent and push it, along with working on regular schoolwork. For example, if she is artistically gifted get her some training. Considering her age, you are probably coping with hormones as well as background. Do not back off, do not allow her to practice bad habits such as laziness. Keep her busy. from Lynn H
Charlotte Mason Companion
Chapter 6...The Atmosphere of the Home Chapter 7...Bickerings Chapter 8...A Page from my Journal Chapter 9...The Happiness of Habit Chapter 10...The Way of the Will Chapter 11...Inconstant Kitty Chapter 36...Magnanimity and Enthusiasm Chapter 44...School Motto Chapter 45...A New Grading Method: Motivation by Admiration, Hope, and Love In Wisdom's Way of Learning By Marilyn Howshall read... Chapter 7...Biblical S.A.T.'s Chapter 8...The Process and Product of Learning Chapter 9...The Three-Stage Learning Process Chapter 10...The Heart of the Learning Process/Seven Natural Vital Signs Extra Reading... For the Children's Sake By Susan Schaeffer Macaulay pp. 148-158; 12-58. "Learning Styles...Understanding Your Child" from Educating the Whole Hearted Child By Clay and Sally Clarkson pp. 141-155 A Charlotte Mason Education By Catherine Levison pp. 73-83. Charlotte Mason Study Guide By Penny Gardner pp. 18-37; 136-138. Extra Reading from The Parent's Review... Sp. 91...The Happiness of Habit By Karen Andreola Sp. 91...Jessie and Kitty Sp. 92...The Happiness of Habit By Karen Andreola WI. 92...Jessie Writes Kitty WI. 92...Children in the House-Some of the Problems By A Parent WI.92...A Wise Prayer-Conscience and Conduct Sum. 92...Sisters By Mrs. R. Devonshire Sum. 92...I am, I can, I Ought, I Will...By E. Kitching Sum. 92...Truthfulness By Mrs. Bowen Colthurst Sum. 92...Disobedient Children By Helena M. Shewell Fall 92...How to Combat Selfishness in Children By Mrs. Meyrick Heath Fall 92...The Five Senses Win 92/93...Bedtime Terrors...Helena M. Shewell Sum. 93...The Moral Value of Stories...By Terry Glaspey Fall 93...Please and Thank You...By Ven. Basil T. Guy Fall 93..."Choosings" or "Forcings" By Helena M. Shewell Win. 93/94...The Instinct of Curiosity By Miss Brown Smith Win. 93/94...Great Aunt Miranda's Rules of Etiquette By Karen Andreola Sp. 94...Inconstant Kitty By Karen Andreola Sum. 94...A Visit with Great Aunt Miranda By Karen Andreola Fall 94...Television Amputation-Dad Learns to Read to the Kids By Dean Andreola Fall 94...Making Mealtimes a Memory By Sally Clarkson Win. 94/95...Formation of Habit By Helen Webb Fall 95...Gratitude By Stella Morton Fall 95...Admiration, Hope, and Love in Education By Karen Andreola Fall 95...Obedience-Why Must I? By Helena Shewell Fall 95...Real Courtesy Instead of "Put On" Manners By Karen Andreola Win 95/96...Gladness By Charlotte Mason Win 95/96...Common Sense By Mrs. M. Wolryche-Whitmore Sp. 96...Thursday's Child By Essex Cholmondeley Sum. 96...How Should a Christian Student Prepare for the SAT By James P. Stobaugh Sum. 96...Pity By Charlotte Mason Sum. 96...The Cultivation of the Imagination in Children By H. Lloyd Parry Fall 96...Gifts My Mother Gave Me By Jeanette Webb Win. 96...The Atmosphere of Home By M.F. Jerrod Win. 96...From a Schoolmaster's Standpoint By A.F. KitchingHabit is the tool that Charlotte Mason says will free both the child and the parent. In Topic #3 we read the phrase that caught her mind from a sermon, "Habit is ten Natures." This sermon quote, and the train of thought that it evoked, are in Series Volume I, the chapter which begins on page 96.
Habits in young children are relatively easy to form, and to break. Steady attention from the mother for a few weeks is all that is needed. Teach the child what to do, such as to shut the door carefully. Then provide opportunity for this to be done- and do not allow them to forget. Do not remind them in words, but do call them back and make sure the desired action is performed properly. ("Stop dear, what did you forget?", and possibly some narration from them of your instructions to make sure they were understood.) Don't forget lots of praise and recognition at appropriate times! After about 6 weeks a habit may be considered installed - but this is also the dangerous time! Allow the child to forget just once at this point, and you will have to begin again.
Breaking a bad habit is harder! In a young child you need to remove them from the situation for about 6 weeks. If they were slamming doors, for example, they should not handle a door. (This could get interesting.) Some appropriate discipline might also be required - the best I ever saw for this situation was to require an elaborate apology to the door! After about six weeks you need to substitute a positive habit, practicing it until it is thoroughly understood. Then you enter the training period - arranging occasions for the positive habit to be practiced. Perhaps Junior, who has now learned not to slam the door, can be trained to open and hold all doors for everyone? And then, to close them quietly? During this time you do not tell him what to do, you do not name the thing; you simply call his attention to the situation. For example, if he runs out leaving the door swinging, call him back and say something like "I promised to remind you."
Older children are harder, both in instilling new habits and in correcting poor ones they may have fallen into. In these cases the mother can no longer make changes without the child's cooperation. A child who has been properly trained from the beginning will be easier to correct, but correcting or instilling habits in all older children will require their aware cooperation. You can curb activities, restrict contacts, use behavior modification. None of these will be effective for true change without the child's cooperation. You become your child's ally, their friend in training. Discuss what needs improvement, find the flaw in character that is causing the undesired behavior, and work on it together. Once you have decided together on a course of action, you do not mention the fault! Instead, you catch their attention, call them to awareness, say things like "I promised to remind you." The basic pattern remains the same as training the small child, but now the child is training themself.
Charlotte Mason thought Habits are a useful tool for life. She thought
that about twenty habits should be deliberately developed from infancy
regardless of the child's nature and natural inclinations. Penny Gardner
lists some of these as:
obedience, sense of honor, cleanliness, order, neatness, regularity, manners, punctuality, attention, perfect execution, truthfulness, Sweet Temper, personal Initiative, physical training, self-restraint, self-control, Local Habits (meaning habits are not localized, they should be equally followed at home and away), quick perception of detail, fortitude, Sweet Thoughts, and "Stimulating Ideas" (Vol. 1, pg 110- a habit becomes morally binding in proportion to the inspiring power of the idea which underlies it.)
From Vol. 1, pg 134; "the education of habit is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way and grow to fruitful purpose." I believe this is a useful summing of this section - that our goal in developing habits is to be able to release the child knowing that they will do right. We can be "Masterly Inactive", allowing free play and other activities, because we know the proper principles will be followed. So, tell us some ways you have instilled proper habits in your children - either in young ones, or correcting character flaws in older children with their cooperation. Details here, please, but do not name the child! You may choose an example from the list above, or give an example of your own.
There are actually three Charlotte Mason Mottos. One is for the Ambleside
school, one for the parents, and one is for the children. The Motto for
"Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.
From Volume 2, pages 34 - 36, Penny Gardner collects these quotes:
Ideas "are held in that thought-environment which surrounds the child as an atmosphere, which he breathes as his breath of life; and this atmosphere in which the child inspires his unconscious ideas of right living emanates from his parents."
From page 39: "Education is a life; that life is sustained on ideas;
ideas are of spiritual origin, and that we get them chiefly as we convey
them to one another. The duty of the parents is to sustain the child's
inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food." And from page
"Education is a discipline - that is, the discipline of good habits in which the child is trained. Education is a life, nourished upon ideas; and education is an atmosphere - that is, the child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives."
There are many more quotes to this effect. Do notice the essential central position of Ideas - which will be our next Topic. Meanwhile, I am interested in the concept of the atmosphere of our homes, of how we live the lives that will inspire our children. This is not idle - we WILL provide an atmosphere. Is it the one we wish? Do our children see us filling our time with good books, or watching soap operas on TV? Is our home scented with flowers, or cigarettes? Do we welcome friends for meals and discuss ideas from the sermon, or new dress patterns, or have Roast Preacher? What "Mother Culture" do we live? If Ideas are of Spiritual origin, how do we nourish that spirit? How do we convey which Ideas are important to us?
The Children's Motto is in some ways simpler.
"I am; I can; I ought; I will"
Debi has analyzed it well - the four concepts intended to daily remind the child that they are a Child of God, that they have God- Given abilities that they should use to their best, that they have duties, and choose how they live. What is more, these four ALL identify the difference between a true Charlotte Mason education and any other literature-based program. As has been mentioned on our list in the last few days, Charlotte Mason began with the Bible and shaped her plan of education to the principles she learned. Other programs develop a plan, and select Bible to support their ideas.
(And the third motto, for the teaching students at Ambleside , was the familiar "For the Children's Sake".)
Do you, or how do you, use these four concepts in your children's education? Have they heard them? Do they know them? Could they explain them to a friendly grandmother at church? Debi listed some ways she intends to include the four in her Plan for this Fall.
At this point, Penny Gardner inserts an article by Karen Andreola. It is complete, and does not seem to be included as such in the new Charlotte Mason Companion. Those of you who have both books and have had time to read more than I have may be able to tell the rest of us where to find revised comments. The article in Penny Gardner's book is titled "Charlotte Mason's Reforms".
We who have been studying CM could almost write this ourselves, though Karen Andreola has a lovely way of expressing the concepts. She leads us through the mottos, through the discussion of homework, short lessons, few textbooks and frequent changes of material - in short, through all the characteristics of what makes a CM education so delightful, so different from a "normal" school.
