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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

For the Grasp of Language

I had ideas of a post earlier today entitled "The Perfect Storm". I was set on telling you how multiple elements intersected creating supernatural situations requiring my utmost patience and discernment today.

Things like: a very long and active weekend leaving us all tired and short on sleep, a 2 1/2 year old who discovered how to open the pencil sharpener and play with shavings instead of take her nap, a husband who came home frustrated after his wonderful encounter with the customer service (aka sales prevention) department, the onset of a massive day-long sneezing streak with no Claritin in the house, the beginning of a new and challenging book, Robin Hood, which I had not pre-read (remember #1 & 2 here?), etc., etc.

And then, (thankfully for you) a more inspiring idea took over me - the idea that a CM education is worthy, if only for the grasp of language it will afford our children.




What I mean is, by giving children a steady diet of the very best books of excellent literary caliber, as opposed to "simplified" language presumed to be easier for kids to understand, they will be acquainted and familiar with the language necessary to connect with the great minds of humanity which, according to CM is every person's heritage. And in my humble opinion, that alone has made a CM education worth pursuing.

What concerns us personally is the fact that we have relations with what there is in the present and with what there has been in the past, with what is above us, and about us; and that fullness of living and serviceableness depend for each of us upon how far we apprehend these relationships and how many of them we lay hold of. Every child is heir to an enormous patrimony. The question is, what are the formalities necessary to put him in possession of that which is his? ~Vol. 3 p. 218

What are the chances of someone at the DOE submitting that question as a starting point for Education Reform?

Being nourished by living books, not only will our children have the capacity to relate to what is and what there has been in the past, they will be more able to convey their own thoughts and ideas on to others.

AND, the big AND, is that they will still want to. Their natural appetite for such knowledge and expression will not have been hindered, because their experiences with language, with books will have been unhindered by scrupulous standardized testing.

How utterly wrong it would be to hinder them, to leave them crippled in their ability to receive and pass on thoughts, ideas, observations, joys, passions, hopes and fears... the substance of life.

As of late, the living books of fantastic literary quality we are reading (in YR2 nonetheless!), are reviving (or more like awakening for the first time) this middle aged blogger mom's concept of language and how useful and beautiful and unique and interesting it truly can be.

There is such amusement in cleverness, sweetness in what is beautiful, revelation in what inspires, passion in what is past. It is all awakening 'fullness of living' in me. And it truly is of the Spirit and nothing else.

Certainly it will do the same for my children, your children.

How can I have missed it for so long?

Thankfully, I am making up for lost time. And what a blessing to be doing so together, alongside my children :)



If I may, I'd love to share a bit of what inspired my idea for this post tonight, they are gems of treasure:


From the Preface to The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (emphasis mine):

You who so plod amid serious things that you feel it a shame to give yourself up for a few short moments to mirth and joyousness in the land of Fancy; you who think that life hath nought to do with innocent laughter that can harm no one; these pages are not for you.

... Here you will find a hundred dull, sober, jogging places, all tricked out with flowers and what not, till no one would know them in their fanciful dress. And here is a country bearing a well-known name, wherein no chill mists press upon our spirits, and no rain falls but what rolls off our backs like April showers off the backs of sleek drakes; where flowers bloom forever and birds are always singing; when every fellow hath a merry catch as he travels the roads, and ale and beer and wine (such as muddle no wits) flow like water in a brook.
This country is not Fairyland. What is it? 'Tis the land of Fancy, and is of that pleasant kind that, when you tire of it--whisk!--you clap the leaves of this book together and 'tis gone, and you are ready for everyday life, with no harm done.
And now I lift the curtain that hangs between here and No-man's-land. Will you come with me, sweet Reader? I thank you. Give me your hand.


And then in the wee hours of the night I begin to romanticize what it may have been like in days of old when language was still so beautiful, so interesting. And I begin to feel sadness for all that I imagine has been lost - spare our living books. But then I snap back to reality and remember that people are people, now or then.

Still I read on and am moved...

From Morning and Evening Devotions by C.H. Spurgeon (emphasis mine):

"A very present help" ~Psalm 46:1

... Believer, thou dost not make use of Christ as thou oughtest to do. When thou art in trouble, why dost thou not tell Him all thy grief? Has He not a sympathising heart, and can He not comfort and relieve thee? No, thou art going about to all thy friends, save thy best Friend, and telling thy tale everywhere except into the bosom of thy Lord. Art thou burdened with this day's sins? Here is a fountain filled with blood: use it, saint use it. Has a sense of guilt returned upon thee? The pardoning grace of Jesus may be proved again and again. Come to Him at once for cleansing. Dost thou deplore thy weakness? He is thy strength: why not lean upon Him? Dost thou feel naked? Come hither soul; put on the robe of Jesus' righteousness. Stand not looking at it, but wear it. Strip off thine own righteousness, and thine own fears too: put on the fair white linen, for it was meant to wear.

{momentary pause of awe}

While I have heard (and agree) that a CM education is truly best when applied in its entirety, backed by a solid understanding of her philosophies, I truly believe that simply reading the Ambleside list of books and discussing them (not explaining them) with your children alone would take you so much farther than Public Education as it stands in our country today. What do you think?

A grasp of language, the ability to receive and convey thought - what enduring gifts to your child; a true heritage, one CM believed is deserved by all.

4 comments:

  1. What a great post! I really enjoyed being reminded why we read these truly wonderful books that sometimes appear to be way over our childrens heads. And I have to say I completely agree with you. Whilst I sometimes think I should need to explain it all sometimes it is best just to let them absorb the language and whatever their minds get from the goodness of excellent literature. Thanks for the breath of fresh air! Blessings

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  2. Delightful addition to the CM blog carnival!

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  3. We are reading H.Pyle's "Robin Hood" as well this term! While I have need to muster up every bit of theatricality during the read-aloud, happily, even our five-year-old is swept up in the merry adventures.

    In complete agreement with all you have said and said so well. Can you imagine having such an inheritance and being completely unaware?! The same holds true for our inheritance in Christ.

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  4. Pauline - I agree, some days I wonder if they got anything at all, but if we continue offering them only the best, familiarity and understanding grows and they themselves come to appreciate the quality of it. Blessings right back to you!

    Jamie - thank you for your comment! Glad you stopped by.

    Richele - How fun that even your five year old is enjoying it! And it sounds like you're doing a good job conveying the flavor of it all. Don't you just love a book that has challenging language, adventure and merriment, and a wealth of potential discussions on character that can arise from it? Thanks for your comments!

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