Lingering in History

In Volume 1 – Home Education, Charlotte Mason said:

“…history…is a subject which should be to the child an inexhaustible storehouse of ideas, should enrich the chambers of his House Beautiful with a thousand tableaux, pathetic and heroic, and should form in him, insensibly, principles whereby he will hereafter judge of the behaviour of nations, and will rule his own conduct as one of a nation. This is what the study of history should do for the child.” ~ page 279

“Let him…linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age.”  ~ page 280

Some great authors  I’ve enjoyed for lingering in a time period with engaging story lines and characters:

Genevieve Foster

G.A. Henty

Rosemary Sutcliff

Mary Macgregor

James Baldwin

Alfred Church

Heritage History and the Yesterday’s Classics collections come with many of these authors books for a low price. Many of them are also available as audio books.
Who are your go-to authors for lingering in a time and place?

Morning Time: In Pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

Morning Time Basket

Have you ever just gone through the motions after a while of doing something??

Me, too.

We have been having successful Morning Time for 5 years…only we called it our Family Studies (a la SCM). We cover many subjects on a regular basis and totally love it – poetry, Shakespeare, Plutarch, music study, picture study, nature study, hymn study, scripture memory (and all the other memory work), history, bible, geography, creative arts, handicrafts, Greek/Latin words, sign language,literature, map drill, exercising daily, etc.  I have a really successful checkoff/record sheet that has all these subjects spread out over the 5 day week, complete with the time to be spent on each one so that we spend about 2 hours a morning doing them together. Only, after a while, it started to become just another check-off list. Yep, I was going through the motions! Not good!

While listening to Cindy Rollins on the Edsnapshots Morning Time Basket podcast, Cindy talked about how her family would all gather round and do these things together on the couch and she made it sound so desirable, lovely, and something to strive for, that I knew I wanted that experience for us this term. I really appreciated her comments on the fact that it isn’t the skill subjects that she wished she had spent more time on, and how the morning time subjects are what fed her family culture – and continue to do so today, even though her youngest is in school. I think that is what I was looking for – encouragement to more fully focus on the relationships and less on the “just do it because it is on the check-off list”.

Then I finally had the chance to read Pam Barnhill’s Morning Time book and after reading about her 4 R’s of Morning Time, I had a mental “A-HA!” moment. I began to consider our subjects in context of how they fit into our family rituals and relationships. And I think I’ve found a delicate balance that can be flexible depending on our days. ;)

I’ve decided that our upstairs Morning Time is going to consist of our Hymn, Prayer, Memory Work, and our selected poem. On alternating days, we will read a history, science, math, geography book. All of this can be done as we eat breakfast and tidy up. Often while I read aloud the girls will color in their beautiful adult coloring books to keep their hands busy and their minds listening. (In my opinion, this is a crucial step to a successful morning!) 

Morning Time Secrets

Then we move downstairs for the School Room Morning Time subjects around the school table – ASL, picture study, composer study, handicrafts, map drill, creative art – because all the supplies are there. As we finish the Morning Time subjects, we have a snack and go right into our skill subjects. On Thursdays we end with Poetry Tea Time, which is also new this year and is such a lovely addition to our day.

Morning Time nourishes our relationships. It motivates us to aim our ideals for finding beauty, truth, and goodness in the world around us. It provides calm in the midst of the storm, connects our family with shared culture, gives us noble ideas that stretch us in many ways, and prepares us to confront the darkness around us with light.

For more information and further reading on Morning Time, check out Pam’s website: edsnapshots.

Poetry Tea Time

Traditionally, I have had a Poetry Study time weekly where we read a bit of biography and a few poems by our chosen poet for the term. It is nice, but not always particularly memorable. I also tried to read a poem or two just for fun during the daily family studies. I felt that those poems were lacking – they were okay, but not necessarily full of living ideas that made me want to think about what we were reading.