Now we begin Topic #6 in Penny Gardner's Study Guide of the original
Home Education Series! The topic is Living Ideas, but we will also be discussing
how to choose the living books that contain the Ideas. First, some suggested
Study Guide pages 45 - 52
A Charlotte Mason Education pg 15- 20, and booklists
CMC chapters 12, 13, 24, 36, 45, 46
Educating the Whole Hearted Child chapters 4, 5 (part 3), and 7 "
Let the Authors Speak" by Carolyn Hatcher
Series Vol. 1, Part V, Chapter I; Vol. 2, Chapter IV; Vol. 6 Introduction, Chapter I, parts of Chapter IV (pgs 104-111), Chapter VII.
Charlotte Mason believed that we have but three admissible tools for the education of a child. Those three are: "the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit, and the presentation of living ideas." (Principle # 5, found in the Preface to each volume.)
The atmosphere of environment does not mean that the child will adsorb education from the atmosphere. It means the atmosphere of your home. We discussed this a great deal in our recent study through Educating the Whole Hearted Child. That complete study can be found HERE. However, let us look at this again briefly.
Is learning easy in your home? Do the children have easy access to the materials they will need, or will the art lesson be deferred until you have time to find the paints? Are the musical instruments carefully put on the highest shelves out of danger, or are they where the children can pick them up and use them? Most important of all, what Ideas do the children see and hear? Is television such a major portion of their environment that there is no time for books? Does all school stop for two hours at noon so that mom can watch soap operas? Sundays, does the family discuss the application of the sermon to your lives, or have Roast Preacher? Is Mother more interested in the new dress than she is in the new person wearing it to church? Do their parents discuss ideas, or things and people? If mother has a few moments of personal time, does she read, talk on the phone, or watch TV? (Any of these may be all right, but which is predominant?) Is service to others important?
CM said, in Vol. 2 on pages 34 & 36, "What is an idea? A live thing of the mind... We say of an idea that it strikes us, impresses us, seizes us, takes possessions of us, rules us... To excite this appetency toward something - towards things lovely, honest, and of good report, is the earliest and most important ministry of the educator... Ideas are held in that thought-environment which surrounds the child as an atmosphere, which he breathes as his breath of life; and this atmosphere in which the child inspires his unconscious ideas of right living emanates from his parents..." (selections by Penny Gardner).
Personal reading time does set an example. What books have YOU
read this summer? What did you think of them, and what living Ideas did
you find in the ones you like? Do you keep one in the car for those moments
when you must wait? Here, I will put myself on the line. So far this Summer
I have read:
Greatly in my CM books. Let us go on;
The Teaching Home May-June 98 issue
Homeschooling Today July - August 98 issue
"C.S. Lewis Through the Shadowland", by Brian Sibley. This is a double biography of Jack and Joyce, focusing on the years they spent together. It is honest about the doubts, the fears, the personal lives that they led. I was blessed, and am motivated to go back and re-read his works. My daughter picked this up when I finished.
"Talisman", by Sir Walter Scott. This is on CM's own list recommended for History - page 67 in "A Charlotte Mason Education". Those interested in our recent discussion of "good" and "bad" could do worse than read this. Honor is all-important ; I was heartbroken at his disgrace, challenged by the purity of his love, inspired by the revelation of the strength of his vow (breaking it would have given him protection from the wrath of the King, and the right to court the hand of his Love, yet he kept it in the face of death).
"Learning In Spite of Labels" by Joyce Herzog. Very helpful. I recently attended her seminar and found her to be as formidable an intellect as Margaret Mead (also mentioned recently). The resemblance stops there - Joyce is a devout Christian, and her seminar was inspiring! Her book is written simply, how-to tips illustrated with stories of her years of teaching. I also have her "History In His Hands" and will be using it extensively this year. Her website is HERE.
"Fauna and Family" by Gerald Durrell. I happen to like Durrell, and have read or own most of his books. You won't find them on my lists because his books contain mild profanity and other vices. I would not give these to my child to read, but I consider them excellent for adults interested in natural history. Don't make a mistake and get his brother's books. "
Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austin. I confess, I am bored stiff by this one. Someone recently mentioned liking it - could you clue me in? I have been known to completely miss the point of a book, and this may be the case here.
I also read several Grace Livingston Hill novels, as I sorted them out to give to my niece. I agree, they are light reading. I found small points here and there that I disagreed with. As I read, I kept thinking "why am I reading this silly stuff?", yet I kept reading. I finally realized that I was (and am) going through a very stressful period in my life. Some days I have been unable to bear to read any of the other books I was working on (I tend to be reading several at once). The light reading was a break, a time of relaxed concentration. I even found an Idea or two - I was reading the ones set in Chataqua meetings, and was reminded of the wonderful tabernacle meetings and conventions I have attended. Good memories, almost a vacation in memory.
That isn't much of a list. I will be going to my mother's for my vacation in about a week. I always spend large chunks of my time there reading, often two books a day. Mother and I also shop every used book barn, antiques shoppe, church rummage sale, and most of the yard sales in the area during my vacations, and I come home with enough to keep me in reading for another year.
We have discussed Habit extensively recently. I will pass over it here, though the discussion from Topic # 4 may spark some appropriate comments. And last, the presentation of Living Ideas. The child sees you reading, discussing, and living out the Ideas you find. Surely they are impressed? However, no one ever learned from someone else's education (though they may be inspired by it to learn). The child must learn for themselves! CM said, (Vol. 2 page 39) "Education is a life; that life is sustained on ideas; ideas are of spiritual origin, and that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another. The duty of the parents is to sustain a child's inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food." AND Penny Gardner summarizes (page 45) "When we see a potential talent or gift in the child, we need to provide these four things : "nourishment, exercise, change, and rest."." We need to nourish the mind with Ideas, exercise talents and gifts, provide change for the sake of stimulation, and provide rest. PG supports these with more quotes.
So, I ask you : What Ideas do you consider it essential for your child to encounter? At what ages? CM is a literature-based education, where the child is allowed to spend time with whole thoughts presented in an orderly fashion. Someone recently asked what is really a frequent question around here - what to do about a child whose narration show they did not grasp everything about a passage read? Here is a lovely answer from Volume 6, pages 109-110: "Probably he will reject nine-tenths of the ideas we offer, as he makes use of only a small proportion of his bodily food, rejecting the rest." Further down the same passage: "A child cannot in mind or body live upon tabloids however scientifically prepared ; out of a whole big book he may not get more than half a dozen of those ideas upon which his spirit thrives;..." and further: "It is a case of, -'In the morning sow thy seed and in the evening withhold not thine hand for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that.'" If a child does not 'get' the idea of Honor from one book, they may yet 'get' it from another. So, please list for us a few Ideas that you wish your child to encounter. Also, please list for us a very few books suitable for presenting those Ideas, by age or subject or whatever grouping seems appropriate. Honor, for example, is examined in "Talisman", suitable for teens, yet the concept should be presented to small children. What would you choose?
