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    #16
    Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

    Tahara,

    This is truly a great discussion! I wanted to add to what Sarah said (which I really appreciated, btw!) that where Charlotte Mason breaks down for me is when it comes to "doing school." She was, for the most part, addressing how you'd run a school. She trained teachers who were teaching in schools. When she talks about taking an hour to read alone each day before lunch I'm both stunned and jealous! There was also the work with parents who were educating in homes, but I just never felt like she was talking to me. Does that make sense? However, where she's been helpful to me is by giving me ideas on how to be a curious adult and better teacher to my own children. When I read her writings I feel called to wonder, delight, and curiosity. Perhaps because I've never been trained to teach, I feel her mentorship in that area.
    My big take-away from Consider This was the pattern she talks about Humility-->Synthetic Thinking-->Virtue as well as her gentle discussion of the Trivium and why's it is not stages/ages. The back cover points out that it's not intended as a "how to" book but a "why to" book. If you've not already read everything on the MP articles site, that's a great place to start. I also love the talks and videos from Circe Institute (www.circeinstitute.com).

    I'll PM you a long list of books that I enjoy sometime soon--if I forget, please remind me! I do agree with Sarah about reading critically. Now that we've settled into a strong classical focus for school, I can find encouragement in a wide assortment of education reading without feeling that I have to change our days and materials every time I read something interesting. I like Andrew Kern's phrasing "the mother is the curriculum, and don't let that scare you--take it as an invitation."

    It sounds to me like you are in the "settling" part of your decision-making process. Since I found my "home" with MP I've experienced much greater confidence and freedom as a homeschooler. I know it's not right for every family, but it's right for us for now. I'm praying you find your "home" feeling as well.

    Warmly,
    Festina lentē,
    Jessica P

    SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
    @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
    S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
    D · 8th
    D · 5th
    S · 2nd

    Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

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      #17
      Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

      Your honest responses have been so helpful!
      I can identify with the struggles of others here, and I think because of what I was taught in college and of what I have read about gentle homeschooling methods, I second-guess my desire to use a more structured method that includes workbooks. However, I believe I find relief with the structure because I do want to stop the seemingly-endless search for the best materials, curriculum, and methods. I suppose I am a recovering perfectionist....I need to keep things simple.
      I wasn't sure I asked my question properly, but your comments have provided much more clarity on the topic. Thank you all!!!
      2019-20
      DS--9, 3M/4M
      DD--7, mix of 1 and 2
      DD--5, MP K
      DS--3
      DS--1

      Comment


        #18
        Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

        Such an amazing thread, and so many wise, wise answers and advice.

        You ladies are wonderful!
        Plans for 2019-20

        DD1 - 24 - College Grad and rocking her own bakery business
        DD2 - 13 - 8A Louisville HLS Cottage School and MPOA
        DS3 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
        DS4 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
        DD5 - 7 - MP2, Louisville HLS Cottage School
        DS6 - 5 - MP K

        [url]www.thekennedyadventures.com/all-about-our-memoria-press-homeschool[/url]

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          #19
          Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

          Okay, so this sort of thread is the kind I mull over a lot, so I am thankful for all the responses too! Dianna, that does make me a philosophy-loving ocd kind of person....but I happen to be married to a wonderful man who is pretty much the opposite....so I have great appreciation for the wisdom that comes from the "cut-to-the-chase" sort of mind as well!

          The thought that I wanted to clarify was from my post when I said it bugs me that she makes such universal statements that all children should learn in this model. I actually do believe in universal statements, as they do help us get to truth. Our society does not allow us to make universal statements, for fear of offending. But I am just as likely of making universal statements as Charlotte Mason is, because I do believe there is universal truth -even in education. So what I should have said was that I do not agree with the statements that Mason states as truth. I agree with her that children can learn under her model, but the education they receive will be different from the education a child receives in a classical model. You simply cannot have the exact same outcome using two significantly different methods. (Another universal truth!)

          Studying Latin is not the same thing as NOT studying Latin. An immersion approach to Latin is NOT the same thing as a grammar-first approach to learning Latin. Yes, our children are unique, and life experiences will play a significant role in the overall person our children become. But as far as education goes, if you are spending your time doing different things, the outcomes will be different. Did I learn Latin in school? No. Did I have the best education my parents knew of, sacrificed for, and prayed over? Yes. Am I trying to do the same for my children? Yes.

