This is exactly the title of the next Charlotte Mason Carnival that will be presented on 9/18 at Charlotte Mason in the City.
Just two years of reading these type of well chosen language books and it has already been an incredible challenge for all of us. One that I will not trade for anything else in the world of curriculum. One that has enriched my two young girls inmensurably.
There has been some moments in which I have mentally made a pause and said to myself, what on earth are you doing reading this book that seems to be a tongue twister, a book that you do not even grasp in its fullness? And an evil inner voice whispers quiiiit, quiiiiit... ha ha ha. The beginning of this year 2 of school books with the girls was brutal. We had a few old friends, but everything else seemed so much, so complex, too rich. Sometimes the feast appears to be more a potential indigestion than something to look forward to.
Many of our books have people who speak using the thou and hath. The words that Hawthorne picks, for example, are many times Spanish cognate words, but I have long forgotten they exist in my language, let alone had I known they were English words as well. Are we sure this is the SYLLABUS for a normal child? I have thought many times that a normal child of the 19th century is nothing like a normal child of today. This Charlotte Mason is for sure a method for elitist and snobbish people. The funny thing is that some children of today hit it right away with these books. So, why is it that my child is not as normal as the neighbor's?
A teacher friend told me this whole Charlotte Mason thing I was trying to explain to her, telling her how the teacher should abstain from those explanations or books with simplified language, she said it seemed feasible for children like mine (little did she know I do not consider we do as well as we should with this whole enchilada). She said it will not work with those who have poor language, or a difficult school and life background. I thought those are the children who would probably need this the most. But I know they will have to drop the testing and exams, that is the true impossibility of this syllabus in a public school that has to abide by the laws of the state regarding education.
So if I think this would be the best method for those children who are so deprived, if I am selling it so well to my friend as our thing, what is my problem then?, why do I have to have one? It is simply that I do not see fruits immediately or when I wish to see them. Impatience, impatience kills me!
We all know deep down there that much of it is a matter of time. A matter of faith if you want. That is what keeps me going. That is why I continue with those books and principles week after week. Waiting. Some days with more patience than others. I keep adjusting, reconsidering, and getting at it again and again. Because there is no other thing I can do, or I want to do, or I should do. And I stop waiting and start to simply enjoy it all.
Why is it that we, "Charlotte Masoners", hold on to these old and rancid public domain type of books relentessly? Why do we insist on our children listening to sections of these books and narrating from them? Why do we care about nature walks when children are too old to be at the park on a week day morning? Why do not we get serious and buy a grammar book for our second grader?
For those into the Ambleside selections, why don't we abandon Little Duke on the second or third reading when it is apparent that the names and events overwhelm our short term memory, and get tangled up in our mind? What makes us keep coming back to Parables from Nature, or to open up week after week all the hard books even when last reading was sighed upon, complained about, or not welcome with enthusiasm?
I think of many reasons why we do all the above.
- Because we know much knowledge, varied, and in well written language is the only possible syllabus for ALL children.
- We hear our children at the least expected moments say something like 'it is adequate to use your fingers when eating chicken', when they recall some of the readings, make some of this knowledge truly theirs, and it is something hard to describe, but we all see true learning then, and no matter how little this may seem, we know all the efforts are worth it.
- Some time passes and these books start becoming old friends. Our children start to connect with them. The readings become more fluid. Then we start enjoying Nathaniel Hawthorne to the point you hear your seven year old girl speak of the Wonderbook for Girls and Boys as if it were the last best-seller, and you hear your five year old tell your guests about the triple head of Quimera, or they recognize a Pandora inspired Mickey Mouse comic.
- We discuss history with our spouses at dinner just because we love it so much we have to talk about it.
- And once you have tasted a small portion of this SYLLABUS, you would have hit a point of no return.