Poetry Tea Time Refreshments 1

I have been listening to a few CM podcasts that featured Cindy Rollins of Morning Time fame (she is also the hostess of The Mason Jar on Circe’s podcasts) where she described her family enjoying a poem in depth. They only read one poem at a time, repeating it daily until they were able to commit it to memory, but also giving the whole family time to linger over the rolling phrases and mental imagery the words created in their minds and hearts.  This stoked my desires to have lovely poems that spoke of truth, goodness, and beauty in all its myriad forms.

Questions like ‘How? When? What? and even Who” were lurking in the quiet recesses of my mind as I tried to figure out where to start. And then, as always, the Lord provided a tender mercy as He provided the answers in the form of a  wonderful discussion my Charlotte Mason reading group had in December about reading Poetry and having it be fun and an effective way of conveying living ideas to our children. My friend shared with us her experience with Poetry Tea Time in their home. It sounded like so much fun that I resolved to try it in our own home.

Our first week back to school for our second term, I wanted (needed) something different to do so that we would all look forward to it and decided to introduce Poetry Tea Time. I made a pitcher of lemonade and some chocolate chip cookies, handed each of my girls a poetry book and told them to find a poem to share, asked the older girls to be prepared to recite a memorized poem, and invited my mom to participate – that officially makes it a Noteworthy Event, especially when I use the special dishes my mother got as a wedding present.

At 2 pm, we sat down, had some refreshments on our fancy little glass dishes and cups, and we each shared a poem (or two). I introduced the poet we’re studying this term by sharing a few paragraphs of his biography and reading a couple of his poems. That was it. 25 minutes and a snack. It was fun. And school could be done for the day with this ritual of poetry sharing.

Enjoying the food!

So I tried it the next week. Same time, place, and people – and it was a smashing success. We sat around the table for a whole hour reading poetry (Jack Prelutsky is so fun!) and laughing. They are already asking about getting ready this week. I felt the Spirit whispering that this is what my family needs… to slow down, to reconnect to each other as loved friends, to just be in the moment – not stressing so much about the next thing that has to be checked-off.  What a blessing!

Next week I will share some of my favorite poetry resources, new and old!

For more ideas on Poetry Tea Time, click on these links:

7 Ways to an Easy and Fun Poetry Tea Time by Creekside Learning

Easy Tips for Poetry Tea Time by Pam Barnhill  at EdSnapshots

My Family Version of 2016 Back to the Classics Reading Challenge

Okay – I told you that I joined the Ambleside Online forum…well, a couple of weeks ago, someone posted a link to a reading challenge from Karen at Books and Chocolate. (With a name like that, how could I resist the siren temptation to look at that post???  I’m glad that I did!)  So here is the basic idea: she gives you a list of 12 categories and you choose what book you want to read in each category. There are a couple of guidelines to follow, and if you link to her blog and follow those guidelines, then she puts your name in a drawing for several prizes. Pretty cool! 

I was talking to my sister about it and she got enthused so we decided to adapt it to our family, allowing children’s classic literature (because, as C.S.Lewis said “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the least.”) and letting the nieces and nephews that are interested participate. Disclaimer: I did use Karen’s categories, and if you want to participate in her challenge with her rules, please sign up at her blog so you can be eligible for her prizes.

Here are my selections for the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge (the bold words are the category and the :

  1.  A 19th Century Classic– any book published between 1800 and 1899 – A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  2.  A 20th Century Classic– any book published between 1900 and 1966 – The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall
  3.  A classic by a woman authorLaddie by Gene Stratton Porter
  4.  A classic in translation – The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas
  5.  A classic by a non-white author Indian Boyhood by Charles Eastman (he is of the Lakota Tribe)
  6.  An adventure classic– can be fiction or non-fiction – Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
  7.  A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic.Dystopian could include classics like Animal Farm and 1984. – The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  8.  A classic detective novel.It must include a detective, amateur or professional – A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey (I really like her Daughter of Time book) 
  9. A classic which includes the name of a place in the title. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith. 
  10. A classic which has been banned or censored. If possible, please mention why this book was banned or censored in your review.  The Call of the Wild by Jack London.   From what I read, Hitler banned this book because it promoted self-reliance and independence.  If I have time, I will read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings…which fit under many categories. But they have been banned and even burned.
  11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college). If it’s a book you loved, does it stand the test of time?  If it’s a book you disliked, is it any better a second time around?  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I am trying to decide if I can handle Dickens the second time around. I like happy stories and in high school I thought this was terribly sad and kind of dark.
  12.  A volume of classic short stories. This must be one complete volume, at least 8 short stories. It can be an anthology of stories by different authors, or all the stories can be by a single author.   Hawthorne’s Short Stories by Nathanial Hawthorne. Again, this is an author I struggled with in high school. I found that I really, really like his Greek myth retellings (A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales), so I am going to see if a bit more experience and maturity help me to like him more. 

