Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Starting a Mason Education

Many people are overwhelmed when first beginning to homeschool using Charlotte Mason methods. Her ways are so different from our usual educative mindset. At first glance some may think they seem overly easy. But when it comes down to doing it...... It gets puzzling and overwhelming. So many times the advice is for the newbie to start slow with only a few subjects and then add in new pieces as they get a handle on the practiced ones. Pretty good advice.

But that got me thinking: Why is a Mason education so much harder to grasp? With some curriculums you can just sit down and start reading textbooks and answering questions and taking tests. That's not so hard. Our minds grasp this concept. Why is this not so with CM?

The answer is in the change of thought and perspective that Charlotte Mason brings. It doesn't come all at once. We've been implementing CM for 6 years and I'm still grasping some of the concepts. That also shows the living nature of her ideas though. You can begin implementing right away and get a lot of good out of it, but then continue to grow and glean and learn for many years down the road.

It's a little like eating healthy. You know fruit and vegetables are good for you and you really want to begin a healthier meal plan for your family. But it's different from what you're used to. It will take time and effort and experimentation to figure out dishes that are healthy and yummy. Taste buds will need to adjust. Parents will need to lead the way. But in a year you'll be further along than you are now and your family will be grateful for the effort.

Similarly (slightly), a Mason education takes some time to understand. Often the appreciation is already there ~ that's the reason it was chosen as the homeschool method ~ but a deeper appreciation will certainly develop. The concept about education being a lifelong process instead of something to check off a list and forget about will grow. The concept of loving knowledge and wanting more is hard to pass on to kids when we've grown up with the practical view. Allowing kids to thrive at their own pace instead of sticking to imposed grades is hard when you feel outside eyes upon you. Seeing accumulated meaningful knowledge emanate from the child instead of being spit out in list of memorization or written on stacks of papers is joyous for parents but a little nail-biting when portfolio review time comes. There are many more such concepts that are easily written down but hard to shift our thinking on.

So that's one reason families might start out a Charlotte Mason education slowly. It is a paradigm shift not expounded by surrounding academia. Most subjects take practice because they are done so differently. But with good practice, the wisdom behind the method shines through and your family will learn to love to learn again.

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