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    #16
    I haven't read all the responses so I'm sorry if I'm repeating anything. I completely understand your frustration and deal with the same things. What seems to help here is to tell them their schoolwork is their job, just like Daddy has a job. My job is to teach and guide, and their job is to do the work. Another thing that motivates my kids is to remind them that they will be doing school in the summer if they delay and don't get it done within our defined school year. They don't like going beyond our end date.

    How long does it take them per subject? Short lessons with the younger ages helped. We didn't go beyond twenty minutes per subject. What about breaks? I gave my boys ten or fifteen minute breaks between more difficult subjects, which really, really helped.

    My children have not reached a point where they enjoy all their work and there is regular complaining about difficult subjects and ones they don't like. If there is too much complaining, it counts against privileges. I am not sure if they will appreciate what I'm doing for them until they are older. That's really frustrating and sometimes it gets to me, but I press on. I'm convinced kids are just too immature to appreciate our sacrifices, and I've come to realize we don't need to justify ourselves to them. You know what's best and that's all they need to know.

    I hope this helps a little.
    Last edited by Sugarbelle; 04-26-2019, 11:28 AM.
    DS, 13, 8th grade
    DS, 10, 5th grade

    Comment


      #17
      Emilylovesbooks, I hear alot of my own questions in your post. These are questions I have struggled with for many years, especially with our homeschool background being an eclectic mix of Montessori, CM, traditional, and unschooling. I am whole-heartedly convinced of the necessity of Classical pedagogy (method) but I too feel the pull of all the CM-based bloggers. I actually avoid reading all but one of them so that I am not "tossed about the winds" of other methods.

      I wrote the following a few weeks ago as I tried to sort this all out in my head. Note that I start with educational philosophy as that is the root of any pedagogy/method. I hope it helps:


      Question: Does philosophy matter for education?

      Philosophy guides action

      Right philosophy guides right action

      What defines right action?

      That which will lead to the proper end of the human being as a human being

      The end: to know love and serve God and be happy with Him in heaven

      What is required for this? Right thinking and right action; we must cooperate with the grace of God

      How does education lead us to this end?

      By cultivating virtue in the human being, not only in morality but in all areas of our life. A virtuous metal-worker is one who has developed skill in metal-working and who uses that skill to create well-made objects.

      How do we cultivate virtue in the human being?

      By teaching the skills, and passing on the knowledge that are needed for the human being to be everything God has created them to be as a human being.

      So education must teach skills and pass on knowledge.

      What skills?

      Community is where God has placed us, but we cannot live in community without language. We cannot understand the ideas of others or share our own ideas. With a basic command of language, we can begin to understand/share but it will be limited. We must continue to build our skill with language: we must know what words to use in what situations, we must know how to combine our words in sentences that can be understood, even by those who do not hear us directly, we must know how to use language in specific ways to inspire, persuade, or admonish. All of these are necessary for man to live fully within a community.

      What knowledge?

      Language is useless if there are no ideas to convey. But we are not the first human beings to have lived. There is a rich tradition of thought in every sphere which touches us as human beings: the order and function of the natural world, the ordering of society, religious faith, morality, art, music, and abstract ideas such as love, truth, beauty, goodness.

      Our skills with language allow us to inherit, contemplate, and pass on this body of knowledge.

      But this education must have an end purpose. That end cannot simply be the human being for the human being did not cause himself and therefore cannot be the ultimate end of anything. Union with our uncaused Cause, which we call God, is the ultimate end of man. Therefore, man’s education must pave the way for him to reach that end.

      But to reach that end, we must fulfill our earthly purpose as well: to know, love, and serve God in this world. The ways in which we are individually called to serve can vary greatly, so we must be prepared — in a general way — for whatever God may call us to.

      In order to be prepared for the variety of callings we may have, we must learn and contemplate a body of knowledge that encompasses the foundations of every pursuit.

      We must understand the order and function of language (grammar, reasoning, writing, speaking, structure, and style), the order and function of the natural world (mathematics, science, art, music), who man is as man (history, literature, theology, philosophy), who man is in relation to others (history, government, literature, philosophy), who man is in relation to God (all areas of study).

      Obviously, we cannot know everything there is to know in each of these areas, but we must learn the foundational knowledge of each in order to be able to live fully.

