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)