Volume 1 Discussion 1: Preface

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  • Tristan

    Here’s my first question:

    Of the 18 points Charlotte lists in the Preface, which one or two stood out to you upon reading and why?

    Today for me it was these:

    “12. But, believing that the normal child has powers of mind that fit him to deal with all knowledge proper to him, we must give him a full and generous curriculum; taking care, only, that the knowledge offered to him is vital––that is, the facts are not presented without their informing ideas. Out of this conception comes the principle that,

    13. Education is the Science of Relations; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we must train him upon physical exercises, nature, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books; for we know that our business is, not to teach him all about anything, but to help him make valid, as many as may be of

    ‘Those first born affinities,

    ‘That fit our new existence to existing things.'”

    The things really standing out were:

    – that in the ‘generous curriculum’ I offer my children I need to offer vital, or living, ideas that are whole and not broken down or digested for the child. I tried to think of an example, and a simple one could be when learning about cats we learn from the source- observing real live cats where possible – instead of reading a picture book on cats.

    – that while education is the science of relations, I cannot choose the relationships my children make with information. Using my simple example of cats, while my goal may have been to observe how a cat cares for itself (cleaning fur, etc), my child may form a relationship with something else about cats entirely. And that if I share the same experience or lesson with all my children they may each form Different relationships to the same thing – and it’s okay!


    #6 Education is an atmosphere:  “it is not meant that a child be isolated in what may be called ‘child enviroment’.

    I have to brag on my dh.  My boys are 5 and 2 and the 5yo since he was about 3yo has been right by Daddy’s side to do household repairs or mow the lawn.  My husband works long hours to provide for our family and I know that those tasks do take longer with a little one but he does it so gently.  It is a great reminder that education is so much more than the 3 R’s and they learn from real life.

    Tristan-In thinking about education is a science of relations:  My ds was coloring the other afternoon and there was a flower to color.  I asked him what color he was going to use and he got up and went out the back door.  He came back with a little yellow flower and put it up next to the colors until he made a match and colored the flower.  Even though we don’t get outside as much as I would like I think that might be an example education being a science of relations.




    Carolyn – I love that your husband includes the kids when doing ‘daddy work’, as my kids call it. I think it is so sweet to see just how much a child can and will do of ‘real work’ when given the opportunity to work with a patient parent. And I love the flower story with your son!

    Another thing that jumps to mind when I read the part you quoted is just how fake a learning environment a preschool or public school classroom is. Those truly isolate children in what someone has decided is a ‘child environment’ appropriate to the age of children in that room. Very limiting!


    Well, I was also drawn to the same ones as you, Tristan.  And, really for the same reasons.  I still have a hard time understanding that they are not going to make the same connections and form the relationships I would with the information.  But I also really was drawn to #8-10.  What a difference from the way I was taught!  I was especially drawn to  this:

    -…a child’s mind is no mere sac to hold ideas; but is rather…a spiritual organism with an appetite for all knowledge.  This is its proper diet, with which it is prepared to deal, and which it can digest and assimilate as the body does foodstuffs. 

    To me this entire idea helps me to remember that while I may provide the curriculum, my children must do the work to assimilate the ideas so that the ideas and the relationships they form will belong to them.  

    Honestly, this has been hard for me.  For example, I find myself asking leading questions or leading the direction in the way that leads my kids to the same conclusions or relationships I have formed.  I am still a work in progress!  But, am very much enjoying the freedom to learn the CM way.


    Oh, I understand how you feel! It is so hard to move past the ‘schooling’ I got and let my children learn and relate to information in their own way.


    Yeah!! I just started reading two days ago and will try to keep up (but I doubt I will) and read these posts at the same time.

    I’ll just comment on the last 2 posts.

    I had had a hard time with letting go of forced connections as well, but, I had a really hard time with curriculum that had ME, the teacher, put everything all together, present it to my child, and call that learning.  I disliked that sooo much more than I dislike allowing them to connect the dots themselves.  I always felt as if I was the doing so much, putting so much effort into the “program” only to have my kids not be all that impressed.  That’s when I figured out that CM was right.  I will certainly present good, no, great books, field trips, activities, etc., but it is up them (just like our own lives are up to us) to take it in.  All I can do is present, present, and present (as a parent should), be here for discussion and let their minds take hold. 

    This method, particularly this idea from this method, has taken the burden/guilt of whether they learn or not off of me and has placed the responsibility where it belongs.  I take great pains (which I know all on this board do) to have LOTS of great books, lifeskills, maps, etc., in our home for my kids to draw from.  I know we all do our very best (or at least we want to daily) to have such rich resources for our kids (way more than ps can provide), and really, that’s all we can do.  I know it’s kind of frightening to think about letting go, but when you have such great ideas to choose from (books) that we are feeding our kids, what else are they going to think on? 🙂  

    I do know that with “traditional” schooling (even at home), my kids did not think for themselves.  I was not presenting what CM suggests and they really were not learning anything.  Plus, it was soooo boring.  And, it was so much work for ME…..ugh.

    I hope I’m on the right track here, ladies.  If not, please advise.  LOL.

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