      From this foundation, we will be able to learn anything else that is needed for our vocation in life for we will not only have a strong foundation in each area, and understand how each fits with the others, we will also have learned how to learn.

      Thus, education must have as its purpose the development of skills in language and mathematics so that we can cultivate knowledge of science, art, music, history, literature, theology, philosophy, and government in our students.

      This is a true and sound educational philosophy [the above is grounded in Catholic teaching on education; it also "just happens" to be the view of classical education as a philosophy]. The rest is a matter of method.

      So now the question is: is there a single method that best fulfills the goals of true education?

      What methods are there? [only considering two here; there are obviously many more]

      Charlotte Mason believes that the teacher needs to present a feast of knowledge to the child while also building specific skills. These are accomplished through the reading of living books which are meant to inspire a sense of connection between the child and the knowledge they are learning. Accordingly, skills are also taught through the medium of living books. The child is seen as their own educator with the teacher facilitating their meeting with the feast of ideas. Thus narration is the primary means of contemplating the works that are read, and synthesizing the knowledge they contain, as well as connecting it to prior knowledge. Likewise, Copywork, the imitation of well-written and worthy pieces of language, is the primary means of learning the order and structure of language.

      Classical educators believe that the teacher, based on their age, education, and experience, is the custodian of both knowledge and skills and passes these to the child. Skills are taught explicitly and directly through presentation, comparison, and modeling. Modeling includes methods such as copywork and the stylistic imitation of great written works. Knowledge is shared through the reading and/or presentation of well-written, worthy works on various topics, followed by direct questioning to guide the child to the most important points within the work, and socratic questioning to investigate any error/incompleteness in the child’s impressions, bringing them to a correct and/or more complete understanding of the topic at hand. Through this guidance, the child is equipped to make substantial connections between areas of knowledge.

      Either of these methods can support true education. The question is does one do so better than the other?
      I believe that classical education (understood both in its philosophical and pedagogical meaning) supports true education best because, while many families have met the goals of true education through other methods, those methods carry greater risk because they inherently foster a "wait and see" approach. By the time you figure out whether or not it worked well for your child, it can be very late in their schooling and difficult to try to help them make up that ground.
      Jennifer
      Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

      DS16
      MP: Lit 10, VideoText Algebra
      MPOA: High School Comp. II
      HSC: Spanish I, Conceptual Physics, Modern European History, and electives

      DS15
      MP: Biology, Lit 10, VideoText Algebra, Greek Tragedies
      MPOA: High School Comp. II, Fourth Form Latin
      HSC: Modern European History

      DS12
      7M with:
      Second Form Latin, EGR III, and HSC for US History

      DS11
      SC Level 4

      DD9
      3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

      DD7/8
      Still in SC Level 2

      DD 4/5
      SC Level C

      Comment


        #18
        In this past century, the idea of child-directed learning has really gained ground. As secular reasoning has dominated our culture, we've moved away from the fundamental idea that all children are born into sin (with original sin--not a blank slate upon which humanity writes its thesis), and left to their own devices, they will never choose good or seek truth. If we only look at scripture, which I hope we can agree speaks powerfully to the human condition, we can see why children need explicit instruction in the true, the good and the beautiful. Humankind will seek knowledge, acclaim and power--the things of this material world, but the Bible says humanity never seeks the Lord.

        Psalm 51:5 says, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”

        Proverbs 22:15 says “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.”

        Genesis 8:21 declares, “. . . the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”

        In Psalm 14:2-3 we see: “The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

        Jeremiah 17:9 says that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”

        While Ecclesiastes 9:3 echoes it: “The hearts of the sons of men are full of evil, and insanity is in their hearts through their lives.”

        Then we can look at what scripture says about teaching our children.

        Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."

        Proverbs 29:15 tells us, "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." my emphasis added

        Proverbs 22:15 further explains, "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him." So, children will pursue folly unless corrected from that path.

        Hebrews 12:5-9 goes into a lengthy explanation of why teacher-led instruction/parenting is so important. It is a mirror of Christ's relationship with us: And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

        Deuteronomy 6:6-7 reminds Israel (and us) that explicit teaching in the ways of the Lord, the kind we've already established children won't naturally seek after, is the only way to preserve a society that values God's laws, protects the innocent, establishes and maintains justice and stands on truth. The Lord reminded them: "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."

