January 30, 2010

Charlotte Mason: All About the Books?

an open book
I've been giving some thought to why the Charlotte Mason method can overwhelm some mothers who are new to the concept. The problem, as I see it, is that it becomes all about the books. "Which books should I buy?" and "what do I use to teach ..." are common worries for these mothers.

 
The children must enjoy the book. The ideas it holds must each make that sudden, delightful impact upon their minds, must cause that intellectual stir, which mark the inception of an idea. ~Charlotte Mason~ (Vol. 3 Chapter 16 How to Use School-Books, p.178)
Books are of Utmost Importance
Yes. Literature is of utmost importance in this method as all subjects are covered through the reading of living books. Whether we're teaching history, geography, science or art, we offer this wealth of knowledge from books of high literary quality that communicate important knowledge about a given subject matter. These are called "living books". They inspire the imagination as they educate.

Simply Charlotte Mason defines them as such:
"Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.” "
The Confusion
Those of us who have been educated through systems of education rather than methods of education, find ourselves looking for exact, step-by-step, book-by-book lesson plans and curricula. We expect this one-size-fits-all plan which simply doesn't exist. (Besides, if we wanted that for our children, we could simply put them into the public school system.)  While there are sites which offer booklists, schedules and even scope and sequence suggestions, not one of them will offer a Charlotte Mason education. One could purchase every book on every single list and, unless we first educate ourselves on the principles of a Charlotte Mason education as well as reading her writings, we could always feel "lost".

My suggestion:
  1. In order to get a kickstart, read Catherine Levinson's book A Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education. These offer an explanation of the process and a "jump start" to getting yourself going on this method of education.
  2. Once you've gotten going, read Home Education: Volume I of Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series. Until you have read this, you will never have the full understanding of her beautiful teachings.
  3. Become a book connoisseur. Learn what to look for so that you avoid boring books and twaddle. Make your child's education "come alive"!
This isn't about a curriculum that someone else created for you to follow. This is about individualizing an education to the needs of your own family. Many can help and do! Amblesideonline offers a complete curriculum but it doesn't entirely fit those of us who want a secular curriculum. The same with Simply Charlotte Mason. However, they do both offer book lists, scope and sequence and suggestions for developing your own curriculum for your own children.

While the method is "all about the books", at the same time, if we get caught up the idea that there are certain books for certain subjects for certain ages, not only have we missed the point but we are delaying our children's education while we struggle with the concept.


For example, I think we owe it to children to let them dig their knowledge, of whatever subject, for themselves out of the fit book; and this for two reasons: What a child digs for is his own possession; what is poured into his ear, like the idle song of a pleasant singer, floats out as lightly as it came in, and is rarely assimilated.   ~Charlotte Mason~

(Vol. 3 Chapter 16 How to Use School-Books, p.177)

Happy Homeschooling!

Michelle

6 comments :

  1. I'm definitely re-learning that there really is no one-size-fits-all curriculum! Great post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know I was there when I started and have come to realize I can choose the books I want rather than let someone else's curriculum tell me what to do. It really was a matter of truly "getting" the concept.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You make a very important point! The number one request I get on my site is booklists. I do provide some to get folks started but, you are right, there is no one correct booklist for CM. It's all about applying her philosophies to your homeschooling---not her booklists!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks- looking through your blog and this was just the post I needed to read tonight! Thank you for helping me trust myself to move forward in my homeschooling!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks- looking through your blog and this was just the post I needed to read tonight! Thank you for helping me trust myself to move forward in my homeschooling!

    ReplyDelete
  6. You make a very important point! The number one request I get on my site is booklists. I do provide some to get folks started but, you are right, there is no one correct booklist for CM. It's all about applying her philosophies to your homeschooling---not her booklists!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for joining the conversation!