CM 12: Audioblog- Christina Umbriaco The Hiding Place
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Christina Umbriaco –
The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, was the first Living Book I vividly remember reading. I was about eight or nine years old, and I stumbled upon it in our basement while searching for yarn or something in the many random bins we had down there. I'm sure I read books previous to this one or was read to by one of my teachers, but I just don't remember. However, I will never forget the incredible story and life of Corrie Ten Boom as she prays that the guards would pass over her as she walked nearly naked with a Bible around her neck while in the concentration camp.
I can even see myself in the basement of the home I grew up in, simply devouring that book. This is what came to mind when I read this passage from Charlotte Mason's Philosophy of Education. Keep in mind, potency means the power of something to influence or to make an impression. "Now potency, not property, is the characteristic of mind. A child is able to deal with much knowledge, but he possesses none worth speaking of. Yet, we set to work to give him that potency which he already possesses rather than the knowledge which he lacks. We train his reason, cultivate his judgment, exercise this and the other faculty, which we have no more to do with than the digestive process of the healthy child. They're keen about gains but dead to things of the mind, due to the processes carried out in our schools. To the plausible and pleasant ways of picturing, listening, demonstrating, illustrating, summarizing, doing all those things for children which they are born with the potency to do for themselves. No doubt, we do give intellectual food, but too little of it. Let us have courage and we shall be surprised as we are now and then at the amount of intellectually strong meat almost any child will take at a meal and digest at his leisure."
Amen! I think we fall into this trap over and over again, of working so hard to chew that intellectual food for them, rather than trusting and knowing they're capable fingers and it's our role to guide them in that thinking and knowing, and quality literature. She goes on to say that the first thing for us to do is "get a just perception of what I may call the relativity of knowledge and the mind. The mind receives knowledge, not in order that it may know, but in order that it may grow in breadth, in sound judgment, and magnanimity. But in order to grow, it must know."
If you're looking for an incredible book to help you with the art of narration, I would highly recommend Know and Tell by Karen Glass. Through narration, and we know this for ourselves too, that it's difficult to know something unless we tell it back. I will often read Scripture and have no idea what I just read because I was just reading words that I've read or heard so many times before. And unless I narrate it back, it's difficult for me to know and retain it.
We do not want to make the mistake of working so hard to digest the learning substance for our children through all of our fun little ways of doing so. How can we truly unlearn a way of teaching that's been so ingrained in us through our own education if we went through the school system? As always, Charlotte has the answer for that too. Listen to this incredible wisdom: "The fact is that we are handicapped, not so much by the three or four difficulties I've already indicated, as by certain airs of judgment, forms of depreciation, which none of us escape because they are universal. We as teachers depreciate ourselves and our office. We do not realize that in the nature of things the teacher has a prophet power of appeal and inspiration that his part is not the weariful task of spoon feeding pat meat, but the delightful commerce of equal minds where his is the part of guide, philosopher, and friend."
So, our power struggle with our children can cease when we have this shift in mindset. She then goes on to say that, "The friction of wills which makes schoolwork harassing ceases to a surprising degree when we deal with children mind to mind through the medium of knowledge." And her view of children was one of the many incredible principles that drew me to her philosophy. Listen to this. "We must either reverence or despise children. And while we regard them as incomplete and undeveloped beings who will one day arrive at the completeness of man, rather than as weak and ignorant persons whose ignorance we must inform. Whose weakness we must support. But whose potentialities are as great as our own. We cannot do otherwise than despise children, however kindly and even tenderly we commit the offense."
If we have been mindful to protect the mental health of our children, then we know that as Mason writes about, that as soon as they find words to express themselves, and communicate with us, they absolutely let us know what they think with surprising clearness and directness. So, what is our task to fight against doing the mental work for our children. Trust they have the potency, or ability to comprehend the feast we lay before them. But to also focus on that feast.
Let us give intellectual food but not too little of it. May their books be rich, unabridged, living stories for their minds to devour and they behold their little personhoods with reverence because, "a person is a mystery. That is, we cannot explain him or account for him, but must accept him as he is. This wonder of personality does not cease, does not disappear, when a child goes to school. He is still all there in quite another sense from that of the vulgar catch word, but we begin to lose the way to his mind from the day that he enters the school room. The reason for this is, we half embrace the belief that knowledge is sensation. That a child knows what he sees and handles rather than what he conceives in his mind and figures in his thoughts. I labor this point because our faith in a child's spiritual, i.e. intellectual educability is one of our chief assets. Having brought ourselves face to face with the wonder of mind in children, we begin to see that knowledge is the element of the mind as food is that of the body."
So, our wonder-filled and capable thinkers, not the teachers, are the responsible party for learning. They do the work by self-effort. We work with them, mind to mind, as we practice the art of coming alongside. We practice narration as a way of knowing. We spread a wide feast with varied subjects. We keep attention through short lessons, and we focus on quality books and learning resources. If we prioritize these in our home, I believe we'll be incredibly delighted by the natural fruit we will see in our children and the lack of difficulty we experience along the way.
Thank you for listening.
Thank you for joining us today on the Charlotte Mason Show. I'm your host, Julie Ross, and I would love to meet you in 2020. I will be at all seven Great Homeschool Conventions, speaking as part of their Charlotte Mason track. Go to greathomeschoolconventions.com to find one near you. If you want more information on what was shared in today's podcast, go to homeschooling.mom for the show notes. Also, don't forget to subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or Google Play so you never miss an episode. Until next time.
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