Archive for July 19th, 2006

The Long-Promised Charlotte Mason Curriculum Post

July 19, 2006 @ 11:13 am | Filed under: , , ,

All righty. When I started the curriculum series I had no idea my hubby was about to be offered a job on the other side of the country. Naturally my post on Charlotte Mason curricula got shoved  to the back burner when we decided to up-end our entire lives. But I haven’t forgotten. So let’s talk about Miss Mason.

Perhaps you’ve read her amazing books. (Her writing is dense, not easy, but worth the effort. Take her slow. Read a passage a day and take time to ponder.)

(Oh! Oh! I just had the best idea. Someone should do a Charlotte Mason blog. Like the Blog of Henry David Thoreau, which offers a selection from Thoreau’s journal almost every day. All of Charlotte Mason’s works are online*, in the public domain. Some devoted blogger out there could choose a passage every day and post it for the enjoyment and edification of all the rest of us. I am tempted, tempted…but no. Really, very much no. PLATE ALREADY FULL. :::tells self sternly::: Overflowing, even. So: brilliant idea up for grabs.) *Updated to add: Ask and ye shall receive. Or I shall, at least.  The Blog of Charlotte Mason has begun!

*Enormous thanks to the diligent folks who volunteered their time to type out CM’s books for all of us to enjoy!

This post is not a primer on Charlotte Mason education. Much excellent material has been written in that vein already. This is simply a look at some of the places you can go to find materials to support your efforts to educate your children a la Miss Mason.

There are two free Charlotte Mason-inspired programs of study available at a click of your mouse: Ambleside Online and Mater Amabilis. Both websites offer thorough and detailed schedules for a curriculum steeped in literature, history, narration, geography, and nature study. Many of the books recommended for use in both programs are available as free online texts.

Ambleside is Protestant in orientation; Mater Amabilis is Catholic. Both sites contain a wealth of useful articles in addition to the schedules and booklists. Each has its own email discussion groups where you can ask questions and get advice from real parents using the programs. It is truly amazing that such comprehensive resources are being offered at no cost whatsoever; the women behind the two programs (in the case of Ambleside, a collaborative board of homeschooling parents, and for Mater Amabilis, homeschooling mothers Michele Quigley and Kathryn Faulkner) have poured hours of effort into these curricula purely out of a desire to share their knowledge of Charlotte Mason’s methods with others.

For more schedules and syllabi, see the Simply Charlotte Mason link below.

And then! There are the 4Real Learning discussion boards, home of naturalist MacBeth Derham and  Elizabeth Foss where hundreds of mothers (and a few fathers) share ideas, books, and philosophical questions connected to home education. See especially the artist study and composer study threads—generous volunteers have already assembled links to many months’ worth of paintings.

Other websites of interest:

UPDATED to add: Charlotte’s Daughters, Learning from Charlotte Mason and the Parents’ National Education Union, a compilation of syllabi from several Parents’ Union School terms.

Simply Charlotte Mason: or, as I like to call it, “Simply Crammed with Material.” Sample schedules, booklists, narration helps, nifty bookmarks, and much, much more.

Mozart and Mudpies: See how one mother applies Charlotte Mason methods in her peaceful home. (Broken link now fixed.) Want more glimpses into CM households? Visit the many inspiring blogs in the Ambleside Online/House of Education webring. Some of my favorites are Higher Up and Further In and Dewey’s Treehouse.

Looking for many of the living books treasured by CM devotees? Try the Baldwin Project for free downloadable texts (with illustrations), or inexpensive hard copies.

Charlotte Mason Research & Supply Company: the website of well-known author Karen Andreola (The Charlotte Mason Companion, Pocketful of Pinecones). Not much practical info here; Karen’s put all that in her books. (I dip into my CM Companion at least once a month for refreshment of spirit, and found I was lending it out so often that several years back I bought a second copy just to circulate among my friends.) The website contains information about Karen’s books and the Original Charlotte Mason Series.

Author Penny Gardner‘s site does contain several interesting articles in addition to ordering info for her useful book, The Charlotte Mason Study Guide, and her highly recommended italic handwriting and recorder instructional materials.

If you did not already click on the links embedded in the “not a primer” paragraph above, you’ll want to check them out:

Charlotte Mason 101.

The Deputy Headmistress’s Charlotte Mason tutorial.

