Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

    I don't know where to put this so hopefully someone will place it where it goes. (And I won't get in trouble for posting something like this.)

    Last night I hosted a Mom's Night at my home for my co op group's monthly meeting. I just provide the space. I'm not involved in the planning of speakers.

    The topic was Charlotte Mason education-who she was, what it is, how to implement, etc.. The question was asked how is neo-classical (like Well-Trained Mind, MP, etc.) different from Charlotte Mason's method. The speaker responded that it is the way the methods see the child. Classical sees the child as an empty vessel waiting to be filled while Miss Mason saw the child as a "complete" person already. Classical has children memorize unrelated lists of dates, etc. to be used later to 'hang' knowledge on at some future point. (borrowing a bit from Susan Wise Bauer's terminology) while CM endeavors to help the child relate personally to all they learn/read. Classical tells the child what to think while CM lets the child think for themselves.

    I found her explanation a bit simplistic as I have studied both philosophies (among others) over the years. The speaker was not dismissing classical or rude. She is obviously very dedicated to her method. But how would you (and MP) have responded?
    Last edited by Enigma; 04-28-2017, 11:38 PM.
    The Homeschool Grads:
    J- 6/96
    S- 11/98

    Still Homeschooling:
    G- 4/04
    D- 5/05
    F- 7/08 (my only girl)

    Future Homeschooler:
    M- 9/16

    #2
    Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

    Originally posted by Enigma View Post
    I don't know where to put this so hopefully someone will place it where it goes. (And I won't get in trouble for posting something like this.)

    Last night I hosted a Mom's Night at my home for my co op group's monthly meeting. I just provide the space. I'm not involved in the planning of speakers.

    The topic was Charlotte Mason education-who she was, what it is, how to implement, etc.. The question was asked how is neo-classical (like Well-Trained Mind, MP, etc.) different from Charlotte Mason's method. The speaker responded that it is the way the methods see the child. Classical sees the child as an empty vessel waiting to be filled while Miss Mason saw the child as a "complete" person already. Classical has children memorize unrelated lists of dates, etc. to be used later to 'hang' knowledge on at some future point. (borrowing a bit from Susan Wise Bauer's terminology) while CM endeavors to help the child relate personally to all they learn/read. Classical tells the child what to think while CM lets the child think for themselves.

    I found her explanation a bit simplistic as I have studied both philosophies (among others) over the years. The speaker was not dismissing classical or rude. She is obviously very dedicated to her method. But how would you (and MP) have responded?
    Hi Enigma!
    Boy, I would have loved to have been in that room. Did she offer time for questions? Because I would have been all over that!
    I will try to make this as nutshell-ish as possible, and if someone else is typing already then we may repeat each other!

    Neo-classical education is the term given to methods that have arisen since the speech by Dorothy Sayers in 1946. Douglas Wilson took her ideas, wrote a book about them, which homeschoolers took to like a duck to water, and voila! Neo-classical ed was born. The hallmark of the "method" is that children go through a series of psychological development that they term, "Grammar Stage, Logic Stage, and Rhetoric Stage." These are not the original use of the terms, but Ms. Sayers did such a lovely job explaining them, that they "stuck" as an organizing principle for an educational model. This has given rise to all the programs that use these terms as the definition of what classical education "is."

    But that is not what classical education always "was." The terms in their original sense were three of the Liberal Arts, the "Trivium" that served as part of the content of a classical education. They were therefore not "stages" but rather "arts," a body of skills a child learned so that he was ready to serve in whatever capacity necessary in his society. In addition to the Trivium was the Quadrivium that made up of the mathematical arts. Again, these were content areas that every educated person learned so they were capable of "doing" things.

    But that was not all. In addition to this content, the heart of classical education was the notion that in the pursuit of these Liberal Arts, man pursued wisdom, and his pursuit developed virtue. It was not enough to simply learn skills or information and call it a day. Inherent to the ability to truly "know" anything was the Greek concept of "logos" - the ability to know not just terms and concepts, but to develop true knowledge of the "it" inherent to everything that "is." This pursuit of wisdom trains a child in "how to think," and the development of virtue trains a child in "what to do."

