Thoughts on Homeschooling- Part 2
This motto has completely changed my attitude and approach toward home education. The initial reason we chose to homeschool Caleb was out of "necessity." He was of the age that most children begin some type of child enrichment program, either preschool or Pre-K. However, being internationally adopted, Caleb had some separation anxiety. Fostering attachment and providing an environment in which Caleb felt safe and secure was more important than "where" he began his early learning. So we chose to keep him home for Pre-K/K.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Caleb did well and learned a lot. What do you do when that happens? Continue on, of course. So we did. As time went by, I saw the need to fine tune our curriculum choices. We switched a few things up, and Caleb continued to do well.
So, why am I choosing to change things up again? Charlotte Mason's motto. It pierced my heart. I'll start with the part of the quote that I was already in complete agreement with.
It goes without saying that education is a serious matter. Developing good habits is critical for any education program to be successful.
Ouch. What Charlotte Mason was advocating against was the creation of "artificial" learning environments. We should give our children the opportunity to learn from what is already available in their environment. How does that translate into modern day English? We should not create environments in which we "teach to the test."
This is what most schools, public and private, are guilty of, whether or not they admit it. They want as much funding as they can get their hands on. They want all the "Blue Ribbons". They want bragging rights. Unfortunately, even home educators can be guilty of this "approach" to education. This part of Charlotte Mason's motto has really made me think about why I continue to educate my children at home.
Admittedly, I want my children to be successful in their education. Who doesn't want their child to succeed? That's a silly question, right? However, if our reason to home educate our children is to turn out students who bring home all the awards (those "Blue Ribbons" so to speak), are we not falling prey to the same misguided goals as those larger educational institutions? I'm afraid so.
This is how Charlotte Mason described the end result of "artificial" learning environments: (This is actually a paraphrase in modern English.) "We can create a fragrant but stale hot-house atmosphere by modifying and controlling conditions. In this atmosphere, children grow well enough from all outward appearances, but they are weak and dependent."
Wow. Is that what I really want for my child? I don't think so. So, how do we, as a home educators, avoid an artificial learning environment? Get outdoors and experience life. Observe nature and life experiences all around you.
Education is for the body, soul, and spirit. The mind needs to be fed a variety of ideas. Ideas are what make the mind flourish. Dry facts are as palatable as sawdust (CM's idea, not mine.) A steady diet of rich literature from living books provides the nourishment our minds need. While a steady diet of the same food doesn't nourish our bodies, the same can be said of educating our minds. This is why Charlotte Mason believed in exposing children to a variety of subjects- history, science, art, nature, foreign language, music, etc.
So what happens when you let this motto dictate your home education program? You create life-long learners. A steady diet of rich literature creates a hunger for more knowledge. Knowledge of God, of man (history, literature), and of the universe (science, math, geography.) Knowledge becomes the motivator, not good grades or achievements. Long after "formal education" is over and all the degrees have been obtained, a Charlotte Mason approach to education creates a person, who continues to learn. Now, this....is what I'm talking about.