But is it practical?

As homeschooling mothers, we are often busy with those things the must be done: chores, schedules, driving, schooling.  We know there is benefit to reading good books, poetry, good music, and days of rest, but finding the time always seems difficult.  The practical things, the urgent things, beckon us.

Soon, school planning time comes around.  We look at our year and what wasn’t executed the way we had envisioned and we’ve heard much talk of new ideas and new ways of implementing different subjects; it can feel overwhelming. We must pick out math curricula, history books, science topics… How do we introduce writing?  Is narration being done correctly? What if the kids don’t spell well?  Many things seem to need our immediate attention.  They all seem so urgent.

I invite you to take a few steps back.  Perhaps now is a good time to take a bird’s eye view of your home school.  Or perhaps fly even a bit higher than the average bird…

The Great Regcognition

Let’s come together and talk about the philosophy of your homeschool.  We’ll do it by diving deeply into Charlotte Mason’s “creed picture“.  It was here that much of her greatest thoughts are visually expressed.

What will we talk about at the webinar?

  • The Florentine mind of the Middle Ages, and the “boldness of the scheme of education” presented in the painting.
  • The Holy Spirit as teacher.
  • How we can co-operate in the education of our children.
  • Who are the characters in the painting and why are they important?
  • What messages did the artist send through the structure of the painting?
  • How can the discord in our lives and school rooms brought into harmony through unity?
  • What role does virtue and wisdom play in education?  Should they be our aim?
  • How to understand this painting from the top down and the bottom up and how that affects your school room.

Will it be practical? Yes.  In the same way that having a map or GPS device is practical when driving across the country.  Can you make it to your destination without one? Maybe, but you’ll be glad to have it when you are on the road.  You trip will certainly be full of smooth and easy days if you can plan where to go and what to see.  Surely, you will need to worry about gasoline, food, and rest stops – but it is best to start with a map.  Consider this painting your roadmap!

Do you want your own copy of the painting? We are giving away three and there is still time to enter!

If you haven’t registered for the webinar yet, I’d love for you to join me this Tuesday, March 21 at 8pm.  We have some great folks signed up and the conversation is going to be great!

The Great Regcognition

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The Great Recognition, for you. {A Giveaway}

We’ve told you how much we love Riverbend Press before, and so we were thrilled when they offered to give us three beautiful prints to give away to in conjunction with our upcoming webinar on this painting.

Great RecognitionPrint Giveaway!

This print is really beautiful – printed on a product that is more like canvas than paper, it is durable and can hang unframed, as I do.  It is a seamless combination of the upper vault and the wall of the Spanish chapel, which is a big deal!  Imagine photographing from the middle of the ceiling nearly down the floor and having minimal distortion.  It is an heirloom quality piece.

How can you get one?  Well, one way is to visit the shop.  Another way is to win one right here!  We have three to give away!

  1. One will be randomly drawn during our webinar and given to an attendee – so go register!
  2. Another will be given away to a commenter on this post.  Leave a comment to enter, it is that easy. If you share this giveaway on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest – link it in the comments for an extra entry.
  3. The last print will be given away on our Instagram account.

Giveaway will close Monday, March 20 at 8pm and all winners will be chosen and announced on March 21.

The Great Recognition – A Magnificent Scheme of Unity

There are times in a person’s life where they are simply struck by the force of beauty in a way that is transformational.  In 1894, Charlotte Mason had one of these moments as she traveled to Florence with John Ruskin’s book in hand and found herself in front of a painting then already 530 years old depicting the ideas around which she had based her educational philosophy.  This piece of art would go on to hang prominently in her school for teachers, and as Essex Cholmondeley wrote:

Charlotte built this ‘great recognition’ deep into the foundations of the students’ life and training there. It formed the special teaching of Whitsunday afternoon. A reproduction of the frescoes had its place in a central position for all to live with. The students called it the ‘creed picture,’

gr-vaultgr

In 2013, I was introduced to this painting at the CMI National Conference where Dr. Deani Van Pelt spoke on it.  I think they allotted 2 hours for her talk, but no one in the room wanted to move as time ran out and we all could have chatted for many hours more.  I spoke to my dear friends and told them that other moms needed to hear this story!  At our 3-day summer intensive, I presented what I had learned and what I had found out since that day. Further study of the painting as well as further reading of Mason’s many references to it filled me with delight.  Since that day, I have visited the painting twice and presented on it myself at the CMI National Conference last year. In my four years of studying this painting, I have still not nearly exhausted its many insights, but I will share with you the one I treasure most: Unity.

