A while back I purchased a print by the illustrator Tasha Tudor. It could be reminiscent of Tasha Tudor’s early schooling, although I had read she didn’t like school.
Whether it is a quaint little schoolroom or a sprawling brick building, at the mention of the word education most of us see a classroom. We see a chalk board, rows of desks with bored or bewildered children sitting in them, red marks on papers, heavy textbooks with long lists of questions to answer, pop quizzes, and report cards.
Is this what education is all about?
I was greatly relieved to find that this is not essentially what education is all about. Miss Charlotte Mason had a refreshingly different perspective. She liked to use the phrase bringing up to express her educational ideas.
It was in researching an old article written by Miss Mason’s biographer, Essex Cholmondeley, a woman who knew Miss Mason personally and was devotedly familiar with her life’s work, that I uncovered a sparkling gem. It is an easy-to-remember triplet. This triplet became a motto for our home learning years. It was one of the most helpful outlooks I’d ever come across. Seeing education as consisting of three easy-to-remember opportunities may help you maneuver through the maze of today’s homeschool world – a world that is more complicated than the simple, grassroots world that it was in the early 1980s.
For well-brought-up children aim to give them each day:
Someone-something to love,Something to do,Something to think about.
|Carlton Alfred Smith (1853-1945)|
Someone-Something to Love
The child is a person. He is not enlightened by means of an overabundance of multiple-choice tests but rather by people in his life whom he comes to know, admire, and love. We are educated by our relationships: our family, our friendships, and by our intimacies. Think of how the actions of someone you admire influences your behavior. Similarly, think of how a child’s interest is sparked by a hobby he loves, and to which he devotes his time and trouble. There are opportunities to love and serve in every home.
Do you like the character Jane Bennet of Pride and Prejudice? I do. Her patient, generous heart and lady-like character is especially noteworthy in chapter 19. Here is where I recently encountered a small detail in the story that resembles our familiar triplet. Voila.
“ . . . Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, with their four children, did at length appear at Longbourn. The children, two girls of six and eight years old, and two younger boys, were to be left under the particular care of their cousin Jane, who was the general favorite, and whose steady sense and sweetness of temper exactly adapted her for attending to them in every way – teaching them, playing with them, and loving them.”
Something to Do
|Little Joe from Bonanza|
Chores build confidence and competence. They can even be a kind of togetherness where many hands make light work.
When children complain, “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do,” they may seek first to be amused. But sitting passively for extended periods in front of a screen is not really a worthwhile thing to do. A child can be guided in meaningful tasks of recreation and service. Such things “to do” might be:
Showing Little Brother how to blow bubbles
Listening to Little Sister read aloud or teaching her how to “jump in” at jump rope
Writing a play to put on for family members or giving a puppet show
Practicing a song on a musical instrument to play at the old folk’s home or church
Peeling vegetables for soup or salad
Planning or tending a garden of perennial flowers
Working with wood or leather
Sewing doll clothes, quilting, learning to knit a mitten
Building a model Roman villa, a pyramid, a castle
Making a kite from a kit and flying it
Kneading bread dough
A phrase that had carried with it a satisfying joy to this mother’s heart was, “Mom, look what I made.”
Something to Think About
Something to think about is one of the most important parts of living the educational life. It is appreciating what other people have to tell us in their books, their thoughts, and their jokes. It is noticing beauty in music, paintings, or buildings. It is observing country seasons, sights and sounds, trees, insects, birds, and flowers.
Children’s horizons need to be wider than their workbooks.
People who learn to use their minds are unlikely to get hooked on long hours of passive screen time. Young children’s minds are naturally curious. Minds close, however, when curiosity is “schooled out” by tedium, dry textbooks, or an overemphasis on grades and testing. Be encouraged. Children will regain an open mind when they are presented with ideas that are interesting, ideas that are inspiring. One example of this is giving children heroes in history, science, and religion. As you do, you will be giving your children something worthwhile to think about. Children willingly absorb inspiring ideas into the inner recesses of their personalities. This helps build character. Are the materials in your homeschool—the books, arts, audio CDs, activities, field trips and observations—interesting?
|Carlton Alfred Smith (1853-1945)|
Well-brought-up children are those who have gained the practical skills and spiritual power to live the life God has given them – including those given a handicapped life. To gain power to walk in the Spirit - with power to choose the good and resist the evil - a child is trained by parents in loving, working, and thinking.
If you give your children someone/something to love, something to do, and something to think about, every day, you will be doing very very well. This is what education is all about.
Passages are borrowed from A Charlotte Mason Companion chapter three.
Photographs of the boys were taken by their mother, Sophia.
A Thank-You Note
I wish to thank all of you who have shared your fondness for A Charlotte Mason Companion with friends in person or on your blog. I also extend my gratitude to those who have placed a favorable comment or review online of one of my books. I do not travel. I’m unable to meet and minister to my readers in person as I once did. Therefore, I’m always touched in meeting you through your kind notes.
Recently I was asked how to go about using Companion for a group study. (Hearing about my purple book being studied in a group setting puts sunshine in my day.) I recommend starting with the above triplet. Then, proceed through the chapters in any order that follows your fancy, leafing through to pick out topics that would address, firstly, those things that seem expedient – those things on the forefront of mothers’ minds, such as how to make application of living books and narration.
Feel free to share a “Something” you like to do.
Until next time,