Thursday, April 28, 2016

Volume 1 of Charlotte Mason's series is Complete!

I am pleased to announce that Home Education, Volume 1 of Charlotte Mason's Home Education series is now complete on Audio! 

I will leave the individual installments up until June 30th for those of you who have purchased the book incrementally as it's become available. After that date, Home Education will only be available to purchase as a complete audio book. This option will be made available in the next few days, so check back next week if you'd like the whole volume, all at once.

Monday, April 25, 2016

An Addition to our Library

Anyone who has listened to our podcast knows that I, Emily, am an unabashed Charlotte-Mason-geek. So much so that I have hi-jacked mom's usual blog post schedule to insert one of my "new" finds.

I've been looking more deeply into how exactly Charlotte Mason suggested the Bible be studied as a school subject. Since the Bible is the Living Book of all living books, she unapologetically advocated its intentional study in addition to personal, devotional reading. There is a difference. In her school programmes, Mason always stressed that "necessary omissions" be made from the Bible text. I believe this was especially important as children were studying Scripture and narrating what they learned. While all Scripture is profitable, I don't think we want our children to contemplate too deeply some of the most graphic elements of the Bible at young ages.

These omissions are easy to achieve during elementary school when the Bible passage is read aloud to the student. Children in Forms I and II (grades 1-6) would read the historical narrative portions of the Old Testament (Genesis through Kings) as well as the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) and the first 8 chapters of Acts from the New Testament. Alternating days between the Old Testament and the New Testament, the students cycled through their appointed Old Testament reading every four years and their New Testament passages every three years. Simple enough.

It becomes more difficult as the students switch to reading the passage for themselves. Students in the Parents' National Education Union schools started this in middle school, around 7th grade. Mason solved this delicate matter by using a book called Old Testament History by the Reverends Hardwich and Costley-White. She describes it in her 6th Volume:
"Wise and necessary omissions in this work make it more possible to deal with Old Testament History, in the words of the Authorised [King James] Version, than if the Bible were used as a single volume." (p. 163)
I've always been curious about this volume, reading Mason's description that it integrated the prophetic books into their historical period as the students read the various kings and that the authors' excellent footnotes illuminated the text so that the students could more readily picture the events described. Alas, Old Testament History isn't online anywhere that I have found. Thus the reason for this post: I recently tracked one of the volumes down and have enjoyed looking at it in person before adding it to our library. Unfortunately, I only have Volume I (of five volumes) but it was nice to see for myself what I could only imagine from Mason's description.

The book is a blend of biblical commentary and a chronological Bible, but the commentary is sparse, limited to an introduction to each book and the occasional, brief, footnote in the text itself. Helpful appendices provide information on the historical dating of certain figures and events as well as geographical locations mentioned in the Scriptures. The beauty lies in those "wise and necessary omissions," enabling students to engage the text directly. Below is a sample from the Creation account in Genesis 1:

Beginning in middle school, students studied the whole of the Old Testament historical narrative including the prophets as Costley-White integrated them, again cycling through this portion every four years. In their New Testament reading the children studied all of Acts and the Gospel of John every three years. In high school the Psalms, Proverbs, and Epistles were added and a chronologically arranged life of Christ from all four Gospels was used. For any of my fellow "geeks," I've put together a spreadsheet of these Bible study rotations as they were used in the PNEU schools.

Always digging,


Monday, April 18, 2016

Reading Under Stress

“I’d love to hear a post on reading in stressful times.” was a request of a long-time follower of Living Books Library. I understood. I have lived through some stressful times myself.

Reading helps. Let me be more exact: reading is a survival technique.

Through nearly 40 years of marriage, six children, aging parents, 20 moves, farming, and who knows what—starting a library and homeschooling and keeping up with grandchildren—I’ve had my share of stressful times. I know what it’s like to live in a pressure cooker and wonder which end is up.

“My times are in your hands,” says the Psalmist (Ps. 31:15) recorded in the best book to read every day, the Living Book of books. David had a few stressful situations in his life. There is nothing new about stress. Later, he says, “They are all in Your book, the days numbered for me, before I was born.”(Ps.139:16)

My friend, Elisabeth Elliot, when I was a young mother and going through a tunnel of days without light, encouraged me, “Do the next thing.” And my other mentor, Charlotte Mason, encouraged her student teachers not to be in a hurry, not to fret, but to faithfully not waste time, and they would find they always had plenty of it. (The Story of Charlotte Mason I in no way condone the prices they are asking for that book, just include the link to show which I refer to) She knew. Her own days were ceaselessly packed and demanding. She read books in every one of the days appointed for her life. At certain hours, that was the next thing.

It is easy in stressful times to think we don’t have time to read—and sometimes we don’t have much—but when we are drained and depleted, besides sleep, and prayer, reading is a source of strength—because our minds need rest, energy, refreshment, nutrition as much as our bodies do, and they feed on ideas. The thoughts and ideas received from books supply, sustain.

Besides, whether it is a novel or a work of philosophy or science, the act of stepping into another world, listening to a different voice, even momentarily, even for a page, is a break, an energy bar for the mind. When we have something outside of our stressful circumstances to think about, to chew on and marinate in, we are not just diverted, but fed.

Carry a book in your pocket or leave it in the car or on your pillow. Pick it up, open, and read for three minutes. There is life beyond today, and help for today, whether in nonfiction or fiction, someone is writing from a different place, about things outside of your current concern, and just as skipping meals wears the body down, skipping idea helpings wears our spirits down.

Time is slow when we want it to pass, and passes too swiftly when we want it to slow down. The days blur together, following one another in remorseless inevitability. Time is ticking and we feel the pressure, the panting need to spend the hours wisely.

For years I have wanted to read an Elizabeth Goudge novel I have never had available to me. I requested it from an obscure resource five years ago. It came today. This is what her inspiration for The Dean’s Watch was, an epitaph on a grave in Lydford Churchyard:

“Here lies in a horizontal position the outer case of George Routledge, Watchmaker.

Integrity was the mainspring of prudence the regulator of all the actions of his life; humane, generous, and liberal, His hand never stopped till he had relieved distress.

So nicely regulated were his movements that he never went wrong, except when set going by people who did not know his key. Even then he was easily set right again.

He had the art of disposing of his time so well, that his hours glided away, his pulse stopped beating.

He ran down November 14, 1801, aged 57,

In hopes of being taken in hand by his Maker,

Thoroughly cleaned, repaired, wound up, and set going in the world to come, when time shall be no more.”
Imagine never taking a moment of time from the daily round for opening a book to be reminded of such an eternal glory.

For the joy of reading,