Friday, May 13, 2011

Some More Thoughts on Education

In the last 8 months, the writings of Charlotte Mason have really influenced my view of education and therefore influenced the approach I have been using. I have also spent time on the websites and in the books of those who have interpreted her writings and applied them. I think you should read them yourself because they are wonderful, but I thought I would put down a few more quotes from her that I have read recently. Well, these are actually quotes and notes from the summaries of her works. I admit that I have not read the originals as of yet (she is was British and wrote her philosophy on education books from 1886-1923) but I do know there is likely no real substitute for them.

I have already shared some of them here.

From Volume 3:
Every child is born edowed with the facilities and intelligence he needs; it isn't the job of education to provide him that. Education should help him apply wisdom and make relations between ideas.
Education should be relational. Knowledge that a child acquires himself through his living experiences will mean infinitely more to him than facts from a book that has no relevance to his life that he can recognize.
Children are motivated to godliness by example.
Education is an atmosphere, a life and a discipline. These three must work together.
The question is not how much the student has learned, but how much they care.
Children have a God-given internal makeup and we must respect the persons God made them.
Children have a natural appetite for knowledge and that is all the motivation they need. That appetite is destroyed by too much explaining instead of leaving the child to reflect, too many lectures without letting the child extract some knowledge for himself, textbooks that reduce living ideas to dry facts, and using competition and ambition as motives to learn.
Education comes by real things (hands on) and living books. It creats delight and stretches a childs ability in an enjoyable way.
Through reading, they learn to write, and through developing the habit of reading comes readers.
We don't just want to teach a kid to think (a child can't think with an empty mind) but to give him inspiring ideas to think about.

From Volume 6:
The mind needs ideas. And it needs them regularly, like meals. Ideas that affect character. Ideas that the mind spends time reflecting on.
Real Education is spiritual, it feeds the inner soul.
Children in the earliest grades should hear wonderful literature and narrate. Education starts with hearing well-written language and big words in context.
We should not create an artificial environment for children but we should use the opportunities in the environment he already lives in to educate. Children learn from real things in the real world.
Give them lots of living books. Children need books written in high quality literature. When their own mind has done the work of sorting, prioritizing, sequencing and articulating knowledge from a well-written book, then they will really be learning.
Teach a child to be attentive so they get it the first time. A lesson needs not to be repeated. Children naturally have good focus of attention, but allowing a second reading makes them lazy and weakens their ability to pay attention the first time.
The child's mind is not a blank slate, or a bucket to be filled. It is a living thing and needs knowledge to grow. As the stomach was designed to digest food, the mind is designed to digest knowledge and needs no special training or exercise to make it ready to learn.
Since one does not really "own" knowledge until he can express it, children are required to narrate, or tell back (or write down), what they read or heard.
We teach children that all truths are God's truthss, and that secular subjects are just as divine as religious ones. Children don't go back and forth between two worlds when they focus on God and then their school subjects; there is unity among both because both are of God, and whatever children study or do, God is with them.

The main impression I got is to think of children as persons deserving respect. When we teach we should teach with that in mind. God has blessed them with so much ability already and He is the ultimate, forever teacher. We should trust that he he made each child unique and special, has equipped them and will never give up on them. My job as teacher is to help in that process. Additionally, I got that education is a lifestyle and should come naturally with all of life. For the early years especially, although this applies even to my education now, learning good habits is essential. CM was such a wise women. You would never know that she had no children of her own flesh but she did train so many children as though they were her own. And what a legacy she has left behind. There is so much for me to learn from her. Some day I will read these works in their original form. :)

I have heard some criticism that Charlotte's philosophy is not biblical. I would disagree with that and encourage you to read more if you are interested. The foundation of my approach as a homeschool mom is on the bible and in prayer. I want to give my kids a biblical worldview, a love of learning, spend most of my time on things that matter to the whole person, and do my best to lead my children to the Lord, that they may one day know him personally, be changed and change lives in his name. This is an ever growing journey that I am on. I am now spending time seeking to do the right thing and how most to honor God in our home and school. My journey is not the same as many of my other friends or people I know. But God is faithful to lead and help me. I will post more as I continue to seek out the path before me. I write all of this mainly as a record.

No comments: