Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Charlotte Mason, Nature Study and Sketch Tuesday

Charlotte Mason

I follow a couple of Charlotte Mason method-inspired blogs, and I have found inspiration and comfort within their posts. I've also felt like the only Pagan Charlotte Mason homeschooler on the Interwebs, which is a somewhat lonely prospect. (I know I am not literally the only one, but I'm not seeing a lot of it around. Most folks who are writing Charlotte Mason type blogs mix in a healthy dose of Christian propaganda to both their school work and their reflections.)

Okay, here's what I love about the Charlotte Mason Method:

* Basic Educational Philosophy -- Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.
* Living Books -- Share rich, inviting, living books with children -- not dry, dissociative textbooks.
* Nature Study -- Interact with and learn from the natural world.
* Narration -- Worksheets, tests, and the like are not as useful to a mind as simply learning to pay close attention and talk about ideas, stories, music, poetry, etc.

CM's philosophy sought to educate the WHOLE child in an integrated and authentic way. When I was a School of Ed undergrad at Indiana University, I knew that an integrated and authentic approach was the way for me. I always strove to teach this way when I was still in the classroom, and I felt dreadfully stifled when the practices of a school, district, or State Dept. of Education conflicted with that (*cough* Indiana *cough*).

Now, I'm admittedly new to Miss Mason's method, and it isn't in my nature to use someone else's curriculum/materials just as they are. Nor am I a purist of her (or anybody's) method. One very wise department chair of mine taught me the "use, lose, or abuse" principle when it came to educational materials. I'm always very willing to modify excellent ideas until they are supernal! However, I am finding Simply Charlotte Mason and Practical Pages to be two very helpful sites for incorporating the CM approach into our homeschool.

Ambleside Online offers a free CM curriculum, for those who are interested.

Nature Study

So, as a Pagan, this emphasis on nature study really appeals to me. I'm going to be honest and say that this is another area of study that Harmonia and I have neglected during this first semester. However, I plan on working it into our regular work beginning in January.

One resource that I plan on using as a starting point is the Outdoor Hour Challenge from the Handbook of Nature Study.  I'm planning on having us begin with Barb's "Getting Started" series of 10 challenges before jumping into the ones she posts on the blog each week. That'll give Harmonia and I the chance to get used to our nature journals and start to develop our own process for the study.

#1 Let's Get Started
#2 Using Your Words
#3 Now Is The Time To Draw
#4 It Is Coming Into Focus
#5 Keeping a List
#6 Collections
#7 Your Own Field Guide
#8 Magnifying Lens
#9 One Small Square
#10 Picnic

I like the nature journal pages Nadene from Practical Pages has offered readers.  I also like the idea of making a bag for nature study walks, and I am sure Harmonia and I will tackle that project soon in our home ec undertakings.

Sketch Tuesday

Harmonia and I have only participated in one Sketch Tuesday so far, but it was fun, free-spirited, and worth repeating. I need it to brush up on my sketching technique, and Harmonia needs it so she won't feel so self-conscious about drawing.

This site/project is brought to the world by Barb, of the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Essentially, Barb posts a broad category or topic each week, and readers sketch whatever they want to sketch within that topic.

Art education is a many splendor'd (or multi-headed) thing in our home. My parents are artists, as are Glaux and I. Harmonia has been learning about pottery since she was 8, and she's very talented. We try to get her into her favorite pottery studio on a regular basis. Glaux, who majored in Fine Art in college, handles Harmonia's art history/appreciation classes with just a little supplementation by me. (I'll take a concept that they've discussed, for instance, and turn it into a mini-project that complements something we're studying in literature or social studies.)

Grammie was handling Harmonia's fine art instruction (drawing, painting, etc), but she and Pa will be snow-birding from Jan 1 thru March 31. Art will revert to Glaux and myself (along with Algebra and home ec) during that time, and I am looking forward to trying out some ideas in that arena.


  1. Thank you so much for your candid thoughts. We are also a pagan family exploring the CM process. I was trying hard not to be turned off by the christian aspects, because everything else about the method seems right up our alley. Thanks again!

  2. I've recently been learning about CM as well and everything about it feels spot on for me except for the religious undertones. I'm so glad to be able to find secular options but it'd be really great to have a chance to connect with other Pagans and hear how they're incorporating Pagan concepts. Interestingly, in my research I have come across several Christian blogs where the author or folks in the comments lament CM's insistence that children read classic literature and fables fearing the influence of Pagan ideology! I suppose the grass is always greener...

  3. There's another pagan charlotte mason-er? ohmigods! I am so relieved I'm not the only one!


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