Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss
2003, By Way of the Family Press, 255 pages, softcover, Catholic
Elizabeth Foss, mother of seven homeschooled children (ranging in age from 16 down to toddler), has done a great job synthesizing her approach to "educating a child in the heart of the family given to that child by his Creator" in her book, Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home.
The book mixes Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy (lots of living books, short lessons and "masterly inactivity") with pithy quotes from Edith Stein, Pope John Paul II and other Catholic thinkers and educators. She points out that although Charlotte Mason and Edith Stein never met or read each other's writings both emphasize the "absolute necessity of engaging the whole child - heart, soul and mind - in order to educate him".
For the first third of her book, Foss explains her philosophy of educating in the home. It is a different way of looking at how to homeschool. She explains that no subject should be an entity unto itself but instead, all courses should feed off each other. Learning becomes then such a part of the student's world that learning is a "24/7" activity. I especially like that teaching the Catholic faith to our children is not taught in a vacuum. Liturgical celebrations - the cycle of feasts and famines - enliven the school year. The Catholic Church's actions and her many heroes illustrate different periods of history. Liturgical music (classical, chant or contemporary) defines different music styles. Art takes off by incorporating the study of various forms of religious art - iconography, renaissance, church architecture and others. Religion passes from textbook memorization into the heart and soul of the student, to carry them through to adulthood. The Catholic faith is lived in the heart of the home.
Mrs. Foss points out this is not a "how-to" book, but rather a "fly on the wall" perspective of real learning in the Foss (and other) household. Each home will develop its own curriculum. She has detailed quotes from other homeschooling veterans who also use their own form of Charlotte Mason education.
Suggestions for reading books, a sample unit study for Advent, and quotes from other "real learning" homeschoolers make Real Learning a very usable, practical guide to develop your own "real learning" curriculum. I read it at the beginning of my journey with my little ones and again about halfway through. Each time I took away so much more. I'll read it again this summer to refresh my teaching "in the heart of the home".
Donated by Elizabeth Foss
Reviewed by Mary Gildersleeve
View our love2learn page on this book here.
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