Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Book #6 Review: For the Children's Sake - Part 1

This book sat on my wishlist for over 3 years. Sad, right? It was high on my "want-to-read" list but I just never purchased it. I knew it was not a book I could borrow from the library, thus having to give it back. I was right. This book will be a resource I turn to over and over again. I will review the first two chapters in this post and then write another post for the rest of the book. This book was too wonderful for me to cover in just one post.


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"Foundations of Education for Home and School"

I love that. Both home and school are included. The very first chapter of this book is titled "What is Education?" and it speaks to the fact that true education can happen anywhere, at home and/or at school.

There will be different applications of these ideas for different families. Families have to consider the educational system they are actually up against. More than that, different children within one family may need different decisions as to what educational system is best for them.

Different families utilize different education systems and just because they do, doesn't make them wrong. It is not my place (nor anyone else's) to judge what a family has decided as best for their own.

Consider this: the average American child (and the British child doesn't lage too far behind) spends more time in front of the TV set than he ever spends at school.

Scary, considering that children spent 6-8 hours a day in school. Mind boggling how much television that equals in a week. Do the math! Astounding!

I try my best to understand Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education in our homeschooling journey. This book helped me understand that education is not just what happens "during school" or "at school".

When a baby is picked up, spoken to, and loved, he is starting his education as God planned it. For all our lives we are human beings, in an active state of learning, responding, understanding. Education extends to all of life.

My favorite quote from this book is...

The truly educated person has only had many doors of interest opened. He knows that life will not be long enough to follow everything through fully.

This spoke to my heart. Why? Simply because I do not have a college degree. I barely graduated from high school (the reason for which I will not go into at this time). And yet, I do not consider myself uneducated. I enjoy learning. I believe myself to be educated. How can this be when I have not attended college? Because I read books. When I see something that interests me, I pursue knowledge of that subject.

Last summer, Chloe and I watched the birds in our backyard. They interested both of us. I began to note the different birds that came to our yard. I purchased books that helped us learn about these various birds. I also purchased books that described ways we could entice more birds to visit our yards. I educated myself about birds. That self-education can delve as deep and wide as I desire it to pursue it.

In this manner, I educate myself about anything I find of interest. I know and understand that my life is not long enough to follow through with all of my interests, but education will take place for the rest of my life.

Chapter 2 "Children are Born Persons"

Take a minute and re-read the title of the second chapter. Do you agree with that statement? Really agree?

Try a simple experiment. Take a small child on your knee. Respect him. Do not see hims as something to prune, form, or mold. This is an individual who thinks, acts, and feels. He is a separate human being whose strength lies in who he is, not in who he will become.

The child is a person who needs to grow in knowledge.

Well, what does that look like? I can tell you what that doesn't look like. Twaddle (My favorite "Charlotte Mason" word).

If I were to have to label much educational material today, I'm afraid a large percentage would definitely be twaddle. How colorfully and scientifically we our generation talks down to the little child! What insipid, stupid, dull stories are trotted out!

Wow! Strong words! But I find it incredibly true and accurate. There are books I absolutely HATE reading to Chloe. They are so...well...to put it simply, stupid. How can reading such dross be considered "educational"? What are these books "teaching"? The answer? Nothing. They are useless. They are twaddle.

We ply them [children] with endless questions, the one's we've thought up, instead of being silent and letting the child's questions bubble up with interest. We tire them with workbooks that would squeeze out the last drop of anybody's patience. We remove interesting books and squander time on clinical procedure called "reading skill testing," using idiotic isolated paragraphs which nobody would dream of choosing to take home to read.

And if that is not enough to cause you alarm, read this next paragraph.

Why do I feel so profoundly sad? Dear Lord, the little children are being smothered! They are often pinched, pushed, managed, and neglected into the bargain. The experience of beauty in God's great outdoors is often exchanged for seeing flickering images on a screen.

And if that doesn't get you, this will. I cry as I read it.

Adults have so often stopped giving children time priority; they are relegated to the category of "menial jobs." Many regard them as positively horrible; they resent their intrusion into their time and pocketbooks.

I have seen this first hand. It deeply saddens me. What is going on?

Dear God, where are the friends and lovers of children? Who will open up the wonderful windows onto the whole of reality and let their capable minds be stimulated? Who will accept them as they really are - as persons?

And I raise my hand and shout, "Me! I will!"

I will love them as they are. I will read good books to them. I will take them into God's beautiful world. I will throw rocks into rivers with them. I will climb stumps and jump over logs with them. I will listen to Mozart and Bach with them. I will gaze at Rembrandt and Renior with them. I will live with the children.

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