I have many more links to add here (you should see my list: nature study, picture study, Shakespeare, other stuff, all these lovely bookmarks begging to be cut and pasted), but this is enough to get you started. I’ll post a notice whenever I update, and do be sure to share your favorite CM resources with me.

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Laundering Secrets of the Middle-Class and Only Marginally Famous

July 19, 2006 @ 5:01 am | Filed under:

I had to think about whether I was going to reveal this ground-breaking discovery to you, dear readers, but so many of you expressed envy interest in my eight-year hiatus from laundry that I decided it was only fair to pass on the extraordinary Secret to Excellence in Laundering I singlehandedly developed in my very first week back on the job.

Oh, yes, I am not a complete rookie in the Cleaning of Clothing business. There are mountains of freshly washed garments in my hidden past. My laundering experience goes back all the way to high school, when I became a master in the art of folding baggy poly-cotton shirts and knit stirrup pants. It was during the nine months I lived in the hospital with wee Jane that I passed my dryer sheets to Scott, and when he decided to quit actual paying work and become a freelancer, I very graciously allowed him to continue with the lugging of clothes to the laundromat and the scrounging for quarters in the sofa cushions prior to the lugging. Because that’s how nice I am.

But one might expect one’s skills—honed to perfection though they be—to grow rusty during eight years of neglect. Not so in my case. Why, it was on only my second load this week that I made my Startling Discovery, which I shall share with you, my loyal readers, in this sneak preview of the upcoming infomercial that will doubtless make me a millionairess.

For ultra-clean clothing, put garments IN the washer while the wash cycle is running, not on the floor in front of the machine.

You heard me right. Amazing breakthrough, isn’t it? This revolutionary technique will exponientally increase what we laundry experts call "the Clean Factor." The sudsy water in your electronic washtub will whisk all dirt away.

You may thank me now.

How, you ask, did I make this astonishing discovery? (On my infomercial, a guest 70s-era actor will ask this question with very wide eyes. Final casting decisions are still pending. Front-runners: Alison Arngrim and Mike Lookinland.) Well, [Mike or Alison], it was simple. Drawing upon my laundering expertise from previous years, I had followed the manufacturer’s guidelines for commencing a wash cycle. As the tub filled with water, I added liquid detergent in the recommended amount. Next, I sorted our soiled clothing by colors. Selecting the pink-and-red pile for the first round of cleansing, I heaped the clothes on the floor in front of the washing machine as the water continued to pour into the basin.

Housekeeping experts recommend using this wait time to tackle some other minor, short-term task. Accordingly, I did so, finding plenty of tasks with which to occupy my time in other areas of the house. Some time later, my darling daughter Jane passed by the washer and noticed that it was sitting full of sudsy water with the lid open. She called out to report this fact to me. I hollered sweetly and in lilting tones called back to ask her to close the lid, thus allowing the washing machine to enter the next phase of its Cleaning Process.

Some time later, just as the spin cycle was shuddering to a stop, I returned to our Home Laundry Center and investigated the pile of red and pink clothing on the floor in front of the machine. Hmm, I thought, this really does not meet my Very High Standards of Cleanliness in Clothing.

That’s when I had my remarkable idea. Suppose—

(Suspenseful pause)

Alison or Mike: What, Lissa, what?

Melissa Wiley (smiles disarmingly): Do you really want to know?

Studio audience: TELL US, TELL US!!

Melissa Wiley (laughs disingenuously): All right, I’ll tell.

I asked myself: Self, suppose I were to run another wash cycle and PUT THESE CLOTHES INSIDE THE MACHINE. Would it work? Could it be that they would come out cleaner? Is it possible that, as with children, osmosis is not always the most effective method?

And so: I tried it.

Alison or Mike: (gasps)

No, it’s true. And it worked. Those very same clothes came out MANY TIMES CLEANER.

Studio audience: Oooohhhhh!

Alison or Mike: That’s incredible!

Melissa Wiley (modestly): Why yes, yes it is.

Cut to announcer offering Melissa Wiley’s best-selling book, YOU TOO CAN BE A NOT-SUPERMOM!, for the low low price of $29.95.* And if you ACT NOW! this adorable mateless pink sock will be included, absolutely free.

*Plus shipping and handling, some restrictions apply.