What isn’t going on in the world of Charlotte Mason education, would probably be the better question to ask. It seems I joined in on this movement that is blossoming and growing and becoming more aware of itself by the day. That doesn’t mean I’m aware of it all. Not yet. I’m kind of slow about these things. I don’t care for big conferences, and I decided to take a summer break on any CM meetings that are taking place in the area. I don’t even have much patience to follow the conversations about the changing CM world on various blogs and web sites.
However, I do know that CM educators are finding more and more info from the different articles and reviews that Miss Mason wrote. Those of us who began with the six big volumes are now becoming aware that those big volumes are only a framework. The articles and reviews and letters that are becoming more easily accessible flesh out Miss Mason’s theories. And we find out we have been doing things wrong. At least some things. I’m not an expert yet, but I’ve vaguely become aware that nature study techniques need to be restudied (less art, more inquisitiveness). And composer study is perhaps a crutch we educators have been leaning on to cover a much broader (and more intimidating) study of music.
As my oldest begins third grade in the fall, and as I slowly begin to turn my summer break into a preparation for the next school year, I find myself wondering how much studying I should do? I like to study, and I’m pretty good at research, but at the same time, will it do much good to find out exactly how Miss Mason taught her class? Will slogging through a pile of articles really help me become a better teacher to my own children? I don’t know. There are some educators out there who do extensive research (Art Middlekauf, I’m talking about you!), and they seem to benefit a great deal from it. I think these folks with the big brains and the big hearts for their kids can honestly combine the two into a really good education.
At the same time, I think trial and error has its advantages as well. I’ve tried following Ambleside Online to the letter. Now, I believe I’ll try combining AO with some new things I’ve been keeping my eye on. For example, I think I’ll buy the “Jot It Down” writing program from Brave Writer, which will change the way we do poetry, among other things.
I feel like the wisdom of Charlotte Mason sifts into my life. Sifting is kind of an old-fashioned thing, too. The older recipe books tell us to sift together our flour and baking soda and salt. I think a sifter is a tool people used to use (sorry if I’m completely ignorant about this–I grew up without sifting things). Well anyway, it’s all a metaphor that I’m trying to work out here. CM is the flour sifting into my other life-ingredients. Her ideas help make a fine cake:)