Monday, February 24, 2014

{My Charlotte Mason Journal} Natural Law

I know I've been writing many more "doing" posts than "thinking" posts lately. This is not because I haven't been thinking. It's more because I'm a busy mom, and thinking posts take a lot longer to write. I have been reading through Volume 1 of Charlotte Mason's "Home Education" Series. I don't know if it's just this season of my life, but I'm finding that many times I'm reading without assimilating what I've learned. I'm going to have to write about what I'm learning in order to really learn it. (Which is why Charlotte Mason encouraged narration, right?) I will not share everything on this blog, just things that I thought were so interesting that you would probably like them too. I will try to post these thoughts once a week on Mondays.

Often we think of a Charlotte Mason Education as just another option to choose from when it comes to homeschooling. There is Classical, there is unschooling, there is traditional, there is eclectic, and somewhere in the midst of all these options, there is "Charlotte Mason." I thought so, too, until I first opened Volume 1 of Charlotte Mason's "Home Education" series.

Charlotte Mason did not see herself as the creator of a particular philosophy of education among many that a person could pick and choose from according to what worked for them. No, she was striving to get at the truth that underlies all education. She believed that we can use reason to analyze human nature itself and deduce a "natural law" of education. She would have seen herself as trying to discover and elucidate a philosophy that is, not creating one.

Am I making sense? I'll let her describe this natural law.

"Those of us, who have spent many years in pursuing the benign and elusive vision of Education, perceive that her approaches are regulated by a law, and that this law has yet to be evoked. We can discern its outlines, but no more. We know that it is pervasive; there is no part of a child's home-life or school-work which the law does not penetrate. It is illuminating, too, showing the value, or lack of value, of a thousand systems and expedients. It is not only a light, but a measure, providing a standard whereby all things, small and great, belonging to education work must be tested. The law is liberal, taking in whatsoever things are true, honest, and of good report, and offering no limitation or hindrance save where excess should injure. And the path indicated by the law is continuous and progressive, with no transition stage from the cradle to the grave, except that maturity takes up the regular self-direction to which immaturity has been trained." (Preface, Home Education)
"It has been said that 'The best idea which we can form of absolute truth is that it is able to meet every condition by which it can be tested.' This we shall expect of our law --that it shall meet every test of experiment and every test of rational investigation."
And just so you realize, Charlotte Mason was not self-important enough to think that she herself, on her own, would discover the complete Truth underlying education. But one has to start somewhere.
"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread; and the hope that there may be many tentative efforts towards a philosophy of education, and that all of them will bring us nearer to the magnum opus, encourages me to launch one such attempt."
I don't really know much about the term "natural law." Wikipedia traces it through history in this interesting article. For me, Thomas Jefferson's words in the U.S. Constitution describe natural law in a way I can understand.  "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." What truths do I hold to be self-evident when it comes to education and the very nature of children? How do my methods reflect these truths? Do they?