Here’s the reading that has influenced me most as I put together our 2013-2014 school year.
Inspiration for 2013-2014 from Charlotte Mason
- “Education is the science of relations.” Our job is to give the mind food to work with, and the mind’s work is to make connections with that material.
A practical point: I’m not concerned with rigid lining up of chronology with literature and history and the rest. We’ll focus on the medieval period, but only to make sure they get a feel for it; we will not exclude all else.
- “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”
A practical point: Education is holistic and happens all day and encompasses all aspects of a child’s life, from morning hygiene chores to math to running with friends outside to helping with dinner. All of these properly fall within the sphere of education, which is enculturation.
- Vital interest:
Life should be all living […] not all doing or all feeling or all thinking […] but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest […] The question is not – how much does the youth know when he has finished his education – but how much does he care?
A practical point: If there is no love, we are wasting our time. This applies on a number of levels: love in how we treat each other, love of learning, love of applying ourselves, love of God and His creation.
Inspiration for 2013-2014 from A Little Way of Homeschooling
- Learning happens more through talking, reading, and doing than through didactic teaching.
A practical point: Don’t feel compelled to use classroom models and methods. I am more like a governess and tutor than a classroom teacher.
- Real learning is holistic & all-encompassing; it is a way of life, not a checkbox to complete.
A practical point: Don’t discount free afternoons or break weeks as “time off.” Those are the times real-life poetic knowledge is being gained. It doesn’t take a checkbox to make a thing “count.”
- Learning is the student’s act & cannot be forced; most is learned by imitation.
A practical point: Having & pursuing my own interests and hobbies is not selfish, it is modeling The Good Life. Model it and invite the children to join in.
Ours is not necessarily the didactic model of teaching, but the collegial one of sharing and learning together.
These points were in Little Way, but more developed in a several other books I have been influenced by: Poetic Knowledge, 7 Laws of Teaching, and Norms and Nobility. This book simply showed what these influences can actually look like in the home.
Inspiration for 2013-2014 from CIRCE
- CIRCE maintains that education is a set of principles and ideas whose practical implementations should be left to individual application with wisdom.
A practical point: It is not hubris for me to tailor my own thing from a point of vision and inspiration. I can teach my own children where we are, toward where we want to go, without pushing us through someone else’s program.
Watch Andrew Kern’s answer to an overwhelmed homeschooling mother and be uplifted and encouraged!
- Teach from a place of rest; that is, of peace and not anxiety.
A practical point: We will be intentional about our pace – not just in academic matters, but also of our life – and our attitudes.
- Most of all, I am inspired and influenced by Andrew Kern’s definition of classical education, a definition centered on ideas and principles rather than methods:
Christian classical education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty by means of the seven liberal arts and the four sciences so that, in Christ, the student is enabled to better know, glorify, and enjoy God.
Every single word in the definition is precisely chosen and rich and deep.
Inspiration for 2013-2014 from Classical Education & the Homeschool
This little booklet tends to overwhelm the homeschool mother, and it does set a high bar, but if you distill the essentials and ignore the assumptions that only master teachers can teach, the paedeia education it encourages is best realized in the home.
- A Christian education must teach from and cultivate a Christian worldview, that is, a worldview centered on the antithesis, the story God is weaving between His Seed and the serpent’s. A Christian education for Christian children must tell the story from this perspective and must give the children a firm identity as covenant members. Also, nothing and no one is neutral; all must be and can be and should be submitted under Christ’s Lordship, or it is against it.
A practical point: Christ & Scripture are foundational and permeate all things. Also, part of my role as mother and teacher is to give my baptized, covenant children a solid identity as members of Christ, with its corresponding blessings and responsibilities. “These are your people” is an important aspect of history. Also, the Apostle’s Creed is our pledge of allegiance.
- Developing the imagination is central, because the imagination is central to our concept of right acting. We learn what bravery, courage, and all other virtues are through story and we learn how we should react by seeing ourselves in Story. Story is central.
A practical point: This year I want to grow in helping myself and my children have this perspective of seeing ourselves as an actors in a story, as a way to help us make wise decisions rather than in-the-moment, self-gratifying decisions. This is not a helpful fiction, but a way of removing ourselves from our appetites’ cravings and seeing our place in God’s drama rather than our own self-centered narrations.
The Bible teaches that doctrine – teaching – must be adorned. If it is not adorned with a gracious manner and clean-hearted living, the child will likely either come to imitate the hypocrisy of the parents or turn away in disgust from everything given to him, including what was truly valuable. […] Consequently, the rigor of classical study must not be confused with the rigors of living in an unpleasant home.
Inspiration for 2013-2014 from 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
Yes, advice applicable to education and homeschooling from a time management book.
- Look at your week, not your day, both when planning and evaluating.
A practical point: Everything that matters needs weekly time allotted, but not necessarily daily time. A very productive day might be followed by a slow day, and that’s a natural rhythm, not something to fight against in an attempt for frenetic “productivity.” Allow a rhythm to the week and judge progress by the week, not the day.
- Focus on your core competencies, those things you are good at and duties that no one else can fill as well as you.
A practical point: Be a mother first and a teacher second. Focus on methods that fit our family and home rather than methods designed for classrooms or even other families. Our goal is to be the best us, not to be the most like another family or school.
- There is enough time to do what you want to do, but you have to use it wisely and well:
While 168 hours is a lot of time, time is still, in the broader sense, a nonrenewable resource. These hours still have to be carefully budgeted in order to turn the life you have into the life you want.
Other Orienting Articles
- “Homeschooling the Freeborn” by Cindy Rollins
- “On Rigor” by Andrew Kern
- “Stop Cleaning the Kitchen and Read a Book” by Susan Wise Bauer
- “The Lighter Side of Education” by Christopher Perrin (mp3)