As I have been rereading Charlotte Mason’s Volume I, Home Education, the teacher in me has been looking forward to this part- Part V- “Lessons as Instruments of Education.” It is a long chapter, so I have decided to break into three sections for my notes and posts.
My Five Points to Ponder:
1. Charlotte Mason lists “Three Questions for the Mother” to consider:
“Why must the children learn at all? What should they learn? And How should they learn it? If she take the trouble to find a definite and thoughtful answer to each of these three queries, she will be in a position to direct her children’s studies; and will at the same time, be surprised to find that three-fourths of the time and labour ordinarily spent by the child at his lessons is lost time and wasted energy.” (p 171)
These are very good questions to think deeply about and then get my answers on paper. Then review all of my subjects and lesson plans through my answers and get rid of the superfluous activities- and the guilt I feel for not doing them.
2. Mental Effort– “Just as the limbs grow strong with exercise, so does intellectual effort with a given power of the mind make that power effective.” (p 172)
She has said this before- that the exercise of the brain makes it stronger and helps it to grow. What strikes me here is the distinction- “a given power”- so lessons should be varied to exercise all the different powers of the mind that are needed by the child. I have noticed this in my own life, just this evening.
I have never been good at tune recognition. When we play Cranium, my team members always know to not count on me for any part of the Humdinger. Let me illustrate for you. Several years ago, my husband was playing a familiar tune on his keyboard (he is quite musical- which is such a great thing for our kids- left to me, they would be pretty bad off in this area). I remarked out loud, “Oh! That song is so familiar!” He gave me a skeptical look. “It’s Jesus Loves Me.” Oh, that song I’ve sung since childhood? Yes. That one. I must also admit that it was just last April that I discovered that the ABCs and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star share the same tune!
However, X-man really loves this “Name That Tune” game that Daddy plays with them. He’s pretty good at it, too (better than his mom, for sure). So he’ll talk me into playing it with him frequently. And this evening, I discovered that the exercise of this part of my brain did me some good! On Good Mythical Morning (a YouTube video series created by Rhett & Link- 2 funny guys who write and sing funny songs and put on this funny show) today, they had a game where Link hummed theme songs to movies and Rhett had to guess the movie. I was expecting myself to get precisely 0 answers. I expected to think, Oh, that sounds really familiar. What is that song? What movie is it from? And I am absolutely amazed: I got 6 right. Out of 13. Less than half, I know. But more than none! Exercising that power of my brain improved my ability!
So the application is that I should have a variety of lessons and subjects so that they have strength in a variety of mental skills.
3. “It is not too much to say that a morning in which a child receives no new idea is a morning wasted.” (p 173)
What a high standard! But it is a good thought- as I prepare for my week and make my plans, I can look in them for one new idea each day and try to make sure that I furnish the opportunity for this sort of intellectual nourishment.
4. Miss Mason gives four tests which should be applied to their lessons: (p 177)
a. Provide material for their mental growth.
b. Exercise several powers of their minds.
c. Furnish them with fruitful ideas.
d. Afford them knowledge really valuable for its own sake- accurate and interesting.
5. “The Child Should Be Allowed Some Ordering of His Life.” (p 194)
Children’s lives are full of being ordered about and having their lives ordered by someone else. It is a good thing to give them plenty of free time when they are young so that they may enjoy ordering their own life for awhile. My daughter has had a recent passion for Chinese Take-Out. Whenever she is asked why she likes this food so much, she answers, “Because I can choose whatever I want!”