Donna and I met in the “AMBLEcommunity office” last weekend, and she made a comment about opening up one of Charlotte Mason’s books and thinking, “Speak to me, Mother Charlotte.” (Note: the AComm office is a particular booth at a particular Panera where we regularly meet to discuss AComm and the rest of our lives.) I understand that comment completely. Sometimes I wait to ask Charlotte for a suggestion for a situation until I have tried everything else. I would usually do better if I asked her first.
In the Bible, Jesus tells us several things about children, including that we should become as little children. The Bible instructs us to not hinder or exasperate our children, to not despise them. We are also instructed to “feed His lambs.” (Note: this is all in Chapter 5 of CM’s vol. 6, so if you want the references, you can find them in the endnotes.)
Chapter Five was particularly interesting for me. In my quest to educate my poor guinea pig (the first one to educate is always a bit of a guinea pig), I have tried (in one form or another) every single motivator that Charlotte asks her teachers to avoid. Those include:
- Corporeal punishment and harshness in the classroom a la David Copperfield
- Suggestion: not allowing time for the children to process; too much motivation from without
- Influence: to please someone else; idolatry; desire for approval
- Emulation: working for high marks and advancement; working to be the top of the class
- Avarice: greed; working for money
- Ambition: desire for power over others
Go read Charlotte’s explanation. It’s a whole lot better than this, and she explains why each of these is a bad idea.
At the end of this section, Charlotte reminds us that a child is born with an innate desire to know that will drive their education. She says that we must lay a literary feast for our children, and that will tempt their curiosity.
The work of education is greatly simplified when we realize that children, apparently all children, want to know all human knowledge; they have an appetite for what is put before them, and, knowing this, our teaching becomes bouyant with the courage of our convictions (CM v.6 pg. 89-90).
Charlotte is going to tell us more about HOW to educate in this manner in chapter six. It’s a good thing, because I need help. The boys I am working with are motivated and curious about video games and legos. I’m fond of the legos. But I want them to be as bookworm-y as their father and I. I haven’t got that figured out yet.
She does give us a preview at the end of Chapter 5, though. She says that a child’s education should be driven by his or her desire to know.