Thursday, August 14, 2014

To come together

Megan Hoyt posted recently about Prov.en.der's Clockwise Retreat at Harvest Community School.  So did Tammy Glaser.  It sounds like a wonderful time--but really, when have you heard of a Charlotte Mason retreat or conference recently that wasn't amazing?  There seems to be a spirit of both humility and generosity that shines out at these events, alongside the practical and theoretical stuff.  Classical education in action, if you like. Maybe it's because we didn't have anything like this for so many years; maybe it's because CMers spend so much time talking about respecting individuals, working on this with our families, that we come alongside each other in the same way; maybe it's because we talk about atmosphere, and it spreads into the plans and details for group events.  Not that I'm trying to over-idealize cottage schoolers, homeschoolers, CMers, or CM--nothing is perfect.  But there is a strong sense of "look what we're doing--and it works!" in these settings, rather than people trying to out-expert each other.

And when we go back in time...I was reminded of this Parents' Review article by Helen E. Wix, which was given as a "paper" (what we'd probably call a seminar now) to a group of Sunday School teachers in 1917. How boring?  No!  Miss Wix gives a wonderful step-by-step description of how she prepared (and rehearsed!) a typical lesson.  I can imagine something very similar to this being shared at a meeting of Charlotte Mason friends today:
It is nothing less than wonderful how lessons given in this way are remembered from week to week. Children that I have taught often remember, far better than I do, the lesson they had from me—I should say with me—a week ago. This is natural, for they did the work; I listened and cheered on; they had to concentrate their whole minds on the story; in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, it would only be read once, and then, in the narration, what concentration is needed! Try for yourselves; read a page or two of an interesting book, and then narrate it to yourself. It is not memory; it is concentrated attention, and if you did it constantly you would be amazed how your powers of concentration would increase. But you read only once, remember!...
No more set answers to set questions, no more jerky monosyllables, but a good, flowing account of what was read in good English—you remember they narrate "in the Bible words as much as possible"—and what finer English is there? ~~ Helen E. Wix, "The P.N.E.U. Method in Sunday Schools"
Isn't it amazing that if, say, Helen E. Wix showed up at one of today's CM gatherings, we'd probably find we had more in common with her than not?

(Just to mention, Miss Wix remained involved with the P.N.E.U. for many years: the Ambleside Online website has another article written by her and published in a 1957 Parents' Review.   So she's really not so far back there with the dinosaurs.)


Heather Lee said...

I've been thinking about this lately as well. We have been CMers from the start, using AO. We are blessed to have another family about fifteen minutes away that does the same and I love our time together. But being in a room full of other like minded people, to not be the odd one in the homeschool group, is bliss. I'd love to attend a convention one day.

Heather said...

I know my comment doesn't address your main point, but Ms. Wix comment about the children remembering more about the prior lesson than her struck me. Yes, they did the work! I need to think about that some more. Thanks for sharing all of these things.