Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Consider This -- Thoughts from a Charlotte Mason Homeschool Graduate

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It has been over three years since I graduated from Grace Academy, the little house that sits on the middle of Reed Ave; from without it seems just the average home, an old iron railing stands on the front of the cement ledge that forms a sort of porch just outside the front door whereon there is two steps that lead to the driveway. The driveway is now new cement soft to the touch of bare feet though it was not always like that. It used to be any child's worst enemy in the summer time when shoes were an inconvenience. Indeed that old broken asphalt used to embody the driveway and in a way it definitely built some character to the house and the sore feet of those who refused to wear shoes. Once inside the house though there was a different atmosphere altogether than the broken asphalt from without. It was a place of learning and growing, a sanctuary away from the world, and yet a place to take you worlds away, wherever you wanted to go -- whatever there was to learn and imagaine, a wide variatey was offered. A big world map graced our schoolroom wall above the old wooden desk where my mom, sister, and I sat. That table had a long story within in itself. I could tell of the countless hours I cried over my math studies, or how I struggled to learn how to read for years (and wasn't able to read much beyond the simple I can read book till I was ten years old), but that was not where my story ended. Indeed, I think that perhaps sometimes my mother might have worried if I would ever be able to read however the story of my education extends far beyond the boundaries of that little schoolroom.

Indeed, I was offered so wide and rich a curriculum how could I not but eagerly learn more? I craved what I learned, I developed relationships with a wide range of material. I was taught to study great paintings and narrate what I saw, I was shown great pieces of classical music, I learned from well written history and saw the courage or tyranny within the great figures from the past; I was shown to appreciate the natural world around me and learned to sketch plants in my nature journal, I was shown great poetry from many different poets and learned to appreciate poetry for it's own sake, I read living books about great mathematicians and scientists of the past and felt a sense of wonder -- an excitement at the wonder of God's creation and some of the fascinating design it held, I built a love for wonderful well written literature and I know nothing can satisfy my hunger for a good story quiet like a well written piece of literature.

I learned that I have much to learn. I know that I have been offered a piece of truth and art from some of the best minds but I know that with everything I learned there is a thousand more facets where I could take my education further still. I now understand that the way I was taught was teaching me not to know just truth and facts but I was learning how to learn. Learning how to teach myself, for nothing can be truly learned and really known unless one learns it for oneself. To be spoon fed on other people's notions on what you should be learning and taking away from the lesson is not true knowledge. One has to experience it as wholly as one can, and to be given a wide subject matter and space to connect things within ones own mind -- to draw one's own conclusions after having assimilated the information and thought through it fully in order to say, "yes, I understand, for I can explain it and give my opinion based on my well ordered thoughts upon the matter."

I recently read "Consider This" by Karen Glass. I know that I read it much too fast, and that I will re-read it and narrate if back, maybe in written form so as to more fully understand it, but nonetheless it helped me tremendously as a Charlotte Mason graduate to gather my many thoughts about my education. See, I always knew that the Charlotte Mason education based on true classical ideals was a very special and privileged way to have been educated. I knew it based upon how much I grew to appreciate my schooling, and how much I deeply thank God for having a mother who taught me in that fashion. I saw a sadness around me at my friends growing up who were not educated in the same way and I always felt a pity for them. To have never read the great children's classics, or have read good history books like Our Island Story, or to have studied the great paintings, or to have nature journaled. Even when I was very young, I knew something was missing, and I was unable to talk to them on the many subjects that I found interesting. I am not even talking about complicated areas of study I only mean that I found it sad that hardly any of my friends had read Treasure Island, or Men of Iron, or Kidnapped, or Ivanhoe. That they had not experienced what it was like to know Robinson Crusoe, or to have read Pilgrim's Progress. These were some of the gems that I was offered in my schooling. I was disgusted when I saw a great classic children's book that was abridged and dumbed down for the children. As if we were too simple minded to understand great thoughts and ideas from great books and what was even more saddening to me was the fact that I knew some children my age who had only ever read those abridged fake books.

Humility, Synthetic Thinking, and Virtue, where the three main areas that Karen Glass seemed to point to in her book. To be able to be taught is to have humility. For one has to admit that he does not know. Next Synthetic Thinking should take precedence far above analytical thinking. Synthetic thinking shows the whole picture, not the broken fragmented parts. It is within synthetic thinking that one finds the passion and yearning for more. Whereas analytical thinking takes the whole and breaks it down, pulling it apart from it's original beauty. Analytical thinking does have it's place, but Synthetic thinking should always take front row. And as far as Virtue goes isn't that the whole point of education? To make person's wise and virtuous -- not just smart. A computer is smart, but not wise. Knowledge and wisdom are not one and the same.

I feel that I barely know the very basics of Charlotte's method and classical education in general but I do know something of it and it is a very real peace of me that is embodied in my soul. It is something that adds to who I am as a person. I know I have so very much to learn but I am excited to learn more.

So ends my life as just a student and added to my ever learning process is the great hope that I may one day be able to teach children. That I may share my passion for everything I have learned that I may in some way help guide some child onto the path for a lifelong love of learning. If I were to hand even one child the great love for learning that I have received than I would be more than blessed. At least four years lay ahead of me before I will be even considered for that opportunity, but I pray that God would grow me farther still in this next season of my life. And who knows, maybe someday I will be indeed teaching at a Charlotte Mason school. Here's to new adventures and bright dreams and perseverance. To God be all the glory, Amen!



  1. Molly, you have been blessed educationally and spiritually! You are a huge blessing to those around you, and I'm so excited to see how God will use you in the future!

  2. You are an inspiration to me as I continue on my Charlotte Mason homeschool journey of my own two children. Thank you for sharing!