Nourish the Plant: A Growing Time, Part 4

A Growing Time

Spring has certainly arrived here in Georgia! All around I see people outside doing yard work (and sneezing from the pollen)—breaking up the soil, pulling weeds, and cultivating their trees and gardens. Such a great reminder of what we’ve been talking about these past few weeks!

Our goal in education is growth. That goal was impressed upon me once again when I read these words of Charlotte Mason recently: “The function of education is not to give technical skill but to develop a person” (Vol. 6, p. 147).

It’s easy to get hung up on the technical skills. After all, that’s what those around us usually ask about and test for. But we mustn’t lose sight of the bigger objective: developing a person. Helping our children grow!

We’ve already talked about the importance of providing the right atmosphere in our homes and about pulling the weeds in our children’s lives. Today let’s talk about the third way we can encourage growth: nourishing our children with great ideas.

Nourish with Great Ideas

“Give your child a single valuable idea, and you have done more for his education than if you had laid upon his mind the burden of bushels of information” (Vol. 1, p. 174).

Ideas are different from facts and information. Ideas are living; they spawn other ideas. They give the child truths about life that he can ponder and chew on. You can read a reminder about the difference in the articles Facts vs. Ideas and Past the Outer Court.

Our children gain ideas from the books they read, the art they look at, and the conversations they hold with us. Ideas nourish their minds.

“The mind is capable of dealing with only one kind of food; it lives, grows and is nourished upon ideas only; mere information is to it as a meal of sawdust to the body” (Vol. 6, p. 105).

And as an added bonus, children raised with a good supply of ideas from great books and beautiful art develop as persons. They learn to think and to think for themselves, rather than simply following the crowd.

“Our real concern is that children should have a good and regular supply of mind-stuff to think upon; that they should have large converse with books as well as with things; that they should become intimate with great men through the books and works of art they have left us, the best part of themselves. Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education” (The Story of Charlotte Mason, p. 231).

Growth. It takes time. It usually happens down deep where we can’t see it. What we do see won’t be constant; there will be times of preparation and spurts and stops. But if we are faithful to nourish those in our care, we will see growth over the seasons of life.

So be encouraged. Even if you spent today working on the atmosphere of your home, the discipline of good habits, and maybe got a chapter read from a good living book, you are educating. You are developing a person. You are encouraging growth!


  1. Thank you for this timely reminder to nurish my children with ideas of other great thinkers. Every year at this time, spring, when I get caught up with what needs to be done by the end of the year, I need to be reminded that there is growing going on in my children.

  2. Just wanted to say that this has been a GREAT series. I forwarded the first one to several hs’ing friends. It, and the subsequent articles have been exactly how I think about our schooling and life in general. You’ve said so many things I agree whole-heartedly with, and I wanted to encourage you to put it into booklet form when you are through.

    The part in this post near the end about the growth taking place “down deep” where we don’t see it has played out in our own family. It took time for the principals of CM to take root (we’ve done it this way all along), but after a few years I/we have see wonderful growth and fruit in our children’s minds and hearts. This is not all attributed to CM, but to the effects of the Bible and the Holy Spirit, but certainly the wisdom in educating we have gained from her have been an integral part of it.

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