          So my suggestion of finding what speaks to your heart as a homeschooling mother was not a way of saying "use whatever you like and it will all be okay." Nor do I think we all have to follow the exact same path. What speaks to one person, and hits them as a fit for their family, is, in my hope, what is going to help them mold and form their children into the persons God has intended for them to be. Parents have been blessed with different strengths, weaknesses, and personalities....which makes variations in homeschool life that much more understandable. So if using a Charlotte Mason mindset, (with MP materials, of course!) offers the path that a family craves and loves, then that is a good fit, and a blessing for them. Their children will have a different experience, develop different skills, and have different strengths and weaknesses than children who follow the type of education that the classical tradition upholds. The classical model has always been focused on the formation of a free individual who has mastered the Liberal Arts, and is therefore fit to assume any role in society. My goal as a mother in a homeschool family has always been to come as close to that truth as possible. I think the different means we have been discussing will determine how closely we come to that ideal.

          Okay, so I think I can lay that to rest and finish my coffee now...

          AMDG,
          Sarah
          Last edited by KF2000; 06-22-2015, 07:42 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


            #20
            Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

            Sarah, you brought up an excellent point about different methods leading to different outcomes...I think some of the going back and forth and the uncertainty for many people (I know it does for me) may come from the perception that both of these methods will lead to the same outcome - the true, the good, and the beautiful...

            A few years back on the Well Trained Mind forum there was a LONG discussion about classical education, the Circe Institute, and pursuing the true, the good, and the beautiful...That thread, many blogs about what was discussed in that thread, and different websites have, whether intentional or not, made Charlotte Mason methods, Ambleside, classical education and Memoria Press seem like different means to the same end...It is portrayed like different lanes on a track field, running in the same direction towards the same end, but on a different track...In my mind, if all these roads lead home, then I will pick the prettiest road with the best view...Now if these roads lead to different places, I need to figure out where I want to end up and pick the road that leads there regardless of the view or difficulty of travel...

            I think that is the delimma...First, we need to realize that different roads lead to different places...Charlotte Mason has become another method of classical education in the minds of many...Whether that is true or not is up for debate, but what seems clear is that there is a difference between Charlotte Mason and Memoria Press...What we want will determine what we use (I hope)...That is where education about these different methods come into play...

            Is it fair to say that it might come down to our views on mastery versus exposure?...Deliberate teaching of ordered thinking versus letting many great ideas form who we are?...I need to think about this more...

            I hope this comes across okay and makes sense...
            Last edited by The Autumn Oak; 06-22-2015, 08:03 AM.
            Tahara

            Homeschooling two boys
            DS -19 (9/4/00) Homeschool graduate, 2nd year in college
            DS -15 (9/9/04) (SN) MP Year 8 w/ FF Latin
            DS -13 (7/3/06) MP Year 8 w/ FF Latin

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              #21
              Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

              Yes, Tahara, you have summarized it wonderfully. You have clarified the discussion really well, and pulled out what it is that a parent needs to decide, and where the discussion really lies. Well done!

              Trying to say that all our options will end up at the same place then makes it difficult to separate modern education from that racetrack as well. If we suggest there is an "all paths are equal" reality about education, than we have no means for saying that modern education does not belong in a lane of its own too, because proponents of it would argue that it does.

              We could change the metaphor from a level racetrack to climbing a mountain, where the summit is truth, goodness, and beauty. Different folks approach climbing that mountain in different ways. Some folks want to deny the mountain is even there, and therefore simply wander around the bottom of the moutain, not ever looking up and realizing there is value to the climb. This is where I would put Common Core and such. Then there are folks that love the moutain, and see there is a summit, but want to see as much of the mountain as possible along the way. The journey can be gradual, easy, wonderful, and filled with delights, but progress toward the summit is random and disorganized at best. I would put the child-led learning, unschooling, and "everything but the kitchen sink" types of education as examples of this type of climber.

              Is there a well-marked, well trod path toward the summit? Sure....since Classical education, consisting of the liberal arts and the humanities, has been in existence for over 2000 years, I would argue it is that path. Has it been traveled heavily, with set check points along the way, yes. Does everyone notice the exact same views, vistas, rest points, and delights? Of course not. But by the time a person has completed the path, can they look back with others at the top and rejoice in a shared journey? Absolutely.

