Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesdays with Words: Erasure and Oblivion

I started Out of the Ashes yesterday. I'm all of 4 pages in and wishing I had taken a pen with me to mark it up.

Page 1:
I stand with Livy, who at the final hardening of Rome's republican arteries, wrote that the study of his land's history was the study of the rise and fall of moral strength, with duty and severity giving way to ambition, avarice, and license till his fellow Romans "sank lower and lower, and finally began the downward plunge which has brought us to the present time, when we can endure neither our vices nor the cure." (emphasis mine)
 Esolen makes his arguments cogently by weaving in quotations and ideas from out of time - from people and events and literature you may never have heard of but that resonate with the soul.

On page 4:

The people of the ancient world came before the modern watershed: that which encourages us to believe that what is current must be superior to what is past. We apply what we see in the progress of technology to all other human endeavors, and fail to ask whether technological innovations thememselves are always unmixed blessings, let alone whether, for example, modern art with its inhuman abstraction or its deliberate ugliness is really an advancement over what the great tradition has bequeathed to us. Modernity is all too often a cult of erasure and oblivion. The ancients still had memory.
So beautifully, if painfully, truly written.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Maps, Recipes, Processes, Systems

As you know I was at the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati almost two weeks ago. It was a wonderful time of learning, encouragement, and being surrounded by like-minded friends.

Perhaps you know that I don’t stay down at the Duke Energy Center all weekend; I don’t get a hotel room and stay downtown. Rather, my Mother-in-law (the best ever MIL, sorry for the rest of you) graciously hosts me and my friends and we all, along with my Sister-in-law, drive in each morning and back to their homes each evening of the event. I do the driving; what with the minivan and not minding being in control or driving in downtown traffic.

We’ve been doing this drive ever since GHC moved down to the Duke from the multi-building church it used to be held at. For a long time, I had printed maps from Google to point the way and a passenger was my navigator, then I got a smartphone and the Google navigator became my friend and freed my passengers to visit.

I mostly know the path to get there by now, the navigator is a nice backup convenience. The exit we take into downtown Cincinnati is an odd exit, as it exits on the left of I-71. I have a touch of a lead foot, so the left lane doesn’t bother me too much … until I noticed “Exit Closed” for my exit on the very last sign for the exit prior to the one where we get off. And I don’t know Cincinnati.

For some reason, my previously trusty backup didn't know that the exit is closed and I needed a new route. Since I really didn’t want to go to Kentucky, which is where Google will be leading me, I scrambled to the right and exit who knows where in Cincinnati. Happily, Google recalibrates.

The tool I was using is still a valid tool, still helpful to me and we made it to the convention center none the worse for wear. Well, maybe a little breathless because of the scrambling.


I love to cook. I love to follow a recipe once or twice and then just play with it and make it my own. I like to try new flavors (as long as they aren’t spicy. Or seafood.) and I like the process of bringing a meal together. I like to tie flavors between dishes. I like to make interesting combinations. Most of the time this works really well; sometimes it is a little more … um … adventurous.

But, I know the principles of cooking. I generally know how much heat and which ingredients to include. I know when to use the oven, the stovetop, the grill. I know how longish things should cook. While cooking is easy, I’m much more recipe and rule dependent when it comes to baking. I'm less free there.


In Cincinnati, Andrew Kern was on a roll. He was talking about processes versus knowledge. He gave the example, as he generally does of 3+2=6 minus 1. Then he talked about how the Liberal Arts allow us to have tools to create harmony in our minds. That if we stop at 3+2=6 we are uncomfortable and our minds in a state of discordance. That minus one relaxes us.

But if no one has taught us how to achieve harmony in, for instance, mathematics, we are left as under the control of the step-by-step process of math. Our understanding is enslaved rather than free.

“No one likes being a slave.” Andrew Kern


My husband is a software developer. He programs computers. They do what he tells them. The process inputs as he tells them. They only do what he tells them. If he tells them wrongly, if the input is incorrect the output is incorrect.

When I worked, I worked on the data entry side and then, later, on data retrieval and analysis. If the data was entered incorrectly, the output for analysis was just wrong.
But we, I, were working with computers not made in the image of God with bodies, emotions, and brains. They could only spit out and analyze what was put in. They couldn’t love.


Being a Charlotte Mason Educator is like driving. We learn the principles; we apply them; we learn more and recalculate. You can rely on your navigator, but a smart driver also reads the signs. Sometimes a slightly different route than the navigator’s might be better. The recalculated last minute Google route? Took us right to the parking garage rather than the convention center. I could look at the signs, see the problem, and work to solve it before it became major - ending up in Kentucky. My Google navigator was leading me astray in one instance, but it is a tool. I could use my own mind to override it and then take up again in order to arrive at my destination.