    See how this presenter got it wrong? Classical education, in its true sense, does not at all tell a child "what to think." It develops the human person to know HOW to think, and it helps develop the habits a child needs to know WHAT TO DO - that is, how to act virtuously. This does play into the speakers' explanation of the difference between how classical ed and Charlotte Mason differ in their view of the human person. But do you see how she got the foundation wrong, and thus, drew the wrong conclusion? We do realize that classical education has a lot to do with content - that is, "filling leaky vessels," as has been used in a title of an article by MP. We do realize that children are IN NEED of what they do not have. We do realize that children are acquiring knowledge as though they are an empty vessel that is to be filled, but it is not because we have some distorted view of the human person. In fact, I would argue, we collectively hold a more accurate view of the human person.

    Charlotte Mason's big thing is this "personhood." That this personhood leads a child to interact with his atmosphere in a meaningful way, which thus results in learning. The child is not seen as lacking anything other than the opportunity to interact with as much different content as possible, to create as many meaningful experiences as possible, and thus to know as much as possible. I mentioned in a talk I gave on Saturday that this view always reminds me of the Garden of Eden....of how Man was prior to the Fall. Knowledge came easily to us because we were in perfect communion with God. Work had not yet entered the picture.

    Classical education on the other hand views the human person as what it is - an embodied soul, which acts through various faculties - the intellect, the will, and the affections are the usual faculties described by philosophers. The intellect is what we think of as "reason" - the ability of the human person to learn, know, remember, imagine, etc. This intellect craves knowledge. The human person has a natural desire to know. But the human person also has a will, which moves it to act, and affections, which cause it to desire things. As we know from Scripture, each aspect of the human person was weakened by the sin of Adam and Eve. The intellect was darkened (we can't just know stuff easily), the will was weakened (we don't WANT to do things that are hard), and the affections became disordered (we are often attracted to things that are not good for us even though we know better). THIS is the view of the whole human person that matters, because it addresses us as we really are, and what is really necessary for education.

    Our children need an education. This belief presumes that we are missing something, that we are lacking something. Classical education argues that what we are lacking is wisdom and virtue - the ability to know how to think, the ability to know what we should do, and the strength to actually choose it. This is why we see children as empty vessels that need to be filled - they need those deficiencies of the Fall corrected, little by little, on a daily basis through the content we give them and the methods we use.

    Does that help?

    And if you do a search of "Charlotte Mason" here on the Forum there are several really great threads where we have discussed the differences between MP and CM. Here is one: (and I don't usually link things, so I hope this works)

    https://forum.memoriapress.com/showt...Mater-Amabilis

    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


      #3
      Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

      Sarah,
      Have you gotten a chance to read "Out of the Ashes" by Anthony Esolen? I read through the CM thread you linked, came across your entry about the watering down of schools, and immediately thought of his descriptions of the student work samples from 1895 in the one-room schoolhouse on Prince Edward Island. The elementary level student (less-refined cursive) had declined "doulos" and the the older students had parsed verses of English poetry. If you haven't read it, put it on your list.
      Blessings,
      Jude

      DD 20, DS 17, DS 14, DS 12, DD 10, DS 7, DD 5

      Comment


        #4
        Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

        Jude, I listened to Out of the Ashes last month (free on Hoolpa, btw!). It was outstanding, as has been everything I've ever read by Esolen. Highly recommended!
        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


          #5
          Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

          That has come up recently...I must need to read it! Thanks!
          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


            #6
            Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

            Originally posted by KF2000 View Post
            Hi Enigma!
            Boy, I would have loved to have been in that room. Did she offer time for questions? Because I would have been all over that!
            I will try to make this as nutshell-ish as possible, and if someone else is typing already then we may repeat each other!

            Neo-classical education is the term given to methods that have arisen since the speech by Dorothy Sayers in 1946. Douglas Wilson took her ideas, wrote a book about them, which homeschoolers took to like a duck to water, and voila! Neo-classical ed was born. The hallmark of the "method" is that children go through a series of psychological development that they term, "Grammar Stage, Logic Stage, and Rhetoric Stage." These are not the original use of the terms, but Ms. Sayers did such a lovely job explaining them, that they "stuck" as an organizing principle for an educational model. This has given rise to all the programs that use these terms as the definition of what classical education "is."