        Another vote from scripture for allowing an education to persevere through difficulty: Hebrews 12:11 says, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

        From scripture alone, we know that a good education has appropriate challenges full of character development that the scriptures say the child won't enjoy. Only allowing a child to pursue knowledge that is pleasing and enjoyable means the parent who wants to follow Biblical tenants for godly instruction has an even bigger job, because now the parent has to find ways OUTSIDE of a child's education to develop virtue. That sounds exhausting.

        And let's briefly look at unschooling. The child picks a topic of interest, reading books and examining the topic in its natural state. Would you plan to pre-read every book the child gets? Would you be previewing every website and video they come across? Will you be educating yourself fully in the brief time it takes between expressed interest and evaluation of the topic to facilitate a thoughtful discussion? That, too, sounds exhausting. What do you do when the child drops one topic because it gets too hard or he loses interest? Do you make him press on? How is making the child press on not the same as making a child persevere in a lose curricular outline like MP?

        I also want to make sure I'm not saying that unschoolers don't follow the Bible or that they're unbiblical or that their foundation is secular. It's just so much extra work to exclude that goodness and recoup the goodness elsewhere.

        I've done eclectic and CM. I've been run ragged searching for resources with which my daughter can engage at her own leisure. I feel at home now w/ MP, but it hasn't come without introspection and examination of the underlying philosophy. MP is my launch board for a fabulous education. My eldest will always gripe at math (and things which she finds difficult because they are new or she hasn't practiced enough). I tire of that. *I* tire of listening to her whining, although I know WHY she does it. She wants to get out of the difficult thing, the hard work, the perseverance. Scripture tells me WHY she does that. It's up to me to hold to consistent, loving boundaries.

        And here's what scripture says about that:
        Galations 6:9 says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

        1 Timothy tells us to fight the good fight, finish the race.
        Last edited by enbateau; 04-26-2019, 05:53 PM.
        Mama to 2, Married 17 years

        SY 19/20
        DD 8-3A
        DS 5-SC C

        Comment


          #19
          jen1134 enbateau

          Those are powerful explanations with great detail. Whether or not this answers the original question posted and all of the comments that have unfolded, this has "nourished" me.
          So thank you.
          Melissa

          DS (MP3) - 9
          DS (MP2) - 7/8
          DS (K) - 6
          DD (Adorable distraction) 2 1/2

          Comment


            #20
            *really enjoying this thread*. I suppose my kids are odd. They do not exactly rush to the school table, but once I figured out how to best use MP (I appreciate knowing what is done at HLS) to meet the needs of my family, they really hardly ever protest school. This is one time during the day where they know what to do, and actually enjoy it. This was not the case in the fall, but at this point in the year, they are seeing the fruits of their labor. I required my oldest to do a fact Form (in grade 3 math) nearly every day. I think there are 100 facts. At the beginning of the year it is all she did because it took her so long. She now completed it in less than 5 minutes. The first time it happened was AMAZING! She actually said, “wow, I thought I would never finish this that fast, all those days working on this and look what I did!” The next time something was more difficult, I reminded her of the glory in the hard work. She was not a joy, but she did remember and did persist.

            I came to MP, looking for a “Savior”. It was hard at first, because, obviously the only Savior is Our Lord, I was looking at curriculum to save our family and it did not happen fast enough. It takes time. However, the order + teacher help is exactly what “I” needed and ultimately, over time itvreally has alleviated SOME of the chaos in our lives. MP has a layering effect, so that each year builds. My kids need this. It plants the roots, it really does.



            Christine

            (2019/2020)
            DD1 8/23/09 - SC5/6
            DS2 9/1/11 - SC3,4, 5/6 combo
            DD3 2/9/13 -SC2 to start, MP1 second semester

            Previous Years
            DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3, SC4’
            DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK, SC2)
            DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others, MPK)

            Comment


              #21
              I'm really enjoying this thread, too! Its comforting to see that I have the age range as most of you. 8 yr old to baby. You are all full of wisdom that I need right now!

