October 26, 2012

Week Seven Wrap-up

Charlotte Mason says:
"I inferred that one of these, the desire for knowledge (curiosity) was the chief instrument of education; that this desire might be paralyzed or made powerless like an unused limb by encouraging other desires to intervene between a child and the knowledge proper for him; the desire for place, emulation; for prizes, avarice; for power, ambition; for praise, vanity, might be stumbling blocks to him...and eliminate that knowledge hunger, itself the quite sufficient incentive for education."Vol. 6 (towards a Philosophy of Education) chapter 3 
I have been reading through Towards a Philosophy of Education this past week and this idea stated above kept coming to me as I read on and after several times of reading it I began to think maybe I ought to address this issue in our homeschool.  I realized that treats, prizes, ambition and other things I have encourage have tainted the atmosphere of our lessons. I did it so the work would get done and so that the work would be done properly. I wanted to be positive and not penalize them but reward them for good behavior. It was the way I felt most able to manipulate the setting to reach the goals I had set for the lesson time. I haven't lost their hunger for knowledge, but I am losing some of the use of this "chief instrument" of education. Not completely, but the culprit is still there lurking and I now see it and I am praying about how to go about making changes. 

This realization has been helpful to me. I know what it is that I have been longing for. Also what I have ben sensing is missing in my lessons. I love to learn. I dreamed of learning things with my kids and basking in the inspiration of the ideas living books would bring us. I hoped they would catch the love I have for learning. They have to a large extent, but the discipline has gotten in the way or should I say the coercion to reach certain goals has gotten in the way. In my haste to reach such and such a place I have used methods of treats and prizes to get them to go along with me. In my readings of CM methods this week I have learned a better way. 

It is simple really.  I'll take the risk. I'll lay before them a feast of ideas rich and varied, in literary form which their minds love to receive. I'll step back and allow them to chew on it. I'll risk that in their  present place of acquiring knowledge they may miss something or they may see it in a false light such seeing the villain as a cool guy, but in the end I'll remain in the background risking they will eat what they need. That their hunger for knowledge will lead them. I'll rely on habits of obedience, attention and perfect execution to guide them on a straight path. By setting aside the prizes, the treats etc. I am counting on CM being right yet again and my boys will have a "sufficient (proper) incentive for education."
"This atrophy of the desire of knowledge is the penalty our scholars pay because we have chosen to make them work for inferior ends." (Vol. 6 chapter 5)

Bible: my dh is still reading through Acts.
Stories of Faith: Adventures of Missionary Heroism. We are reading about men who went to Africa.

Mathematics: We have reached X7 in the making of our Multiplication table. At this point I followed CM's ideas in a new way and began to show with manipulatives the why of each X7 fact. I didn't do this with the other tables because they already understood them and it would have been going over old territory and a bore.
"As each table is mastered examples involving its use and that of previous ones are given, always in the  nature of problems beginning with money questions as in addition and subtraction, and proceeding to the manipulation of pure number."
To accomplish this I simply had them use buttons to do 7X1, 7X2, .....7X12. Then I set up the Storm the Castle game and they answered story problems from Ray's Arithmetic starting form X4 on up to X7 and a little onto X8 to challenge and encourage them that they are ready for it. DOing this toke most fo the week.

We also read about a mathematician who did math while she slept.

Ancient History of Greece: We finished reading The Wanderings of Odysseus by Rosmary Sutcliff. So on the last day of the week I read aloud to them part one from Padraic Colum's The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy as it is such a well written account of the poem and it ties the two stories we have read nicely together thus making for a interesting review. While I read the boys colored a small map tracking the trail made by Odysseus on his adventures. Next they glued it to a pocket and into their History notebook. Next week I plan to give them story board cards from part two of the book to color and put in order after they hear the reading of it. The cards will go into the pocket with the map of the adventure on the outside. Below is TJ's map/pocket.

Audio of The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy.

We also began map drill adding Troy and Ithaka to a map of Greece.

Aesops Copywork: Five more fables colored and copied.

