As I mentioned in a previous post I am reading through Charlotte Mason’s six volumes on her educational philosophy. I have slowly begun to read A Philosophy of Education which is the sixth and final volume of Miss Mason’s series.
I am a reader who loves to settle in with a good book and binge read for hours. Life does make that a bit difficult now but these writings are not ones to gulp down but to sip slowly. Savor. Let the words and thoughts and ideas settle in a bit.
Chapter One is on Self-Education. I have actually read this chapter twice, marked passages with my book darts, and finally copied them in my journal.
The love of learning is something I hope that all of my children will have by the time they leave my home. Actually I want them to have a love of learning long before they leave my home. That love of acquiring knowledge, learning something new, diving into a book and walking away with a deeper understanding…I want them to have that.
In my mind, self-education results in that love of learning. Self-education is when the child takes ownership and responsibility. She understands the importance of learning or knowledge. There is a desire to learn something new or to comprehend something better. Even in the face of hard work or challenges, that desire to learn makes the struggle worth it.
“A person is not built up from without but from within, that is, he is living, and all external educational appliances and activities which are intended to mould his character are decorative and not vital.” A Philosophy of Education p 28
We can set up a reward system for work completed. Offer a prize when a skill is mastered. Take them for ice cream when a math text is completed. This is all trying to build up from without and in the end will not result in that love of learning. If we must always have a prize or reward or pat on the back for our learning and accomplishments, then we are just puppets. Controlled by whatever or whoever will give us the most praise or the highest reward.
If the child understands the benefit and beauty of knowledge and learning, then it becomes a part of them, of her character. She knows to seek out information, to dive into a book, to practice for herself. Not for a sticker or a good mark on a transcript. Then self-education is born.
“The teacher who allows his scholars the freedom of the city of books is at liberty to be their guide, philosopher and friend; and is no longer the mere instrument of forcible intellectual feeding.” A Philosophy of Education p 32
Self-education does not mean leaving the child on her own. Instead of making a list of what must be learned, rewarding what appears to be mastered, and moving on down the list, you walk alongside the child. Helping her find information, discover the beauty around her that inspires, providing good, living books, and discussing those things that engage them.
I want to stress that I don’t see self-education as leaving the child to learn alone or to struggle through difficult concepts without help. I am walking beside them, discussing, helping, supporting, and often struggling right alongside them. Perhaps one day I will master higher math, eh? But I want them to own their education. Value it. See the purpose.
I always enjoy seeing what books will come home from the library with my children. An old edition of a book of poetry, a cookbook on grilling, a survival guide, or a how-to book on pressing flowers. Always stacks of literature; new and old.
Hopefully the love of learning will continue. This self-education will be a life long pursuit. The wonder of new ideas and beautiful stories and endless possibilities will never die.
What are your thoughts on self-education? I would love to hear them. Thanks for listening to my rambling thoughts.
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