Monday, August 15, 2016

What About Mom’s School Books?

Like it or not, school is in session or nearly so. Homeschooling moms all over the country are scurrying to make final book choices. The last question turned in for my summer reading input concerns books for mom: "What should we moms be reading? How many books and on what subjects?”

Good question. I am convinced that one of the reasons homeschool moms wear thin is that they are not feeding themselves with a good diet of books. In the effort to select and serve good literature to their children, they forget that the teacher also needs some nutritious helpings herself.

When is a mother to find time? Anyhow she can. Don’t forget my old challenge to read ten minutes a day. That will get you through a couple of dozen books a year. C. S. Lewis said,
“The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.” (The Weight of Glory)
And why must a mother read? For the same reasons her children should. The mind lives on ideas, Mason said, as the body lives on food.

And where are those ideas to come from? From books—a vast array of living books full of living ideas. Mason said mothers would find new energy from reading:
“One cannot read without many life-giving thoughts from almost any good book: poetry, biography, history, essays, good novels—all will supply our need.” (The Story of Charlotte Mason, Essex Chomondeley)
Years ago I discovered that reading books on some of the subjects my children were studying was the key to my own mind expanding and growing. I had more energy and enthusiasm for life in general, and for teaching school specifically. Mason states:
“People are naturally divided into those who read and think and those who do not read or think; and the business of schools is to see that all their scholars shall belong to the former class; it is worth while to remember that thinking is inseparable from reading which is concerned with the content of a passage and not merely with the printed matter.” (Towards a Philosophy of Education, p. 31)
So, reading just any old thing doesn’t count:
“You will find if you read thoughtfully and steadily ONLY that which is worth reading, daily nourishment, stimulating thought will come to us, and however foreign the subject may be, what we read, if it is worth reading, will help us do our work better and will give us fresh thoughts to impart to the children.”
We may not have the privilege of extended, uninterrupted quietness in which to read, but we can attend for short intervals, just as our children have short lessons; we can read a little in several different books on different days as our children do; and, best of all, we will find our own education is far from over—perhaps just beginning.

If we believe Mason’s principles are effective for nourishing the mind of our children, why will they not work for us? Are you spreading a wide and varied feast for yourself? Are you stretching your mind in new directions? Are you nourishing your mind with the life-giving thoughts straight from the mind of other thinkers—the wealth of ideas found in books? Mason said,
“If you find yourself sinking to a dull commonplace level with nothing particular to say, the reason is probably that you are not reading, and therefore, not thinking.” (Story of Charlotte Mason).
If you’re interested in making up your own curriculum, here are some steps to take:

1. Write down four to six subjects in which you need to gain knowledge. Don’t shy away from unfamiliar or intimidating areas.

2. Begin hunting for a book for each of these subjects.

3. Read a little in each of them every week—slow and steady progress.

4. Narrate to yourself—or to anyone who will listen—what you are learning.

5. Have a wonderful school year—and enjoy the feast!

For the joy of reading,

Liz

9 comments:

  1. Yay! As always, Liz, your posts inspire and encourage me. This year, I'd like to read a little more science--I'm very heavy on literature and theology and history, and I'd like to expand into the area of natural history and (gulp) physics, which my children will be studying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kimberlee,

      May I recommend For the Love of Physics by Lewin, Science Matters by Hazin, The Microbe Hunters by DeKrueff, and The Invention of Air by Steven Johnson?

      Delete
  2. I bought The We'll Trained Mind by Susan Bauer for this very purpose: I love that she teaches parents how to get their own challenging classical education right alongside their kids!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I bought The We'll Trained Mind by Susan Bauer for this very purpose: I love that she teaches parents how to get their own challenging classical education right alongside their kids!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've written down the science suggestions. My son read Microbe Hunters last year and enjoyed it and it's on my stack to read, but I was wondering if you had suggestions for Church History/Theology, History, and Math? Sorry, that is a long list :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kerri,

      Again, I don't know where you are on your own journey or what you've read before. Tim Keller and John Piper have excellent book. J. I. Packer, R. C. Sproul. I've greatly enjoyed Barbara Tuchman's histories as well as Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun. Emily's favorite math read is String, Straightedge and Shadow by Julia Diggins, if you can find it!

      Liz

      Delete
  5. Wonderful post! I've really stretched myself this year in regards to putting down light reading or ALL fiction and adding in some non-fiction. I've been doing better...I see patterns to my reading, when I'm stressed I tend to drift to the light reading. I'm glad I've preserved on some harder books for me - The Shallows, CMI Charlotte Mason Essays, and memoirs are I think one my favorite genre's...I really enjoyed The Shepherding Life: The People's History of the Lake District...particularly since I read it while traveling in that area! :)There is always room to grow! Again, I love this post, Liz.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wonderful post! I've really stretched myself this year in regards to putting down light reading or ALL fiction and adding in some non-fiction. I've been doing better...I see patterns to my reading, when I'm stressed I tend to drift to the light reading. I'm glad I've preserved on some harder books for me - The Shallows, CMI Charlotte Mason Essays, and memoirs are I think one my favorite genre's...I really enjoyed The Shepherding Life: The People's History of the Lake District...particularly since I read it while traveling in that area! :)There is always room to grow! Again, I love this post, Liz.

    ReplyDelete