Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sunday Links

For Whose Sake? A very good post by a Charlotte Mason homeschooling dad. It is to do with that motto of CM's: " Children are not born good or evil, but with possibilities for good and evil. " To some, this has sounded like a denial of original sin, but in context of her writing and thinking, it is not so, as Art explains very well:

Charlotte Mason knows that these little ones suffer from an aversion to God. "There is in human nature an aversion to God… a natural and obstinate aversion to Him." (IV:179-180) Miss Mason asserts that both the orthodox and the liberal recognize the fact of this aversion. The orthodox identify it as "that 'original sin which is the natural fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam.'" (IV:180) The liberal identify it as "that jerk of the shoulder from the hand of authority which belongs to freewill." (IV:180) Charlotte Mason knows that human effort, all the power of the flesh, cannot bring a child to God. "We cannot make a child 'good'; but, … we can lay paths for the good life in the very substance of his brain. We cannot make him hear the voice of God; but, again, we can make paths where the Lord God may walk in the cool of the evening." (V:142)

On another note, Kim wrote about Less is More --linking to Drew Campbell's Advice to a Harried New Homeschooler among other good reads. (HT: A Walk in the Woods)

It brings up an important point, one that Cindy at Dominion Family used to bring up frequently. You will only be able to do a few things well. Make sure that those few things are the important ones.

Kim pretty much listed the biggies for me -- things I particularly want to focus on this year.

  • teach the tools and habits that smooth the road for future learning
  • make sure the youngest ones don't get ignored; they need Mom-time
  • use real books; guides and teacher's manuals are secondary.
  • have access to art supplies
  • build a habit of time outside
  • keep watch on your house and family -- what needs attention? what's getting in the way? what good things are already present, that you can celebrate and build upon?

Notice that it's all about getting rid of clutter -- time clutter, material clutter, brain clutter. Better still, don't let the clutter in to begin with.

( Patrick pondering Aquinas-- I took the photo from my daughter's blog).


Us! said...

You always write things out so succintly Willa- it gets rid of the clutter in my neural tubes! (If that didn't make sense it's because it is ridiculously late. Just got home from Mongol- dh's pick!)

Us! said...

Stopped by briefly to peek at your daughters blog. It is lovely. What well thought out and fluid posts.


Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for your ponderings and your concrete insights. I just posted (Connections) at the 4Real Boards about realizing that I need to keep it simple. Then I came here and read this. Yes!

Hopefully I will be able to check in during the year and share that I have been doing just that.

I so appreciate gaining wisdom from your experiences with your older ones while you also have younger ones (like me) walking the path now.


Beate said...

Hi Willa - not to be contrary ;-) but I'm not comfortable with the thought of children having an "aversion" to God. In Catholic teachings, an aversion "from" God refers to mortal sin - children aren't capable of any sin before the age of reason.

We must also consider baptsim, through which our children enter the tomb with Christ and emerge a new person - a person liberated from sin and "from its instigator the devil." CCC 1237

Further, Jesus tells us that the Father has revealed these things to the little ones (or childlike, depending on the translation) - some might say He wasn't talking about children, but other passages seem to indicate that perhaps He was. I myself have seen wondrous insights from the youngest children, and I have often thought they are much closer to our Heavenly Father than I am.

Willa said...

Beate, I see your point. Thank you so much for commenting because I do think there is another side to it, which you've expressed.

Just to put it the whole thing in context.... the criticism of Charlotte Mason from some sources is that she is TOO idealistic about the nature of children. Some have thought that she was heavily influenced by Rousseau, who believed that children were naturally good until they were "ruined" by society (an oversimplification of his thinking, of course).

So the blogger, I think, was writing in that context... saying that CM DID recognize the effects of original sin. But in other places in CM's writings, she expresses our Lord's teachings that we are to become as little children; that "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."... the same line of thinking that you are expressing -- that children in some ways are exemplars.

This part of her writings was in distinction from the emphasis of some Calvinists on the "total depravity" of the child's nature (again, I'm oversimplifying, but can't do much better without writing a theological tract of my own).

She wrote that adults must not "hinder" the children from coming to God ; that children had a natural affinity for religion, but that some of our adult "methods" of instruction alienate them and turn them away. This is a huge part of what she says about the respect that is owed to children. I think this is somewhat like what you are saying.

Anyway, it is something for me to ponder. Paddy, my five year old, has been asking so many questions about God recently. The other day he asked who was older, Jesus or His mother. Hmm!! I find myself stretching my theological understanding to the utmost, trying to answer that in words that don't just confuse the issue!

Willa said...

Tracey, glad you came over here. Your questions on the board always make me think. ... or put into words things that I have been thinking about.

Beate said...

Hi Willa - although I tried, I never did read CM's entire volumes - perhaps some day. ;-) It sounds like she saw what Montessori and Cavaletti have also seen concerning a child's natural affinity for a relationship with God. I think your Paddy would have much to discuss with my Emma :-)

Thanks for always giving me things to stretch my thoughts :-)