Then I hear Karen Glass talk about what she mentioned in Indiana, at the past Ambleside Online Retreat, when she compares how we moms go about children's academic growth and physical growth. She says we buy shoes that are too big for our children, yet we don't measure their feet every day or week, and expect to see a few inches growth in that span of time. We know that eventually the shoes will fit. Academic growth takes time, yet our old paradigm (and I think about Nancy Kelly, the first one I heard talk about Charlotte Mason Education as a change of paradigm, and how mystified I was about this whole process); our old paradigm, I was saying, makes us impatient. My mind connects this to Stephanie, who put in simple words what that change of paradigm means when she told me, "Isn't it amazing how Charlotte Mason changes us, so that we see our children differently?"
- children may forget 90% of what they are going to be offered (Karen Glass)
- children's progress comes at their own pace
- Charlotte Mason principles, if they are universal, will apply and work in any situation
- a Charlotte Mason Education is as full as it needs to be (Karen Canon)
- it's important to do the next right thing (Carol)
- narration is not an oral worksheet of sorts (Karen Glass)
And all this makes me realize I know where we are heading to in our education as a life (to that something rich), and makes me aware that it will take us a long time. However, I have not looked back much at where I am coming from (that poverty). I believe it's necessary to know who we were before we found Charlotte Mason, and where we come from, to have a better and more solid footing in our present, and gather that courage Cindy and Karen concur we need to homeschool, and homeschool accepting and following Charlotte Mason principles.
Two things. The first one is the curious fact -curious to me, at least-, that whenever they introduce someone during a podcast, retreats, conferences, guest posts, etc., the first thing we ask is how we came to a Charlotte Mason education. I've unconsciously collected many of our stories of how we came to desire and put into practice these principles in our home. I have done that because people matter to me and I find that fascinating. But lately I have been paying special attention to these stories of how we all came to Charlotte Mason, and I have learned revealing information about many people's pasts which, in my opinion, is very helpful to situate and understand ourselves as CM educators and persons. More on this later.
The second thing is what I believe is the reason why I have not seen or heard others expand on the importance of our past, our upbringing, the kind of paradigm and education we had up to the present time. I know that to speak about the past is to talk about us as individuals. Charlotte Mason did not propose a child led education, persons did not matter as individuals. The principles she proposed apply to all of us, no matter where we are coming from. That's why I understand that who we were, us, the moms, as individuals, is irrelevant. Who we were will never change or affect an iota of how we are going to educate our children. Forgive me here if I sound harsh, but all those rivers of ink and tests on how we have to cater our methods and curriculum to meet our children's "individuality", are unnecessary. Brandy wrote wonderfully about what it means that children are born persons, and why it's not about individuality. We as moms know our children; yes, it's important to know they are different, no question about it. That differentiation between verbal, auditory, and kinestetic, surely makes sense, as all other typing tests. It may not be as unnecessary as I said, it is in reference to the curriculum and the principles of education where this knowledge is not going to change our principles, but knowing our children's bents can help us understand them and honor who they are. We all can see how some Charlotte Mason lessons are more catered to one of those three types of learning. I remember Mrs. Karen Andreola once wrote eloquently about how a Charlotte Mason Education fits all those three general types of learners. But this rich education, these riches are there for ALL, we need them all in a good balanced way no matter our preferences. What we take from them or what we favor, that's what's personal.
Once more, what we have in common as persons is much more than what differentiates us, and that's where the weight of education resides. As persons, we simply learn the same way (what varies is our relationship to that knowledge, our ideas, the connections we make).
I have hopefully established that who we were or have been in the past will not alter our journey towards those riches we all want to present to our children. My claim is simple and different: who we were will give us valuable insight on how the journey has been up to now, and it's a good reality check and indicator of how the journey will be. Remember Cindy's words? "We are coming from poverty to something rich, and it's going to take us a long time to get there".
Don't think I'm going to ask you to psychoanalyze yourself. I just want you to look back at who you were as a child, in your youth, even in your adulthood, and contrast that with the riches you want for your children and the goals you have for them (and for yourself). That will show you the real distance, -there may be a big gap you are desperately trying to fill, and it will tell you much about your pace, why it has the speed that it has -too slow, too fast, how come the same goals seem unrealistic for some, and so little for others. You will know if you are starting at zero, at plus ten, or at minus five. You will find out how all this looks different if your family is first generation to all this, or if there has been a foundation towards this education in your family heritage.
This is what I intend to accomplish next February; I want all of us attending to take a look at our heritage. I know this introspection will help us to be kind -or kinder, to ourselves -if that's what we need, to be more patient, -if that's what's missing; to stop comparing and to understand where others are at, and how we are different not in where we are looking at, but in where we are coming from. I hope all this will give us new courage to continue our journey, -a journey, I hope, properly framed and understood.