Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“A Home Education” by Charlotte Mason

I was finally able to tackle this home education classic not in a bit here and a bit there, but chapter by chapter, and though at times heavy, it made a very good and useful read.

As always when reading a book by a non-Jewish (in this case, Christian) author, I had to make adaptations and skipped whole parts which were irrelevant to people of our faith. Nevertheless, I gleaned a lot from this book.

Some teachings and explanations are of course outdated, as Charlotte Mason lived about a hundred years ago, but some of the things she speaks about it are even more relevant today, I believe, than they were at her time.

Charlotte Mason emphasizes the importance of spending a lot of time out of doors, having a lot of thoughtful contact with nature, and plenty of time set aside for imaginative play and creativity. She also recommends having no structured lessons until the age of six, and then only a small portion of lesson-time every day, so that the whole afternoon can be set aside for time outside, imaginative play, and creative pursuits.

Those are chiefly the things that resonated with me as I was reading, and I believe the implementation of her philosophy, even partially, could do so much good in this age where children are cooped up so much, study is so fitted up into small tablets that are then artificially fed to little ones, and everyone is in such a hurry to push academics.

C.M. also expresses the opinion that the best place for a child to grow is home, and doubts how wholesome it is for a little child to be thrust into kindergarten, where he will have hours upon hours of overstimulating peer company. She wrote this at a time when many children were still brought up at home, and kindergartens were only beginning to become widespread. I wonder what she would say now, when people warn that a two-year-old will become socially inept if he remains at home until the ripe age of three.


justme27 said...

Hi Mrs. Anna,

Have you seen this free curriculum in the Charlotte Mason style? http://www.amblesideonline.org/
There's also yahoo groups for each age range.

Analytical Adam said...

I don't know. Books about daycare have mentioned that children are being put in day care at an age where they need individual attention and their immune system is not ready. However, even in a home a child will have to learn to get along with other children if they are from a large family and God didn't create women that there should be too large of a spacing.

The problem with schools today (here in the USA the Public schools are 100% controlled and paid for by the government and taxpayers) currently reading the politically incorrect guide to socialism which creates an education that is distorted. However if school was developed by the people I don't see why kids should not be part of a social group. In fact I think this is going to the opposite extreme of being too self centered and not realizing the skills we develop and learn have to be based on living in this world and not some fantasy world which too much time alone will warp your perceptions of reality and I hate to say it that includes religious people who seem to be clueless of how many of their own are mistreated.

I don't think school is a problem if like any other product (which teaching children is a service) people have the say in the way their children are educated NOT the government which they claim allows everyone to go to school but in reality since public school and it's resources are based on the tax base of that town people in poor areas do get terrible service and have no way out.

Sadly in some cases religion also has played a role in universal education as according to this book the politically incorrect guide to socialism calvin was very much for unifor education that he controlled.

Analytical Adam said...

Overall though it sounds very reasonable as growing up MY PARENTS did not ALLOW me to have much unstructured time and the school day for Jewish boys is just very, very long. The only thing I do think though is missing at least from reading this article is some sense of a world outside your family that I think creativity without any social context a lot of time will not be helpful.

Mary Catherine said...

My own views on education combine Charlotte Mason with Maria Montessori. I think children need lots and lots of unstructured, imaginative play. I also think it's important to put them in an environment where they will be surrounded by things that pique their imagination and encourage them to learn. This is easy outdoors, where the learning opportunities are endless, but it is so important to make an effort to bring this environment inside the home as well. What if after playing in the garden and learning about earthworms, a child were to come indoors to find coloring pictures that showed the different parts of the earthworm anatomy on his little table?

I also don't think "unstructured" means "parentally uninvolved." Parents need to play with their children and discover with them, but it should be *play* and not *lectures.* A child needs both discovery alone and discovery together.

Emily Rosenfeld said...

I will have to check this out - thanks for posting. As the mother of a 6 year old, I couldn't agree more with: Charlotte Mason emphasizes the importance of spending a lot of time out of doors, having a lot of thoughtful contact with nature, and plenty of time set aside for imaginative play and creativity.

One Ordinary Woman said...

We do a little Charlotte Mason with our autistic boy. We fight with his therapists and teachers sometimes because of how structured some of his therapy has to be: but we give him a lot of free reign in the afternoon with time outside. It is a balance for him.