Saturday, August 4, 2012

A peek into the cauldron Pt 2

I am slowly becoming rather passionate about the Charlotte Mason approach to schooling, and am quite amazed by how the reading/learning I've been doing in this area has coincided so neatly with the learning mentioned in Pt 1 of this post. 
Being the type of person who can't fully enjoy something unless others are enjoying it too, I just HAVE to share some of my discoveries with whoever is brave enough and faithful enough to read this blog. :-D

There are a number of foundational things I love about Charlotte Mason's approach to children and schooling. Her way of viewing a child is one of the most balanced and (IMHO) Scriptural I've read. 

That is, a child is a person, with a sin nature, but made in the image of God.

"A child is a person" - Finally someone who concisely defines what is different in the way my parents approach their children from babyhood on! I am so very grateful for the example that makes it second nature for me to treat my children from day one as a person, an individual deserving of respect, rather than an object for my enjoyment and imprinting. 

"With a sin nature" - needing salvation, needing Christ, with a propensity to do wrong. 


"Made in the image of Christ!" - with the potential and ability to do great and beautiful things. 
Personally, I believe most people err to one side or the other of this balance. Either we don't believe or acknowledge the sin nature of the child, or we don't recognize the image of Christ in said child. 

As part of that image of Christ, children have an insatiable desire to learn and know. Our job as educators and parents is to put children in contact with truth, with beauty, with great ideas, and allow them to learn directly from great books, experiences, people who are passionate about what they know...

Education moreover is the science of relations - which sounds very scientificky, but is actually very simple: 
The relationship of the child to God
The relationship of the child to others
The relationship of the child to the universe

I love how simple and yet broad this makes education, and how it places each aspect of education into a bigger picture. 

After more of the philosophical ideas, I am quite tickled with the "how to's" of this approach. 
Narration is one of my favorites: starting at age 6 a child will "tell back" in their own words whatever has been read, or whatever they have just learned. This not only gives me a clear picture of what they've actually learned and an opportunity to correct misunderstandings, it also makes what has been read or learned their own as it has been put into their words, and will theoretically stick much longer. Narration can be oral or pictoral, and composition becomes a natural byproduct of narration once writing skills have been mastered, which also thoroughly tickles me. 

Children learn largely through the introduction of ideas through carefully chosen books - books written by people with great ideas, people passionate about their subject, rather than books listing facts on the subject. 

Learning is based around a foundation of history, making use of a timeline, and giving a sense of how the part fits into the whole. 

Drill and focused study is limited to a short period in the morning, supplemented by reading together, and followed by afternoons spent discovering creation and creating with their hands. 

And, I love the approach to studying art, music, languages... so much more I could rave on about, but I will stop before I bore my readers to tears. 

Suffice it to say, I am currently quite taken with a Charlotte Mason approach to education, and barring a change over the next few years, will be using it with the boys. :-D 

(how can you tell my husband is out late tonight? :-P)

A peek into the cauldron (Or: things that have been simmering inside for a while) Pt 1

Child rearing books have always held a special interest for me. And I mean, from pre-teen years to date(yeah, that's a pretty long time :-P), I've always had a particular fascination with reading books about child training (come to think of it, marriage books fall into the same category)
Not, as some may think, because I disagreed with the way my parents were raising me, actually quite the contrary. My fascination is largely a result of one of the hallmarks of who my parents are: a constant drive to be learning and growing.

Recently, though, all that information has become secondary as I was challenged by my most recent child training book Grace Based Parenting to stop looking for a parcel of methods, and look, really look, at Scripture and how God parents us as His children. This post is an attempt to begin processing all I've been learning by doing just that. 

Some day I will stand before God and answer to Him for how I have raised my children. On that day, He will not be asking me about the decisions they have made. 
He will ask me about MY choices: 
did I love His children with my words and actions? 
did I follow Him passionately? 
did I obey Him in all that He asked me to do? 
did I serve my family with joy? 
did I use the talents He gave to further His kingdom? 
did I point my children to Christ as the only atonement for sins, God as a loving and holy Father, and the Holy Spirit as the only way to truly change? 

What is important for me to remember as a mother becomes pretty simple. 

 I am commanded to love my children, and this is what that looks like: 

Love is the commitment of my will
to your needs and best interests
regardless of the cost. 

I cannot change my children. The only person I can change is myself. Therefore, I must do what is right despite what my children do, and leave the results to Christ.  

My children are sinners, so I shouldn't be surprised when they do sinful things. (This was a great aha moment for me - why in the world am I so shocked by some of the things they come up with when I know very well they are depraved, sinful human beings?)

On their own they can't do what's right, and they can't change their hearts - they need salvation, and they need the work of the Holy Spirit in them. 
Which makes it extremely dangerous to merely train them to do what I want to avoid punishment... resulting in either a selfish little prig who has no concept of their own sinfulness, a suicidally depressed navel gazer who realizes their own sinfulness and can't seem to do anything about it, or a devil-may-care, do-what-I-feel-liker, because they can't change anyway. 

I have a responsibility to teach the ways of God - constantly - to my children. These are not nebulous, man-made laws and rules though. These are the commandments of God, the ways of God, Who God Is, SCRIPTURE! So I bring every choice and decision back to Scripture, and teach my children to do the same.
Sola Scriptura has meant so much more to me than ever before. It has given me the freedom to make decisions on issues that are not noted in Scripture based on the principles of Scripture and the individuality of our family and each child. It has driven me to my knees as I realize my own inadequacy and how much I fall short of Christlikeness. 

Intertwined with this process, I am losing my fear that letting go of a lifestyle or choice that I can't defend from Scripture will ruin my children, or that my children need to "look/act" a certain way. Granted, I need to make sure we are seeking Christ's direction for our family, and living in a way that is edifying for us, and not a stumbling block for those we meet. But if that criteria is met, I can be at peace making decisions that are right for our family.

Ultimately, what it all comes down to is something not at all new: focus on my children's hearts and enjoy the freedom to give grace to their actions.

P.S. Part 2 to this focuses a bit more on a method of schooling, but has also impacted the way I view and relate to my children - another angle of all I've been processing recently.