            But that is not what classical education always "was." The terms in their original sense were three of the Liberal Arts, the "Trivium" that served as part of the content of a classical education. They were therefore not "stages" but rather "arts," a body of skills a child learned so that he was ready to serve in whatever capacity necessary in his society. In addition to the Trivium was the Quadrivium that made up of the mathematical arts. Again, these were content areas that every educated person learned so they were capable of "doing" things.

            But that was not all. In addition to this content, the heart of classical education was the notion that in the pursuit of these Liberal Arts, man pursued wisdom, and his pursuit developed virtue. It was not enough to simply learn skills or information and call it a day. Inherent to the ability to truly "know" anything was the Greek concept of "logos" - the ability to know not just terms and concepts, but to develop true knowledge of the "it" inherent to everything that "is." This pursuit of wisdom trains a child in "how to think," and the development of virtue trains a child in "what to do."

            See how this presenter got it wrong? Classical education, in its true sense, does not at all tell a child "what to think." It develops the human person to know HOW to think, and it helps develop the habits a child needs to know WHAT TO DO - that is, how to act virtuously. This does play into the speakers' explanation of the difference between how classical ed and Charlotte Mason differ in their view of the human person. But do you see how she got the foundation wrong, and thus, drew the wrong conclusion? We do realize that classical education has a lot to do with content - that is, "filling leaky vessels," as has been used in a title of an article by MP. We do realize that children are IN NEED of what they do not have. We do realize that children are acquiring knowledge as though they are an empty vessel that is to be filled, but it is not because we have some distorted view of the human person. In fact, I would argue, we collectively hold a more accurate view of the human person.

            Charlotte Mason's big thing is this "personhood." That this personhood leads a child to interact with his atmosphere in a meaningful way, which thus results in learning. The child is not seen as lacking anything other than the opportunity to interact with as much different content as possible, to create as many meaningful experiences as possible, and thus to know as much as possible. I mentioned in a talk I gave on Saturday that this view always reminds me of the Garden of Eden....of how Man was prior to the Fall. Knowledge came easily to us because we were in perfect communion with God. Work had not yet entered the picture.

            Classical education on the other hand views the human person as what it is - an embodied soul, which acts through various faculties - the intellect, the will, and the affections are the usual faculties described by philosophers. The intellect is what we think of as "reason" - the ability of the human person to learn, know, remember, imagine, etc. This intellect craves knowledge. The human person has a natural desire to know. But the human person also has a will, which moves it to act, and affections, which cause it to desire things. As we know from Scripture, each aspect of the human person was weakened by the sin of Adam and Eve. The intellect was darkened (we can't just know stuff easily), the will was weakened (we don't WANT to do things that are hard), and the affections became disordered (we are often attracted to things that are not good for us even though we know better). THIS is the view of the whole human person that matters, because it addresses us as we really are, and what is really necessary for education.

            Our children need an education. This belief presumes that we are missing something, that we are lacking something. Classical education argues that what we are lacking is wisdom and virtue - the ability to know how to think, the ability to know what we should do, and the strength to actually choose it. This is why we see children as empty vessels that need to be filled - they need those deficiencies of the Fall corrected, little by little, on a daily basis through the content we give them and the methods we use.

            Does that help?

            And if you do a search of "Charlotte Mason" here on the Forum there are several really great threads where we have discussed the differences between MP and CM. Here is one: (and I don't usually link things, so I hope this works)

            https://forum.memoriapress.com/showt...Mater-Amabilis

            AMDG,
            Sarah
            Thanks for this. Excellent observations.
            Joanie

            Comment


              #7
              Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

              I am copying Sarah's explanation and carrying it with me everywhere. I have heard many people make statements very similar to the speaker at Enigma's Mom's Night and it makes my toes curl!

              I think, especially in modern society, there is a tendency to boil things down to sound bytes. The problem with this is that too often, the real meaning of anything is lost. Wait...that sounds like a metaphor (or, perhaps, a motto?) for modern education - "sound bytes and nihilism". *cracks up laughing* I'm sure that most classroom teachers would recoil at hearing that, the same way I recoil at the notion that I must view my children as empty vessels just waiting to be dulled by the meaningless repetition of unconnected dates and people - no matter how politely this is conveyed.

