Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Charlotte Mason Companion

So, I am wading through _A Charlotte Mason Companion_, because I looked on the shelf at the library in the homeschooling section one day and found it the only thing that looked interesting. I have never read Charlotte Mason's work, and I don't think I'd agree with a lot of her beliefs, but I am getting lots of inspiration, nevertheless, from this book.

My new tradition, I hope, is that when I read a relevant book that I like, I will post some of my favorite inspirational or thought-provoking quotes on this blog.

So here are the ones I've gathered so far:

"It should not be "How much has our child covered?" but "How much does he *care*?" and "About how many things does he care?"

"Charlotte urges us to give children a regular feeding of ideas through sweeping tales of history, wonderful inventions and discoveries in science, lives of great men and women, stories that radiate the moral life as well as paintings, plays, psalms, poems, symphonies - and everything else wonderful we can think of."

Here are some of the author's suggestions for family reading time:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Five Children and It
Pinocchio - Italian version
The Little Princess
The Silver Skates
Little Women
Swiss Family Robinson

She also suggests we always read "living books" which are loosely defined as "written by an author who takes special interest in his subject", with facts presented in a story form, and "a rather warm and personal forward, preface, introduction, or acknowledgment" (this is opposed to something like a textbook, or those annoying "fact books" that everyone loves these days - (which drive me crazy!!))

"We are living in an information age. Today's children are exposed to much information, but they come away with little knowledge. Why? first, most schools use books that are purely factual. Such books can actually be an obstacle to acquiring knowledge because they are not the kind of books children naturally "take to," or can narrate from. Children need books written in literary language to narrate from. Secondly, children are persons, not parrots. Workbooks obligate children to parrot back information. Knowledge is not attained through these means because the child really hasn't narrated (or thought the ideas through and made them his own.) Narrating invites children to meditate, that is, to think ideas through to their conclusion. C.M. observed that what the child digs for himself becomes his own posession. Narration develops the power of self-expression and forces the child to use his own mind and form his own judgment." (And I would say this is true for everyone, not just kids. . . )

More about narration:
". . . the mind of a child is best opened by way of his mouth. . . You cannot fill a bottle with the cork in. You may pour your stream of knowledge upon them till you drown them, and not get a drop of it into them because their mouths are shut."

"Why not ask what the poets have to say about whatever you happen to be studying?"

"I invite you to make it an educational goal to raise magnanimous children. . . A magnanimous person thinks great thoughts but also is generous in overlooking injury or insult - for example, he or she rises above pettiness or animosity. His intellectual pursuits do not make him "too good" to do lowly chores."

"Charlotte knew that the self-educated, self-made man is energetic, curious, and enthusiastic. Enthusiasm, more than any other quality, has powerfully and permanently influenced the shaping of mankind. Enthusiasm has swayed the hearts of nations and determined the lives and characters of many individuals."

". . . Nature walks and first-hand scientific observation not only provide the groundwork for all the sciences, but . . . being outdoors - and for children, engaging in the huff and puff of play - provides the recreation that gives us rest so we can return to the indoor work with greater enthusiasm."

I hope you have enjoyed!

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