              Cheryl Swopes article "The Danger of Discovery", was the deciding factor for me on MP full cores for next year.
              DD 3rd
              DS 1st
              DS 3yr old climber
              DS infant

              Comment


                #22
                Wow....I did read everyone’s responses and then reread them a few days later. There is just so much to contemplate, even within each person’s response. Please know that I’m thinking about what you wrote and appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with me!
                2019-20
                DS--9, 3M/4M
                DD--7, mix of 1 and 2
                DD--5, MP K
                DS--3
                DS--1

                Comment


                  #23
                  Dear Emily,

                  I wanted to echo what Sarah said about trying to honor what a difficult stage of life you are in, and that it is just going to be hard for awhile. It's unlikely that a curriculum change will make a big difference in how hard your days are right now. Rest, doing things you enjoy with your kids, seeing if your husband can help out with a subject or two if at all possible, spreading out your year into the summer or next year, will help you get through to a time when it's manageable to more closely follow the curriculum guides. It's okay if an MP grade takes longer than one year to complete. This year I had a baby crawling all over the house and a son in Kindergarten. We've been on Week 26 for at least 3 weeks now. We'll go into the summer, or finish it next year.

                  As a mom of 5 boys who has tried a few homeschooling years in the CM method, I can assure you that many boys dislike and resent that style of learning too. They can resist narration and careful attention to nature or composer or picture study just as much as they resist Latin grammar. :-) I have a son in high school who is intellectually convinced of the value of a classical education but still complains about his homework! Outside of total unschooling/child-directed learning, your child will encounter a struggle to attend to assignments he has not chosen--and of course that's true of girls too.

                  Regarding your concern about happiness and virtues, this is how I understand it. Virtue is a matter of training our will and emotions to desire the good, which is ultimately what can make us happy. Happiness can't come first, because without virtue, we do not know how to choose what will make us happy.
                  Last edited by CatherineS; 05-01-2019, 11:51 AM. Reason: Typo!
                  Catherine

                  2019-20
                  DS16, 10th
                  DS13, 7th
                  DS11, 6th
                  DD11, 6th
                  DS7, 1st
                  DD4, JrK
                  DS 17 mos

                  Homeschooling 4 with MP
                  2 in classical school

                  Comment


                    #24
                    Originally posted by KF2000 View Post
                    I just got back from my walk this morning, and I was listening to this awesome podcast from Circe that speaks to this question so well. It’s about 40 minutes, but is really good.

                    Circe Commons: Keith McCurdy on the Value of Struggle 3/5/19

                    AMDG,
                    Sarah
                    I was reading some "back posts" and at your suggestion, my husband and I both listened to this on our drive back from the mountains. We thought it was great, and pithy, and funny enough to keep your interest, all with very, very good points. It really made me see that I *have* been aiming for "happy" rather than "sturdy." I took notes and it has given me a lot to think about.
                    DD1: Third grade: reading, spelling, piano, and art along with MP Mammals, Lit Guides, LC yr 1, and R&S 3 so we are ready for 4NU next year
                    DD2: MP Kindergarten
                    DS 1: MP Preschool package
                    Me: Autoimmune Protocol athlete who loves chai tea with coconut milk, a good book, and the mountains

                    Comment


                      #25
                      Oh, I’m so glad it was helpful. Yes, it can be so hard to balance life at home with the schooling our children need...discipline and fun are not mutually exclusive!

                      AMDG,
                      Sarah
                      2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                      DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                      DS, 16
                      DD, 14
                      DD, 12
                      DD, 10
                      DD, 7.5
                      DD, 5.5
                      +DS+
                      DS, 18 months

                      Comment


                        #26
                        When you say the “schooling our children need,” do you mean education? Or do you like the idea of school? This question relates to Jessica’s from a while back about the history of education. Compulsory schooling is a relatively new thing~150 years old. And there was a Classical Teacher article about a year ago that talks about homeschool still being a school. However, many prefer to say home education because it doesn’t connote the school part. I believe in the UK they typically use home education. Many choose to educate at home so as not to have that school mindset driving everything. I’m not trying to be picky; I genuinely want to understand this better. I had been wanting to return to this thread anyway to ask this again: but how DO you make your children do the schoolwork? Besides the threat of a talk with Dad? (Which does appear to help) I am the type of person who likes the order that school offers, but enforcing it is hard on relationships with the children.
                        Thank you for continuing the conversation!
                        2019-20
                        DS--9, 3M/4M
                        DD--7, mix of 1 and 2
                        DD--5, MP K
                        DS--3
                        DS--1

