Why I Am -Inspired

May 14, 2007 @ 2:02 pm | Filed under: Charlotte Mason, Curriculum, Homeschooling, Methods of Home Education, Unschooling

Jane wrote:

I love your approach, Lissa. Why stick to one way of teaching and learning?

You know, I can see an argument in favor of adopting one consistent methodology and sticking to it. Actually, Charlotte Mason herself makes that argument in my beloved Volume 6:

“The reader will say with truth,—’I knew all this before and have always acted more or less on these principles’; and I can only point to the unusual results we obtain through adhering, not ‘more or less,’ but strictly to the principles and practices I have indicated. I suppose the difficulties are of the sort that Lister had to contend with; every surgeon knew that his instruments and appurtenances should be kept clean, but the saving of millions of lives has resulted from the adoption of the great surgeon’s antiseptic treatment; that is, from the substitution of exact principles scrupulously applied, for the rather casual ‘more or less’ methods of earlier days.”

I admit to having sometimes read these words with a wince, feeling a pang of guilt over not having scrupulously applied any one set of principles. I am an adapter, a tweaker, a “take what works and leave the rest” sort. And here we see Miss Mason herself tsk-tsking the “casual” manner in which I have applied her ideas to my children’s education.

(It isn’t really “casual.” I’m just not going 100% by her book.)

After the wince I always remember that I am working with real people here, and real circumstances quite unlike any Miss Mason might have envisioned when designing her curriculum. She can’t have imagined a mother trying to hear narrations while a hard-of-hearing toddler chatters loudly in the background, like an old man with an ear trumpet unaware that he’s shouting, and a winsome baby steals the pupils’ attention by threatening to take her first walk across the carpet when (gasp, not permitted!) Daddy isn’t home. I doubt she envisioned her method being put to work in homes in which the bulk of the day consists of one adult having full responsibility for the care and education of multiple children, AND meal preparation, AND basic housekeeping. And our “ands” could go on, couldn’t they? AND having paid work to do, AND having to spend a lot of time traveling to doctors’ appointments, AND etc etc etc.

Which is not to say one CAN’T home-educate in complete accordance with Charlotte Mason’s principles. Many people do (check out the Ambleside webring), beautifully, happily, and with great success.

I’m just saying that for me, my family, our tastes and circumstances, CM-inspired works better than full-on CM.


    Related Posts

  • The Long-Promised Charlotte Mason Curriculum Post
    The Long-Promised Charlotte Mason Curriculum Post
  • Juniper-school
    Juniper-school
  • Heads of the Class
    Heads of the Class
  • Not Back to School
    Not Back to School
  • But Don't Just Take My Word for It
    But Don’t Just Take My Word for It

Comments

12 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Amen! I’m finally getting to a place where I think we’ve found our groove (CM inspired) and it’s working, but it’s not purely…anything! I’ve had to re-wire the tapes in my head and shut the door to the voices of guilt over not doing this or that curriculum/book, or following to the “T” a philosophy or method, despite the tendency to constantly second guess myself.

    More than anything, I want to know that what we are doing and how we are doing it is pleasing to God and be satisfied and content with that in the face of flashy curriculum that promises to bring instant order and peace and serenity to our home (it doesn’t exist anyways). God seems to be a more merciful taskmaster than we are to ourselves.

    Maybe your early weighty experiences with Jane helped you weed out what was truly important and what wasn’t. It’s taken me a few years and several trials to get there. A happy mother teaches more than any curriculum.

    Thanks for the inspiration again!
    Blessings,
    Ana Betty

  2. Amen! I’m finally getting to a place where I think we’ve found our groove (CM inspired) and it’s working, but it’s not purely…anything! I’ve had to re-wire the tapes in my head and shut the door to the voices of guilt over not doing this or that curriculum/book, or following to the “T” a philosophy or method, despite the tendency to constantly second guess myself.

    More than anything, I want to know that what we are doing and how we are doing it is pleasing to God and be satisfied and content with that in the face of flashy curriculum that promises to bring instant order and peace and serenity to our home (it doesn’t exist anyways). God seems to be a more merciful taskmaster than we are to ourselves.

    Maybe your early weighty experiences with Jane helped you weed out what was truly important and what wasn’t. It’s taken me a few years and several trials to get there. A happy mother teaches more than any curriculum.

    Thanks for the inspiration again!
    Blessings,
    Ana Betty

  3. Amen! I’m finally getting to a place where I think we’ve found our groove (CM inspired) and it’s working, but it’s not purely…anything! I’ve had to re-wire the tapes in my head and shut the door to the voices of guilt over not doing this or that curriculum/book, or following to the “T” a philosophy or method, despite the tendency to constantly second guess myself.

    More than anything, I want to know that what we are doing and how we are doing it is pleasing to God and be satisfied and content with that in the face of flashy curriculum that promises to bring instant order and peace and serenity to our home (it doesn’t exist anyways). God seems to be a more merciful taskmaster than we are to ourselves.

