On Authority and Docility

A few months ago I finished Chapter 4, Authority and Docility, of A Philosophy of Education. This is Volume 6 from Charlotte Mason’s writings. Many times I have sat down to write up this post, but the words would not come. Naturally in the middle of the night when I could not sleep I wrote many eloquent thoughts on this chapter. Sadly, I was never motivated to get up and jot those words down.

So today I sit and I write. Being me, I can’t move ahead in this book until I get this post somewhat completed. The book sits on my desk and taunts me daily. This rainy afternoon presented the perfect opportunity.

“Every king and commander, every mother, elder sister, school prefect, every foreman of works and captain of games, finds that within himself which secures faithful obedience, not for the sake of his merits, but because authority is proper to his office.” p69

I wrote a really long blog post this afternoon. And I just deleted it. I’m not sure how I could elaborate on Chapter 4 without feeling redundant. I loved what this chapter had to say. I have quotes written down in my Commonplace Book. I have thought much about this chapter; about authority and docility. I find myself agreeing with Miss Mason on so much here.

I had a long conversation with my husband about the words authority and docility. On authority, we tend to have a natural reaction to resist it? I tell my toddler that standing on the table is not acceptable. He stands on the table. i discipline him. And he does it again. We can say that he is “testing his boundaries”. But if I, as his authority, have set those boundaries then he is resisting my authority.

Authority as defined in Websters Dictionary 1828 –  Legal power, or a right to command or to act; as the authority of a prince over subjects, and of parents over children. Power; rule; sway

That in no way sums up the chat I had with my husband. My point is that I think we must train our children and ourselves to embrace the beauty and order that authority gives to us. It is a blessing. I love what Miss Mason had to share on those who are in positions of authority and how that responsibility it to be handled.

“The same two principles work in every child, the one producing ordered life, the other making for rebellion, and the crux in bringing up children is to find the mean which shall keep a child true to his elliptical orbit.” p70

Then we have docility. I do not know about you but this word is not a part of my daily vocabulary. This is the attitude that we would desire for our children (and ourselves). This spirit or attitude that is open to instruction and learning.

Docility as defined by Websters Dictionary 1828Teachableness; readiness to learn; aptness to be taught

This is why I am reading through Charlotte Mason’s volumes. This is why I read my Bible throughout the week. An attitude of docility is why my book stack never gets smaller. I yearn to know more; to be taught more about so many things! As I look at myself as a parent and an an educator, I see that I can better handle and respect the responsibility of authority I have been given if I also have docility. They are a beautiful pairing, are they not?

“The conditions are, – the teacher, or other head, may not be arbitrary but must act so evidently as one under authority that the children, quick to discern, see that he to must do the things he ought; and therefore the regulations are not made for his convenience. (I am assuming that everyone entrusted with the bringing up of children recognizes the supreme Authority to whom we are subject; without this recognition I do not see how it is possible to establish the nice relation which should exist between teacher and taught.)” p73

If you have any thoughts to share on this volume or this particular chapter, I would love to hear them. If you have not read this chapter before, go read it and then come back and share. (If you do not own a copy of A Philosophy of Education, you can access if for free and read Chapter Four here.  Hopefully I will be more aware of the attitudes of my children and myself with is comes to authority and a willingness to learn.

“They regard children as inferior, themselves as superior, beings; -why else their office? But if they recognized that the potency of children’s minds is as great or greater than that of their own, they would not conceive that spoon-feeding was their mission, or that they must masticate a morsel of knowledge to make it proper for the feeble digestion of the scholar.” p75

So now on to Chapter 5: The Sacredness of Personality!

 

 

 

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Nature of a Child – Charlotte Mason

I am a bit overdue for sharing a few thoughts from my reading of A Philosophy of Education. Chapter Three was The Good and Evil Nature of a Child. The chapter itself is broken down into five sections. So much good food for thought throughout.

I suppose this is why it has taken me so long to pull together what I wanted to share in this post. And in reality, I am not sure I can even adequately paraphrase, sum up, or expound on Miss Mason’s thoughts. Perhaps her thoughts will have to speak for themselves.

“The fact seems to be that children are like ourselves, not because they have become so, but because they are born so; that is, with tendencies, dispositions, towards good and towards evil, and also with a curious intuitive knowledge as to which is good and which is evil.” p46

I will say that anyone who deals with the education of a child..in any way teaches a child..I think this chapter is worth reading. To say that this text would only benefit a homeschool parent is an error indeed.

“There is a common notion that it is our inalienable right not only to say what we please but to think as we please, that is, we believe that while the body is subject to physical laws, while the affections, love and justice, are subject to moral laws, the mind is a chartered libertine. Probably this notion has much to do with our neglect of the intellect.” P49

It is easy to read the title of this chapter and set our minds that we will be reading about how bad some children are and how good others are. But that is really missing the whole point of this chapter. We all have the capacity to do good and no doubt we have the capacity to do evil. Which aspect of the nature of the child do we want to feed? What do we want to encourage in growth?

“As for literature – to introduce children to literature is to instal them in a very rich and glorious kingdom, to bring a continual holiday to their doors, to lay before them a feast exquisitely served. But they must learn to know literature by being familiar with it from the very first. A child’s intercourse must always be with good books, the best that we can find.” p 57

When we set before the child a vast array of truth, beauty, and goodness…when they read great and beautiful literature, when they see the beauty of creation, when they see purpose in the numbers…it feeds that good nature in the child. They recognize it and develop an appetite for it that must be fed.