              I struggle to complete the metaphor when it comes to Charlotte Mason and others, especially those who forego the study of classical languages. I think their paths may be branches off the main one, and have become rather well trod over the years. I think they still probably encounter a lot of the same experiences along the way, and their view of the summit is still guiding them. But I struggle with a conclusion that they do not reach the summit, because first of all, it comes across as arrogant, and also because there are places where the paths overlap, or share ground. And also because this is a metaphor, and the "summit" of truth, goodness, and beauty is something we actually experience along the way, not just as an end result. So perhaps the summit is really God Himself; truth, goodness, and beauty are the clear path; classical educators strive to remain securely on that path, while the variations meander a bit on and off. Better? Rereading my post with that mindset makes me like it better. Thoughts?

              AMDG,
              Sarah
              Last edited by KF2000; 06-22-2015, 09:19 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


                #22
                Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

                Sarah, I like the mountain metaphor because I think it does help with clarifying goals versus paths. I think that many of the groups Tahara mentions do have, in general, the same end in mind. And you are right that there are lots with no end in mind. So at least Charlotte Mason and classical have a common end and are moving steadily in the same direction. The question does have to do with whether each path is equally effective.

                I read Glass's book and found it interesting. I think it points out a couple of places where some differences lie. Classical education was historically elitist because education was for the elite. Charlotte Mason believed in general education. The question was whether an elite education was for everyone, or whether it needed to be modified. Since Mason believed in the importance of ideas as soul food, she wanted students to have access to the best ideas early - so she felt that using good translations was a worthy way to create a small shortcut. Is some great literature better than none? Yes. Is it better than understanding something in the original - I doubt it. But, the goal of ad fontes takes time, and time that is not spent "just" reading. I suspect a highly literate family that reads aloud, hears sermons, and discusses at the dinner table makes up a lot of that time. However, in a family that just knocks out lessons and then spends afternoons in a family business or sports or such may have a different baseline. Not that any of those are less than worthwhile pursuits, but they are different emphases. But, I do get the sense from others I have read that are serious about Charlotte Mason (as I haven't read her original sources) is that she wanted to make the most important parts of traditional education (ideas, historical understanding, classics, art and high culture) more accessible, so she spent her time on those things, even if it meant shortcuts to get there. (Of course, compared to the shortcuts most education tries to take today, hers were minor!) The ends were similar, but it doesn't take into account the formative nature of the practice, just the content of the lesson.

                Secondly, though, I get the sense that Mason had a strong view of intuition in areas like writing. If you are exposed to excellent writing you will absorb it and be able to reproduce it. I believe this is a partial truth. A child that hears literature and good English at home is going to have much less trouble putting correct prose on paper. But ultimately, I have come to believe that at some level she is also wrong. Partly this is my own experience. I was a child of college professors and read voraciously and I was not a naturally good writer. So I asked myself why? I think I did actually develop an ear for decent writing. But, if I wrote a clunker of a sentence, I could tell it was lousy, but I didn't know what to fix! I had no vocabulary for things like parallelism or other techniques. I could tell my prose was pedestrian, but I was playing by ear, so there was nothing to do but try some variations until something sounded right. And sometimes I was just plain stuck with nothing to do about it. The result of all this is that I believe that synthetic learning is very valuable. I love Adler's section on reading - you can say something about a topic based on vast reading that was not actually stated in any of those resources. It is freer knowledge. But, I also think it makes more sense in sciences than arts. Arts are skills. Admirable as playing by ear is, it is vastly more profitable in the long run to have terms and details and understand what at chord really is. You will see more, understand better, and when you are stuck you have an array of tools at your disposal to try on the problem. All of those tropes and paragraph types CAN sound wooden (but you are still developing their ear with good literature) but they are also helps to give you concrete ideas for different approaches to a knotty composition. Sometimes writing by intutition can sing, but sometimes it is a little lucky and talent weighs in more. With tools you are more likely to regularly make the words sing. Plus, detailed analytical instruction is invaluable to kids who struggle with intuition, because their lack of talent holds them back more when they are leaning on it exclusively. As a last subpoint, I read a blogger than mentioned that the variety of narrations in the upper schools mimicked the progym. It is possible that her teachers' intuitions were still formed by classical practice back then, leading to better results than for those of us completely devoid of those experiences. That is pure speculation on my part, though.