from Lynn H
Education is the Science of Relations Penny Gardner Study Guide pages 53-60 The Science of Relations - essay by Jean Howery, pages 61-62 Suggested Readings: PG pages 53-62 Series Vol. 3, Chapters XVII, XVIII, XIX; Vol. 6, Introduction and Chapter I Charlotte Mason Companion Chapter 4 The 6-Lesson School Teacher, speech by John Taylor Gatto, 1991 New York Teacher of the Year I will begin this study with a discussion of a hammock. I happen to like hammocks. I have one at my mother's. Mine is a pretty one, half flowered fabric, half webbing, supported by and hidden under some trees far from the house. I love to read (or nap) there. The webbing portion supports me just as nicely as the fabric portion. Indeed, the breezes blow through the webbing best! The webbing of a hammock is a good description of the Science of Relationships. Each node of information is connected to and supported by several others. While there are decorative tassels hanging along the edges, they are firmly attached to the rest. In other words, while there are great gaps between the nodes, the whole is more than a handful of cords. The portion that is filled in by flowered fabric is connected to and supported by the rest. Hammocks can be tied in many patterns of knots, with designs, tassels, fabric portions, pillows... All support the person who relaxes into them. A Charlotte Mason education can be compared to a hammock. We cannot know exactly which bit of information, which habit or which Idea will be knotted into which portion of the child's skein. We are not concerned with memorizing great volumes of facts to be fitted into a framework later. We are concerned with building the framework into which facts can be fitted. The facts will be provided and fitted in when there is a place for them, not tossed into a lumber-room at random. If a child knows about birds, and water, and sees birds on the water, they will remember when you tell them that is a duck. It is much the better if you can tell them that is a Wood Duck family, and tell them how the babies must bravely leap from the above-ground nest and follow their mother within hours of hatching, never to return to the birth nest. Your child will never forget that bird, or the concept of trust and obey! My tiny daughter's first joke concerned ducks. She had a car set which had a bar. As I fastened her in, I would say "Duck" as I attached the bar. One day as she ducked, she grinned up at me and quacked! She had made her first Relationship! As my children grew it became clear to me that memorizing lists of facts did not work for us. Learning spelling by the standard lists did not work. We could painfully learn the lists, yet the same words could not be spelled in writing. Multiplication tables meant nothing. It took a while before mama caught on. When spelling words were taken from our daily work and learned in phonic families, suddenly not only the word would be correctly spelled in the work, but the related words were also spelled correctly without difficulty when they were encountered later. A node had been formed, a framework where other information could be added. Doing multiplication tables on the living room floor with our seashell collection not only cemented the tables as meaningful, but enhanced our Science work by greater familiarity with the shells. I will briefly analyze my plans for this school year: We are going to study Egypt, Greece, and Rome. We will do mapping, filling in the areas as we study them. We will study Geometry (very Greek), Latin (very Roman), religions, mythology, Astronomy (tied to geometry, mythology and navigation); some Medicine (Anatomy, Botany and Greece), Art... While I can see many relationships - indeed, I am choosing what we will do by the relationships I see - there is no way I can know what my son will relate to what. Will he become fascinated with the Geometry of grinding a telescope lens? Will he be fascinated with the Roman Wars as he learns to translate? Will he become a great Doctor, or Philosopher? Will he become a Biblical Archaeologist? In a test-oriented school program, my son would be tested over great lists of facts and statistics. He would be expected to know which Pharaoh followed which. The tests would be intended to show what he did not know - to demonstrate 'gaps' where more details needed filling in. With Charlotte Mason, I can listen to the Ideas my son catches, follow the threads which reach his mind. My job is not to test the quantity of data he assimilates, but to present a great assortment of information in relationship to living Ideas. If he has learned how to learn, how to connect this information to that, then he will know how to find any information he needs to fill a hole in his webbing. Some of you have noticed that speech on the reading list. It is well worth reading. Mr. Gatto is no longer teaching. For some reason the public school officials did not like what he had to say. Mr. Gatto says, "The first lesson I teach is confusion. Everything I teach is out of context... I teach the unrelating of everything. I teach disconnections. I teach too much: the orbiting of the planets, the law of large numbers, slavery, adjectives, architectural drawing, dance, gymnasium,..." I snip for brevity, but he goes on, " The logic of the school-mind is that it is better to leave school with a tool-kit of superficial jargon...snip...than to leave with one genuine enthusiasm. But quality in education entails learning about something in depth." If I can give my son the beginnings of a genuine enthusiasm, and the tools to fill in the webbing, I have given him more than Mr. Gatto's version of a school. Do you plan your lessons with Relationships in mind? Does a biography of Hippocrates teach Greek History, Philosophy, and Medicine? Then why not use it instead of a textbook where each is a different chapter? When you read about Egypt, do you also read the story of Joseph from the Old Testament? Does you child understand the Hittites and why there was a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph? I knew about the Hittites and could name the Pharaohs; I knew about Joseph; but no one ever connected them to me until long after I left school! I learned Mr. Gatto's first lesson very well! Tell us some ways you incorporate Relationships as a principle in your planning. Tell us some stories of your children (no names, please) and the Relationships they are excited by! from Lynn H
Let me begin with what I see as a very funny quote. Penny Gardner found it and uses it to finish her selections, and I am quoting it from her book because my Volume 6 has wandered off. (very inconsiderate of it!) On page 261 of Volume 6, Charlotte Mason is quoted as saying "I dwell on the single reading because, let me repeat, it is impossible to fix attention on that which we have heard before and know we shall hear again."
Let's hear that again? Charlotte Mason repeating herself in a quote about how important it is to fix attention on a single reading? I see it but I am left speechless! Let us go on quickly before my funnybone takes over!
Attention is one of the Habits we discussed earlier, but it is central enough to deserve to be considered in itself. You may consult the earlier study of habit for more information on the establishment of a good habit and the breaking of a poor one.
Now, the longest section discussing Attention is the pair of letters presented in Volume 5, chapter II, as "Inconsistent Kitty". Kitty is an adorable 6 year old just beginning her lessons. (I love it when two studies overlap so beautifully!) Two older children seem to have begun without troubles. However, Kitty has been spoiled, and her parents have realized thier faults. Now they are asking a dear Great-aunt for advice - and they get it!
I have no idea whether these are real letters. I suspect dear CM used this device to discuss a problem she ran into often.
Dear little Kitty has been allowed to become a mental butterfly, laughing and running from one activity to another, becoming bored before she finishes anything. Now in studies, she repeats the pattern. Copywork is unfinished, reading lessons are attempted with her mind on the bird outside the window, even her games and play begin one and find it dropped as another takes her attention. Bathing her doll becomes washing her dollhouse, with the doll left undressed next to the cooling washtub. She is a happy child - but her happiness conceals an empty set of habits.
In present times dear little Kitty would have been a candidate for Ritalin, her inattentiveness diagnosed as a brain malfunction. Stimulants, then tranquilizers, and a whole pharmacy of medications and therapy would have been the obvious way to treat the child! Now, do not get mad at me here - I am aware that ADD and ADHD and other problems do exist. One of my children has been diagnosed ADHD, and I am on another list where treatment options are the topic. However, in this case we are looking at a normal, healthy child who happens to have gone wrong.
Dear Aunt has observed all that her niece and nephew mention. She is glad that they realize they have a problem, and - very helpfully- she offers the requested advice. She believes there are TWO difficulties. Dear Kitty has been started with a too-heavy schedule, one more appropriate to her older siblings. They have no trouble with half-hour readings, or copywork of two or three lines, or a page of simple math. Kitty needs less - to be given an accomplishable goal smaller than theirs, but one in which she can always see results. For example, her reading lesson might consist of ten minutes learning a single word from a nursery rhyme she loves.
The second trouble follows from the first. Kitty has difficulties with the length of her lessons, and has not developed the habit of attention. Dear Aunt offers suggestions to train Kitty to the habit of attentiveness: short lessons that must be made interesting to her, such as learning the single word from a rhyme she enjoys. Games are suggested for the learning of simple math facts, games that she can play with her siblings such as dominos. A short and quick schedule is described, alternating head and hand activities. This schedule is to be strictly kept in order to teach the idea of a golden minute. The minutes are not to be wasted, and she should feel a direct consequence if she dawdles. For example, a 10 minute play period planned for after math will be forfeit if she takes too long to finish. Kitty should see that her parents are disappointed that she allows the time to be wasted, and ALSO should be praised and rewarded when goals are met - simply be receiving the playtime with a smile! Ridicule and jokes are also suggested :"What! The doll's tea-party over! That's not the way grown-up ladies have tea; they sit and talk for a long time. See if you can make your tea-party last for twenty minutes by my watch!". Thus both her lessons and her play-time are used as tools to focus her attention.
One step at a time, the habit of Attentiveness is established in Kitty. Her nature may be to be distracted, her habit certainly is, yet she is to be brought along until she is capable of more than she realizes.
Could some of you spend a little time describing, step by step, how you developed attentiveness in your children? How did you decide this was an area you needed to work on, and how have you done so? How do you decide if the problem is a lesson that is inappropriate, or a child who needs training?
the original Home Schooling Series
Volume 1, pages 245- 247, how NOT to do Narration
Volume 3, Chapter XVI "How to use school-books";
Volume 3, Appendices (including sample examinations)
Volume 6, Introduction and Book 1, Chapter X "The Curriculum"
Volume 6, pages 195 -209 Examples of some of CM's own student's narration, grades 7-9
Study Guide pages 65 - 81
Sample Narrations beginning on pg 163 in the Study Guide
Charlotte Mason Companion chapters
15: Tips on Narration
16: More Queries on Narration
Karen Andreola's Article "Narration Beats Tests"
Narration Catherine Levison's chapter on narration, from her book.
"Just what is Narration, and how does it work? What is the difference between a 6 telling a Bible story, and a highschooler giving an analysis of the principle character's motivation? What are some narration methods that have worked at your house? How do you develop that delighted child into that thoughtful teen?"
So this time, I would like to focus on "What is Narration?". And I am going to do something radical - I am going to disagree with Karen Andreola. (Not really, but it will look like it at first.) Karen's article is titled "Narration Beats Tests". I disagree- Narration IS testing.
One of the features about a CM education that many people like is the lack of tests. We simply don't do the type of cram for a week, multiple-guess, fill in the blank, find out what the child does not know type test. Now, we might use a test as a review, or we might do quizzes, or drills - but on the whole we don't "do" tests. That is, we don't do tests designed to show what a child does not know.
Instead, we do Narration. Narration is constantly sampling what a child does know. Children under 9 or so are doing oral narration, sometimes written down by the parent/teacher and sometimes not. Children of about 10 begin doing written narration, which you should expect to look and sound much like their oral narration. It will probably be shorter at first as they master the mechanics of writing their thoughts. Once they have had a year or so of practice at this, they can begin to write using assigned patterns that they learn in composition lessons. For example, if they have been studying "reporting" they might write about the Fall of Troy as a newspaper article.
Another type of written narration that begins at about age 10 is the Examination. You will find these described in Volume 3. Younger children would also have the term examinations, but they would be oral. In either case there is no cramming, no reviewing, no preparation for the exams at all. At the end of the term (three times a year in PNEU schools) the child would be asked to narrate something they had been reading or studying. Some of the sample questions in the Apendices of Volume 3 (ages 9-12) are quite specific! Children are expected to draw maps or diagram plants, or write about geology. Examinations give 'closure', a rewarding sense that "I have done this". Whether you use terms, or Unit Studies, or simply at the end of a book, it is good to give a closure to a project. This could easily be a family program, a letter to Grandma, a contest entry or a Fair entry.
Now if you think about Narration as the telling back of what they know, you realize that not all narration is either oral or written. Other valid types might include a demonstration, a model, or an illustration. A beautifully -drawn map will do more to tell you what a child realizes about Geography than an essay. A detailed costume for a play can show how different the culture was. A working rebuilt engine will show the understanding of the principles of the internal combustion engine better than any diagram. Any of these finished works might be considered an examination.
