Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Education is....Part One

We've often been asked what curriculum we are using in our homeschool.  We aren't using any particular curriculum package, but rather an assortment of materials that fit into our philosophy of education and the season of life we find ourselves currently in (See the Goals and Curriculum page in the sidebar).  Our philosophy of education is eclectic with a heavily Charlotte Mason flavor.  Charlotte Mason was an educator in Great Britain during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Charlotte Mason recognized that there is more to education than just academics.  This is what she means when she says "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."  Let's look at the first part of that, shall we?

Education is an atmosphere...
"By 'atmosphere', Charlotte spoke of the environment our children grow up in. She knew that the ideas that rule our lives, as parents, will have a profound impact on our children. Some of those rules we are completely aware of; others we may not realize are controlling our lives. Nevertheless, “the child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives” (Vol. 2, p.247)."

The atmosphere that we build in our homes is a major influence on who and what our children turn out to be, and therefore an important piece of their education.  Is my home a place of love and order where my children are built up and encouraged?  What about me: am I setting an example that I would be pleased to have them follow?  It is important to remember to ask these questions regularly.    I would contend that building a positive home atmosphere is important regardless of what method or philosophy of education you have chosen for your family.  However, one of the things that drew me towards Charlotte Mason's philosophy was the intentional emphasis on it.   It is easy for me to get caught up in the more tangible things: academics, discipline issues, the endless to-do list. So often I find myself behaving as a thermometer: reacting to the environment around me, rather than being a thermostat: taking intentional steps to ensure a pleasant atmosphere in my home.  Recognizing that our home atmosphere is an important part of the overall education of our children provides the reminder that I need to periodically evaluate how this is going in our home and make any necessary adjustments.

Next up: Education is a discipline.

Quotations and the thermometer/thermostat analogy taken from Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life, a free e-book available from Simply Charlotte Mason

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