                So, personally, I have decided against truly following Mason's suggestions because I think she undersells the formative elements of Latin learning (and rote learning) and oversells the value of intuitive skill development. That being said, I think her methods are quite a bit better than a lot of what is running around the education market and I would whole heartedly recommend it to anyone that was intimidated by something like MP. And even if I have rejected something like AO for our family, I still have takeaways. I adored the book The Living Page which is about Mason's notebooks. Personally, I find workbooks schoolish and I am experimenting with the idea that we can cover something like MP content with blank notebooks. We do something a little more like LCC than MP. Remains to be seen.

                I loved reading this thread. It has taken me a long time being pulled in multiple directions to feel like I have some idea what I really want for our home school.

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                  #23
                  Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

                  Excellent points, armymom. I really enjoyed reading your comment.

                  Originally posted by KF2000 View Post
                  But I struggle with a conclusion that they do not reach the summit, because first of all, it comes across as arrogant, and also because there are places where the paths overlap, or share ground. And also because this is a metaphor, and the "summit" of truth, goodness, and beauty is something we actually experience along the way, not just as an end result. So perhaps the summit is really God Himself; truth, goodness, and beauty are the clear path; classical educators strive to remain securely on that path, while the variations meander a bit on and off.
                  Well said, Sarah. I feel this pang inside when I'm trying to explain humbly and honestly what our school is like and why I've chosen this path for us. I think it can sound simultaneously admirable, arrogant, antiquated, weird, inspirational, and threatening. Haha! Thanks to the guidance of Andrew Campbell in his book, Latin-Centered Curriculum, I've drastically shortened my description of classical education. Below are the main quotes I pull from. I know many of you are familiar with these, but I wanted to include them in this discussion.

                  p. 43 "...if you want to give your children a classical education, you have to teach them classical languages--that's what makes it a classical education in the first place. Without classical languages, you may have an excellent modern liberal arts program, but you won't have a classical education in any historically meaningful sense of the word." Italics mine. He's loosely quoting Simmons here from Climbing Parnassus.

                  This quote in particular helps me differentiate to others CM-styled programs and MP.

                  p. 41 "It (Latin-centered classical education) as described in this book follows traditions that stretch back to ancient Greece and Rome and that dominated education in the West until a century ago. It consists of a rich and varied curriculum, 'grounded upon--if not strictly limited to--Greek, Latin, and the study of the civilization from which they arose.'" Italics mine. The quote in the quote is from Simmons, Parnassus, pg. 61. Page 41 is my favorite in this book. I go back to it often to be reminded. I describe our homeschool as falling into the "grounded upon" part of this sentence.

                  p. 39 "...a curriculum that treat the classical languages--Latin and Greek--as the organizing principles of education; one that relies on a relatively small number of accepted literary masterworks to teach excellence in speaking, writing, and acting; one that educates the whole person: spirit, emotion, and will as well as mind." Italics mine.

                  We are still on the beginning side of this journey with my oldest a rising 6th grader and myself just completing First Form. He starts Greek ever so gently next year with the Alphabet Book. My college Greek is horribly rusty, but I look forward to polishing it back up. For reasons like this, I know I'm talking about a path of which I've not personally summited. However, I can testify to three years of ending the school year and looking back over the climb of the year. I love what we are learning and love how we are learning it!
                  Festina lentē,
                  Jessica P

                  SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
                  @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
                  S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
                  D · 8th
                  D · 5th
                  S · 2nd

                  Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

                  Comment


                    #24
                    Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

                    One last thought...I think americans in general are deeply conflicted about academic challenges. We like to think that we aim high, but most Americans I have spoken with are pretty comfortable with lowering math standards pretty heavily if a child doesn't have a "talent." In fact, I see the advise all the time that if a child is struggling with school work, handwriting to math to anything, then they need you to back off and give them time to mature. It is true that most things are easier with age and maturity, but there is a trade off in how far you will ultimately get down the path of learning.

                    The result is that anything like an MP education is going to feel like it requires a defense. You won't get through Latin and great books and calculus without some hard days and some pushing. And that goes against all the standard thinking. It makes it likely that it will be easy to long for all that love of learning of kids that just read books and discuss and hang out in nature. Even if you deep down believe that the education is better and stronger, it can be hard to stay on track. Plus, as Sarah said, it can feel arrogant to suppose you are working on something better than others. It is hard to know what to message when you know other might be slightly appalled that you have high standards and push them because you believe children are capable of so much more than most people will try for.

