Monday, March 25, 2013

John Ruskin on Language

I heard Leslie Noelani Laurio just finished working on a Modern translation of John Ruskin's Sesame and Lilies, a YR10 AmblesideOnline Book. I'd never heard of it so I downloaded it and nosing through, came across this interesting suggestion of his and thought it worth sharing:
Now, in order to deal with words rightly, this is the habit you must form. Nearly every word in your language has been first a word of some other language - of Saxon, German, French, Latin, or Greek; (not to speak of eastern and primitive dialects). And many words have been all these - that is to say, have been Greek first, Latin next, French or German next, and English last: undergoing a certain change of sense and use on the lips of each nation; but retaining a deep vital meaning, which all good scholars feel in employing them, even at this day. If you do not know the Greek alphabet, learn it; young or old - girl or boy - whoever you may be, if you think of reading seriously (which, of course, implies that you have some leisure at command), learn your Greek alphabet; then get good dictionaries of all these languages, and whenever you are in doubt about a word, hunt it down patiently. Read Max Muller's lectures thoroughly, to begin with; and, after that, never let a word escape you that looks suspicious. It is severe work; but you will find it, even at first, interesting, and at last endlessly amusing. And the general gain to your character, in power and precision, will be quite incalculable. 
Mind, this does not imply knowing, or trying to know, Greek or Latin, or French. It takes a whole life to learn any language perfectly. But you can easily ascertain the meanings through which the English word has passed; and those which in a good writer's work it must still bear.

Doesn't that sound like an interesting amusement? Only for those "suspicious" words of course ;-) Happy hunting!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival - March 2013!

Welcome to the March 2013 edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival!

This month we are talking about: The Sacredness of Personality and since many of the posts are on topic you have a wonderful opportunity to learn about this foundational idea from varying perspectives. And what's truly amazing is just how much wisdom there is in this line-up today! The CM knowledge between the women sharing here is nothing short of remarkable so sit back, relax, and get ready for some great reading!

First, we have The Best Part of Education - Masterly Inactivity and Roller Skates by Nancy Kelly at Sage Parnassus

And from Brandy at Afterthoughts we have Narration and the Single Reading

We also have a long time reader posting with us for the very first time, Marcy, sharing from her new blog From Mother Wit with The Way of the Will: part 1

Next we have some wonderful personal reflections and revelations from Silvia in her post Poetry in Progress over at Silvia Cachia 

And from Megan at The Winding Ascent we have a CM quote:
"Who can take the measure of a child? The Genie of the Arabian tale is nothing to him. He, too, may be let out of his bottle and fill the world. But woe to us if we keep him corked up." (vol.6, p.42)

...and a post: A look at the sacredness of personality through the considerable Mind of a child, A Considerable Speck: Recognizing the Importance of Mind in the Life of a Child and another heartfelt follow-up post, a breath of fresh air, The Sacredness of Personality or Why We're Not the Duggars and It's Still Okay

Lanaya asks a great question in her post, What Are We Prepping Them For? at Delightful Education

Lindafay at Higher Up and Further In helps us problem solve written narration with some excellent points in her not-to-be-missed post, Is Your Child Struggling With Written Narration?

Here's a fun post from Cynthia at Our Journey Westward with an idea on how the kids can paint like Michelangelo: Artist Study: Michelangelo

Roberta delves into how we motivate children to learn in her post, Yet More on Motivation at Letters From Nebby

Tammy at Aut-2B-Home in Carolina gives us a real-life example of how CM's ideas made a difference in her church's afterschool program in Delight in the Lord

Mama Squirrel outlines A natural history lesson: Primrose Seeds for a sixth-grader over at Dewey's Treehouse, causing us to wonder once again about the little life contained in a seedling.

Carol discusses what she has learned about introverted personality in her post, Sacredness of Personality at journey-and-destination

Now here's a post one would hope to share with some select readers over at librivox! Celeste writes about "the fine art of beautiful and perfect speaking" where she shares her discoveries in Arthur Burrell's piece on recitation: Some Thoughts on Volume 1: Recitation at Joyous Lessons.

Also from Joyous Lessons, Angela shares wise words from another buried treasure in the Parent's Review The Archives: Family Bickerings

Nadene shares some of her ultimate goals for her children in what she considers A Sacred Task over at Practical Pages.

Our favorite amiga Amy inspires us to contemplate our role as educators in thoughts on sacredness of personality... at fisher.academy.international

And last but not least, Jessica tells us how she found herself standing out in the windy cold setting up a pool and why in Personalities and Pools at Under the Willow Oak

If you still find yourself able to read another post, here is my outline which I had prepared prior to receiving all these wonderful posts. And now I'm finding it somewhat unnecessary considering it has all been so well stated already! Well, let's consider it a recap shall we? :) Here you go: 

Could it really be that how we get our children to do their schoolwork will influence their character for the rest of their lives? 

Charlotte Mason seemed to think so.

Here we have a child and a set amount of work that must be done. When the child resists, how do we, as a loving mother, go about helping them?

Do we threaten with the "terrors of the law" - "Do this or else!" Or, do we resort to "Do this for my sake"? What about the subtle cold-shoulder or the exaggerated praise? Do we use these tactics often? Would we use them on a grown adult; an aquaintance or a friend from church?

CM says "Where we teachers err is in stimulating the wrong Desires to accomplish our end."