It looks like fun and it gave me the final motivation to put together a list for myself. I keep looking at my overflowing bookcases wishing I had a better plan to read those lovely books…and I think this is a better way than starting with the alphabet and working my way through it. At least this way provides more variety of authors and thoughts, anyway!  ;P 

Seeking Virtue

I recently joined the Ambleside Online forum. Those women are stretching me to think and grow as we read and participate in book studies. I love it!  

One of the ladies recently started a thread asking how she should define virtue – a valid question since the goal of a classical education is to instruct a person in virtue and wisdom by teaching them truth, goodness, and beauty. Defining virtue will actually help us develop our educational plans because as we understand WHAT we are aiming for, our choices of HOW to accomplish that goal will naturally become more focused and selective as the path we’re on becomes clearer. After reading the thoughts on the forum, I decided to do a bit of research myself.

Karen Glass, in an article posted at The Well Trained Mind, said:  

“David Hicks, in Norms and Nobility, reminds us that the primary goal of the classical educators was to instill virtue in their pupils—not merely to provide them with rigorous, intellectual training. He discusses the ancient’s “Ideal” — the hero, the man of virtue, whom they aspired to imitate at great length. This was an education of the spirit — not a practical, utilitarian education by any means, but an education intended to teach man to serve something other than self. This kind of education does not teach a man how to fulfill his desires — it teaches him what he ought to desire. Intellectual development was only a part of the process.

The goal of classical education was the attainment of virtue. David Hicks asks the question, “Can virtue be taught?” and he tells us that all of the notable ancients answered, “yes.” It sounds remarkably like Charlotte Mason’s contention that the chief end of education is the formation of character. David Hicks says, “The sublime premise of a classical education asserts that right thinking will lead to right, if not righteous, acting.”

I liked the definition my church gave virtue:

“Virtue is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.”

I’ve decided that the dictionary is my friend lately so I looked up the definitions of virtue and moral – because I think that often I “know” the meaning of something – but then with a clearer definition I realize I am missing a bit of the bigger picture. Sort of like looking at a picture and thinking “that’s nice” and then finding out the title and all of a sudden it fills you with all sorts of emotions and ideas from the artist. wink defines VIRTUE as:

1. moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.
2. conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.
3. chastity; virginity: to lose one’s virtue.
4. a particular moral excellence. Compare cardinal virtues, natural virtue, theological virtue.
5. a good or admirable quality or property: the virtue of knowing one’s weaknesses.
6. effective force; power or potency: a charm with the virtue of removing warts.
7. virtues, an order of angels. Compare angel (def 1).

The definition of MORAL from

1. of, relating to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical: moral attitudes.
2. expressing or conveying truths or counsel as to right conduct, as a speaker or a literary work.
3. founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom:
moral obligations.
4. capable of conforming to the rules of right conduct: a moral being.
5. conforming to the rules of right conduct (opposed to immoral ): a moral man.
6. virtuous in sexual matters; chaste.
7. of, relating to, or acting on the mind, feelings, will, or character: moral support.

So, virtue could be an effective force relating to, or acting on the mind, feelings, will, or character (Will) that is founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom; however a virtuous person would certainly live within the boundaries of good moral laws.