                        Comment


                          #27
                          Originally posted by Emilylovesbooks View Post
                          When you say the “schooling our children need,” do you mean education? Or do you like the idea of school? This question relates to Jessica’s from a while back about the history of education. Compulsory schooling is a relatively new thing~150 years old. And there was a Classical Teacher article about a year ago that talks about homeschool still being a school. However, many prefer to say home education because it doesn’t connote the school part. I believe in the UK they typically use home education. Many choose to educate at home so as not to have that school mindset driving everything. I’m not trying to be picky; I genuinely want to understand this better. I had been wanting to return to this thread anyway to ask this again: but how DO you make your children do the schoolwork? Besides the threat of a talk with Dad? (Which does appear to help) I am the type of person who likes the order that school offers, but enforcing it is hard on relationships with the children.
                          Thank you for continuing the conversation!
                          Hi Emily!
                          I don't mind your question at all. It prompted me to go back and reread the thread this morning, which has so many good things to think about, especially as we are heading down into the final stretch of summer. Your question is a good one as it prompts us to be careful about our terms, and what we mean by them. Why do I choose to use one term over another? My temptation was to answer that I do prefer the use of the word "education" because I think that better reflects the nature of what we do here at home - from the latin roots educare - "to train or mold," and educere - "to lead out." Both of these I think express my personal view of what we do every day; the umbrella that encompasses all our efforts, both those that involve books and paper, and those that involve experiences and life lessons as we lead our children out of their childhood into adulthood, and how we mold them into the best version of themselves. I was going to answer that I used the word "school" too hastily in my previous response; "education" would be a better choice.

                          But in thinking about it more, I realize I don't dislike the word "school" either, precisely for the explanation I just gave of education. Education is broad; it includes everything that goes into our days - our faith life, our habits, our family culture, our character training, etc. etc. etc. But for me, using "school" to refer to the specific work we do in our various content areas is a helpful distinction. This gets back to the viewpoints that as parents who teach their children at home, our whole lives are part of our children's education - which again is true, but for me, made it very very difficult to determine when we had done enough actual work for each given day. Those less-structured (or completely unstructured) methods left me with a great deal of anxiety over what we would do each day, how much of each thing we needed to do, when do we know to stop, should we pick back up when this interruption is over, should we cram one more thing into today, etc. For me, the temptation to always do more led us to a path of education in which our lives were out of balance and the stress level was high because of it. Having a set curriculum with a checklist to do each day solved that problem for me.

                          I could explain that away as, "that's just part of my temperament" and give the reassurance that everyone should decide that part for themselves. I could say that it's more of a personal decision of whether you use a more structured approach (that looks more like "school") or a more unstructured approach (that looks more like "a learning lifestyle.") But that's not what I actually believe, so that would not be completely honest. While I do respect people who make their own decisions about how they approach education at home, (and I actually have a very close friend of 20+ years who is a committed unschooler) there is truth to what education actually is, and because of that truth, there are things we know about what it should look like.

                          This comes back to whether we can actually know things or not. Much of what has gone into progressive education has come from the attempt to deny that we can actually know anything, that there is any truth out there to strive for. Other reforms of education took this same reform mindset and limited education to only what they truly needed to be productive citizens - such as Charlotte Mason tailoring her education to the needs of the pastoral community where she lived, for whom her expectations of academic ability were actually patronizingly low. This was the beginning of outcome-based education - only giving children what they would need for the state of life in which they found themselves (i.e. vocational training).

                          But the traditional belief at the origins of education were quite different. For this, the best place to look is the Greeks. As with so many other areas of intellectual development, the Greek mindset about education - what it is and what it does for Man - is truly revelatory. It centers on three basic questions that have remained at the heart of what philosophers have argued about throughout the centuries:

                          "What is Man?"
                          "What can he know?"
                          "What are his purposes?"

                          This is what they sought to address through education. To teach Men to be Men (and we have since rightly included women in this pursuit!); to pursue Truth, Goodness, and Beauty (as actual things that exist and are the only things truly worthy of pursuit); and to prepare (mold/train) a Man to be well-suited to any number of pursuits in life. This is where Liberal Education comes from, and is what lies at the heart of everything we do for school. It may not seem like it as we plug away at math facts, science facts, literature assignments, and comprehension questions...but it is. It may look like checklists to us because that is what comes in our boxes each year. But deep down, from Cheryl Lowe and Martin Cothran themselves, this history of classical education drove the efforts behind the decisions MP has made and continues to make to provide us with a manageable, efficient, age-appropriate way to take part in this grand task of raising up our young people - regardless of what term you use as the label.