Here we have the scheme of a magnificent unity. – Charlotte Mason

The things of God have long been understood as those that are Unum, Bonum, Verum, Pulchrum. Unity, Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. While we may often hear of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness spoken of in homeschooling circles, the transcendental of Unity is lesser known, yet encompasses so much of what God is (a Unity of one God in three Persons) and what he commands of us:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  -St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 4:1-6

This is so much the case, that our word Devil comes from the Greek Diabolos, one meaning of which is “to scatter, disperse, separate”.  God unifies, sin divides.  God gathers, sin scatters.  Now, as a fallen people prone to sin, we step into this error all the time: we divide and subdivide ourselves over all sorts of things.  Though we see the warnings throughout Scripture and we are warned by St. Paul:

 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment…  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?  -St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 1:10, 13

This painting, as Charlotte noticed, shows a great scheme of unity.  The artist shows it as a unification of faith and reason, the sacred and the natural, Divine revelation and natural law.  Charlotte sees this as well and discusses this throughout the volumes – the fact that there is no division between the sacred and the secular,  between science and religion, piety and intellect.  The unity comes in when we realize that “every fruitful idea, every original conception, whether in Euclid, or grammar, or music, was a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit”1.  Our God has a plan so large and His thoughts are so unlike ours that He can work though any soul, even those “whom we might be lightly inclined to consider as outside the pale of the divine inspiration.”2

That’s a lot to chew on.  I know it is for me.  “It is truly difficult to grasp the amazing boldness of this scheme of the education of the world which Florence accepted in simple faith.”3

Would you like to spend some time learning about who is depicted in this painting, the painter, the Florentines, and Charlotte’s writings on it?  I’d love to have you join me for a webinar on March 21 at 8pm.  It will be the presentation I gave last year, reworked to make some time for discussion and questions at the end.

Grab a glass of wine and enjoy some mother culture.

the-great-regcognition
Click here to purchase a replay!

  1. CM Vol. 2, p. 271
  2. CM Vol. 2, p. 271
  3. CM Vol. 2, p. 271

How Amy Met Charlotte Mason

In a 1923 article published in the L’Umile Pianta after Charlotte Mason’s death, Helen Wix wondered what precisely distinguishes a PNEU student (a student in Mason’s schools) from students in other forms of education. She acknowledged  that other schools formed perfectly good writers without Mason’s methods, used Nature Journals, read good literature, studied living history, and yet wasn’t there something that set a PNEU child apart?

She answers with this beautiful response:

“It is not easy to lay one’s finger on, nor easy to express. Is it that these P.N.E.U. children are fuller of humble enthusiasms for all the great things of life? Is it that they – maybe only dimly realize that every new thread of knowledge leads them on to a further appreciation of the knowledge which is indivisible? Or can it best be summed up in: “they live closer to life?” (page 5 of PDF).

They live closer to life. This phrase perfectly encapsulates Mason’s philosophy. And when people ask me what brought me to homeschooling, or how I found Charlotte Mason,  I tell them I met a Charlotte Mason family and while  at the time I didn’t have this phrase, “they live closer to life,” that’s what I saw and felt and wanted for my own family.

So what was it about this family?

I had met other homeschoolers and was impressed with how serious they were about their children’s education and moral formation, there was just something missing…I couldn’t put my finger on it.

bridge path

But the Holy Spirit is always working on our behalf, answering prayers sometimes we don’t even realize we are voicing. Just months before we were to move across the country, we decided to visit a new church plant in our town. After the service this kind family, who had a brand new baby, invited us for lunch. Did I mention they had just met us and they just had a new baby?!? We came to this great rambling house in the historic district, and when we entered their children enthusiastically turned on classical music. “This is our Composer of the Term,” they said, as they danced around the room. As the parents ate sandwiches, we talked and laughed like old friends.  The children moved on to play outside in the trees and with swords. If I remember correctly, there was mention of Shakespeare and Narnia and a whole mix of wonderful literary characters. These were children who “lived closer to life” …and so I just had to ask, You homeschool? What curriculum do you use? And they said simply, Charlotte Mason without much more explanation.

When we got home I couldn’t get this beautiful family out of my mind and so turned to Amazon (something my husband would say I rather frequent!),  typed Charlotte Mason, and Susan Schaeffer MacAuley’s book came up first and then Mason’s 6 volume series—so I bought them all.

We moved just a few short months later and lost touch with the family, but since then I’ve met their children many times over. I’ve seen hints of them in the residents of 17 Cherry Lane and their nanny Mary Poppins, I’ve seen them in the Melendy’s of The Four Story Mistake, in the Pevensies as they traveled from a wardrobe to Narnia, in those who sailed The Swallow and fought the Amazons, any and all of E. Nesbit’s children. My hope is that my children are becoming like these children, too, not in particulars of course, but as children who “live closer to life.”

bikes and meadow

That was the beginning. From there, I started a CM Book Group that fills my living room each month until far too late in the evening.  We began a Nature Study Club with kids carrying nature journals, climbing trees, and wading in the creek. We formed a blended model educational program with almost 80 children next year, full of moms with stories like my own, captured by the beauty of Charlotte Mason’s Educational Philosophy.

Started by a chance encounter or another example of the Great Recognition of the work of the Holy Spirit?

In the things of science, in the things of art, in the things of practical everyday life, his God doth instruct him and doth teach him, her God doth instruct her and doth teach her. Let this be the mother’s key to the whole of the education of each boy and each girl; not of her children; the Divine Spirit does not work with nouns of multitude, but with each single child. Because He is infinite, the whole world is not too great a school for this indefatigable Teacher, and because He is infinite, He is able to give the whole of his infinite attention for the whole time to each one of his multitudinous pupils. We do not sufficiently rejoice in the wealth that the infinite nature of our God brings to each of us.

-Charlotte Mason, Volume 2 page 273

Let us rejoice in the infinite nature of our God and may we strive to live closer to life!

butterfly.JPG

We love to hear from you! How did you meet Charlotte Mason? Share in the comments or link to your blog.