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


  1. My husband lives with chronic pain. It is not an easy row to hoe. I pray for healing and health for all of you in every way.

    Your granddaughter is absolutely precious. :)

  2. I'm very excited for next year's calendar! I have used Sonya's school year edition as MY BOOK for a few years now. (As in, "I don't know if we're busy on Friday, look in MY BOOK.") I am lost without it, I keep track of meals, teenagers' work schedules, school plans, church activities. It will be lovely to have your writings as a companion to my year. What a lot of work you must have put in.

    Eloise is just too cute for words.

    I know God has a plan for you and your men as you carry your crosses. Disappointment can be a very heavy cross, especially for a young man with dreams and talents. I pray he will be able to drive again soon.

    It's always nice hearing from you. :-) Kristyn

  3. You've been busy! How wonderful! Praying for Nigel's driving. So glad that he is getting better. We greatly value your family, Karen. God can use each one even with limitations.

    Eloise is growing so fast! What a joy grandchildren are!

  4. Thank you for sharing, Karen. I always enjoy your post. You've been very busy! Your granddaughter is adorable! Praying for you and your family. May God grant you His grace and peace for each day. -Denise

  5. I love the increased depth of "friendship" that is developed when I finally hear the voice of a person I've only known through print. Thank you for sharing. My gentle art of Mother Culture is always exercised as I envision pulling up a chair beside you while reading your blog posts. You are an encouragement for sure.

  6. Thanks for the update, Karen! I admire how you all have been able to soldier on with the Lord's help.

    I don't often post a comment but wanted you to know how much I enjoy your blog and continue to be uplifted and encouraged here. I pray for continued healing for your family.

    Looking forward to hearing the album.


  7. Hi Karen,
    Thank -you for all the writing you manage to get done!You have been an encouraging voice along side of me through most of my homeschool journey(25+yrs).I first read Miss Hickory from your recommendation years ago and it became a favorite.You have introduced me to so many wonderful books over the years.Do keep persevering through all your health issues to bring beauty and truth into your home and to others.You inspire us all to keep on keeping on.

  8. Thank you, Ladies. I sang this in-a-round in Girl Scouts in the 1960s and it welled up as I read your notes:

    Make new friends and keep the old,
    One is silver and the other's gold.

  9. I have enjoyed this post as I do all of your posts. Eloise is a beautiful little girl. Thank you for the book suggestions. I will be on the lookout for them. Wishing you and your family a Blessed Thanksgiving. God Bless.

  10. Karen it is so nice hearing from you once again. I didn't know Dean has health problems. He will be in my thoughts and prayers. Thank You for the update on your family. I would love to see an update on Sophia and Yolanda. Eloise has grown so much. She is a doll. Hope you ,Dean and Nigel are soon on the road to a healthy future. Wishing Dean a happy,blessed retirement.

  11. The picture of Eloise is just so wonderful! And I love Nigel's artwork for the CD. You and your family pop into my mind throughout my weeks and I remember you and pray for your healing. God bless you Karen!

  12. Thank you again for book recommendations. It was so nice to hear your voice on the CD you shared with us also. Lovely "short" post!

  13. Hello, Karen!
    Pain is often a "guest" in our house as well. There is a fine line to be found between acquiescence and soldiering on. We often pray for wisdom as the choices present themselves.

    Eloise is a honey! I have a treasured picture of my own sweet girl snuggled up reading when she was a wee one. I, too, often found her that way. She can still be found snuggled up reading, though she lives in her own house now. It warms my heart every time.

    Books are always under the Christmas tree at our house. I am delighted when a gift is opened and the recipient gets lost in the wonder of the book. The rest of the family sits quietly and watches and waits... If others have opened books, they will just quietly pick up one of their own to peruse while waiting for the enchanted one to finish.

    Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours,

  14. I enjoyed my visit with you today. I must say, though, it wasn't a short one. ~smile~
    I am feeling better.
    God bless you for being such a good friend!
    Laura Lane
    Carthage, Missouri

  15. I love this post. Thank you for this...and for making your audio on Mother Culture free on you-tube. It was incredibly helpful.
    I will pray for the healing of your family. <3

  16. Dear Karen,

    You are, as always, such an encouragement and blessing. I recently got my hands on a copy of "Pocketful of Pinecones" and am itching to read the sequel. It was lovely to hear your voice for the first time on YouTube as well. I am grateful for the mentorship you offer from afar.

    I am praying that you, Dean and Nigel may all experience healing and that our Heavenly Father will provide abundantly for you in the meantime.