Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Charlotte Mason Education: An Atmosphere, A Discipline and A Life

I attended a talk on Charlotte Mason Education last May, conducted by Gina Guerrero-Roldan of Our Living, Learning. I recently shared how our Charlotte Mason Journey started in my previous post and I'm so blessed to learn a lot from her.

Charlotte Mason Education: An Atmosphere, A Discipline and A Life

Here are the things I've learned from Gina's talk:

Charlotte Mason is an educator from England and developed her vision for "a liberal education for all. By "liberal", Charlotte envisioned a generous and broad curriculum for all children, regardless of social class.

In educating our children, a method is necessary. A method is natural; easy yielding, unobtrusive, simple as the ways of nature herself; yet, watchful, careful, all pervading, all compelling. A method is different from a system. If you know the method to use, you know where you are heading, it gives us directions. Without it, we can be swayed every time there's a new curriculum coming out in the market. The fact is, there will always be new curriculum and If you don't have a defined method, you would want to try each one of them. The end result? You will not be satisfied with what you have, no clear homeschool path. 

One of the principles of Charlotte Mason is a Child is born persons. An individual who thinks, acts and feels. He is a separate human being. Whose strengths lie on who he is, not in who he will become. He is a complete person, not empty buckets to be filled nor someone to mold. They are worthy of equal respect. Their minds are already capable of taking in the rich ideas. No wonder there are times I am amazed how a toddler can easily process things. Honestly, this has helped me see my child in a different spiritual lens. At the same time, it took away some weight on my shoulder when it comes to educating my children.

There are three Educational Instruments by Charlotte Mason: 1. The atmosphere of environment, 2. The discipline of habit, 3. Presentation of Living Ideas. Therefore, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life".

Education is an Atmosphere 

Education is an atmosphere doesn't mean that we should create an artificial environment for children. But that we use the opportunities in the environment he already lives in to educate him. She said our children learn from real things in the real world. We are not to organize perfection because real world captivates them and they are great adapters. 

Education is A Discipline

A discipline of habits formed definitely and thoughtfully, whether habits of mind or body. Cultivating good habits makes up one-third of our children's education. The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days. Two main habits that our child needs to exercise is the habit of obedience and habit of attention. Habits produce character. We must train our children in habits, and religious habits. The effort is in the forming of a habit, once it is formed, it is no longer strenuous. You can pick one habit to work on until it becomes natural. There are habits on decency and propriety, mental, physical, moral or religious habits. In our family, we have a lot of habits to quit and at the same time to work on. 

In CM education, mental discipline of attention involves short lessons, the discipline of reading once, then narrating.

Education is a life

"All the thought we offer to our children shall be living thought; no mere dry summaries of facts will do".  For the mind is capable of dealing only one kind of food; it lives, grows and is nourished upon ideas only; mere information is to it as a meal of sawdust to the body. Children should be fed great intellectual and moral ideas through a generous curriculum. Living ideas can make learning a delight to a child and a passion for life. In CM, we do not spoon feed ideas, we let the child process for himself. This is very challenging for me because I love giving speeches or lectures. But CM, wants teachers to talk less.

Living ideas can be obtained from living books. Living books are those that have literary power, have ideas, virtuous, inspiring, narrative and generational. Living books make us think, our mind grows because of ideas.

In order to present living ideas, you must have living books, narration, provide a feast, short lessons, nature walks, riches, and slowly taking away busy work.

After her talk, I started getting rid of twaddle books at home because I am determined to start our living books library. I still have few titles which my son doesn't want to let go like Magic Tree House. I go on book hunting once in a while (if the budget permits). I started getting rid of busy work in our homeschooling.

We want our kids to care and not just to know. The aim of a CM Education is not to finish the book but to have a relationship with it. It is hard for me because I love accomplishing things and get things done but I need a complete change of perspective. To be honest, the more I learn about CM, the more I'm loving it.
Charlotte Mason Education
Photo Courtesy of my dear friend Irinne
There are a lot of Charlotte Mason resources online but I'm currently concentrating on Ambleside Online since it is a Christian Curriculum and it's FREE. I read once that the result of this method is not immediate but you have to trust the method. I know our homeschooling will never be the same again, thanks to Miss Mason's philosophy of education. Thanks also to Gina for sharing not just her knowledge but also her passion with Charlotte Mason.

There's more to learn in this method and I'm thrilled to discover it one step at a time.

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