    Maybe your early weighty experiences with Jane helped you weed out what was truly important and what wasn’t. It’s taken me a few years and several trials to get there. A happy mother teaches more than any curriculum.

    Thanks for the inspiration again!
    Blessings,
    Ana Betty

  4. Amen! I’m finally getting to a place where I think we’ve found our groove (CM inspired) and it’s working, but it’s not purely…anything! I’ve had to re-wire the tapes in my head and shut the door to the voices of guilt over not doing this or that curriculum/book, or following to the “T” a philosophy or method, despite the tendency to constantly second guess myself.

    More than anything, I want to know that what we are doing and how we are doing it is pleasing to God and be satisfied and content with that in the face of flashy curriculum that promises to bring instant order and peace and serenity to our home (it doesn’t exist anyways). God seems to be a more merciful taskmaster than we are to ourselves.

    Maybe your early weighty experiences with Jane helped you weed out what was truly important and what wasn’t. It’s taken me a few years and several trials to get there. A happy mother teaches more than any curriculum.

    Thanks for the inspiration again!
    Blessings,
    Ana Betty

  5. I’m raising my diet coke to my computer screen in appreciation of this post! Really, really, liked what you wrote. I can’t seem to settle to one curriculum or flavor…I liked your thoughts on this. I think I’ve almost found my groove, and it doesn’t seem to be any one style, but a mix.

    it’s a busy life, but so fun too.

  6. And this is why we are having a session at the upcoming VaHomeschoolers conference (July 21 in Richmond) called “Eclectic Homeschooling: Choose What Works.”

    Many people find that the best methodology is a home brew of various homeschooling styles and resources that fits the family and the individual children.

    And by the way, we’re also having sessions on Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, Unit Studies, and Montessori. We can get All Our Influences In One Place! We’ll either be confused or versatile when it’s all over : )

    Lissa, doncha wanna come back to VA and visit around about the third weekend in July? I think the first and only time I ever met you in person was in a Charlottesville parking lot for about three minutes – during the first VaHomeschoolers conference I had attended. Then I moved; then you moved; now I’ve moved back. And they’ve got me creating the sessions for the conference – which has actually been a lot of fun. They’re not all methodology sessions by any means, but I couldn’t resist noting that here’s a place people can explore all these homeschooling styles in one conference.

    And the brash ad comes at the end — if anyone wants more info, you can go to VaHomeschoolers.org and click on the conference info.

    I thought we (our family) were just mixed up unschoolers (tidal IS a good word) with Waldorf and CM influences, but I found out we’re Eclectic!

    Y’all come see us.

  7. All too true!! Cheers!

  8. Inspired. I like that! All this time I thought we were just weird!Inspired sounds much prettier!

  9. I’m sooo sorry for all the repeat posts! As if one reading wasn’t enough. We had a thunderstorm during my posting and the power kept flickering on and off. That must have done something! Again, feel free to delete the extra posts. I’m so sorry!

    Blessings,
    Ana Betty

  10. Oh, so absolutely true! I wince over that passage, too. We have tried a little bit of everything at our house, too. And I always come back to CM for our “lessons”. I’ve realized that she really did support the joyous freedom of occasional unplanned days off and entire afternoons and summers of “unschooling.” That’s just what we do, too.

    We have so many choices. I just rejoice in the freedom of it all.

  11. Lissa,
    Perhaps CM meant “strictly adhering” to her principles in the sense of not going back to the dry textbook, teacher-lecture type of education. I doubt that she would condemn anyone for incorporating new ideas and wisdom found in other, living-book types of education.

  12. Great post! I definitely feel there’s no fear in eclecticism for us who are Catholics . . . the Church is the source of our principles, and varied philosophies are embraced “more or less” in the measure that they reveal the truth she proclaims. Recognizing the fullness of truth in the Church requires two things of us (well, two that are relevant here J): first, that we actively seek to recognize that truth wherever we meet it, in any philosophy that embraces it; and second, that we remain always aware that no other system contains the truth in full, which means we must be vigilant and charitable to any error. Of course, this doesn’t negate CM’s point, as any given philosophy could still be followed strictly if it is free of error . . . it could be the truth, and nothing but the truth, just not the whole truth. But the Church also shows us the beauty of diversity and of individual souls, allowing us to delight in and draw from different philosophies without necessarily living any one of them strictly. Thus the Truth is revealed in Thomas Aquinas as well as Therese of Lisieux, in Vincent de Paul and Antony the Abbott. Each of their paths clung to the One path, though their footprints might or might not have crossed each other’s. So it is with us: the thing we adhere to strictly is the One path, even if we tread in more than one set of footprints along the way. (Sometimes this makes us seem like we’re in the middle of a game of Twister, but hey, who doesn’t love a game now and then . . .J).

    Great food for thought, Lissa. I’m glad I found your blog, I’m really enjoying it.