              I'm sure your speaker meant no harm...but often our words do just that. How many parents in that audience took away something negative about classical education? How many parents might make an important decision based on those kindly spoken but erroneous words?
              What is the speaker's background? And how is it that she was chosen to address the group? I wonder if it might be helpful to gently suggest having a series of talks about educational methods or holding a series of panel discussions? This would offer much better insight into the different methods and really give parents some food for thought.

              Or, you could just stand up at the next meeting and read Sarah's treatise.
              Mary

              DD14 - 9th core + CLRC Ancient Greek I & Latin IV + VideoText math
              DS12 - 7th core + Novare Earth Science + CLRC HS Latin I + VideoText math
              DD8 - SC level 2

              Comment


                #8
                Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

                Sarah, that was a wonderful explanation. Your passion for classical education really comes through!
                Gina
                Honored & Blessed to be teaching my children at home
                (since 2001)

                DS-sophomore in college
                DD-soon-to-be college freshman!
                DD-9
                DS-8

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

                  Originally posted by OrthodoxHandmaiden View Post
                  I am copying Sarah's explanation and carrying it with me everywhere.

                  Yep, it's a sticky note on my phone for all time!
                  -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.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

                    So happy it was helpful!

                    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


                      #11
                      Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

                      How do you make a sticky? I want one!

                      Sarah, are you anywhere near Houston, TX? I would LOVE for you to come speak at the next Mom's Night. That was fantastic.
                      The Homeschool Grads:
                      J- 6/96
                      S- 11/98

                      Still Homeschooling:
                      G- 4/04
                      D- 5/05
                      F- 7/08 (my only girl)

                      Future Homeschooler:
                      M- 9/16

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

                        Originally posted by OrthodoxHandmaiden View Post
                        I'm sure your speaker meant no harm...but often our words do just that. How many parents in that audience took away something negative about classical education? How many parents might make an important decision based on those kindly spoken but erroneous words?
                        What is the speaker's background? And how is it that she was chosen to address the group? I wonder if it might be helpful to gently suggest having a series of talks about educational methods or holding a series of panel discussions? This would offer much better insight into the different methods and really give parents some food for thought.

                        Or, you could just stand up at the next meeting and read Sarah's treatise.
                        It is a series on different educational philopshies. At least, I know that was part of the plan. The first one was on setting goals with your children.

                        I'm dreading the next one because I think it will be on Thomas Jeffererson Education. I may just have something else that night at my house.

                        I believe the lady who spoke is on my area's CM council or something like that. She wasn't just a friend of a friend that likes CM.
                        The Homeschool Grads:
                        J- 6/96
                        S- 11/98

                        Still Homeschooling:
                        G- 4/04
                        D- 5/05
                        F- 7/08 (my only girl)

                        Future Homeschooler:
                        M- 9/16

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

                          Originally posted by Enigma View Post
                          How do you make a sticky? I want one!

                          Sarah, are you anywhere near Houston, TX? I would LOVE for you to come speak at the next Mom's Night. That was fantastic.
                          Ooh, Houston would be so fun! Although, I am learning from my Texan friends that there are some pretty wild critters you gotta worry about!!! (Water moccasins??)

                          But no, I am in Fredericksburg, VA - a bit far to go for a Mom's night!
                          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


                            #14
                            Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

                            Originally posted by Enigma View Post
                            It is a series on different educational philopshies. At least, I know that was part of the plan. The first one was on setting goals with your children.

                            I'm dreading the next one because I think it will be on Thomas Jeffererson Education. I may just have something else that night at my house.

                            I believe the lady who spoke is on my area's CM council or something like that. She wasn't just a friend of a friend that likes CM.
                            Enigma,
                            Have you had a chance to read Martin's Letter to the Editor in the Winter 2016-2017 edition of The Classical Teacher? I'm posting it here for reference: https://www.memoriapress.com/article...r-winter-2017/

                            One thing I particularly appreciated was this quote:

                            There is nothing wrong with most of the educational “methods” now available to home and private schools, other than the fact that they are disconnected from the other elements in the broad tradition of classical education. Charlotte Mason got the “Charlotte Mason Method” from classical education. And most of the elements of other methods had a place in the practices of the old system of classical education before the twentieth century.

                            They only now seem at odds with each other because they have been disconnected from the larger and more ordered system of which they were all once a part. (See next quote for illustration.)