                          ETA: I will add that this does not mean that I think MP has developed the one and only way of implementing a true education, or that there is no room for flexibility along the way. Simply Classical is a perfect example of taking this education and tailoring it to specific needs. Or the example of how Highlands Latin School has acted as a model school from which the Classical Latin School Association has gone on to help others open schools founded on the same principles but tailored to each unique community of educators. I just want to be clear that there is a difference between truth bearing fruit in different ways, versus the belief that many different truths exist.

                          Gotta run...but I am excited to come back later and see how this conversation continues!
                          AMDG,
                          Sarah
                          Last edited by KF2000; 07-15-2019, 10:09 AM.
                          2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                          DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                          DS, 16
                          DD, 14
                          DD, 12
                          DD, 10
                          DD, 7.5
                          DD, 5.5
                          +DS+
                          DS, 18 months

                          Comment


                            #28
                            I’ve been thinking about what you said but don’t have time for a long reply yet Would you be able to elaborate a little more on what you said about Charlotte Mason and her tailoring the education to the pastoral community? I hadn’t heard this said before. I have heard that she was trying to provide a high quality education to all children. And people seem to really like Ambleside Online—that its students are very well read.
                            Last edited by Emilylovesbooks; 07-15-2019, 11:50 PM.
                            2019-20
                            DS--9, 3M/4M
                            DD--7, mix of 1 and 2
                            DD--5, MP K
                            DS--3
                            DS--1

                            Comment


                              #29
                              Originally posted by Emilylovesbooks View Post
                              I’ve been thinking about what you said but don’t have time for a long reply yet Would you be able to elaborate a little more on what you said about Charlotte Mason and her tailoring the education to the pastoral community? I hadn’t heard this said before. I have heard that she was trying to provide a high quality education to all children. And people seem to really like Ambleside Online—that its students are very well read.
                              Gosh, another good question, and one worthy of a lengthy discussion - which I feel desperate to include but also know may get abbreviated by kids waking up and wanting attention. But this morning I have tried to briefly review the shortest book on CM I have (Consider This by Karen Glass) so that I can highlight just a few points that will show the ability to critique CM even though it may not be an exhaustive treatment.

                              We talk a lot in classical education about the Great Conversation, and it is a point I think it is important to remember here. An idea is proposed by someone, who writes about it, and who is then read by those who come after. Those readers then digest those thoughts, agree or disagree, propose their own thoughts, write their own materials which reference the previous great mind and yet set forth one's own argument. This process continues down through the centuries as though all these great minds were in one room hashing it out. Whenever we read any works which seek to take part in this Great Conversation, we have to bear in mind that the work was not written in a vacuum. Each new writer/educator/philosopher was greatly influenced by what was read, by what was going on in the world at the time, and by his or her own experiences.

                              This fact is extremely important to keep in mind when reading Charlotte Mason. While she is credited with having read widely from the texts of the classics, she also read widely from her contemporaries - the minds who were active in the scientism and modernism of the 19th century. She is praised for her ability to argue with some of the psychology of the time, such as the fact that she believed children were persons (which contradicted much of the scientism of the time) and that they were not born inherently good or bad but rather with the potential to do good or evil. But her writings also reveal that she was not immune to the influence of the psychology either, particularly when it comes to scholarly pursuits. This will be a huge simplification but one important point about Modernism as a movement of the 18th and 19th centuries is that it downplayed or even altogether discouraged scholasticism, suggesting that people cannot really know that much and therefore should not pursue difficult studies. This is one area I see come through in Charlotte Mason's views in particular.

                              Another important point to keep in mind is that reading Charlotte Mason, who is credited with having read much from classical writers, is not the same thing as having read the classical writers themselves. When we read her work, (or a work like Karen Glass' who quotes heavily from classical texts) we are reading an interpretation of what she assimilated from them and therefore must read them critically, with an eye for whether or not we actually agree with her rather than taking it as accepted truth because it mentions a great mind. For example, Glass uses material from Quintillian to explain the meaning of "grammar" in the classical tradition and explains that because of the roots of the word "grammar," what was actually meant by a "man of letters" was a well-read man...that is, that the centerpiece of "grammar" study was not in fact Latin or Greek, but rather literature. (Consider This p. 50) This is a false conclusion. Grammar meant just that...learning the language of the written word so that children could in fact read the classics - but these classics were written in Greek and Latin. So it did inherently mean learning Greek and Latin. This is a twist that happens often in CM's explanations, and has given rise to a vision of education that may rest on some classical ideas, but did in fact redefine classical education in its own way. CM may have studied classical education, but what she developed was her own unique paradigm of education.

