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- Rachel WhiteParticipant
“I was specifically referring to the need of some curricula to make every.single.lesson of every subject have a teacher verbally give the Biblical moral lesson. That’s what was turning off my children. They could see it for themselves and they told me that.”
Similar experience here with my son, as well as with a friend of mine and her young man and woman.
The universal issues affecting humankind come through in the works of non-believers , too.
C.S. Lewis came back to faith through and by the use of the ancient myths, thanks to J.R.R. Tolkien. He knew what would reach him.
The Apostle Paul did something similar to reach the Greeks.psreitmomParticipant
I appreciate how Sonya has tied in the Bible throughout her guides. Because of my daughter’s learning disability, I had to modify our curriculum. But, if you are strictly doing CM, then I recommend SCM for the reason stated above. If you are choosing to use some traditional curricula, there are many that incorporate Bible into history and science. Those are basically the subjects I feel need to be Bible based. Our math and language arts do not always include Bible.
My daughter is VERY impressionable and sensitive to certain subject matter, so I need to focus on what the Bible says about………….(fill in the blank). Even watching Little House on the Prairie movies, because some have much deception and lying going on, it is time to remind her of what the Bible says about that issue. I did not exclude all books in history that were not written from a Biblical perspective. We read some things about the Greeks and Romans that were not pleasant (I stay away from Greek myths). We read stories in the Old Testament that are not pleasant to read. When it comes to teaching different character traits and manner of life, for us, it comes from the Bible, along with real life stories and other resources that use the Bible to help in these areas.
Like I said, I have not read Plutarch. Sonya limits what she uses from the book, probably for the same reasons I wouldn’t use it. I’m sure there are lessons that can be learned from books that don’t include the Bible, but if I were reading them, I’d have to refer back to the Bible anyway:)retrofamParticipant
I have found in language arts that some secular curriculum didn’t sit well with me, especially composition curriculum in high school and literature.psreitmomParticipant
retrofam – I know this is getting off topic, but I wanted to say that, even though my daughter is in 8th grade, she is not doing ‘on level’ work. We are still dealing with spelling issues. She does little formal writing. But, if she was doing it on a regular basis, I would definitely stay away from secular writing. I was referring more to grammar and spelling.
Our 28 year old daughter, who technically still lives at home, chose two years ago to attend a secular university for media studies. My husband and I were not in favor of it, but given her age, we had to let her make the decision. Although we still have concerns about some of things she is being taught, and what influences there will be in her life in general, she has stood her ground in certain areas (because she knows what the Bible says). She had, I believe, an English class, with a professor who endorses all the different protests that have taken place in the past few years. I think she was the one who, in class, even spoke something against Israel. She wanted the class to write on a certain topic and said what she wanted included in their work. My daughter could not give her what she wanted, because it would be going against what she stood for. So, she did not write everything that the professor wanted, or she didn’t write some things in the way she wanted them written. The professor gave her a low score (but passing) for the semester just because of this paper. (The world’s ‘wisdom’ vs. True Wisdom) This is an example for a reason to be keeping the Bible in the center of educating our children.
None of us are suggesting that the Bible should not be the center of our lives, but stating that there is merit in other books. We simply offered our experience and opinions as to that because we HAVE read both and found both worth our time and effort.
For those that are interested in looking into this further: Ambleside Online has free Plutarch guides with 12 lessons each that are abridged to use only appropriate material. The guides also come with vocabulary and contextual information, as well as suggested discussion questions at the end of each lesson.
@preistmom – Good for your daughter! No matter what your convictions are, it is always hard to stand up to people in authority over us. =)Rachel WhiteParticipant
“None of us are suggesting that the Bible should not be the center of our lives, but stating that there is merit in other books. We simply offered our experience and opinions as to that because we HAVE read both and found both worth our time and effort.”
Thank you, sheraz. I, too, was getting the impression that a misunderstanding was unfortunately developing, so thank you for clarifying.
There is a thread on the Ambleside forum right now discussing Plutarch and I think that a few responses would be helpful for the OP:
Here is the critical response that I think will help you understand how CM used Plutarch. COMama wrote:
“Keep in mind that Plutarch is citizenship, not precisely history (although there is obviously overlap). Names and dates aren’t the goal so much as getting our kids to wrestle with questions like, “Should he have done x? What did other people do in that situation? What happened because of his choice? What else could he have done? Do you think he could have made a better choice? Was he a good leader? What made him good or bad?” Often he also shows people who are a mix of good and bad, noble and selfish, people who began noble but were corrupted by power, etc.”
I think part of the reason that these stories are valuable for character building is that the results of the decisions made are obvious because of time. It makes it easier to see cause/effect. This helps children to be able to internalize what is not right vs. what is right, especially when we read them with the backdrop of the Bible in our minds.
This is a great way to organically teach our gospel standards in discussion without forced connections. Children GET it.
Anne White (author of the Plutarch guides) says:
“Charlotte Mason expected that teachers using “unexpurgated” texts would do some verbal editing.”
She has already done the editing for us in her guides.
Lastly, there are also children’s versions of Plutarch available that would teach the stories in a less ambitious way and still allow a great discussion. If you read these for 10-20 minutes or so once a week, there would still be a place to add missionary stories another day for 10-20 minutes.