Birds: We are still reading through the Tale of Turkey Proudfoot by Arthur Scott Bailey. and at the end of the week I introduced the boys to the parts of the bird for use in identifying birds from their field guide books. I simply copied the bird parts picture onto bright green paper. Then made a second copy in white. Next I cut it apart so they would need to piece it back together and discover the names of the parts of the bird. They also got out their field guides and spent a while looking at all the birds in it and remembering birds we have read about or seen. They marked the birds in the book they knew. It was clear watching them that this activity was a hit.

Nature Notebooks:  With just a jar and some freedom to be outside the boys easily found some foliage and a specimen to draw. They brought in their bug jars and drew them onto this fun mason jar template. Below are examples of TJ's and Max's drawings.

Language Arts:  Much of the week was spent mastering a few dictation sentences using the three forms of two, too, and to. They already understood the use of the three kinds of two but they had forgotten how to do dictation and it took a few times to copy the sentences before they were able to remember them correctly.

Reading Practice:  The boys are continuing to read two pages a day from the Elson Reader and they are getting better and better. I can't wait for the day when they feel two pages are so easy they volunteer to read more. Though I am looking forward to this day I am not in a rush. I am happy to see the good work they do each day with a happy and willing heart.

The cat book marks I found last week inspired me to give the boys a gift of a book I know they can read on their own. I printed out book plates for the front covers and pasted them in, and gave each one a book with  a bookmark in it. Zak was eager to get going and read 4 of the stories out loud to me through out the afternoon and evening. TJ read two and Max read none out loud to me but I saw him reading it by the light of his flashlight at bedtime. He gave me a hug the next day and thanked me for the book. Yeah!!!! a book of their own they can read. 

Latin: This week we had a new dialogue from our Minimus text book to translate and read aloud. The first day we translated what we could from the clues given to us by the pictures and words we already knew.  Then on the second day we listened to the dialogue and tried to read it aloud. Then on the third and fourth day we did the same but we also worked on getting a good solid understanding of all the words by tranlsting a few more words each day that we did not get on day one. On the fifth day we read aloud and tranlated each sentence.

Artist Study of Paul Klee: We did very little in our artist study this week for the lessons I had panned were foiled by a color printer that prints fuzzy images. We were going to add 12 paintings of Paul Klee into our Gallery notebooks. What we did accomplish was to create a cover for the gallery notebooks using old Montessori cards from last years study of some impressionist artists.

Composer Study: In three increments of 1/2 hour each we watched the BBC production of the nutcracker ballet from my computer using you-tube. The boys loved it!

...and lest I finish this post without citing this quote I'll do it now for it encouraged me deeply. It is from the SCM blog.

Hints to Teachers:
"Do not forget that the education of the child's mind is of infinitely more importance than the acquirements of reading and writing; these may be put off for years without injury to the child's career, but the cultivation of reason, imagination, observation and sympathy, cannot be put off without injury to its moral and intellectual development. Therefore, do not trouble yourself at all about the child's progress, but be very careful of its growth. Never treat its mistakes as faults, nor scold it for forgetting, but if it appears dull or inattentive revise your own method and redouble your efforts to interest it. Haphazard methods, hurry and worry, are the worst enemies of progress, but give the child a logical method and sympathetic attention, and it cannot fail to make as much progress as its intelligence is capable of."


  1. I struggle with these issues, too. The fact is that the good books don't always grab my boys. They are very visual learners and they need lots of pictures and not just the pictures their minds can make. I love your bird and nature studies.

    1. Good point Phyllis, good books CM often set aside as well when the students did not take to them. In my readings I was reminded that the lessons to hold their attention must be adapted to where the student is at. Not simply their age but where THEY are in the progress of acquiring knowledge. The ultimate goal is to feed them, not to give them what everyone says is the best. Much of what I am implementing this year I have had to wait to implement because though I had read that this is a good thing I needed to wait to see the signs it was a good thing for the boys too. When it comes together it is beautiful to watch.

  2. WOW! That "hints to teachers" quote is powerful!

    1. and freeing. Really sets the perspective on the right goal doe sit not?