                              I could give you so many examples. Take the emphasis she places on virtue as a centerpiece of education. While she rightly included this emphasis as being a continuation of classical principles, she reduces it to character development, as though the goal is simply to "be a good person." Read in one context, this seems like a good enough goal. Many homeschoolers find it incredibly inspiring for how learning how to raise their children. Which is great, and is a worthy enough reason to read her work. And CM is given credit for continuing the classical tradition by emphasizing this. But what CM actually did was to take ideas from the past and water them down. The actual emphasis on virtue in works of the past was not simply so people had good character; it was not so that people developed for themselves a way of right living. The amount of ink that was spent on virtue and its related ideas by ancient and medieval philosophers was to inspire their people to be GREAT. To have the courage to strive to be the ideal man, to reach perfection in all areas of human ability. This was the truly Greek way of understanding virtue. The Romans adjusted it to emphasize "state" over "man," so that the ideal became the perfect Roman, but yet the goal was the same - to inspire man to be the highest version of himself possible. To know that man entered this world as a being with incredible potential which needed to be honed, refined, molded and trained. This was no easy task and was not for the faint of heart. And such a pursuit was not going to be remotely possible through a gentle introduction to shallow knowledge of a wide array of topics. CM quotes the greats, but I think if the tables were turned and the greats had to read her work, they would probably be aghast at her interpretation of them. In the very first pages of Consider This you can find this alteration of the classical model of education:

                              She never questioned that classical scholarship, as it was generally understood (fluency in Latin and Greek and familiarity with the texts read in those languages) should continue. But that type of education was always, historically, an education for the few, the elite, and not the many. Charlotte Mason's vision was for "a liberal education for all,"and the practical truth has always been and still is that there is not time to make a classics scholar of every pupil, besides the fact that not everyone is suited for such studies. There is time, however, to do so much more than the "three R's," which are no more than a utilitarian acquisition of basic skills, and to give every student a rich feast of all the best knowledge the world has to offer: a liberal or generous education. This is where she placed her focus, and she left the intense "grind" of Latin, Greek, and higher mathematics to their special schools, noting only when she thought it most appropriate to begin such work. (p.3-4)

                              Here we see that CM was indeed aware of the traditional pursuits of classical education, but accepted it as something too high for the average person to attain. Yes, she strove to provide something more than just a basic education, but this middle ground of a "rich feast" was in fact her replacement version of education, as something that was more attainable to all people. This is what frustrates me so much. It is this assumption that we don't even try to put the very, very best education into the hands of every child. That you start out with a lower bar, that a surface-level exposure to the world around them is all that some children are capable of doing. So many people put the analogy of a feast out there as a desirable attribute of CM's approach, following the idea Glass explains as, "It is the task of the educator to introduce a child to all areas of knowledge, so that he may develop relationships of his own - so that he may love or care about many things." But this is so backward. Placing a wealth of things in front of our kids merely guarantees that they won't really know, understand, or care about any of it very well, which is the exact opposite of real knowledge. CM is right in that we have to allocate our education time carefully as it is extremely valuable and limited. But to suggest that that time is better spent learning a little bit about a lot of different things, rather than knowing a great deal about a few, is just backward.

                              But this is how the Great Conversation works. Even in ancient times, writers did not all agree about what constituted the best education of children. The debate has ravaged on and on throughout the centuries - as we do even today. But what I find the most desirable are those works and viewpoints whose educational paradigms put the greatest faith in the potential of the human person to reach great heights; who inspire us to be so much more than we think we can be. Of this particular thread of classical thought there was still a hierarchy of learning...theology and philosophy being the summit...but if you simply started the journey, followed the order of knowledge, you could reach your own personal highest point - a journey of a lifetime, to be sure, but so well worth it. This order of knowledge - and the value of the pursuit - is what I find missing from CM. It's just not inspiring.