Our Young Folks’ Plutarch by Rosalie Kaufman
Plutarch’s Lives for Boys and Girls by W.H. Weston
The Children’s Plutarch: Tales of the Greeks. by F. J. Gould
The Children’s Plutarch: Tales of the Romans. by F. J. Gould
I typed a response and posted it, then tried to edit it and lost it. If this ends up being a double post, I apologize.
To the OP – Here is a response to this question on a thread on the AO forum:
“Keep in mind that Plutarch is citizenship, not precisely history (although there is obviously overlap). Names and dates aren’t the goal so much as getting our kids to wrestle with questions like, “Should he have done x? What did other people do in that situation? What happened because of his choice? What else could he have done? Do you think he could have made a better choice? Was he a good leader? What made him good or bad?” Often he also shows people who are a mix of good and bad, noble and selfish, people who began noble but were corrupted by power, etc.” ~ COMama
It is that you can more clearly see the effects of choices made by these people that makes it effective for character building. Discussing the behavior and choices of good and bad leaders help us to choose better behavior ourselves. We read Plutarch once a week for 15-20 minutes, and I find it is an effective tool for character building, especially read against the backdrop of Biblical teachings.
There are children’s story versions might be easier for you to start with using the questions posted above. They are available free here:
or from Amazon as books (click on related products for the rest):
Yes! You are so right! Sheraz! After I had studied why CM had put in particular books, I realized that these books were good for so many reasons and not including them would not be good. Thank you for your encouragement and challenge! I really, really appreciate it!
Sonya, That is a good approach! I will definitely keep it in mind.
I understand exactly what you are saying. A mother must be discerning regarding what her children can handle and when. Also, a person can chose what she desires to use with prudence. Thank you ladies! You have all helped me!
I just realized that you also asked about Ourselves.
Charlotte was a dedicated Christian and all of her works reflect that. The last 4 Principles of her 20 Principles of Education (her philosophy) she outlined in Volume 6 says:
16. There are two guides to moral and intellectual self-management to offer to children, which we may call ‘the way of the will’ and ‘the way of the reason.’
17. The way of the will: Children should be taught, (a) to distinguish between ‘I want’ and ‘I will.’ (b) That the way to will effectively is to turn our thoughts from that which we desire but do not will. (c) That the best way to turn our thoughts is to think of or do some quite different thing, entertaining or interesting. (d) That after a little rest in this way, the will returns to its work with new vigour. (This adjunct of the will is familiar to us as diversion, whose office it is to ease us for a time from will effort, that we may ‘will’ again with added power. The use of suggestion as an aid to the will is to be deprecated, as tending to stultify and stereotype character, It would seem that spontaneity is a condition of development, and that human nature needs the discipline of failure as well as of success.)
18. The way of reason: We teach children, too, not to ‘lean (too confidently) to their own understanding’; because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth, (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case, reason is, practically, an infallible guide, but in the latter, it is not always a safe one; for, whether that idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.
19. Therefore, children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching, that the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas. To help them in this choice we give them principles of conduct, and a wide range of the knowledge fitted to them. These principles should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need.
20. We allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and ‘spiritual’ life of children, but teach them that the Divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their Continual Helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life.
Ourselves was Charlotte Mason’s response to the needs of Principle 19 – so it becomes part of the application (method) of the philosophy.
A single reading of about 3 pages (often less) covers one character trait. At first Mansoul is a bit confusing. I think a lot of it is that we do not speak in metaphors much, so we are looking for “facts, just the facts, ma’am” – but that is not what will capture the imagination of a child and cause them to ponder and think deeply about their own-self government and how they will choose to carry that out. In Ourselves, Book 1, chapter 3, page 9, Charlotte Mason explains:
Every human being, child or man, is a Kingdom of Mansoul; and to be born a human being is like coming into a very great estate; so much in the way of goodness, greatness, heroism, wisdom, and knowledge, is possible to us all. Therefore I have said that no one has discovered the boundaries of the Kingdom of Mansoul; for nobody knows how much is possible to any one person. Many persons go through life without recognising this. They have no notion of how much they can do and feel, know and be; and so their lives turn out poor, narrow, and disappointing.
It is, indeed, true that Mansoul is like a great and rich country, with a more or less powerful and harmonious government; because there is a part of ourselves whose business it is to manage and make the best of the rest of ourselves, and that part of ourselves we shall call the Government.
She then breaks down all the different functions, needs, and such of this great country of Mansoul, and likens each one to a member of the government. By doing this she clearly shows what Government Official “controls” or governs different behaviors, desires, and actions. Each reading details what trait is responsible and pleasing to yourself, and then she even labels the downside of too much or too little governance of that trait. She doesn’t preach, but the way it is written makes me want to be a better master of myself. My oldest daughter has mentioned a couple of times that she likes the imagery in it – she can see how she wants to be a better person.
As with Plutarch, once a week readings are totally sufficient. It’s good stuff!
Here is a blog post about Ourselves that might be helpful:
You know, I have continued to study God’s Word and pray and thinking about what we have discussed here. It sure is not something to take lightly. I am still in the pondering state. 🙂
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