As Charlotte Mason taught, we as parents and teachers are to help our children learn the fundamental principles of right conduct through their personal relationship with God, by letting them read the books that let them experience virtuous living and the results of non-virtuous living, teaching them those good habits, by prayer, etc. A pattern takes time to follow, which is  why we will always pursue virtue as a worthy goal. Since none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes, forgiveness and grace will play a big part in this – both from us as parents and from the Lord (for us as the parents and His children). I am, I can, I ought, I will.

We’ve all read books where the main character did something he knew was right, usually at great personal cost, especially for the good of others. Sometimes it is a matter of faith, sometimes it is a matter of earthly cares, but it’s those kinds of characters that I think of when pursuing virtue, usually because I end up hoping that I could be like them when faced with those dilemmas. Probably why Charlotte Mason wanted us to let a child connect with the ideas themselves, right? wink

As I woke up this morning still thinking on this subject, I thought of the 13th Article of Faith, which states: 

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Doesn’t this sound exactly like what a Classical Christian Education is all about? 

CM Podcasts

I have been enjoying several Charlotte Mason Education focused podcasts lately. They are enjoyable and encouraging to me, so I thought I’d share them here. I like to listen while I do the dishes or sew.  – Liz Cottrill and Emily Kizer of Living Books Library with Nicole Williams from Sabbath-Mood-Homeschool – Cindy Rollins (of Morning Time fame) interviews guests monthly, including Dr. Jack Beckman, Karen Glass, and Anne White of AO. She also has a monthly Q&A session. You’ll have to scroll through the list to get them.  – Pam Barnhill interviews and features guests every other Tuesday. A fun thing about her podcasts is she includes things to go with each episode – like study guides, poems to memorize, etc.  – I just found this one today, so haven’t listened to hers, but her books were extremely helpful when I was starting my CM journey.  – Brandy Vencel has recently started posting audio versions of her CM conference talks.
Have a great Thanksgiving!

“Sally, you’ve got a good brain, too.”

“Sally, you’ve got a good brain, too. Don’t let it go to seed. A brain is only as good as you give it to a chance to be, and just as important to a woman as to a man.” (pg. 55)

This particular book that I am quoting from is called The Mountain Valley War by Louis L’Amour, one of several books about Lance Kilkinney, also known as Trent.

Kilkinney is a good man who wants to settle down, build a place, marry, and have a quiet, happy, productive life in the West. The problem is that he is good with a gun and has a reputation of being a gunfighter. Not because he wanted it or chased it, but because he was blessed with steady nerves, the ability to hit a target, and because he is one of those people who trouble seems to come to, whether or not they want it. He tends to drift from place to place, quietly working and earning money, trying to avoid trouble. In this place, though, he has started a homestead high in the mountain valley and has settled into making something out of his place. He calls himself Trent. He has several other neighbors who all have the same desires he does – to build a satisfying life through their own industry and hard work,

Unfortunately, trouble comes in the form of a large rancher who lives lower down in the valley. He resents these “nesters” and decides he wants their land, whatever it takes. These men are strong and in the right and when his blustering threats don’t scare them off, he turns to hiring gunmen and using force. It is at this point the story opens, and we find Trent coming upon the burned house and dead body of his neighbor. The gunmen did not find the neighbor’s children who escaped to Trent’s home. He takes them under his wing and tries to teach them how to survive in the harsh realities of western life. Woven through out the story in great moments are little gems like these:

“Whenever a brave man dies for what he believes, he wins more than he loses. Maybe not for him, but for men like him who wish to live honestly and decently.”  (pg. 12)

“One could not yield to the lawless and the ruthless, or soon there would be no freedom. It was among men as it was nations.” (pg. 73)

“There are those who use a cause to cover their own lust for destruction and cruelty. He who uses terror as a weapon does it from his own demands for cruelty and not because it succeeds, because it never has.

The killing of a strong man only leaves a place for another strong man, so is an exercise in futility. There is no man so great but that another waits in the wings to fill his shoes, and the attention caused by such acts is never favorable.” (pg. 74)

My sister and I discussed what age it would be suitable for children. We thought that 11-12 would be appropriate.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and I receive nothing in return for my opinion.