So, let us hear some more narration! How do you develop the types of narration? As I said before, how DO you develop from the child retelling a story to the thoughtful teen capable of complicated analysis of the motivations of a character? How does your child apply narration to real life situations - from repairing that engine to volunteer work?
John Bunyan's biography
The Holy War
-- all available online from the Bunyan index page
Charlotte Mason Study Guide
pages 82-85 The Way of the Will
pages 22-30 Child-Rearing and Discipline
pages 31-37 Habits and Character
A Charlotte Mason Education
A Charlotte Mason Companion
Chapter 9 (p 69-77)
Chapter 10 (p 79-87)
The Original Home Schooling Series
Volume 1, part IV "Some Habits of Mind - Some Moral Habits"
Volume 1, part VI "The Will - The Conscience - the Divine Life in the Child"
Volume 3, Chapter XII "Some Unconsidered Aspects of Moral Training"
Volume 4, Introduction (Mansoul readings for the teens)
Volume 4, Part II "The House of Mind" (readings for teens)
Volume 6, Book 1, Chapter VIII "The Way of the Will"
the Bible, KJV, as noted.
It was interesting to me, as I researched this Topic, how much Charlotte Mason considered basic from the works of John Bunyan. Almost every chapter and section contain quotes, or references to his work. The children's moral readings are frequently selections from his "Holy War", discussing the Kingdom of Mansoul.
As I read, I became interested in Charlotte Mason's three distinctions
of Will. The first would be the self- controlled person who Wills to do
right. The CM child has a motto , which is exegeted in volume 1 on page
" 'I am" - we have the power of knowing ourselves. 'I ought' - we have within ourselves a moral judge, to whom we feel ourselves subject, and who points out and requires of us our duty. 'I can' - we are conscious of power to do that which we perceive we ought to do. 'I will' - we determine to exercise that power with a volition which is in itself a step in the execution of that which we will. Here is a beautiful and perfect chain, and the wonder is, so exquisitely constituted as he is for right-doing, error should be even possible to man." (CM)
On pages 322 & 323 she said, "A Disciplined Will necessary to Heroic Christian Character. - Once again, though a disciplined will is not a necessary condition of the Christian life, it is necessary to the development of the heroic Christian character. (BIG SNIP of negative examples) Not so the child of the Christian mother, whose highest desire is to train him for the Christian life. When he wakes to the consciousness of whose he is and whom he serves, she would have him ready for that high service, with every faculty in training - a man of war from his youth; above all, with an effective will, to will and to do of His good pleasure."(CM)
My point is, the child must knowingly Will to do what is right, something outside of himself. Let me offer an example. Jesus himself exhibited this Will perfectly (of course). In Luke chapter 3 we have a very few incidents from his childhood described. At about 12 a Jewish child is considered 'Mitzvah", that is, an adult in religious circles although not in social. At 12 Jesus was found in the Temple, discussing difficult questions with the elders and amazing everyone. Asked why he was there, he said he was about his Father's business - submitting his will to an outside purpose even then. Yet, he also submitted in all things and went home with Mary and Joseph. He is described as increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and Man. He does not have any other incidents recorded until he is about 30 years of age. At that time Joseph apparently died, because Jesus became the head of the family. He moved the family to Capurneum and began his full-time ministry. From then on, his every action was in compliance with God's plan. He seems to have done nothing that was not in fulfillment of that plan - yet he was still not a robot. One of the last acts of his life was his prayer session in the Garden, where he prayed to have the cup pass from him - Mark 14:36 - "And he said, 'Abba Father, all things are possible with thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.'" This is a person who is totally committed, whose Will is completely under control.
The opposite is not the person whose Will is not under control,
but instead is the person whose Will is focused completely on himself or
on improper motives. This sort of person makes the very nastiest Villain
in a story or a movie. On page 322 CM said,
"The Will is not a Moral Faculty. - Again, though it is impossible to attain moral excellence of character without the agency of a vigorous will, the will itself is not a moral faculty, and a man may attain great strength of will in consequence of continued efforts in the repression or direction of his appetites or desires, and yet be an unworthy man; that is, he may be keeping himself in order from unworthy motives, for the sake of appearances, even for the injury of another."
Again from Scripture, we have a perfect example. The 5 "I Wills"
of Lucifer are found in Isaiah 14:13,
"For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
With those thoughts in his heart, Lucifer fell, and became Satan. His Will, instead of being focused on the glory of the God who created him, was focused on his own glory. Now it is still focused - on thwarting God's will, on deceiving us in any way possible.
There is yet a third possibility here - the weak person, whose
will is not particularly focused at all. This, I think, is the saddest
case! On page 318 CM says,
"Persons may go through life without deliberate act of Will. - In the first place, the will does not necessarily come into play in any of the aspects in which we have hitherto considered the child. He may reflect and imagine; be stirred by the desire of knowledge, of power, of distinction; may love and esteem; may form habits of attention, obedience, diligence, sloth, involuntarily - that is, without ever intending, purposing, willing these things for himself. So far is this true, that there are people who live through their lives without an act of deliberate will : amiable, easy-going people, on the one hand, hedged in by favoring circumstances; and poor souls on the other, whom circumstances have not saved, who have drifted from their moorings, and are hardly to be named by those to whom they belong."
On page 323, she said, "There are those, no doubt, who have not even arrived at wishing, but most of us desire to do well; what we want to know is how to make ourselves do what we desire. And here is the line which divides the effective from the non-effective people, the great from the small, the good from the well-intentioned and respectable; it is in proportion as a man has self-compelling power that he is able to do, even of his own pleasure; that he can depend upon himself, and be sure of his own action in emergencies."
Once again I was able to identify an example of this sort of person from Scripture, a poor weak soul who drifted through life led by circumstances instead of by Will, and who at the end was "hardly to be named by those to whom they belong." The example I have in mind was Judas - a member of the 12, a friend of Jesus, the one who took care of the funds. Yet, he was open to Satan's tricks because he did not understand the Will of God. It has been suggested to me, and it makes sense to me, that Judas did not think that Jesus would die when He was betrayed. Instead, Judas wanted to force the coming Kingdom, to force the Christ to assume his authority. He was well-intentioned, sort of - and this explains his dismay at the results of his actions! Completely lacking understanding of what was going on, he committed suicide - an unspeakable action.
A few days ago a friend asked me about her child. She described needing to control him, yet not break his will. The boy is a classic example of the willful child CM describes on pages 320 and following. To CM, such a child is not a person of strong will at all (despite a popular and excellent book of that title). Instead, this child doesn't have a strong Will at all - he has a weak Will that he cannot control. When he is in control, then he is strong. Teaching him to control that weak Will is not breaking him, it is training him. Step 1 is to change his thoughts, distract him. Step 2 is to teach him to change his OWN thoughts. CM is quite clear that training in habits, including habits of thought, are the key to this problem.
For example, CM said on page 321, " What is Willfulness? -What, then, is willfulness, if it be not an exercise of will? Simply this : remove bit and bridle - that is, the control of the will - from the appetites, the desires, the emotions, and the child who has mounted his hobby, be it resentment, jealousy, desire or power, desire of property, is another Mazeppa, borne along with the speed of the swift and the strength of the strong, and with no power at all to help himself. Appetite, passion, there is no limit to their power and their persistence if the appointed check be removed; and it is this impetus of appetite or of passion, this apparent determination to go in one way and no other, which is called willfulness and mistaken for an exercise of will. Whereas the determination is only apparent ; the child is, in fact, hurried along without resistance, because that opposing force which should give balance to his character is undeveloped and untrained."
Now, this caught MY attention - because my chosen Life Passage is Psalm 32, which includes instructions to NOT be as the horse or mule, which must be held in check by bit and bridle, but instead to be sensitive to the guidance of the Lord's eye! In other words, if I am without control over my will and have not submitted to His direction, I am willful!
On to an example. In this case, a personal one. I have been sick, and had a great many other problems this year. This summer I articulated my decision to be under submission to my husband even when I don't agree with him. This Fall I was force to honor those words when my husband enrolled our son in public school. I prayed, a LOT! Yet, I could not understand what was going on. I was sure there was something for me to learn, yet I could not find it. I searched for sin in my life and heart, and found nothing that seemed significant. My personal Bible study was coming up dry. Surely I would recognize the solution if I could only find it? I was discussing this with Cindy Rushton, off-list, about two weeks ago and she gave me the key I needed by discussing some situations in her life. Perhaps this was not for MY benefit - perhaps this was the tool God needed to use to reach someone else. Was I Willing to be used in this way - was I willing to give up my dreams, my health, homeschooling, find a job, even give up this list, perhaps even die - if that was what it took for God to reach my daughter? My son? Fix our family?
I was stunned, and walked in a haze for several days. It only took a moment for all this to reach me, but the Glory of it took my breath away! Was I willing? Yes! Of course I am! Yet, God was not able to use me in this way until I did understand, until I deliberately gave Him the right to use me. I had to know and understand. Now, nothing changed. I am still sick. My son is still in public school. My daughter is still willful. My husband still insists that I find a job, the bills and the troubles keep rolling in. There are many problems here. However, last Sunday I sat in church with my son beside me for the first time in two years, and he says he is going to keep coming. Beside him sat the little boy he baby-sits, and it's unsaved father. Behind me sat my husband and his mother. There were 9 visitors in church that morning, and 5 of them had come with me.
Let me encourage you to deliberately set your Will to that of
God. Follow his eye, that you won't need a bit or bridle. Let me encourage
you to read the passages I listed above - you will find much help there!
