Wednesday, February 05, 2014

An Educational Manifesto

We resumed our homeschooling just after the start of the new year after a l-e-n-g-t-h-y break celebrating the birth of our new baby (beautiful baby photos to follow soon!), Nativity and all of the wonderful, warmth that the holidays bring. It has been very humbling, to say the least, to start back with less planning, less time, less energy and less (this one is tough) patience that I had previously had before the enormous and joyful task of caring for a newborn whilst looking after the physical and academic needs of my other four children.

However, I can honestly say that I'm not facing defeat or discouragement as I continue the task of home education. I truly feel hopeful each morning as I wake up knowing that providing a Charlotte Mason education for my children is not about preparing a perfect environment, cramming lessons, completing workbook pages or equipping my children with arbitrary facts so they can take an exam or preparing lectures to 'teach' them what they must know. CM is about educating the whole child and training the habit of attention. Above all, it is about helping them learn to choose what is right, true and just in this world and help them discover who they are in Christ.

I'm pleased to say that I have continued with my 'Mother Culture' over the last two months since our new baby arrived and have found bits of time to read and study Charlotte Mason's principles and many other wonderful, enriching things that I wish to share with my children (more to posts to follow on this topic!).

In reading one of my new, beloved books based on Charlotte Mason's Principles- When Children Love to Learn- I was reminded to read (or re-read) Charlotte Mason's An Educational Manifesto found in School Education on page 214.

Miss Mason believed that "studies serve for delight, for ornament and for ability" and that every child has a right to a broad, widely varied curriculum including living books and real things to nourish the soul on. She called these living books "mind stuff" or "mind food". Just as one pays careful attention to nourishing their child's body with proper food and rest, we should be equally aroused to the much quieter, but as important, needs of their minds and souls to be provided with excellent nourishment.

I will reprint An Educational Manifesto here and also provide a link to CM's School Education so more can be read if desired.

An Educational Manifesto

"Studies serve for Delight, for Ornament, and for Ability."

Every child has a right of entry to several fields of knowledge.
Every normal child has an appetite for such knowledge.
This appetite or desire for knowledge is a sufficient stimulus for all school work, if the knowledge be fitly given.

There are four means of destroying the desire for knowledge:––
(a) Too many oral lessons, which offer knowledge in a diluted form, and do not leave the child free to deal with it.
(b) Lectures, for which the teacher collects, arranges, and illustrates matter from various sources; these often offer knowledge in too condensed and ready prepared a form.
(c) Text-books compressed and recompressed from the big book of the big man.
(d) The use of emulation and ambition as incentives to learning in place of the adequate desire for, and delight in, knowledge.

Children can be most fitly educated on Things and Books. Things, e.g.––
i. Natural obstacles for physical contention, climbing, swimming, walking, etc.
ii. Material to work in––wood, leather, clay, etc.
iii. Natural objects in situ––birds, plants, streams, stones, etc,
iv. Objects of art.
v. Scientific apparatus, etc.

The value of this education by Things is receiving wide recognition, but intellectual education to be derived from Books is still for the most part to seek.
Every scholar of six years old and upwards should study with 'delight' his own, living, books on every subject in a pretty wide curriculum. children between six and eight must for the most part have their books read to them.
This plan has been tried with happy results for the last twelve years in many home schoolrooms, and some other schools.
By means of the free use of books the mechanical difficulties of education––reading, spelling, composition, etc.––disappear, and studies prove themselves to be 'for delight, for ornament, and for ability.'
There is reason to believe that these principles are workable in all schools, Elementary and Secondary; that they tend in the working to simplification, economy, and discipline.

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