Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Month with Charlotte Mason, #11

"We bashed, and that is the only verb that describes our progress in those early days, through the text-books, got the gist of them by determined attention, and miraculously found ourselves enjoying every minute."--Joyce McGechan in The Parents Review, 1967
You might also say, “You just don’t know my kids.” (Well, you don’t know my kids either. Or maybe you do. In any case, mightn't it be the least "CM-ish" ones who benefit most from a leisurely education that lets them be who they are?) “You’re kidding—Shakespeare?” "All this habit stuff is getting me all mixed up." “This all sounds kind of sweet and idealistic, but this is the 21st century. I think we’d better stick to something safer that we can explain to the in-laws.”

That’s up to you, but I would recommend, before you totally bag the idea of CM, to have a look at "To Prosper in Good Life and Good Literature," an article from the Charlotte Mason periodical The Parents Review, by Joyce McGechan, which appeared in 1967. Joyce McGechan was a parent in Africa (she didn't specify which country) who wrote about her experiences using Charlotte Mason's correspondence school with her children. (The PNEU correspondence school was still operating in the 1960’s). Just to whet your appetite, here’s a bit of what she wrote:
"Although a trained teacher, I knew nothing of Charlotte Mason's methods. I ordered 'Home and School Education' and read it with interest; but I must confess to some scepticism.

"'Children have no natural appetite for twaddle,' she had written in the chapter on Aspects of Intellectual Training.

"'Huh!' thought I. 'Haven't they though?'

"I underlined that sweeping statement; and in my mind I classified it along with a few odd ones I had heard at college'Children are not naughty,' and the rest. Experience had fast taught me that children are downright wicked unless they are kept so busy and interested that they have no time to think up any fresh devilment. I cannot possibly describe my bewildered, fascinated disbelief when the first batch of books arrived. Of them all, 'Plutarch's Lives' hit me hardest. Those long, measured periods in difficult language! Alison, at eleven, would not understand a word! How on earth was Robin going to assimilate 'Mankind in the Making' and 'The Spangled Heavens'? What was Charles going to make of 'Pilgrim's Progress'?”
To find out what Charles did make of it, and the rest of the story, you’ll have to read the rest of the article on the Ambleside Online website. Just be assured that we have all had our own Alisons and Charles (or would that be Charleses)...or, even more to the point, we have felt more like Alison and Charles ourselves while easing into this. Just remember what Lynn said: "ceasing from anxiety and merely utilitarian preoccupations so that one can contemplate higher things, those pursuits without which we cannot be fully human."

(As I typed this high-minded conclusion, Crayons just came in to ask if she could give her Barbies a bath. Is that enough to dispel any illusions? But she did voluntarily start reading Tom Sawyer this week. Things even out.)

The Month with CM will take a break over Sunday and will post again on Monday.


Sara said...

I must tell you how very much I am appreciating these posts. We are just getting ready to homeschool our firstborn, who would have been in JK this coming Sept. We attended the conference you recently spoke at, but knew nothing of CM then, so we elected to go to a different seminar. That day overwhelmed me with options and information. I am starting to find my feet - just starting - and CM seems very attractive to me. Is there anywhere else I can get a "practical peek" at CM? For example, what does a CM day actually look like? So many questions!

Mama Squirrel said...

Hi Sara! Thanks for your comments!

I will try to get more into the practical end of things in the second half of these posts--I'm actually coming close to the end of my workshop notes. In the meantime, you could drop in at the Common Room for their Saturday posts on exactly-how-they-do-it. Also there will be a CM Carnival this Tuesday, and those posts are often really helpful for getting a look at how a variety of families use CM ideas.