I believe I found the answer in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Reviewing, the Master gave his servants various amounts to handle while he went away. When he returned, he called them to account. The servants who had received 5 or two talents, and doubled them, also received the comment: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
Faithful in a few things? I can handle that - and so can a tiny child. We aren't asked to begin by being mighty - we are asked to begin by obeying in a few little things. A little child loves to help mother with the household chores, just to be with her. A child who can walk can put away one toy at a time. A two year old can match socks while mother sorts laundry. A three can fold washcloths and towels, feed the kitten, fetch clean diapers for baby. A four can help set the table, or clear it, and wipe up. And so on - they learn by doing one step at a time, and they love it because they are with you. A mother who does not ask her tiny child to do things for her is missing a wonderful opportunity to train them. If you want a drink, ask the nearest child to fetch it. This is teaching them a servant's heart - to give up their play for a moment to be useful to another. That willing moment of doing something for another is what we are searching for. Appreciate them, thank them, praise them - and the next time they will be even more willing!
Children play "Simon Says", and "Mother May I", and "Red Rover", and a dozen other games where the rule is obedience. They, by choice, submit their Will to an arbitrary rule. This isn't nonsense - it is training in the bigger things. They know that obedience is important - can't we learn from them?
In Luke chapter 3 Jesus knew that he was to be about his Father's business, yet he also knew he was under the authority of Mary and Joseph. He obeyed. He wasn't doing wrong, but it wasn't the right time. He is described as increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man - isn't that a wonderful description of the way a properly trained child grows? That must have been an amazing household, too, because we have another example of a child raised in it who was just as disciplined. I am speaking of James, the author of the book of James. James was Jesus's brother (half-brother). He was one of the Apostles. Look at him as the Apostle and as an author. His book is the book to study to understand the place of works with faith. In five logical, structured chapters (certainly not twaddle) he teaches exactly how obedience and works are the result of faith and salvation, not the cause. James was a disciplined man, known for his strong Will. When he chose to accept Jesus as Savior, he didn't hold back. He never mentions his relationship - yet he must have known more about Jesus than any of the others. What he talks about instead is training, obedience in small things.
One caution here before everyone rushes to study James - old smutty face hates us to do that, and a study of James is usually filled with troubles in your life. Be prepared. Yet, I think when we want to learn how to Discipline our own Will, James is a place to begin.
from Lynn H
Study Guide Chapter 11, p 86-88
Volume 1, Part VI, p 329-340 (the Conscience)
Volume 4, Part II, Chapter VI (begins on page 56)
Series Volume 6, Chapter IX, p 139-150
Dorothy Sayers essay
"The Lost Tools of Learning"
Classical Resources Page
Classical Curriculum Guide for High School - the Quadrivium
Trivium Pursuit Site The Bluedorn's homepage.
I have listed several Classical Education sites here. Reason is
Logic, and Logic is one of the parts of the Trivium, the first three of
the seven parts of a Classical Education. In a Classical education, a child
is not considered ready to learn until they have the basic tools, including
Logic. Allow me to begin by quoting Miss Sayers:
"The syllabus was divided into two parts: the Trivium and Quadrivium. The second part--the Quadrivium--consisted of "subjects," and need not for the moment concern us. The interesting thing for us is the composition of the Trivium, which preceded the Quadrivium and was the preliminary discipline for it. It consisted of three parts: Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric, in that order.
Now the first thing we notice is that two at any rate of these "subjects" are not what we should call "subjects" at all: they are only methods of dealing with subjects. Grammar, indeed, is a "subject" in the sense that it does mean definitely learning a language--at that period it meant learning Latin. But language itself is simply the medium in which thought is expressed. The whole of the Trivium was, in fact, intended to teach the pupil the proper use of the tools of learning, before he began to apply them to "subjects" at all. First, he learned a language; not just how to order a meal in a foreign language, but the structure of a language, and hence of language itself--what it was, how it was put together, and how it worked. Secondly, he learned how to use language; how to define his terms and make accurate statements; how to construct an argument and how to detect fallacies in argument. Dialectic, that is to say, embraced Logic and Disputation. Thirdly, he learned to express himself in language-- how to say what he had to say elegantly and persuasively. "
Clearly, Charlotte Mason was heavily influenced by the style of Classical Education, yet she was not an adherent. From many quotes, allow me to select one (as quoted by Penny Gardner) from Volume 6, page 144, "For logic gives us the very formula of reason, and that which is logically proved is not necessarily right...[Children should grow] up cognizant of the beauty and wonder of the act of reasoning, and also, of the limitations which attend it."
Now, I have been blessed by the Bluedorns, and have applied much that they told me. I have used several of the books which they suggest, and found them to be excellent. The Bluedorns are the "Trivium Pursuit" people listed above. Many people consider them to be THE Classical Education people. This is a fallacy - the Bluedorns state on their site that they use a mixture of methods including CM, within a Trivium framework. Their educational plan for their younger children is heavily based on CM, including 2 hours of read-alouds per day, with narration. They are also heavily involved in the national debating societies, with information on their site.
I have met a child who was taught Logic, using books the Bluedorns suggest, and who took to the study so easily that she never considered it school. This child can analyze any argument, read any paper, and play complicated Logic games without mistakes. However, she is weak-willed, influenced by every friend around her and willing to excuse any errors of judgment on their part. This child did not learn what Charlotte Mason considered the more important idea- that of the Way of the Will.
Another quote, from page 142: "Reason is not to be trusted with the government of a man, much less that of a state; because well-reasoned are brought into play for a wrong course as for a right. He will see that reason works involuntarily; that all the beautiful steps follow one another in his mind without any activity or intention on his own part; but he need never suppose that he was hurried along into evil by thoughts which he could not help, because reason never begins it. It is only when he chooses to think about some course or plan.. that reason comes into play; so that if he chooses to think about a purpose that is good, many excellent reasons will hurry up to support him; but, alas, if he chooses to entertain a wrong notion, he, as it were, rings the bell for a reason, which enforces his wrong intention for a score of arguments proving that wrong is right."
Alas, a situation is not always as clear as she states here, as those who are fond of listening to political debates can easily see. Good men will stand up and vehemently argue the opposite sides of a point which does not obviously carry a good or bad connotation. Still, allow us to limit to the clear point - that the decision of what is good or bad is a decision of Will, based on external principles (as we discussed before). Once the decision of Will is made, Reason will follow as a pony leads a cart.
So, I will follow with CM here - that a child's Will must be trained first, and that training that Will begins in the earliest years. Once the Will is trained, then instruction in Logic is useful. Knowing the structure of a reasoned discourse, and how to spot flaws in faulty ones, can allow our children to truly exercise their Wills. In this case, CE and CM are opposite in goals. CE adherents believe that when the intellect becomes trained in structure, it will apply that structure to the discovery of right and wrong. CM believes that right and wrong are basic, and that there is no proper application of structure outside of the trained Will.
The Bluedorns suggested to me that about age 10 was the proper age to train in formal Logic. This is the age Miss Sawyers called the "Pert" age. I found that they were correct, at least as far as my own children were concerned. At the pre-teen age my children became testers, checking the whys and strictures. Learning formal logic structures gave them a lot of fun reading the papers (for example), as they could always find an example of a faulty argument. Age 10 is also the age CM suggests teaching formal Grammar and composition - again, applying the structure to the form already learned, giving names to that which is known.
Give us some examples of ways you incorporate either the Will or the Reason, or both, in your children's work. What books have you found that exercised these? Have you used any of the Logic materials, and what did you find worked well with your lives?
"Third Time's a Charm" Book Review
Cindy and I love it when things work out together. Penny Gardner included in this section a review of Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's book "For the Children's Sake".
Now, this book is the reason I am a Charlotte Mason person. I read of it in about 1986, in Mary Pride's "Big Book of Home Education". I requested it through inter library loan, and loved it. I eventually bought my own copy, and it is the book I most often suggest to new homeschoolers.
One thing Penny Garden mentions in her review is that all 18 of Charlotte Mason's Principles are found in this book. The 18 can be considered the 'essence' of CM, and are found in the Preface of each Volume of the Home Schooling Series. As I am reading through the book this time I am attempting to locate and highlight the 18.
I won't mention what I have found so far, because Cindy Rushton has chosen "For the Children's Sake" as the next book she will lead a study of! As an introduction to that study, and as companion to our Topic #12 Study, I am posting this "Interview With Susan Schaeffer Macaulay" (courtesy of Rob Shearer, who has given our list permission to use Greenleaf articles!)
Scroll down and enjoy! If you don't have a copy of the book yet you will find a link to order it on my Un-Official Booklist page, and it is in many catalogs. This is also the single CM book that many libraries will have.
We have been having fun, and it's time to sum up.
Here is a great quote, which is on our ABC's page (available as the FAQ).
G is also for Goals: We talk a lot about the technicalities of
CM's philosophy--rightly so, that's what the list is for. Miss Mason's
goal, however, was not 'properly educated students'. Throughout her Home
Schooling series she stressed the reason behind her educational method.
She hoped that we would all be fit for service. Whatever our Sovereign
has planned for us, we may prepare by training ourselves in habits of self-discipline
in body, mind and emotions, and securing every ability that a generous
our utmost for His highest- cathy in pa
For example, I have been following the threads on CAP cadets,
and on "too quaint". I believe both have been appropriate for this Topic,
because both are discussing the goals. Future leaders. Manly men. Beth
"prepared to lead in their future homes, in the church, on the job, and in the world".
Cathy has certainly condensed it well, don't you think? Instead of a specific level of proficiency in any given area, Charlotte Mason would have us look forward, and higher. This is the difference between CM and some other literature based methods. We have an outside authority. Our long term goals are not simply high test scores, or excellent income potential, or efficient factory workers. We seek another country, we only sojourn here.
