Challenge Them, I Say!

To the rear march, to the rear march, hut two, three, four. Ok, what's going on you might be asking yourself. Well, I am in boot camp, everyone. Yep, I am in the Charlotte Mason Boot Camp for the next 4 weeks (already having completed 2 weeks) with Brandy Vencel, one of the advisers for Ambleside Online. We have been learning a great deal and really going deep into Charlotte Mason's thoughts about educating our children.

As we were studying last week, we came across this very interesting piece of information from Miss Mason's writings regarding the relationship between media and education. She wrote:

"Children of a poor school in the slums are eager to tell the whole story of the Waverly, falling continually into the beautiful language and style of the author. They talk about the Rosetta Stone and about treasures in their local museum; they discuss Coriolanus and conclude that "his mother must have spoiled him." They know by heart every detail of a picture by La Hooch, Rembrandt, Botticelli, and not only is no evolution of history or drama, no subtle sweetness, no inspiration of a poet, beyond them, but they decline to know that which does not reach them in literary form."

"What they receive under this condition they absorb immediately and show that they know by that test of knowledge which applies to us all, that is, they can tell it with power, clearness, vivacity, and charm. These are the children to whom we have been dolling out the 'three R's' for generations! Small wonder that juvenile crime increases; the intellectually starved boy must find food for his imagination, scope for his intellectual power; and crime like the cinema (movies, tv, computers; my addition) offers, it must be admitted, brave adventures. (A Philosophy of Education p. 63) 

Charlotte is saying in these two paragraphs that we can expose children of any background (good schools, poor schools, affluent financial means or meager) to the rich offerings of the world around us. Great literature, artists, music, and the like keeps the mind rich and engaged and excited for embracing life long learning. But if we just "drill and kill" and regularly expose the children to dry facts, true and false questions, fill in the blanks, or multiple choice we are certain to intellectually starve a child's mind and imagination. Thus the child must look to the "cinema" (movies, tv, computers and such) to aid him (her) on discovering and perusing brave adventures that are more exciting and interesting than that of the dry information he is receiving in his schooling. 

So be watchful... If your child is aching to watch tv or play computer games or can not wait to get his school done so he can get onto the more important things of his day, he/she may need more brave adventures and challenges in his homeschooling hours. So before you give in to those demands for more media, take a look at your books and your curriculum and see what needs tweaking to temper your child's need to look toward the virtual world for satisfaction.