There is a really great guest post by Anne White on Brandy’s blog. Part of a series, it is called “Myth: Reading and narration are the sum total of a Charlotte Mason Education.”
I first became acquainted with the ideas of Charlotte Mason when my eleven year old was a baby. Wonderfully inspired, I began to learn about, and follow her principles. As we moved into & progressed through formal education I was tempted to add other things in…the sorts of things Anne discusses in the article:
“We assume that it won’t work to simply teach the Middle Ages from a book of history, or to read an entire book about Robin Hood, and to do copywork or keep a Book of Centuries, because that’s not what the public schools do when they study the Middle Ages. We should be spending a great deal of time on the innards of castles, and doing dragon art. We should be including time-travel novels and fictional diaries of imaginary young squires or princesses, because that’s what children will relate to. Perhaps we can even have them film stop-motion videos based on those books. Or, if we’re looking for more serious work, we can buy study guides filled with questions and vocabulary, maybe a crossword or two, and assignments for research papers.”
I have found, with my own children, that when I strip back the busy work, and focus on the skills that Charlotte proposed; reading, narrating, copywork, & dictation etc, my children use the time they have available, and the space they have in their imaginations, to go on to create.
Creativity is the highest level in Bloom’s taxonomy. I see it expressed in other systems of learning too:
In Lectio Divina, a a traditional Christian practice, we see three stages of learning:scriptural reading, meditation and response in the form of prayer and action. This is discussed in the wonderful video from CAP featuring Jenny Rallens “Liturgy of the Classroom” This video is a must see! So very inspiring.
In the Trivium we see three stages; Grammar – obtaining the basic facts and skills Logic – which addresses the ‘why’ of a subject & finally Rhetoric – the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing; the ability to create a well reasoned argument.
In Reflection, self awareness & critical thinking – Ebby 2000 the three stages are shown as “self awareness, critical thinking & reflection”
In The Private Eye the stages are Explore, make analogies, theorise.
Charlotte Mason’s lessons follow a similar pattern…First read the new text, then narrate, then discuss…enter ‘The Grand Conversation’. Create in one’s mind thoughts that connect with other ideas & experiences.
This is so very exciting to me! And I am struggling to put into words the the ideas I have on this subject. But these very simple, age-old steps, lead to a great & rich education. These unadorned steps that Charlotte would have us follow, lead to creativity within our children.
Simple, though does not always mean easy. My homeschool requires a lot of effort on my part. I would like to compare my efforts to a swimming swan…serene on the surface, with a lot going on behind the scenes! I spend time pre-reading our read aloud choices, making copious notes, researching allusions etc. This gives the preparedness I need to be able to discuss ideas with my girls. Not just tick the books off the list… My youngest daughter acts out the stories we are reading with puppets & soft toys, she draws pictures & paints with watercolour. My eldest creates poetry, paintings of mythological worlds & most recently a clay model of Jotunheim.
Creativity is the highest level in these various ideas & the fact that my children are doing this of their own accord is so greatly encouraging to me!
“Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature” Charlotte Mason