“The divine curiousity which should have been an equipment for life hardly survives early childhood” p57

”The love of knowledge is sufficient.” p57

There is an almost comedic occurrence here. I am typing, deleting, re-typing, deleting, rephrasing. Perhaps I will just end it with Miss Mason.

“Children are not to be fed morally like young pigeons with predigested food. They must pick and eat for themselves and they do so from the conduct of others which they hear of or perceive. But they want a great quantity of the sort of food whose issue is conduct, and that is why poetry, history, romance, geography, travel, biography, science and sums must all be pressed into service. No one can tell what particular morsel a child will select for his sustenance. p59

If you have not read any of Charlotte Mason’s works, I highly recommend that you do. Whether you agree fully with her philosophy or not, their is so much value and truth in this chapter.

Are you currently reading any of Miss Mason’s volumes? Which one? What have you found thought provoking or intriguing? Interesting?

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2018-2019 Form 2 Curriculum Choices

I currently have one student in Grade 5/Form 2 this year. My goal is to implement the Charlotte Mason philosophy into our studies. In no way do I proclaim that I do it perfectly. Perhaps my stumbling attempts will be a help and encouragement to you. Here are the books selections and resources that we will be using for Term 1:

While my student is in Grade 5, I utilized Ambleside Online’s Year Four as a starting point. The Year Four plan at AO lines up well with our historical focus of 1650-1800. Please visit the Ambleside Online website! The Auxiliary has put in many hours to provide an amazing free resource.

Bible: Once a child is reading independently, I encourage daily personal Bible reading that is not related to our group Bible reading. I do not schedule this but am happy to offer suggestions/reading plans if the child is unsure of what to read.

Math: Math Mammoth is the current math curriculum. My daughter really enjoys Math Mammoth and is progressing nicely. I love that she enjoys math so no changes are planned. There are currently math resources available that are Charlotte Mason inspired and follow her method for math. I am choosing to use the resource I own incorporating Charlotte Mason’s principles.

Copywork: Along with daily copywork pulled from her poetry readings, hymns, Scripture, and other literature, we also use Beautiful Handwriting for Children. It is an italics program that includes both print and cursive. This term our focus will be on the cursive portion. This is a great, inexpensive resource!

Grammar: This will be her first official year for grammar. I am pulling two resources together. First is Simply Grammar. I researched grammar programs I owned along with a few other options. I decided that I would pull from what I had and see how it went.

I am also using Grammar Reinforcement Task Cards from Creek Edge Press. I used these with another one of my children and I love them! Creek Edge Press has task cards for other areas of learning such as history, science, and music. Recitation and Enrichment resources are offered as well. An excellent resource!

History: Two books are used since American History and British History are covered. The Story of the Thirteen Colonies (American) and Our Island Story (British). Along with these spines, I add in a selection of historical fiction. In Term 2, depending on how Term 1 goes, we will add in Ancient Greece. Both of the above books are available online for free.

Biography: Poor Richard (James Daughtery) is the selection covering Benjamin Franklin.

Geography: I made bit of a good here. Minn of the Mississippi (Holling C. Holling) was the book on the schedule. She happened to pick up Of Courage Undaunted (James Daughtery). Since she is really enjoying Of Courage Undaunted, this covers Lewis and Clark, I decided to schedule both books at a slower pace. Of Courage Undaunted is one of her favorite selections this term. We also incorporate maps as well.

Science/Nature Lore – Here we have another favorite. The Storybook of Science is being enjoyed immensely. I also have her reading Madam How and Lady Why. Both of these titles are available online for free.

Let’s see what haven’t I covered… Oh!

Poetry: The poet for this term is Emily Dickinson. A poem a day is read and one has been selected for recitation.

Literature: Here I have really slowed things down to meet the needs of my child. My daughter loved being read aloud to and she had no motivation to learn to read. We pushed through lessons and she learned to read. However, she didn’t seem to enjoy the process. In the past several months, she has found enjoyment in reading! Delightful! So she is tackling a good bit of her schoolwork on her own this term. I don’t want to overwhelm her so literature is assigned at a slow pace.

She will be reading Age of Fable from Bullfinch’s Mythology. I have a lovely illustrated edition on its way and will return the thick, chunky copy to the library. I also have her reading Rabbit Hill (Robert Lawson). This is another selection she was surprised to find that she enjoyed. Our weekly readings from Shakespeare are a part of literature as well but that is scheduled as a part of group studies.

Citizenship: Thankfully our library had The Presidency (Gerald Johnson). I was pondering reading it aloud but think it works better for Form 2. She is making connections with this book and Of Courage Undaunted. I love seeing her mind churning all these facts, people, and ideas.

She has been sitting in with us on Plutarch, and I was concerned that she wasn’t digesting the information. I had thought to incorporate Stories from the History of Rome by Mrs. Beesly. This should be free online as well.  However, in casual conversation my daughter showed that she was keeping up just fine with Plutarch. So perhaps no adjustments are necessary? We shall see.

Other areas of learning such as composer, artist study, and special studies (nature) are a part of our group family studies. When that post is ready, I will come back and link it.

This year is a time of maturity and independent learning for my Form 2 student. These selections are not read daily; the feast of ideas is spread out over the week and term.

I am slowly reading through Charlotte Mason’s writings on her thoughts and practices in education. I am currently reading A Philosophy of Education and it is delightful. I sharing a brief snippet of the highlights from each chapter here on my blog. Feel free to join me in conversation!

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