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I am pondering the CM quote for this week in my SCM calendar (calendar year version). “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.” Would anyone like to discuss this with me??
We are not “doing school” with a schedule right now. Just whatever happens between other jobs and play until we’re done preparing to move. But I’m asking myself, and y’all, today, “What is/might be the ‘single valuable idea’ today? Where might it come from?” And I wonder how frequently they come, or should come. It seems to me that if CM wrote this, it would imply that the teacher should make some conscious effort in this direction…and yet I feel that it would/should also often come from the “feast” provided to the children and the connections they make on their own with the ideas. Maybe that’s the extent of the intentionality of the teacher sometimes…or all the time?
What do you all think? I’m just curious how this aspect of a CM education plays out for others, and how I can teach myself to work toward this end.nebbyParticipant
I think the heart of the quote is the comparison between information (think facts) and an idea. You can lay ideas before your children through living books and the like but you can’t force them to take them in. They need to digest the (intellectual) food you give them for themselves. So it does no good to try to force it by pointing out the ideas you see.
I think it brings to mind for me the way we cover a subject. We can flood them with dry facts or we can use living books that are full of ideas that speak to their heart and mind. The best part is that the living idea one child takes away from a reading may be different than the idea each of their siblings and mom take away. Living books and ideas meet us where we are at. This is why family read alouds work so well – my younger children get something out of a reading but there is still meatier ideas that my older children will discover in the same reading.
Oh, and the other thing it brings to mind is that this takes relaxed time to live with and ruminate on what we read. If we pack the schedule full of one thing stacked on another on another and yet another the child has no time to let those ideas take root in their mind and heart. They’re too busy ‘getting it all finished’.
Can you tell I’m feeling the need to linger over material more this year?
Good thoughts…maybe I’m just over-thinking it. I knew that the living books would be the main provision, but was just thinking maybe I’m not being as intentional about this as I could be. But then maybe there isn’t really a way to be any more intentional about it without getting in the way. Maybe I just need to be sure I’m keeping it in mind when I choose the books. I am guilty of wanting to add books to give more information. And that probably takes away from the time to ruminate over the ones with more noble ideas. So, maybe that’s the warning in it for me.
I think being aware of our own tendencies is a great step! I tend to read volumes at a time and with the kids have had to learn to slow down, read less, and let it ripen. Sure, we can blow through reading a book in just a few days and enjoy it, but often we miss out on the opportunity to really live with the ideas and let them become a part of us. I can also be guilty of trying to fit in too many books. What if I simply chose the ‘best’ book for a subject and didn’t feel the need to add in several ‘good’ books on top of it?
The quote certainly has me thinking! I’m glad you shared it!ClaireParticipant
We just got back in town from vacation and are just doing whatever here too this week.
I’d wonder how I would introduce this “single valuable idea” …. would I pull it from readings? Would they pull it?
I often see the kids get in to a pattern of “getting done” or “checking things off” daily. I hate to see that mentality. I know that they like to finish things. I wonder how that fits in to this too? Where is their wonder time? How can I facilitate that more?
Maybe we need to contribute a “wonder/ponder” question to a bowl each day and then over supper discuss them or read them aloud to one another?
Claire – I have one especially who can get in a ‘checking things off’ mode. I think for that child in particular finding living books is going to be the best way to draw them in to lingering over an idea. Also, having a daily quiet time may help, a time when there are no distractions and they are not able to rush off to do things. My children current do their literature reading at the beginning of quiet time, snug in their beds. It’s been a good way to encourage them to slow down and think about their reading.
And if I’m being honest I am guilty of contributing to the ‘checking things off’ atmosphere. When my day is spent working to check things off and get as many things done as I can I see it reflected in the children. It goes back to Education is an atmosphere – I need to be aware of the atmosphere I’m setting by my own example. It also brings to mind the post Sonya did called What I Learned from Charlotte’s Schedule, how Charlotte had scheduled in time for rest, for breaks, for a less hurried pace. She built margin into her day.
It also brings to mind being realistic about what we can do in an amount of time. I can plan 3 hours of work for 3 hours in the day but then we’ll be running to catch up because there are always interruptions, distractions, or opportunities that I didn’t plan for. It works out better if I plan for less work with a generous margin of time to finish. This can even be pushed further out than the daily time plan. I know Christie and others on here plan for 3 months of work and 4 months to do it in. They build flexibility into their weeks. This helps with the unexpected, but it also helps encourage an atmosphere with time to slow down and live with the ideas of the current readings and study.
Wow! I think I have spent more time thinking about this one quote and the living ideas it offers than just about anything else in the last two days. <smile> Now to put it into practice better in my own life!
Claire – I like your idea of the wonder/ponder jar. This makes me think of “The Wheel on the School”. Have you gals read that? The teacher capitalized on a little writing one of the students did, and got the whole class to wondering about “why there are no storks in Shora”. That became the focus…and what wonderful growing experiences they all had b/c of that little “wondering”.ClaireParticipant
Oh, great post Tristan. I know you are right about my focus sort of lending to and setting our atmosphere around the home. I used to be much, much better about that when they were younger. I have let myself fall in to the “rush” of the middle and fast coming high school years.
I think my one child who needs a very set schedule and plan for things has greatly influenced where we have gone because now we have this weekly framework that we have out every day. I am totally ok with not getting to everything everyday, but this child is not so comfortable with that if it can be clearly seen that things did not get done. I’ve been around the world on this one and finally decided that this child will have to adjust. We’ve accomodated this need for some type of framework for our weeks (versus early years where I kept that to myself primarily and paced us from my end of things) and now this child must adapt to the idea that this is just a framework. An ideal to work toward but not miss the whole boat by concentrating on with too much intensity.
It’s a tricky balance!
I do try to build that margin in to our days. I try to find value in things that seem less like direct lessons during the day too – a museum trip, a walk, a documentary. But I find it hard to do that more and more. I think to myself “ok, fine this nature walk is great and we are observing and doing all kinds of CM like nature study things, BUT we have a Physics lesson to finish and how am I supposed to get the focus back to a harder lesson like that after sunshine and flowers?” …. or something along those lines wiht different examples. This is an area I struggle with more and more. Composition, for instance, might take 45 minutes to an hour now. Lessons just seem longer and harder now so I find breaking so disruptive to the flow. I do need to figure this out though.
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