Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Few Things I'm Learning From Miss Mason

I have admired Charlotte Mason and studied her writings for 5 years now. I've read about her mainly from the vantage point of teaching my children. But lately I've been seeing her principles through the eyes of my own life ~ as a person, a mother, a teacher.

As a teacher, I've realized my main job is to bring the student into relationship with the world around them. Latin, mathematics, and nature; music, art, people in the past and present; places around the world and down the road ~ all of it can be a special, familiar, friendly face to my children if served up properly. Yes, even Latin and math!

As a mother, I'm understanding that each of my children are individual persons. They each have different capacities for learning and excel in different areas. Yet they can all feast on the educational meal put before them, each delighting in one dish more than another perhaps, but all getting their fill of every dish.

And as a person, I'm finally taking in for myself some of these truths Charlotte talks about. A little story is shared in "The Story of Charlotte Mason" by Essex Cholmondley:

Another [student] writes: 'On my arrival at Ambleside I was interviewed by Miss Mason who asked me for what purpose I had come. I replied: "I have come to learn to teach." Then Miss Mason said: "My dear, you have come here to learn to live." I have never forgotten those precious words which have helped me with my children.' (H.S. 1906)

After reading this story, I was struck by the thought that these things I want to teach my children aren't to be kept in the box labeled "School". They're to be a part of our whole life. And not just my kids' lives, but mine too. So I'm starting to enjoy and appreciate nature throughout the day and not just during our scheduled nature study time. And my own reading consists of several good books at a time now, read slowly at different times of the day for enjoyment and understanding instead of gobbling up a book at a time just to get through it and check it off my list. And I'm really working on having more of this relaxed atmosphere for my kids too. The trick is figuring out how to accomplish everything you want without being stressed out about it or rushing through it. Haven't quite got that down, but I'm working on it!

I want to live life fully. God has blessed us with a beautiful world and talented people who share their artistic abilities and interesting knowledge and wonderful stories. So many riches at our fingertips. My hope is for my family and I to see schoolish things as wonderful and friendly and not keep them stuffed in the part of our day labeled "School".

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