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                      #25
                      Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

                      Armymom, I hope that will not be the last thought, because this has been so fun! I did want to add that your point about Mason seeking to alter the education of the elite so that it would be more accessible to the masses I think goes very well with what both you and Jessica just brought up about how low standards have gotten, and how classical languages were the centerpiece. The trend started by modern educational theorists has simply continued by a rationalizing of lower expectations. I remember from something I read once about the notion of "educational capital," that up til now we have had older generations of at least some who were educated classically, maintaining our culture through what they were able to distill to us. Sadly, those days are long gone.

                      I think it is incredibly unfortunate that a classical education seems out of reach, or elitist. But thankfully, there is quite a crowd participating in the Great Conversation (thank you, Adler!) as we have been today!

                      And more thoughts welcome...
                      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
                        Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

                        Originally posted by armymom View Post
                        One last thought...I think americans in general are deeply conflicted about academic challenges. We like to think that we aim high, but most Americans I have spoken with are pretty comfortable with lowering math standards pretty heavily if a child doesn't have a "talent." In fact, I see the advise all the time that if a child is struggling with school work, handwriting to math to anything, then they need you to back off and give them time to mature. It is true that most things are easier with age and maturity, but there is a trade off in how far you will ultimately get down the path of learning.

                        The result is that anything like an MP education is going to feel like it requires a defense. You won't get through Latin and great books and calculus without some hard days and some pushing. And that goes against all the standard thinking. It makes it likely that it will be easy to long for all that love of learning of kids that just read books and discuss and hang out in nature. Even if you deep down believe that the education is better and stronger, it can be hard to stay on track. Plus, as Sarah said, it can feel arrogant to suppose you are working on something better than others. It is hard to know what to message when you know other might be slightly appalled that you have high standards and push them because you believe children are capable of so much more than most people will try for.
                        I agree, I think how much I've struggled keeping clear goals in mind. What if I had been taught classically? I doubt I would have the same struggle! My homeschooling journey began by reading Dorothy and Raymond Moores book, and while it had many great take aways, it set me on a dangerous path of not wanting to break my child's love of learning. Now I realize, while difficult and I have to push, they actually "love to learn". I've heard so often not wanting kids to memorize loads of facts, that that's not real learning; now I know what a rip off that thinking was for me and my older children. They enjoy memorizing early and will have it later when they need it.
                        -Amy

                        Nine babies, 6 graduated, 5 married, 16 grand babies 6 and under!
                        2019-20 MP 2nd, 5A, 10th MPOA, College student. Starting 7th year using Memoria Press
                        Director of Coop 412, a Classical Christian Coop using MP and based on Ephesians 4:12.

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                          #27
                          Re: experiences using Ambleside Online or Mater Amabilis?

                          Old thread, I know... I just wanted to thank everyone who participated in this microcosm of one sect of The Great Conversation- and other threads like it! I am right in the midst of grappling with these questions, and all of your thoughts have afforded me some clarity, as well as something to chew on. I'm sure I will revisit this thread often! (Currently making the 'shift' from a more relaxed CM mode to more of a focus on Liberal Arts and mastery, while keeping in view the transcendentals and goals of wisdom and virtue! Jessica I really appreciate your take on using Charlotte Mason philosophy as parenting inspiration. I also have gleaned much from various nature study resources, and intend to 'keep' working in those as part of our developing family culture. Sarah your mountain-summit analogy is helpful! (I have not read the volumes, but I have read For the Children's Sake, 1/2 of Charlotte Mason Companion, both of Levinson's short books, lots of blogs, Mere Motherhood, Handbook to Morning Time, Teaching from Rest, 3/5th of Consider This... currently getting back into The Liberal Arts Tradition. --Looking forward to starting Climbing Parnassus, The Latin-Centered Curriculum, Norms & Nobility, and the Great Tradition as time and budget allow! Circe, Andrew Kern, Jennifer Dow, Schole Sisters, Mystie Winckler and of course, Cindy Rollins, have been incredible inspirations lately.))
                          Anyway, THANKS!!
                          You guys, I am SO excited to use Memoria next school year!
                          Blessings,
                          ~Sarah Marie

                          2019-2020
                          ~DS, 9: 4NU/3M Mashup
                          ~DS, 7: (FSR A-E, Storytime Treasures, 1st Enrichment)
                          ~DD, 4: (Much of Jr. K)

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