Thursday, May 18, 2017

Masterly Inactivity Looks Like a Cardboard Box






Charlotte Mason was very interested and concerned for a child's mind to be preserved in it's natural state of wonder, joy, and love for their life. Charlotte Mason was a great proponent of "masterly inactivity" which allows a child to be gently guided toward certain academic and imaginative ideas and then left to discover. But what does masterly inactivity look like. 

It looks like an eight year old little girl who finds out that her mom and dad have to go straight away to buy a new dishwasher as the old one started leaking into the basement. The little girl discovers that the new dishwasher comes not only with all the wonderful features of cleaning glory, but also with a precious, most magnificent cardboard box. This is the mother of all gifts, and she carefully slides the box into the playroom to become her portal into the world of imagination. Her mom brings her an armful of blankets and clothes and her dolls to leave her for the next bunch of hours while she discovers the wonderful things this box holds. Masterly inactivity also looks like when the little girl's twelve year old brother asks his little sister if he can spend the night in her box, and she is pleased that her brother understands the wonder of the box.  Masterly inactivity looks like a mom and dad who happily agree to him sleeping in the box providing him with a sleeping bag, pillow, lantern and a good night kiss. 

Homeschooling looks like a sleepy little twelve year old boy telling his little sister in the morning that he had the best night's sleep inside that box. :)

Practice masterly inactivity; guide, shape, move in when needed and retreat when you sense the timing is proper. Begin to know when it's time for hands on and when it's time for hands off. Know when to speak and when to be silent, being watchful for perpetual cackle. When to intervene in a child's playtime moment (like when they climb on the roof of the house to see the neighbors rooftop) and when to step back to let the child's imagination grow. (like the cardboard box sleep over) Masterly Inactivity well practiced would make Miss Mason proud, and your children quite happy.

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