What are you DOing when you DO CM?
This is a question that I often get –in various forms.When you are new to CM, it is difficult to know what to ask. What question should I be asking that I don’t know to ask? When you are ‘old’ to CM, it is difficult to answer, because there is so much yet so little. The answer has to be tailored to the person asking… and since I don’t know your particular situation… well, we’ll do the best we can in this format.
Ultimately, You really aren’t DOing in CM, as much as you are LIVE-ing.“On my arrival at Ambleside I was interviewed by Miss Mason who asked me for what purpose I had come. I replied: “I have come to learn to teach.” Then Miss Mason said: “My dear, you have come here to learn to live.”– E. Cholmondeley The Story of Charlotte Mason.
What does it mean to be a Charlotte Mason homeschooler or a Charlotte Mason school?It means that you are respectfully and thoughtfully bringing a child into adulthood. More detailed, It means that you want an education that keeps alive a child’s love of learning, ability to self-learn, to know himself, with a knowledge of topics and skills.
Further pinpointing the details, Charlotte gives us some specific methods to go about this “live-ing” as it relates to acquiring knowledge (school/lessons). There is definitely a way to deaden the mind and there is a way to naturally feed it and thus, truly learn and know.How do you DO this? -By using the home/environment surroundings (atmosphere) -By training good habits and character (discipline) -By feeding body and mind what it needs to live, grow, and flourish (life) -By building friendships with things- everything- from insects to Benjamin Franklin, from multiplication to classic artwork, music to PE. Charlotte Mason called this the Science of Relations. It does not mean that these things are connected to each other, or that the teacher must try to orchestrate these connections… it is building relationships/friendships with these things-with everything. What within the child is preserved and maintained? Curiosity Imagination Personhood Spiritual life Dignity Own thoughts and observations
What habit-skills are formed as a result? -Observation -Attention -Those that form a good character, sound judgment (there are many- CM wrote a whole volume on these, e.g. laziness, prudence, time management, sympathy, service, self control )
What tools (things) do you use to do this? Nature Living Books Objects ( for handicrafts and learned skills) Music Classic artwork Field trips/ on location
What is the role of the teacher? -Keep out of the way, let the child interact with what is before him -Find quality material to feed his mind -Spread a wide curriculum – many subjects, many interactions -Act as a guide and an interested learner along with the student -Be ever aware that the Holy Spirit is ultimately the teacher -Authority on loan from God- deputed authority -Do not hinder, despise, offendWhat is the role of the student?
-Duty to self, others, parents, as a citizen to be the best he can be -I am, I can, I ought, I will -Dig for knowledge -Act of knowing – narration -Obedience
Here are a few related quotes related to this article: there are many more applicable quotes – six volumes worth!…
“We do not invite Heads of schools to take up work lightly, which implies a sound knowledge of certain principles and as faithful a practice. The easy tolerance which holds smilingly that everything is as good as everything else, that one educational doctrine is as good as another, that, in fact, a mixture of all such doctrines gives pretty safe results,—this sort of complacent attitude produces lukewarm effort and disappointing progress. I feel strongly that to attempt to work this method without a firm adherence to the few principles laid down would be not only idle but disastrous. “Oh, we could do anything with books like those,” said a master; he tried the books and failed conspicuously because he ignored the principles. We teachers are really modest and diffident and are not prepared to say that we are more capable of handling a subject than is a carefully chosen author who writes especially upon that subject. “Yes, but,” says a young and able teacher, “we know better how to reach the minds of children than does the most eloquent author speaking through the dull pages of a book.” This is a contention of which we have finally disposed. We have shown that the mass of knowledge, evoking vivid imagination and sound judgment, acquired in a term from the proper books, is many times as great, many times more thoroughly visualised by the scholars, than had they waited upon the words of the most able and effective teacher. This is why we insist upon the use of books. It is not that teachers are not eminently capable but because information does not become knowledge unless a child perform the ‘act of knowing’ without the intervention of another personality.” – Volume 6 p 270-271
“Divine Co-operation.—In this great work we seek and assuredly find the co-operation of the Divine Spirit, whom we recognise, in a sense rather new to modern thought, as the Supreme Educator of mankind in things that have been called secular, fully as much as in those that have been called sacred.” – Volume 2 p.254
“Our aim in Education is to give a Full Life.—We begin to see what we want. Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. ‘Thou hast set my feet in a large room,’ should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking—the strain would be too great—but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy. The question is not,—how much does the youth know? When he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” – Volume 3 p.170-171
“What we are concerned with is the fact that we personally have relations with all that there is in the present, all that there has been in the past, and all that there will be in the future—with all above us and all about us—and that fulness of living, expansion, expression, and serviceableness, for each of us, depend upon how far we apprehend these relationships and how many of them we lay hold of.” – Volume 3 p.185-186