Monday, November 13, 2017

Classroom Not Required

Classroom Not Required
A Little News First
"I've been unable to keep up with my blog of late," I said to a friend. She suggested shorter pieces. We'll see if I'm capable. But first, since it's been years, I'll share a little news. . . . 

A photo - not "staged." Sophia often finds her Eloise here with dolls and picture book.
After a summer of freelance writing it felt good to click "Send." 12 articles and more than 55 hand-picked Charlotte Mason quotations went flying through the airways to Simply Charlotte Mason. Come spring their 2018-2019 school-year calendar will be for sale, written by yours truly. I've been doing guest writing and "other writing," too, during a pretty fall. I took a week to re-write the piece "What is Mother Culture" and clicked "Update" here on this blog. 

I was asked to speak out-of-state. I feel honored. But I had to decline. My chronic pain, due to an over-active immune system, is worse. I am, however, learning to manage. I'm not curled up on the sofa thinking one more month of rest will make my small-fiber-neuropathy go away. Slow-breathing helps with unannounced waves of anxiety that accompany these sorts of ailments. I let nothing get in the way of my morning exercises. I do them with worship music playing in the background and with sunshine filling the room. Colorful fruits and veggies are on my plate. Keeping country hours also helps me "hang in there."

Dean is retired. It was difficult accepting early retirement due to his own ailment. His working career was more than 45 years. As a boy he hauled potatoes and gave change at the produce shop next-door. He worked in the public library during high school and managed the reference-desk in the days before Google. He worked in a steel plant in his young manhood (in the days of U.S. manufacturing). After Bible college he worked in publishing and did freelance writing. I have the advantage of tapping his well-seasoned brain when I run into the complexities associated with book distribution in our modern age.

Our son, Nigel, who has gradually improved since his initial bout of RSD, keeps himself busy with his wacom tablet and pen. With it he creates art and music on computer. His graphics and musical compositions are for hire. He built a business website: Feel free to inquire.

I thought he'd be well enough to drive a car again by now. Not yet. But it's a goal. Moving forward, he does his own set of strength training.

Free Talk
Getting close to being out-of-stock of the Mother Culture CD, I've made the talk FREE on YouTube.

It begins and ends with a peek at the piano music Nigel composed. He illustrated it with rabbit-musicians for the cover of his up-coming album of soft music.

After being asked our opinion as to design, his sisters and I told him, "Make it cute."

The Friendly Album
Relaxing music for naptime and study.

You may sign up to be notified when the album comes available.

Classroom Not Required
Although I am fond of the birds that inhabit our woods, and miss them this time of year, it's still hard for me to fathom the depth of admiration the French immigrant Mr. Audubon had for America's birds. It's exhilarating to read his story, about his unwavering pursuit of knowledge – to observe birds in their habitats. What a lofty goal of drawing every one of them and as accurately as possible!

Not too long ago I read the children's biography, The Story of John J. Audubon by Joan Howard (published 1954). My children read it silently during our homeschool years. I doubt I'll ever catch up with the amount of books they read.  

Lucky for me, my old book has the dust cover intact. For, when I was finished reading the story I read about the author on the back flyleaf. Joan Howard was an American. Her childhood, however, was "spent in places as far apart as England, Alaska, and India." Her family "never stopped in any place long." How interesting to learn that she was home-taught. I am assuming she was, for it said, "most of her education was acquired more from reading than from formal schooling, though she did go to college."*1

A light came on when I read this. This is the identical combination that many home taught children are given today – and they do go to college. The freedom to read whole books, rather than the compendiums made for classroom-convenience is one advantage. The pleasure of varied experiences is another. Observing and getting to know the people, places, and wildlife within reach helps immensely in establishing relations.

Yes. Being in books and out of the restrictions of a crowded classroom, during the early years of one's education, has glorious advantages. Joan Howard probably saw and heard many strange and new things in the far-away places where she lived. Maybe even exciting strange things. These novelties were probably talked about around the family supper table, adding to her education. It is interesting, too, that being in books she gradually became a writer of them.

The school-ish ploys born of the typically large classroom, get in the way of student developing a friendship with knowledge, for establishing relations with books and things. When it comes to schoolwork, she tells her students in Ourselves how very important this friendship is. She personifies knowledge as “she" like the writer of Proverbs personifies "wisdom" as "she." 

"People employ themselves . . . about Mathematics, Poetry, History, in a feverish, eager way - not at all for the love of these things, but for the sake of [grade], prize, or place, or reward . . . But Knowledge has her own prizes, and these she reserves for her lovers. It is only so far as Knowledge is dear to us and delights us for herself, that she yields us lifelong joy and contentment. He who delights in her, not for the sake of showing off, and not for the sake of excelling others, but just because she is so worth to be loved cannot be unhappy. He says, 'my mind to me a kingdom is'*2 -and, however unsatisfactory things are in his outer life, he retires into that kingdom and is entertained and delighted by the curious, beautiful, and wonderful things he has stored within." *3

Post Script
You may have heard of Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey. This New England fairy tale based on a doll with a hickory nut as a head and talking woodland creatures, is one I picked up and read again not long ago.

It's a favorite of our home-learning years. I find it delightful even as an adult. The story begins in the autumn, breaks for Christmas (with a traditional New England brief whimsical scene of animals peacefully gathering at a creche at midnight) and finishes in springtime with a comical, fanciful ending.

Some may not like to mix folk tale with a Biblical truth. I understand.

In a used a brick-a-brack shop, I spotted another story by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, bought it and read it. It takes place in rural small-town-America (early 1950s). This two-room schoolhouse is a different kind of classroom. It's one that extends into everyday living. The children, with initiative and team-work are enterprising. They scheme at fixing up the schoolhouse, keeping track of their nickle-and-dime earnings for "arithmetic."

Closing the book, the old-fashioned word "capitalism" came to mind, with its investment of creativity and elbow-grease (a microcosm of "nation building" - something we American's never used to apologize for). It left me with a good feeling. It is only charitable capitalism at the hands of a great many free-enterprising people turning-a-small-profit, that makes high taxes and big government unnecessary. Although such basic economics is intentional untaught in schools today, (as public school follows a form of socialist manifesto) this is the America I understand. If you find The Little Red Schoolhouse, buy it to preserve its American way-of-thinking for future generations. Grandmothers tend to be opinionated.

She likes "dress-up" and is Holly Hobby here.
Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey is linked here to Amazon. Most libraries have it.

Landmark Books, such as The Story of John J. Audubon, are mostly out-of-print but can be found by scavenging.

End Notes
*1 Joan Howard, The Story of John J. Audubon, back flyleaf (A Landmark Book). 
*2 "My Mynd to Me a Kingdome is" (original-spelling) - the title and first line of a poem by Sir Edward Dyer (1543-1607)
*3 Charlotte Mason, Ourselves, Book One, pg 78-79

Thanks for visiting,
Karen Andreola