Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Month With Charlotte Mason #3

In Home Education, she said they needed to begin by asking themselves “Why must the children learn at all? What should they learn? And how should they learn it?” And that after they had considered these questions, they would be in a position to direct their children’s studies…as long as they started in the right place, following a few truths about human beings and natural laws that you can’t disobey without causing damage, and starting and ending with the one who made those laws.

For Charlotte Mason, that was with the idea of God.

Actually she starts more with a lot of talk about oxygen and wool clothes and children not eating fried foods, that gets people very confused, but right at the beginning of Home Education, she says there are just three big thou-shalt-not's for adults raising or teaching children, that come right out of the Gospels and form a code of education. One of the don’ts is not to hinder children in their relationship with God as their heavenly Father. She says we hinder them if we overlook or make light of their natural relationship with Almighty God; if we twist their thoughts about God to suit our own purposes, or even if we overdo certain kinds of religious talk. We are not to do or say anything that will damage the child’s own relationship with God.

The other two big don’ts are not to offend children and not to despise them. To offend them is the sin of commission, meaning both doing harm to them, and allowing them to do wrong. It also means not following what we know about the physical care of children, moral training, intellectual training, or spiritual teaching; mistreating them in ways that cause them to stumble.

Despising children is not doing the good that we should do in loving them or teaching them, because we undervalue their intelligence, their value as persons, their capacity for good, or even their capacity for bad. It means not taking them seriously. “We may not meddle directly with the personality of child or man. We may not work upon his vanity, his fears, his love, his emulation, or any thing that is his by very right, anything that goes to make him a person.” (Charlotte Mason, School Education)
She forgot how afraid she was of Uncle Henry, and poured out to him her discovery. "It's not right or left that matters!" she ended triumphantly; "it's which way you want to go!" Uncle Henry looked at her attentively as she talked, eyeing her sidewise over the top of one spectacle-glass. When she finished -- "Well, now, that's so," he admitted, and returned to his arithmetic.

It was a short remark, shorter than any Elizabeth Ann had ever heard before. Aunt Frances and her teachers always explained matters at length. But it had a weighty, satisfying ring to it. The little girl felt the importance of having her statement recognized. She turned back to her driving.--Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Understood Betsy

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