Friday, April 09, 2010

A Month with Charlotte Mason, #10

"It is interesting how disconcerting this idea of leisure is."--Cindy Rollins, "In Which I Implore you to Exert Yourself"
Since we’re talking about a leisurely education, does that mean that there’s anything wrong with work, or that children don’t learn well by being taught to work hard at their lessons, or by thinking through a difficult problem?

No, not at all; actually, diligence is one of the good habits Charlotte Mason valued. But the danger in this is that children, especially girls, may work hard at their studies because they want to please you or even because they know that God wants them to be diligent and get their work done; but they can do all that without finding any excitement and enjoyment in learning for its own sake, just as they can obediently swallow medicine without particularly enjoying it.

Cindy posted awhile ago on Josef Pieper’s book Leisure, the Basis of Culture, and she wondered if there was a distinction between work for work’s sake, and work for wonder’s sake. She said, I think paraphrasing Pieper, that there are things that are meant to be wonderful, as in, full of wonder; there are things that can only be useful by their wonder, that are not meant to be valued mainly for their practical uses. Christians tend to distrust forms of art, including literature, that don’t have a directly practical use, for instance, music that isn’t useful for worship services, or stories without an obvious moral lesson, or art that can’t be either hung in the sanctuary or put on a coffee mug. In a large part of the Christian world, we get a little tense around that disconcerting Mary-wonder idea. It's safer to focus on the Martha-practical.

So it's natural to feel nervous that if you take up a form of homeschooling that doesn’t require an hour of math each day, and doesn’t give you a lot of worksheets to file away in case anybody asks if you really are doing school, and might actually let you get done in enough time that you can all go out and explore outdoors together…something in us might tend to mistrust this, and think that the children must not be doing enough work.

It's natural...but it's not necessarily true.

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