Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I finished reading last week the most marvelous book, When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today (Dewey Decimal 600s in my reading challenge) is in many ways a sequel to Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's For the Children's Sake. The latter book was my first introduction to Charlotte Mason and a great deal of it makes sense. I learned of the first title last fall and borrowed a copy from another library to read. The book is primarily authored by a professor of education at Covenant College and two administrators at private Christian schools who utilize the Charlotte Mason philosophy. This describes the type of school where I would enroll my kids in an instant if one was available. I read references to Charlotte Mason quite a bit of various homeschooling and afterschooling forums but had not seen her philosophy mentioned in regards to a traditional classroom although that was her original intent.

One of the things I really like about her philosophy is the oft-quoted (and paraphrased) statement that children should be given real or "living books" to read instead of "twaddle". In so many ways this just makes sense because if children read only twaddle they never develop a taste for the best of what is available and become loathe to try anything more difficult. In addition to twaddle-free education, Mason puts a emphasis on lots of nature study, picture study, composer study, reading Shakespeare and poetry, doing handicrafts, and letting children have opportunity to play and be kids. Her philosophy advocates academic school subjects in the morning with the afternoons devoted to nature walks, handicraft, and play or what she refers to as "masterful inactivity". Sometimes I have the brash idea that it would be fun to open a private school. At this point in time, it would be really difficult to decide between a Mason style school or a University Model School. I really think this type of school would fit a niche that currently does not exist in our area. The only private schools are a Lutheran school and a Catholic school that run through 8th grade but having looked over their websites and handbooks thoroughly, the curriculum uses the same textbooks as the public school with the main difference being the addition of Bible/religion class. Although, we're not displeased with our local elementary school, it hasn't knocked our socks off either. But until another option presents itself or I can figure out a way to fit full-fledged home schooling into our hectic life, I'm going to take the $3 grand plus that it would cost to enroll in private school and use that money to buy lots of great books and resources and take purposeful educational trips.

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