                            Those of us in the classical education movement who understand that classical education is more than just Dorothy Sayers’ “method” (something Sayers herself knew) have no problem with other “methods” that can be found out there in the educational sea. We just think they need to be brought together and put back in their proper place in the original classical vision of education.


                            Emphasis in bold is mine. MP also published this article by Andrew Kern in 2014 that illustrates well Martin's comment about the parts that were once a whole, that are now disconnected and leave us bickering a bit about what "it" is. https://www.memoriapress.com/article...l-education-0/ He tells the story about the blindfolded men, feeling their way around an elephant, all convinced the others are idiots. Ha!

                            Six blind men wished to find out what an elephant was. When they encountered one, each of them touched a different part of the animal, and each described his conclusion. The first man touched the elephant’s side, and concluded it was like a wall. The second man touched the tusk, and decided it was like a spear. The third felt its trunk, and thought it was like a snake. To the one who felt the elephant’s leg, it was like a tree, and to the one who touched its ear, it was like a fan. To the last man, who grabbed the elephant’s tail, the animal seemed like a rope.

                            Each man drew different conclusions about the elephant, and each disputed the opinions of the others, who, he was quite confident, were mistaken. “Though each was partly in the right,” said the poet John Godfrey Saxe, “all were in the wrong.” Each could say what one part of the elephant was like, but each missed the nature of the whole elephant.



                            Martin's article reminded me afresh that there's no need to feel threatened by all the "method" talk out there. Much of what homeschoolers spend time discussing is method vs. method and materials vs. materials. For those of us who've found our home, it feels tedious to explain how we are classical, but not-neoclassical, how we do memory work but not Memory Work, how we have a timeline, but not a Timeline, how we do Latin but not roots, etc. I appreciated Martin's encouragement in this article because it has helped me to remove a little of the defensive posture and given me a desire to call out what is good and right in other "methods." It reminds me of Acts 17 and Paul's words, "I see that you are a very religious people!" It can almost be equated to this opening line, "I see that you are really passionate about _____." It sounds cliche to look for common ground and only focus on that, but it can be helpful in relational situations.

                            I am close friends with many who homeschool differently, even some who classically homeschool differently. Finding where we agree is powerful because it allows us to affirm one another and (hopefully!) leaves the door open as time goes on as fruit is born and conversations arise. A high score on the NLE led to some more serious conversations about Latin, but that took four years, FOUR years of Latin work. That's a long time doing something before more people started to ask questions. I'm sure the good folks at HLS feel this way as people start to take notice now and they've been at it since 2000. Seventeen years and counting...

                            To me, this is part of the long road of faithfully putting your hand to the plow where God has shown you the path for your family. Not everyone is going to choose a traditional classical education (the phrase I use to describe MP and our homeschool and cottage school), but no one can deny the fruit that is borne is good. You judge a tree by it's fruit. Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind.

                            When people ask what is classical, my answer continues to shorten: classical languages, wisdom and virtue. Yes, I mentally include math and epics and everything else, but at least that's where I start.

                            I'm so glad you brought this up, Enigma. I am continually refined by these sorts of conversations and enjoy hearing classical education (and the nature of man and education, generally) articulated again and again.
                            Last edited by pickandgrin; 05-01-2017, 12:47 PM.
                            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


                              #15
                              Re: OT: Neo-Classical vs Charlotte Mason

                              Originally posted by Enigma View Post
                              Classical sees the child as an empty vessel waiting to be filled while Miss Mason saw the child as a "complete" person already. Classical has children memorize unrelated lists of dates, etc. to be used later to 'hang' knowledge on at some future point. (borrowing a bit from Susan Wise Bauer's terminology) while CM endeavors to help the child relate personally to all they learn/read. Classical tells the child what to think while CM lets the child think for themselves.

                              It sounds like she was borrowing a lot from Classical Conversations to me. Maybe that's also what Jessica means by memory work vs Memory Work?

                              These posts are helpful. I've been at this for quite awhile now, but I still don't feel like I have it all worked out clearly. I tend to waver between the various classical ideas.
                              Melanie
                              2019-2020 ~ 6th MP year; 11th year homeschooling
                              DD16 ~ 10th grade MPOA diploma program
                              DD13 ~ 8th grade
                              DS11 ~ 5th grade

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X