Most of the time Google Maps is a trustworthy tool. I can follow the directions and make it to my destination. When we choose excellent tools, we may not have to deviate very much from them. The alert driver - er educator - gets a choice. Sometimes the back roads are the most scenic.

Being a Charlotte Mason Educator is like cooking. We can try out the recipe and as we learn more change it up - still relying on the basic principles - to fit the needs and tastes of our family.

Being a Charlotte Mason Educator is like being a freeman - not a slave. We have the principles and knowledge of 3+2 and can create harmony in the education of our children by not being shackled to processes developed for a different time and setting: processes that are not principles.

Being a Charlotte Mason Educator is not like a computer. You cannot put in the input perfectly and expect perfect output. Following specified routines or a strict schedule will not a human make. Children (and mamas) are born persons. Children are not a formula that will become what “we” make them by our efforts. Children will make relationships with ideas presented them in astounding ways because they do the work in a CM education and God uses our faithful presentation of ideas to make the person of His will.

You can’t do education “right” so your children will be the image you have created for them. Education is not plug and play. You’re not a potter at a wheel. Cindy Rollins taught me that and I choose to learn from her shared experience rather than repeating the lesson myself. So thankful that she has shared it with us.

The principles wielded by a thinking mama who is making her own relationships with ideas and not trying to submit herself to processes designed for a different setting is what being a Charlotte Mason Educator is about.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Wednesdays with Words: "Love is the best teacher."

I apologize for missing last week's Wednesdays with Words. I was overwhelmed with words and unprepared to write them out and then it was suddenly Thursday. If you posted a WwW last week, please, please share it as well as todays post!

I have another from my children's reading. This is from the AOY6 book Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity by Robert Cwiklik. I chose this over the other recommended book because it seemed longer (and I liked the first few pages only slightly better). I'm putting the other one in the Free Reads for the year. From Chapter 2, pages 18-19:
When he was about eight years old, Albert's mother had Albert start taking violin lessons. She wanted her son to earn how music could make life more beautiful and satisfying. Pauline dreamed of playing Mozart on her piano while Albert bowed his violin in accompaniment.
At first, Albert hated his violin lessons. He never liked being forced to learn anything. He was only good at learning things he wanted to learn. In later life, he would say that "love is the best teacher," meaning that if you love a thing, you will be eager to learn about it and the work will not seem hard. Even though Albert didn't love practicing the violin, he loved his mother, so he stayed with his music lessons. It paid off, for Albert eventually became a very good vilolinist. Music, to him,, became something of a beloved friend with whom he stayed in touch all his long life.
There are a lot of things to think about how we educate in those two paragraphs. Whether it's his mother forcing him to learn something he wasn't interested in, to the long term results of mother knowing best, to understanding a student's mind and trying to make things more palatable to them by helping them learn to love it, to a mother's dream  ...

How are you (and I) helping our children love what must be done?

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Simple Woman's Daybook for April 24, 2017

For Today...

Looking out my window ... the sky is crystalline with occasional puffy clouds. The windows are open. The grass is bright spring green. Lovely.

I am thinking ... about all the things I learned this weekend. And laundry.

I am thankful ... for the Great Homeschool Conventions, family, and friends who make it happen.

One of my favorite things ... was sharing what I was learning and from whom on the @charlottemasonirl Instagram Account ... I used the "Stories" feature, so they're gone now, but it was fun.

I am wearing ... sweat pants and Buckeye tshirt. We walked the dog and started some laundry.

I am creating ... a blog post or three in my head. We'll see if they make the blog.

I am reading for my current Mother's Education:

I am hoping ... that I incorporate the science and physiology readings as much as I ought to. Those are a struggle for me.

I am learning ... oh, so many things.

In my kitchen ... I didn't eat a bunch of my snack-type foods at the convention. My kids aren't unhappy about this.

In the school room ... New books!

Post Script ... Here's my Word Cloud of Big Ideas I took away from the Convention.

Shared Quote ... "Read good books; go outside." Everyone, but everyone, at the Cincinnati Great Homeschool Convention

A moment from my day ... we took a hike yesterday afternoon along a new trail.

Closing Notes: M-girl and N-boy had their Central Ohio Organ Guild recital yesterday. They did a great job! So proud of their hard work.

Linking up with The Simple Woman.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesdays with Words: Able to Contend

“Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.”
Francis Bacon, The Collected Works of Sir Francis Bacon

I don't remember where I read this one. I don't think I've shared it before for WwW. Someone reminded me of it because it was on GoodReads.

wise, witty, subtle, deep, grave, able to contend.

I like that.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesdays with Words: Again

It may be break week, but swamped ... some day I'll have a quote. I still want to read yours. Love ya'll!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Wednesdays with Words: Placeholder