It's time to begin a new Topic! I know you are waiting for this one! We will discuss the role of Religion in Education, AND we will examine Charlotte Mason's religion - her written statements concerning what she believed, what should be taught to and who should teach religion to the children. And, because it is important not only to examine someone's words, but to look at how they live their words, we will examine CM's religion in action.
This Topic is very much a continuation of the previous one, Goals of Education, so feel free to bring along any quotes you found there.
Penny Gardner - this is your cue. Penny has been doing some preparation for us. I can hardly wait to see what she has to say!
Penny Gardner's Study Guide, pages 96-100
Vol. 1, part I Chapters V, VI; part V, Chapter XIV; Part VI Chapters I, II, III
Vol. 2, Chapters V, VI, X through XIII
Vol. 3, Chapters VIII, XIII
Vol. 4, (readings for teens) Book I - Introduction ; Book II part 1, Section III, Chapters XVII and XVIII; part III 174- 204
Vol. 5, book review on pages 438-441 of "Religious Teaching in Secondary Schools" by the Rev. Geo Bell, M.A.
Vol. 6, Book I - Chapters III, X Section I; Book II Chapter IV section 6
In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon
Pilgrim's Progress by Bunyan
The Holy War - John Bunyan
Hind's Feet In High Places by Hannah Hurnard
How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer
"Outside of the World" by Katherine Garrison Chapin (Biddle)
and other poetry and music by this lady.
Biography and more titles
Some Thoughts on Teaching the Bible to Children by Cyndy Shearer
I will take only a couple of my favorite quotes from Penny's collection.
Series Vol. 2, pg 135
"This is the faith in which we would bring up our children, this strong, passionate sense of the dear nearness of our God; firm in this conviction, the controversies of the day will interest but not exercise us, for we are on the other side of all doubt once we know Him in whom we have believed."
And one I have quoted before, possibly the single best answer
that I can give to the question as to whether Charlotte Mason was a Christian,
as opposed to a Deist:
Volume 6, page 64
"But what sort of approaches do we prepare for children towards the God who they need, the Savior in Whom is all help, the King Who affords all delight, commands all adoration and loyalty? Any words or thoughts of our own are poor and insufficient, but we have a treasury of divine words which they read and know with satisfying pleasure and tell with singular beauty and fitness."
A Deist does not believe in a Savior, or in need for one; nor do they approach God through His own words.
Did CM walk the walk as she talked the talk?
I had been seeking a suitable summation to Topic #13. I'm not saying a conclusion, for I don't think we are finished with it yet. I, for one, have half of a Science essay. Others may have something yet to say. But we will not wait, we need to move on.
I found my summation in my Pastor's sermon on Sunday.
In Hebrews Chapter 12, verses 25 - 29, we read:
"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall we not escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
Whose voice then shook the earth; but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
For our God is a consuming fire."
In Topic #13 we examined the personal Religion of a woman who has been dead 76 years. We examined her writings on the place of religion in education, and how a family should teach religion to their own children. We looked at the Doctrines and practices of her church, of other churches which may have influenced her times, at the society she lived in, at the Science and social changes. We examined her relationships with others of differing faiths. She lived in a time of changing paradigms, where her culture was in great flux. Yet, her words speak to us today.
Once before God shook the earth and heaven - He brought the great Flood. He has promised to do so again, to shake the earth and heaven with fire, to remove everything except the eternal.
Those were and will be great shakings! However, smaller shakings can happen. I believe we can describe our recent studies as a small shaking. We were challenged to analyze. Our paradigms were examined. Some of us failed, some of our truths were shown to have no foundation, no eternal strength. Others held fast to what was eternal and allowed things which were made, even good things, to fall away.
Our purpose for this list, stated in our Welcome letter, is:
"This is a topical, Christian discussion list dedicated to learning and encouraging others who are implementing the Charlotte Mason methods and philosophy in their homes." We have clearly met this statement this time! We have discussed, learned, encouraged others as we implemented the Charlotte Mason methods that we learn from studying her philosophy.
May we allow our truths to continue to be shaken, that we may emerge with only the eternal Truth which cannot be shaken and will not be moved.
Reading suggestions include:
Penny Gardner's Charlotte Mason Study Guide pages 101 - 113
Penny Gardner's essay "The Royal Road to Spelling" in the guide
OR on the website.
Penny Gardner's essay "The Telling Road to Writing" in the Guide
The Original Home Schooling Series Volume 1, part V Chapters 4-15
pages 199 - 247 (on reading and spelling)
pages 253 - 264 ( on arithmetic)
Volume 6 page 233 on Geometry
Catherine Levison's "A Charlotte Mason Education" pages 24 - 30, 46 - 49 covering Composition, Handwriting, Spelling, and Math
Karen Andreola's "Charlotte Mason Companion", chapter 22
Clarkson's "Educating the Whole Hearted Child", chapter 5, page 95
There are plenty of helps on the Net - and If I know they exist, they are probably linked in my Resource Section somewhere. Have a look around!
Specific pages that you might like to see are:
St. Jerome's Advice to a Homeschooling Mom essay by Rob Shearer.
Penny Gardner's site - homeschool page with elementary tips for all subjects.
My own page called "Seashell Math" which includes previous essays on Reason. (The philosophical section that Mathematics is included in.)
My CM High School Page, which includes sample schedules and some teaching tips for younger children as well as High School.
And of course our ABC's of CM page.
While I have singled out a few chapters in the Series which deal with reading, writing, and Math, the whole of Volume 1 is intended for beginners, on teaching children at home through age 9.
In the article "St. Jerome's letter to a Homeschooling Mom" we
find the following words:
". . . Get for her a set of letters made of boxwood or of ivory and called each by its proper name. Let her play with these, so that even her play may teach her something. And not only make her grasp the right order of the letters and see that she forms their names into a rhyme, but constantly disarrange their order and put the last letters in the middle and the middle ones at the beginning that she may know them all by sight as well as by sound. "
Now these are 'pre-reading/writing' skills, of the sort that we
would call phonics today. I truly believe Charlotte Mason read these same
Letters, because she also describes the child playing with ivory letters:
Vol. 1 page 201. " The Alphabet. -- As for his letters, the child usually teaches himself. He has his box of ivory letters, and picks out p for pudding, b for blackbird, h for horse, big and little, and knows them both."
Our modern equivalent (ivory being in short supply) might include wooden letters or blocks, plastic refrigerator magnet letters, or the foam sort the children play with in the showers. My children had all of these. She also considered that years of stories and other read alouds were an essential.
The actual teaching of Reading was given as a special lesson. She suggested it as a 6th Birthday lesson. On that day the child was taught a specific set of sight words! The child learned all the words to a simple poem or Bible verse. They learned them so well that they can identify those words whenever encountered, including as spelling words. Each word was written, seen, pronounced, spelled aloud. She would have all the words from the example on slips of paper in an envelope and the child would be encouraged to play with them as they were learned. Finally the words would be arranged to discover the poem - intended to delight the child! On the second day would be a phonics spelling lesson, using the words learned. Thus the child would build both a sight word vocabulary and the decoding skills for new vocabulary. Dictation lessons were part of this developing reading/spelling skill, for new vocabulary would be studied as spelling as it was encountered, with the required phonic skills.
Reading did not involve weeks of Bible character verses, songs identifying animals, phonics sheets, or other activities that are not directly part of the skill of Reading. Each of these might be useful, often in the pre-reading skills, but when it was time to teach the child to read they were not used. Instead, she used a direct instruction method including multi-sensory input.
Which to me includes spelling, as the 'expressive' portion of reading. Writing was taught as part of reading. The two skills are the "In' and the "Out", a matching set.
Again from St. Jerome:
"Moreover, so soon as she begins to use the style upon the wax, and her hand is still faltering, either guide her soft fingers by laying your hand upon hers, or else have simple copies cut upon a tablet; so that her efforts confined within these limits may keep to the lines traced out for her and not stray outside of these. "
In other words, the child was to produce perfect copies the first time, not pages and pages of attempts. She was to be trained to expect perfect work - a VERY CM idea!
I'll go through my pages and paste a few things here:
C. Copywork is key to all studies, beginning at age 6 and continuing
through High School. Copywork begins with careful penmanship, learning
to make the letters and numbers correctly, producing a few perfect examples
rather than a page of work that becomes sloppy. Once the letters are learned,
then simple words, then sentences, paragraphs, poetry, and so on according
to the age and ability of the student. Choose the work to be accomplishable
within the lesson time, do not rush. The assignments are chosen from their
current daily reading.
D. Dictation. The parent reads, the child writes. In CM dictation, the child prepares for a sentence (small children or beginners) by practicing every word in it. Older children will prepare a paragraph, but will already know most of the words so will only practice new or difficult ones. Use it as copywork for a few days, pointing out spelling, capitalization and punctuation. When they know it, then do it as dictation! Then compare to the original, erase and correct mistakes. Tomorrow try it again, until it is right. Hooray! (LBH)
S. Spelling. "I'd like some suggestions as to how others handle spelling a la Charlotte Mason. I've read that CM thought children should not see words misspelled so as to not fix the improper spelling in their mind. " (Robin L.)
