Tuesday, February 21, 2006

CM from Classroom to Homeschool -- it's all about the child!

A Review of When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today edited by Elaine Cooper

By Mary C. Gildersleeve

Who, in the homeschooling or education world has never heard of Charlotte Mason, the late 19th/early 20th century British education philosopher? Her writings, which helped to change the face of schools in England, had been long-neglected until the penning of books like Susan Schaefer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake or Karen Andreola’s A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning. Elizabeth Foss, a Catholic mom of (soon-to-be) eight children wrote Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home, which helped bring Catholic homeschoolers into an understanding of this Anglican educator.

When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today edited by Elaine Cooper helps to bridge the gap between “traditional” schools and home schools trying to apply the CM philosophies to the school day. A collection of essays by “traditional” school educators – those who have implemented the philosophies in “real schools” both private and public – apply just as much to the home school environment. You’ll find how schools have implemented CM’s picture studies, nature journaling and handicrafts into their daily lesson plans. Tweaked a bit, the advice from these veterans can be translated to the homeschool schoolroom.

Mason’s techniques such as narration, living books and the absence of “twaddle” are translated into American classrooms and, again with tweaking, into American homeschools. Proven practices of how to implement the four pillars of education – education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life, a relationship between teacher and student – within a classroom setting are invaluable to the homeschool setting. The focus of a CM classroom – whether a private, public or home school – is the child as an individual made in the image and likeness of God and with the attendant responsibilities to be nurtured and taught accordingly.

The second section of the book – An Applied Philosophy – takes all the CM techniques and develops weekly lesson plans and sample schedules for lower and middle schools. This is by necessity a broad-brush approach to lesson planning, but still has some gems of wisdom.

If you’re interested in CM philosophy and education methods, this book When Children Love to Learn: a Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today is a great addition to your resource shelf. For further information about CM from a Catholic viewpoint, check-out Elizabeth Foss’ forum at www.4real.thenetsmith.com/ or her website http://www.4reallearning.com/.

Crossway Books (www.crossway.com) publishes this, as well as many other, Christian-based education books. Some of their books are inappropriate for a Catholic audience, but this one should prove quite useful!

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