She claims:
"...for this end a boy learns his lessons, behaves properly, shows good will, produces a whole catalogue of schoolboy virtues and yet his character is being undermined."

"Parents look on with a smile and think that all is well; but Bob or Mary is losing that growing time which should make a self-dependent, self-ordered person, and is day by day becoming a parasite who can go only as he is carried, the easy prey of fanatic or demagogue."
She says "no matter how good the immediate end" of these tactics, a "dread of making them incompetent to conduct their own lives will make us chary of employing means so dangerous."  "Each such desire has its place but the results are disastrous if any one should dominate."

She would prefer we teach them to use their own will to accomplish their work because it is the right thing to do. But how is that done? I've listed a few of CM's methods here: The Habit of Attention

Additionally she claims "It is within a teacher's scope to offer wholesome ambitions to a boy, to make him keen to master knowledge." One such desire "which may well be made to play into the schoolmaster's hands is that of society":
"If they are so taught that knowledge delights them, they will choose companions who share that pleasure. In this way princes are trained; they must know something of botany to talk with botanists, of history to meet with historians; they cannot afford to be in the company of scientists, adventurers, poets, painters, philanthropists or economists, and themselves be able to do no more than 'change the weather and pass the time of day'; they must know modern languages to be at home with men of other countries, and ancient tongues to be familiar with classical allusions. Such considerations rule the education of princes, and every boy has a princely right to be brought up so that he may hold his own in good society, that is, the society of those who 'know.'"
Teach the child the day is likely coming when he will meet with such opportunities as a man. Would he choose to be conversant? Will it matter to him then? 

She goes on to discuss how a teacher's assumptions about the child's dislike of learning is disabling to the child:
"But so besotted is our educational thought that we believe children regard knowledge rather as repulsive medicine than as inviting food. Hence our dependence on marks and prizes, athletics, alluring presentation, any jam we can devise to disguise the powder."
"...he whose mind is sustained by the crutches of emulation and avarice loses that one stimulating power which is sufficient for his intellectual needs. This atrophy of the desire of knowledge is the penalty our scholars pay because we have chosen to make them work for inferior ends."
How sad. If only we would begin, instead, assuming and trusting that:
"...all children, want to know all human knowledge; they have an appetite for what is put before them, and, knowing this, our teaching becomes buoyant with the courage of our convictions." 
So great is the discovery of this natural desire for knowledge in children that teachers described it as:
"'sensing a passage,' is as the striking of a vein of gold in that fabulously rich country, human nature."
Oh, but not my child you say? Well, check the list. Here are a few things CM claims may be hindering that natural desire:

*the talky-talky of the oral lesson and the lecture
*offering matter which no living soul can digest (compilations and text-books)
*stimuli of marks and prizes
*unhealthy play on the desires - coercion by love, fear, anxiety, etc.

There are others like, long lessons, an overemphasis on facts instead of ideas, making all the interesting connections for them in an elaborate lesson prepared by the teacher, etc.which she mentions elsewhere. 

With the right methods and the right books and the right motives, CM would have us believe that the natural desire for knowledge does the rest and the children feed and grow. What do you think?

These additional readings on "the will" may also help with some of the "how-to" of teaching your child to be more self-dependent, self-ordered.

The Habit of Attention
CM Carnival Oct '12 - The Way of the Will 
A Disciplined Will 

We hope you enjoyed this month's carnival! Let us know in the comments if you did!

We'll meet you next month on March 19th at Windy Hill Homeschool to discuss Education is an Atmosphere

Friday, March 1, 2013

Nature Study Co-op Photolog February 2013

I have a backlog of photos from this month's nature days so this will be more of a photolog than a blog post. Lots of interesting things to see!

This is a firewheel flower my son found that had an unusual extra flower growing out of the side of it. 

 This set of pictures is actually not a nature day, but a field trip to Chinatown in LA.

Union Station

Downtown Skyscrapers
Just a tiny bit of the miles and miles of graffiti we passed on the train ride to LA

Central Plaza
Should've saved those pennies!
An interesting encounter

$3.50 for one of those cute sun umbrellas!
Famous painting by first Chinese American to work for Disney. The story I read said that many in the community helped pay his tuition to send him to school.

How babies in strollers keep themselves busy while waiting for the train ;-) Oh yes, they are persons!

This  next set of pictures is from a local trail in South Orange County

An old oak tree with its roots exposed growing out of a sandstone cave
Inside of the sandstone cave, the sand inside is so soft
All kinds of moss, lichen, and liverwort grow on the shady rocks here

The next set of pictures are from a local estuary where wintering birds frequent

Gorgeous winter clouds

Our resident artist's sketch of ducks on a log (Isabella)

 And the following are pictures from the botanical gardens where evidently, spring has arrived!

sneaking up on a tiger swallowtail


Something for everyone :)

Even though it's a big deal to pack up the kids and get lunches packed and everyone dressed and water and diapers and blankies and all the million things I need to simply get outside with the kids for a few hours, and even though it often happens that SOMEthing is bound to go wrong the moment we manage to get out the door - a soiled diaper, a spill, etc., and even though I get grumpy about it all sometimes, it really has been worth it to pursue nature study as a family together. These days outside refresh us all and there are always surprises and things to find joy and interest in. And the children's books are filled with drawings that will be a joy to them as they flip through and remember the days they spent outdoors in nature. To run free, to smell fresh things, to gaze upon beauty, to touch the soft fur of a leaf, to feel the outdoors - these are good things.