Monday, September 10, 2012

If Your Son Asks For Bread

Friday Emily and I got in the car at 5:00 a.m. and headed to Hendersonville, North Carolina in order to arrive two hours early for a big library book sale. We've been showing up for this sale annually since 2004, the year our friends, who are also book lovers, first introduced us to this special event. It is a particularly large and well organized sale and there is an entire room full of children's literature arranged by subject. The best part is that, amongst the twaddle, there is a high percentage of the old books of fine literary quality we are looking for. That sale has helped build our library.

One of the daughters of that homeschooling family who first led us to this sale recently wrote me in response to my post "Revelations." She is now married and lives in another state, but since her response reveals a living example of my point, I share it with you:
"I was blessed to be homeschooled my entire life. However, even though I've always loved reading, I never really enjoyed school. I was one of those relieved to be done. I am really enjoying reading your posts, including this one. They are getting me really excited about using my home library to homeschool my son, even though he's only nine months old. I think I'll have far more fun teaching my son than I had learning."
-- E. J.
Yes, she was indeed blessed to be homeschooled and that her parents valued books. A love of reading is an invaluable gift to impart to a child. Furnishing a home with plenty of books encourages that reading habit. Now this mother has her chance to open the world of books to her own children not just for pleasure, but for all education. Learning is a natural pleasure to a child. Our role as teachers is to put them in the way of the best mind food possible.

Here's another nugget from Charlotte Mason:
"But the children ask for bread and we give them a stone; we give information about objects and events which mind does not attempt to digest but casts out bodily (upon an examination paper?). But let information hang upon a principle, be inspired by an idea, and it is taken with avidity and used in making whatsoever in the spiritual nature stands for tissue in the physical.
"Education," said Lord Haldane, some time ago, "is a matter of the spirit,"––no wiser word has been said on the subject, and yet we persist in applying education from without as a bodily activity or emollient. We begin to see light. No one knoweth the things of a man but the spirit of a man which is in him; therefore, there is no education but self-education, and as soon as a young child begins his education he does so as a student. Our business is to give him mind-stuff, and both quality and quantity are essential. Naturally, each of us possesses this mind-stuff only in limited measure, but we know where to procure it; for the best thought the world possesses is stored in books; we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving."
(Philosophy of Education, pg 26)
" behoves us perhaps to add this freshness of outlook, this scope for the individual, to the disciplinary value of our ordered school studies. It is perhaps a fact that each of us able to discern the crop yielded by every sowing, of our childhood's studies. Instead of which, we put away our school-work as if its intention had been entirely disciplinary and it would be idle to look for the maturing of any seeds of knowledge sown in the days of childhood or school-life. Surely this is a lamentable and reckless waste of intellectual gains."
(Formation of Character, pg 360)
In spite of our own educational background, we can make not just reading pleasurable, but reading for school lessons a most enjoyable and fruitful way for our own children to learn. Read more of Ms. Mason than just the brief statements above. Don't just digest these tidbits here, but open her books and discover the wealth of knowledge and wisdom available to you as a homeschool educator. Your children may not look back with relief, but with gratitude.

For the joy of reading,


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