Uncategorized

For the Children’s Sake

childrens sake book

This is a repost from my defunct blog.

Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.

This was Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education and it’s the central theme of Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s book, For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School.

I enjoyed this book because it presents an educational philosophy built on the premise of educating the whole child. A philosophy which appreciates that there is more to education than the three R’s. Of course, most homeschoolers know this instinctively, which is why they have chosen to homeschool.

For someone like me, who was steeped in 13 years of an educational model built largely on the ever-looming standardized test, a mental shift was required when considering the true meaning of education. This is particularly true since we decided to opt out the system for our younger children because of our dissatisfaction with the level of academic instruction. This, despite the fact that our older children were all honors/AP students in public school.

It wasn’t until I began doing my research that I began to get a greater understanding of the importance of creating an atmosphere conducive to learning rather than depending on an artificial learning environment. For The Children’s Sake does an excellent job of taking the ideas of Charlotte Mason and condensing them into a book that touches on all of the important aspects of educating the whole person.

Helping children to become lifelong lovers of learning, giving them the tools to teach themselves the things that interest them as they become old enough to do so, and not neglecting the importance of playtime and exposure to the classroom of nature were all themes that resonated with me. Most of all, the book frames its discussion of education from a Christian perspective:

“Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food.”

I enjoyed this book a great deal and appreciated that it offers a picture of education that is radically different than the traditional model our society has come to accept as the only “right way” to educate. A “right way” which incidentally, is being exposed more and more as a dismal failure by people of all educational persuasions.

I give For The Children’s Sake a grade of A-. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a book that succinctly captures the spirit of a Charlotte Mason education.

children's books, historical fiction, homeschool, Uncategorized

Adam and His Kin

adam and his kin

Adam and His Kin, by Ruth Beechick. Originally published in 1990. 176 pages.

When our sixth-grade student was assigned this book for her literature class, I’d never heard of it. It is basically the characters and stories of Genesis framed as historical fiction. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it when I picked it up. Apparently, it is well known in homeschool circles, and opinions on it are mixed. A positive take can be found here, a negative one here, for those interested in both sides of the issue.

As I began to read it, my initial reaction was a mixture of apprehension and horror. It seemed sacreligious to me to fictionalize Scripture. What, I thought, would possess anyone to do such a thing? However, I kept reading and allowed our daughter to keep reading primarily because I fancy myself open to new ideas and I genuinely trust the heart, intentions, and faith of the administrators and staff of the program where we have  our kids enrolled and taking classes.

After I got over my initial reluctance to the very idea of Ruth Beechick’s project, I began to see it differently. It gave us opportunities to go back and study Genesis closer, note contradictions and parallels, and remember that what we were reading the author’s attempt to help the reader see these people as more than just Bible story characters.

On the whole it was a decent read, when kept in proper perspective. The literature teacher who assigned it was careful to make the distinction between the Bible and this book, and even gave the children opportunities for class discussion on the pros and cons of reading such a book.

If there was one thing I appreciated about the book more than any other, it was that the author tried to capture the universality of human nature, that it is as it has always been over time. The sin nature that motivated Adam, Eve, Cain, Ham, or the builders of Tower of Babel was as evident then as it is today. Greed, jealousy, lusts for power and self-aggrandizement are as old as humanity itself, despite our tendency to believe that people are uniquely horrible in our time compared to times past.

That said, it certainly needs to be read with caution, and an eye toward the Scriptures.

Grade: B-

Content advisory: I wouldn’t recommend this book to any child under middle school age and certainly not to anyone without an in depth knowledge of the Book of Genesis.

 

children's books, homeschool

Farmer Boy

farmer boy

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Originally pulished in 1933.

This review was written by our 9-year-old daughter. I do minimal editing to her writing when I post her reviews. Like Paddington, this book was part of assigned reading for her literature class.

Farmer Boy is a nonfictional classic by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s husband Almanzo Wilder, and his childhood.

It is very engaging and entertaining. I have not read many classics yet but this has to be one of my favorite’s. Once you start it is very hard to stop.

It is also very easy to read. Some of my favorite chapters are Birthday, Independence day, and also The Fair.

In the chapter The Fair Almanzo enters the biggest pumpkin contest. He fed his pumpkin milk  everyday. It was so big Father had to put in the wagon the night before.When he got to the fair he won the contest and everybody asked him what he had done to make it so big. He was going to lie but his father was standing there, he thought that he would get disqualified and get his ribbon taken away, but he had to tell the truth so he did. He had a wonderful day at the fair.

I highly recommend this book. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.