Charlotte Mason worked first with oral sounds - the children had lots of stories read to them before they ever looked at letters. Letters were taught with the sounds. Once a child knows their letters, begin with single words written large, such as with black wipe-off marker on whiteboard. Have the child look at it, spell it out, and when they are sure they know it close their eyes. You wipe it off, then they attempt to write it correctly. If they make a mistake, wipe out the error and let them attempt to fix it. You could also use large flashcards and paper, but fix mistakes quickly. There is no reason to memorize every rule, or even to have rule for every word. Only use regular mistakes and difficulties for the spelling sessions, which should not last more than ten minutes a day.(LBH)
"Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the textbook and few subjects are worse taught ; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas ... which should quicken imagination." (CM Vol. 1, p 233)
Catherine Levison explains several comments, taken from the 1898
Parent's Review magazine. Included are:
Teach the concrete before the abstract, no matter how old the child.
Daily mental effort, one step at a time, will teach concentration.
Let them learn from experience that math is exact by having them see wrong as wrong. Let their wrong answers remain wrong.... Charlotte wants them to try to get the next one right, to have hope.(CL)
Each concept needs to be taught orally, including word problems, then with manipulatives, and finally with a few written examples. Narration may be used for examination.(LBH)
I have included in my references (above) my own page called "Seashell Math". It is a new page, and contains primarily several emails describing my own discovery of the principles of CM math lessons! I wrote these during our January discussion of the Way of The Reason. I wish I had known how CM taught math - I had to learn it all by trial and error. I have re- posted several of those in the past few days.
Discussion starters: How did you teach your children to read? Was your child the easy-reader type who took off on their own once they associated the sounds with the letters? Not all children do well with all reading programs - If you have tried more than one, did you find a particular one more CM than another?
Do your children write well - by which I do not mean composition. I mean, do they have good muscle control? What exercises, games, and materials have you found help them develop fine motor skills?
How do you teach specific math concepts? On my Seashell Math page I primarily address multiplication. How have you used manipulatives, visual aids, oral/word problems to teach other concepts? Have you tried music? Tell us some things that worked well on specific concepts!
Are there any particular resources you have found helpful, which use CM methods? I am including in this area computer programs and videos, as well as games and manipulatives.
Math is certainly part of the 3 R's! Here is a recent Question I answered on this topic:
"The problem is math. She just does not get it. We are currently using Making Math Meaningful, which I really like, but we have tried Abeka, BJU, and Math-U-See. I have moved her clear down to the 3rd grade level, but she is still not getting it."
You had some good replies here. I agree with them, too. Steady application, spending TIME with the child (not expecting her to be able to read the text and work alone). You've done other good things - games, life applications, giving it a rest. I don't think it's the program you're using.
I think it's time you did some more checking. This child may (notice, I'm saying may, maybe, might) have a learning disability in math. This has nothing to do with intelligence or age.
So what is a learning disability? It is (this is my understanding, not an official definition) when the child is functioning at a level in one area that is significantly different than their abilities and functioning levels in other areas. Such as, a normal 6th grade child doing second or third grade math. This child may/might/maybe have a math processing disorder. At least one type of this is a kind of Dyslexia that used to be called "discalcula" but now has another fancy name. I have this - and I have gone through college Calculus and Statistics courses. Be encouraged, it's not hopeless.
One thing you need is an accurate evaluation of what this child can do - where is she really functioning? If she can't add and carry, she won't be able to do multiplication and division. I suggest going to the Saxon site and having your child take the on-line test beginning at the very first levels! Print out each test result for your files. Work up until she cannot pass several levels in a row (I discovered a 'gap' this way, where my child had missed a single concept but could really work at a higher level once we corrected the gap).
Another is an accurate evaluation of the way your child learns - you say: "she still counts everything out on fingers". This suggests that you need to focus on teaching her through touch, and probably let her talk it out as she does so. (Kinesthetic / Auditory learner) Fortunately you are using a program that uses many manipulatives - so emphasize the ones she can touch. Visuals, charts, diagrams, overlays are possibly not going to communicate much to her.
Scent, color, texture, sound may help - one trick that did work with one of my children, when we had a rough spot, was working in scented markers. Each digit was assigned a separate color. It made a lot of trouble, but it really helped make her aware of each. It also made it impossible for a '5' to suddenly turn into a '2' , though they could still reverse positions. (don't ask me for a phone number).
Another trick is to always write the problems on graph paper - the kind with squares. Write one digit per square, and keep the place values aligned - ones in one column, tens, etc. A blank square begs to be filled with a zero, and so on. This works for any math problem, even algebra.
Once you know where you are, and what is needed, then you can make a plan. It may be as simple as choosing which manipulatives you use. It may mean finding a tutor. It may mean joining a learning disability list, such as Dyslexia, the Gift to help you learn how to teach her to learn - dyslexics DO learn differently, and there are special strategies that help.
PG Study Guide 114-119
The Original Home Schooling Series
Volume 1, Part 5, chapters 17 & 18
Volume 6, p 169-180 and 224-230
Homeschooling Today: Studying
Knights & Castles
I believe everyone knows that before she wrote Home Education, Charlotte Mason wrote Geography textbooks? Her set was called the Ambleside Geography books. I believe they covered the Geography of England. That is the sum total of my awareness of these books - if they are available out there somewhere, I have not found them. Since they cover something fairly permanent (geography is not going to change!) they might still be useful.
Here are a few quotations from those Penny included in this Topic.
"The peculiar value of geography lies in its fitness to nourish the mind with ideas, and to furnish the imagination with pictures. Herein lies the educational value of Geography."(Vol. 1, p272)
"The Child gets his rudimentary notions of geography ... in those long hours out of doors ... He gets his first notions of a map from a rude sketch ... or with a stick in the sand or gravel." (p 273-274)
"The fatal mistake is in the notion that he must learn 'outlines', of the whole history... just as he must cover the geography of all the world. Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age." (p 280)
For that matter, there are books which seem to cover far more than one nation - I think of "The Travels of Marco Polo", by Marco Polo. This journal covers the entire civilized World of the 1200's! As a merchant he traveled to China and the Far East, to Russia and India, Tibet and many more! His book is rather dry in style, but the content is fascinating. It is so fantastic that many considered it a fable, but it was true.
"Children have other ways of expressing the conceptions that fill
them when they are duly fed. They play at their history lessons, dress
up, make tableaux, act scenes; or they have a stage, and the dolls act,
while they paint the scenery and speak the speeches. There is no end to
the modes of expression children find when there is anything in them to
The mistake we make is to suppose that the imagination is fed by nature, or that it works on the insipid diet of children's story-books. Let a child have the meat he requires in his history readings, and in the literature which naturally gathers around this history, and imagination will bestir itself without any help of ours; the child will live out in detail a thousand scenes of which he only gets the merest hint." (p 294-295)
Now, a few weeks ago there was a question about children acting out in play what they read in their books. The particular book being discussed was "Treasure Island". Here I believe we have the appropriate forum to discuss play in education (it is also still the topic in the study of the book "For the Children's Sake") If the children's imaginations are being fed, should we not expect to see this sort of expression of what Ideas they are talking in? This is a sort of Narration, as well. If your children are reading Marco Polo, drawing maps, looking up the peoples in the Encyclopedia and really enjoying their studies, should you not also expect to see them dress up, ride 'camels' through the yard, and so on?
I know that when I read, and enjoy, I will express what I read in my life. If I am reading a cooking book, my cooking will reflect the style of that book. I have noticed that when I read ANY book I tend to speak and write in a similar style as I incorporate the thoughts (it HAS been mentioned to me that I sometimes write like CM - I take that as a compliment!). For this reason, many years ago I decided to remove two certain categories of books from my life. One was a category I had read since childhood. I had hundreds of them! I had videos, I had theme clothes, and so on - but I decided that when I read these books I didn't like the person I saw as myself. The second category simply depressed me. I have since read a few - sometimes someone recommends one to me as excellent literature, or as having a certain reason to read. (One was set in a town I lived in as a child.) I have never been pleased with them - my original decision was correct. These books do not belong in my life. They may be excellent, they may be well-written, but to me they are light reading or even Twaddle. If they are the kind of Light Reading you enjoy, it's all right - but I'll pass.
I felt overwhelmed addressing this Topic, with so many good essays available to us! I'll only ask a few questions: Rob mentions "The Myth of Neutrality". I agree with him - there is no such thing as a neutral view. In history, every Living Book comes from a single point of view. Every person has a paradigm, a Worldview. This is the way you look at your world. This will be completely different if you are a Christian than if you are a Secular Humanist /Evolutionist. If you consider that the world is only 10-25,000 years old you will have a completely different idea about human history than the college Anthropologists. This is important! You need to know not only your own point of view, but you also need to consider the view of the material you are reading. Children are VERY quick to pick up on viewpoints - what points have your children caught? Tell us about some good discussions you have had.
Art Appreciation Notebook
Reciting: An Old-Fashioned Art
A Bit of Culture
Series Volume 1, pages 307 - 316 for ages through 9
Series Volume 3, pages 238 & 239 for ages 9-12
Series Volume 6, pages 213 - 217 through High School
Charlotte Mason Companion chapters 25, 33, 42
Educating the Whole Hearted Child pages 112 - 114, 122
Penny Gardner Study Guide Topic #16, page 120 through 135
Popcorn & Peanuts Art links With an essay on Picture Study by me.
TWO art essays by Cindy Rushton
Karen Andreola's Article "Picture Study" "Art Appreciation the Charlotte Mason Way"
I already have an essay on Picture Studies, and Cindy has two on Art posted on the above sites. I believe all would be useful to you.
However, picture study is not all of Art. Part of Art is music - both listening and playing or singing. Part may be flower arranging, gardening, arranging your home in a graceful and comfortable manner. Poetry and recitation are Drama, the active presentation of a story. As has been discussed, studying and enjoying the Arts should be something you do for yourself, something that is part of your life, not just school for your children.
