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Love Affairs in Education or The Thing is the Thing

midnight at the LER - see the big dipper? (Matthew Baerbock - photo)
Are you busy planning your school year?  I am.  I will have 4 in 4 different levels.  Yes, it takes some work to get it all together, but it's fun and I like to plan.  I am often asked about how I go about teaching (insert subject here).  What resources can I share?  How do you plan different kids in different years?  What do I think of such-and-such, etc.  As many are feeling overwhelmed and going under, may I offer a word of advice?  Try and remember that the thing is the thing.

What I mean by that is that a relational education using Mason's methods is not about the little projects, extra workbooks, cute resources, supplemental dvds, perfect schedules and charts, and the like.  For instance, for composer study, just pick a composer and choose a cd.  Maybe a living book for biographical information.  Why?  Because the music is what you want to build a relationship with.  It's about the music.  History?  A FEW good living books and maybe some maps will do.  Why?  It's about enjoying the pageant and building a relationship with a character and the time period.  Sometimes the nifty extras can stand between the child and the thing you are trying to instill a love for in him.    Poetry?  Just read the poetry from a poet.  The poetry is the thing, not the coloring page. The thing is the thing.

In When Children Love to Learn, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay relates another example -

Some well-meaning persons read about Charlotte Mason and decided it was a "good thing to study art" - to make it a part of the curriculum.  Beautiful art reproductions were made available.  These are wonderful, but the course that goes with them gets in the way.  The living wonderful gift of art is spoiled by making it into one more lesson, textbook fashion.  The children and teenagers who take this course may pass a test, but rarely will a love affair grow between the child and the art.  They must learn more facts, more lists, and never fall in  love (as it were) with the pictures that speak strongly to them. (p. 42)
studying Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam

The Charlotte Mason method is so very different in so many ways - even, I think, in how one goes about preparing lessons for the school year.  It stands to reason, doesn't it?  And if it is that different, in what ways would the planning of the year be different?  Because we teach from flowing streams, our planning should be full of ideas and life - not checklists and strife.  They are watching us, even in our planning.

Resources are good - I know that.  I also appreciate the way many share them so freely - Ambleside Online comes to mind - but be wary of taking in everything everyone suggests.  It should be a beautiful and rich love affair with learning.  Just remember the thing is the thing.

From joy to joy,
Nancy

I Thessalonians 4:11  - to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands...
Bobby Jo's wall hanging







23 comments:

  1. Oh so true...I find that every year of CM in our lives the less my planning frenzy and anxiety heightens. It isn't that my children are learning less but I have certainly acquired a tranquility to allow for "flowing streams". I know we are all the better for it too. Thanks Nancy!

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    1. Dear Jenny,
      Yes, "planning frenzy" is a good way to put it. Hope your planning is going peacefully!
      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  2. Perfect timing ,Nancy, as I was just sharing this thought with a friend, how refreshing it was to hear at the LER that not just one resource was used by all mom's, however it is the choice of living books for multiple subjects not just one size fits the bill. Many times the question 'why don't you use all of so and so's suggestions...are you sure it is CM, comes up? Well because it is just that, a suggestion. There is freedom in CM....to spread the feast. Thank you for the confirming inspiration, Nancy.
    Dena

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    1. Dear Dena,
      You're welcome. A friend truly did just ask me these questions and our discussion prompted this post. Hope all is well. So glad we met IRL!

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  3. Hello Nancy,
    This couldn't have come at a more perfect time. We too will be schooling all the boys at 5 different levels. My baby just turned 6 and will start Foundation Year in the Fall. There have been recent moments of "how am I going to do this", but was settled upon reading your post that it's not about how many projects, or memorizations, or facts the boys know, it's about creating an atmosphere that fosters a love of learning. Now, I will breathe a peaceful sigh and continue on with my thoughts, planning and praying for this school year. So glad to hear the LER was a success. One of these years I will make the 12 hour trek! Also, a belated congratulations on your oldest son's marriage. You must be so proud and happy right now. I love the family photos you post on the weddings.
    Thank you for settling some anxiety,
    Michele

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    1. Michele,
      I can't believe your baby turned 6!!! Time flies, doesn't it? Yes, I hope to see your smiling face at the LER some year. That would be quite the treat for me.

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  4. "... full of ideas and life - not checklists and strife ...." You're even a poet (and I suppose you know it!) Oh my! That phrase alone could preach! A timely reminder, Nancy. Thank you for how you (continually) mentor us from afar.

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  5. P.S. I may borrow your phrase for a blog article some day! Many thanks ... ~Cindy

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    1. Dear Cindy,
      You're welcome, of course.

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  6. Well spoken Nancy! Keeping each subject simple is the way I have built our curriculum according to CM's philosophies. So much now that it just becomes a way of life! I really believe that is what Miss Mason teaches, that education really does become a way of life, that the subjects intertwine in everything. Loved reading this post.

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    1. Dear Sarah,

      Yes, it's the magic of all the subject relating to one another without being a unit study!

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  7. Sigh....just in reading the opening paragraphs, it's as if I am back in the immersion class with you and all the rest at Ferrum College. This one statement, "the thing is the thing" has been in my mind since we met, and I have said it at least 50 times since then to others (and countless more to myself). I found myself mired down in those very details you mentioned at the beginning of the post, and I was overhwhelmed, and already ready to throw my hands up. Words of wisdom, encouragement brought me back to my senses, that "the thing is the thing." God first, Sally, God first.

    Thank you for the work of love here -- this post was timely! Lovely Sunday to you and yours!

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    1. Dear Sally,
      YES! You have your priorities in line, Sally dear! Thank you for your encouraging words this Lord's day. (That immersion was fun, wasn't it?!)

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  8. You don't know how I much I needed this post, Nancy! I thank you! Sooooo freeing and good to be reminded of this! I know this, but it's good to hear it again!! :)

    Bless you!
    Amy

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    1. Dear Amy,
      It sure is freeing, Amy. Another reason I love the Mason method!
      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  9. Hello there.
    Matthew's image of God's creation is just stunning. I enjoyed the views to be had in the big sky out on the Minnesota prairie and in the hearts of all the people at LER.
    I'm so glad I came over to see what you'd written. This is the first year I am without a homeschool budget and I'm realizing I will actually find freedom in that.
    As you say, "from joy to joy,"
    Richele

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    1. Richele,
      Well, I do say that but I "borrowed" it from Wordsworth! I'm so glad you blessed all of us at the LER with your inspiring words about math. And faith.
      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  10. Brilliant reminder Nancy! You are so right, we often over-do it in our enthusiasm. Personally, I have been re-reading 'Pocketful of Pinecones' and I suddenly longed for those simple days of getting out in nature and just engaging with whatever crossed our path. Without having realised it, our nature time has become more 'lesson like'. I have determined that this new academic year we are going to get back to basics and keep it simple. We are going to form relations with our world, art, music etc instead of just making it another lesson!

    Thank you for this great post. Perfect timing for allot of us I'm sure :o)

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    1. Dear Shirley Ann,
      "Lesson like" tends to be our default mode - is it easier? what we know best? Kudos to you for focusing on the relationships. So excited for a fresh start - aren't you?

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  11. This is a great way to explain it. When I teach my college teacher ed students, they have such a difficult time understanding this. Thank you, you will be quoted! :)

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  12. Beautiful. Just reading this again. Just what I needed to hear! <3

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  13. Beautifully said. I'm saving this to return to in February when I'm burnt out and needing renewal!

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    1. Dear Ashley,
      Thank you and that's a great idea! Blessings on you as you prepare for your family's school year.
      Teaching from Peace,
      Nancy

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