                              AMDG,
                              Sarah
                              2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                              DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                              DS, 16
                              DD, 14
                              DD, 12
                              DD, 10
                              DD, 7.5
                              DD, 5.5
                              +DS+
                              DS, 18 months

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                                #30
                                Almost forgot the one critique that goes back to your very original question...about how to get kids to do their work.

                                This brings up another point where I do not agree with CM. As Glass presents it, CM argues that children are naturally humble, and therefore have a natural desire and ability to learn - which seems to suggest that if we but simply present material in an appealing way, children will naturally eat it up. We are supposed to take CM's extensive experience teaching in the classroom and interacting with the parents of her students and schools as proof of her correctness on this matter. But CM herself was an only child (no siblings to contend with growing up), educated solely at home, and never had any children of her own. These facts are telling to me. Because as a parent, one realizes that from the first moment of a child's life, his passions are disordered. Yes, he is precious and delightful, and brings irreplaceable joy to his parents and siblings. But children are also difficult - some more than others. Just because they have a natural instinct to explore and learn from the world around them does not mean that they take in all that they should - or that they cooperate with that knowledge once it has been presented to them. A child's tantrum over having to go to bed at night is a perfect example. If a child were indeed humble enough to comply with his or her nature, than the simple fact that he or she is tired would be enough for him or her to want to go to bed and do it without incident. But as we all know, this isn't how children operate. They are irrational, emotional, and full of conflicting desires.

                                This is true for their education as well. They may naturally want to know everything they can about the world around them, but they also don't know what things are the best use of their time. They don't know what pursuits will give them the best foundation. They don't know what they will want to be capable of when they are 30, and therefore will not naturally choose the things that will help them get there. This is why it is essential for parents to have the discipline and personal strength to remain committed to helping them become all they are capable of becoming. At times, this can mean that we feel as though we are always the bad guy. That we are always fighting a battle with our children rather than creating a warm, rich, rewarding educational atmosphere. But what I try to keep in mind is that I am not creating an atmosphere. I am indeed fighting a battle to save my children from mediocrity and misery. I am fighting for them, even though very often it feels as though I am fighting against them. And what that usually requires is for me to become the best version of myself that I can. I cannot raise my children to great heights if I am giving myself leeway to be impatient, easily emotional, sarcastic, intemperate, undisciplined or lazy. Whenever we have hit a rough patch, I usually start with myself and look at whether I am following the very things I am asking of my children. Is my day ordered? Am I living out my priorities? Am I being virtuous? Because if these things are unfamiliar to me, then there is really no way I can help my children do them. Conversely, if I am able to model for my children what it is that I am asking of them, then suddenly we are all on the same team again. When they learn that Mom and Dad filter their movie choices, that we give up things we want for things we need, that we work hard, that we complain little, that our culture applies to everyone, then it becomes real to them.

                                I am an avid football fan because I love the metaphor football offers and the number of life lessons that exist in sports. One team that fascinates me is the success of the Patriots, and particularly of Bill Belichick. And not on a personal level, but on his coaching philosophy and the resultant success. I adapted a quote of his and put it on our fridge because I think it is such a great representation of the sort of culture we are trying to create in our home - to strive for greatness by being faithful to your own work each day.

                                This is what it says:

                                To Be a Team Player:
                                Be Dependable.
                                Be Reliable.
                                Be Consistent.
                                Improve.
                                DO YOUR JOB.
                                No excuses.
                                No Days Off.
                                Every single teammate matters.
                                Every single teammate can change the course of the game.

                                The same is true in a family.


                                Again, this is not practical, day to day help in getting your kids to do their work. But that's because what I have found is that tactics only last for so long. Threats, punishments, and yelling are not effective. They do happen at times, but they don't create lasting change. The change that matters is conversion of heart. Of helping your children buy into what you are trying to do for them. This takes big picture ideas and commitments, with daily reinforcement. It takes being proactive rather than reactive. Set the stage for your kids, and then follow through every day. And there is no getting around the fact that it is hard. That's why this community on the Forum, through Sodalitas, and through like-minded friends and colleagues is so valuable.

                                So, that's if for me today. Again, hoping this will fuel more conversation!
                                AMDG,
                                Sarah
                                2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                                DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                                DS, 16
                                DD, 14
                                DD, 12
                                DD, 10
                                DD, 7.5
                                DD, 5.5
                                +DS+
                                DS, 18 months

                                Comment

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