Some CM quotes Penny Gardner chose for this section include:
"The art of singing is entirely a trained habit... every child may be, and should be, trained to sing. Of course, transmitted habit must be taken into account. It is a pity that the musical training most children get is of a random character; that they are not trained, for instance, by carefully graduated ear and voice exercises, to produce and distinguish musical tones and intervals." (Vol 1, p 133)
"Music the Great Joy We Owe to Hearing. Hearing should tell us a great many interesting things, but the great and perfect joy which we owe to him is music. Many great men have put their beautiful thoughts, not into books, or pictures, or buildings, but into musical scores, to be sung with the voice or played on instruments, and so full are these musical compositions of the minds of their makers, that people who care for music can always tell who has composed the music they hear, even if they have never heard the particular movement before." (Vol 4, p 30-31)
"The study of pictures should not be left to chance, but they should take one artist after another, term by term, and study quietly some half-dozen reproductions of his work in the course of a term... We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child's sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sight of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture."(Vol 1 p 309)
On Poetry and Recitation: "All children have it in them to recite; it is an imprisoned gift waiting to be delivered, like Ariel from the pine... The child should speak beautiful thoughts so beautifully, with such tender rendering of each nuance of meaning, that he becomes to the listener the interpreter of the author's thought."(Vol 1, p 223)
And, one of my favorites which Penny included in her essay "A Bit of Culture";
"Intellectual culture... this the young people must get at home, or nowhere. By this sort of culture I mean, not so much the getting of knowledge, nor even getting the power to learn, but the cultivation of the power to appreciate, to enjoy, whatever is just, true, and beautiful in thought and expression."(Vol 5, p212)
Some discussion starters:
What ways do you and your families incorporate the Arts in your lives? Do you attend outdoor symphonies in the park all Summer? Does your child play Suzuki? Did you paint a mural on the parking lot wall? Do you have a membership at the local museum (and do you GO?) Do you sing in the church choir? Do your children belong to the local Drama group, the local "Little Theater", or do you put on historical productions at local homeschool fairs? Can you think of some Art form I have not mentioned here, and tell us how it has enriched your life?
Our earlier Study on Habits
From our FAQ-
M. Masterly Inactivity is taken up in Volume 3, Chapter 3. The key to avoiding stress for Mom! Train your child, develop Habits, and then let them go. Attention to the training in early years is the key - do not allow children to develop weak or bad habits that must be changed. This is not Unschooling - the child is trained in an area until the parents know that they may be left unsupervised.
Quoting CM: "Perhaps the idea is nearly that conveyed in Wordsworth's even more happy phrase, 'wise passiveness.' It indicates the power to act, and the insight and self-restraint which forbid action." ... and, "The mastery is not over ourselves only; there is also a sense of authority, which our children should be as much aware of when it is inactive as when they are doing our bidding.", ... and, "They are free under authority, which is liberty; to be free without authority is license." (Volume 3, pages 28 - 29)
Quoting part of the lesson from the Topic of Habits:
Charlotte Mason thought Habits are a useful tool for life. She thought
that about twenty habits should be deliberately developed from infancy
regardless of the child's nature and natural inclinations. Penny Gardner
lists some of these as:
obedience, sense of honor, cleanliness, order, neatness, regularity, manners, punctuality, attention, perfect execution, truthfulness, Sweet Temper, personal Initiative, physical training, self-restraint, self-control, Local Habits (meaning habits are not localized, they should be equally followed at home and away), quick perception of detail, fortitude, Sweet Thoughts, and "Stimulating Ideas" (Vol. 1, pg 110- a habit becomes morally binding in proportion to the inspiring power of the idea which underlies it.)
From Vol. 1, pg 134; "the education of habit is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way and grow to fruitful purpose." I believe this is a useful summing of this section - that our goal in developing habits is to be able to release the child knowing that they will do right. We can be "Masterly Inactive", allowing free play and other activities, because we know the proper principles will be followed.
This is where all your work, your Plan, pays off. You have trained your child in the 20 Habits. Your child has learned how to learn, and understands the plan chosen for them. Your schedule may be posted somewhere, but it is so well known that it is almost never referred to. You may still be working with younger children, but your older ones do not need your constant supervision. Mom gets free time herself to do the extra things she loves. All of your children need only minimal supervision - you are still involved in their education, their activities, their Nature Walks. However, now you are more of a companion, a mentor exploring the world with them!
I think this is also a reason that many people class CM with "Unschooling". What they SEE is all your children being given time to think long thoughts; your older child doing Delight-Directed Studies in their free time, by choice. They SEE your children learning in what appears to be a self-directed way, that your child does not need to be told to get out their math work, or to do chores. They SEE that your child has become a self-directed, self-controlled person.
Now, not all children will need to be trained in every area of the 20 mentioned here. Some children may be naturally neat, or naturally punctual, or compliant, or polite. However, all children will need work in some area, and that is the mother's responsibility - to identify their child's weak areas and compensate with extra training; to shore up natural strengths with moral character. The reward will be in what others perceive of your child - not that they are obedient to your direction, but that they appear to need no direction at all!
This does not mean that the child has become a robot! The goal is a child who thinks for themselves, who has developed deliberate self-control. Here are a few of the quotes Penny Gardner chose for the Study Guide on this Topic:
"That the child, though under supervision, should be left much to himself - both that he may go to work in his own way on the ideas he receives, and also that he may be more open to natural influences."(Vol 1, p 177)
"We should have a Method of Education not a System of Education. A method is flexible, free, yielding, adaptive, natural. A system is endless rules and very rigid. The system would teach the child how to play but then he has no initiative. A wise passiveness - let the child take the initiative; follow the lead of Nature."(Volume 2, XVI)
"Masterly Inactivity... indicates the power to act, the desire to act, and the insight and self-restraint which forbid action... The mastery is not over ourselves only; there is also a sense of authority, which our children should be as much aware of when it is inactive as when they are doing our bidding... This element of strength is the backbone of our position... They are free under authority which is liberty; to be free without authority is license."(Vol. 3, p. 31)
So, encourage us here - tell us some ways your older children have become self-directed learners. Is your child so fascinated with Math that you do not need to remind them to work on a new lesson? Has your child developed a business of their own?
Brag a bit- tell us the habits your child has no trouble with, the ones that are well under control. In what areas are you able to be "Masterly Inactive", supervising without intervention?
Where are you having problems - is your child special needs? Do they have a problem being able to work on their own once you are certain they understand the concept and assignment?
Which habits is your child having trouble with? Tell us their age and problem, and perhaps in such a large group someone will have some suggestions for you.
And, are YOU having trouble being "Masterly Inactive" in an area where you know your child could be left alone? Have you had this problem in the past? How did you resolve it?
"The Child gets his rudimentary notions of geography ... in those
long hours out of doors ... He gets his first notions of a map from a rude
sketch ... or with a stick in the sand or gravel." (Vol. p 273-274)
"Charlotte Mason's Therapy for Moms", essay by Penny Gardner
G.G is also for Goals:
We talk a lot about the technicalities of CM's philosophy--rightly so,
that's what the list is for. Miss Mason's goal, however, was not 'properly
educated students'. Throughout her Home Schooling series she stressed the
reason behind her educational method. She hoped that we would all be fit
for service. Whatever our Sovereign has planned for us, we may prepare
by training ourselves in habits of self-discipline in body, mind and emotions,
and securing every ability that a generous education provides.
our utmost for His highest- cathy in pa
V. Vivifies, Vital, and Vibrant!
"The idea that vivifies teaching. . . is that 'Education is a Science of Relations;' by which phrase we mean that children come into the world with a natural [appetite] for, and affinity with, all the material of knowledge; for interest in the heroic past and in the age of myths; for a desire to know about everything that moves and lives; about strange places and strange peoples; for a wish to handle material and to make; a desire to run and ride and row and do whatever the law of gravitation permits. Therefore. . . we endeavor that he shall have relations of pleasure and intimacy established with as many possible of the interests proper to him; not learning a slight or incomplete smattering about this or that subject, but plunging into vital knowledge, with a great field before him which in all his life he will not be able to explore. In this conception we get that 'touch of emotion' which vivifies knowledge, for it is probably that we feel only as we are brought into our proper vital relations." ~ Charlotte Mason
"We parents can become quite anxious about covering and completing all the requirements for a particular grade level, and seeing that our children excel in the skills demanded of that grade level. It's a woeful business when parents look toward doing what the grand system of education says is right for a child within their little homeschool. But when parents pursue knowledge for its own sake they need not be subservient to this grand system. Many young children hunger for knowledge. Yet they dutifully serve the system of textbook overview with never-ending worksheets and, under a system that does not feed their hunger for vibrant, vital knowledge, they begin to pine away. It is then that Mother loses confidence and feels discouraged and unqualifiied to teach. The children, for their part, find it harder and harder to obey. Parents and children alike are stuck in a system that stifles curiosity and initiative, and makes learning uninteresting." ~ Karen Andreola, "A Charlotte Mason Companion," page 29
CMason Notes Lynn's CMason Notes pages.
Click to Go To Our Home Education Resources
A huge set of links and information, sorted by area and sometimes by grade level.
Click to Go To Lynn's Unofficial Charlotte Mason Booklist Page Hundreds of my favorite titles, by grade/age and sometimes by subject.
Is Charlotte Mason Unschooling? An essay by Lynn Hocraffer.
Click to Go To Lynn's High School Page Lynn's personal notes on using CM for High School.
Click to Go To "Meet the Lady" Lynn's
personal notes studying the Original Charlotte Mason Home Schooling Series.
Let me know what you think by E-Mail!