CM 4 Episode #11 Change Your Thoughts Transform Your Homeschool with Julie H. Ross
Links and Resources:
CM EP 11 Winter
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Before we jump into today's episode, I wanted to give a shout-out to Misty Fox who left this review in iTunes. So grateful. I've always dreamed of homeschooling my kiddos, but life has always been busy. When covid and distant learning came, we decided now is the time to switch. I'm so grateful for Julie and A Gentle Feast. This show gives such wisdom and encouragement at just the right time. Julie is real and genuine and feeds this Mama's soul during uncharted territories for me.
Thank you so much, Misty, for taking the time to leave a review. I'm so encouraged that you started homeschooling during this crisis and that you found the tools and the help that you need. That is so great of you and I'm sure you are doing a fantastic job. So, thanks for listening, and thanks for taking the time to leave this review.
And if you haven't already left a review or ranked this podcast in iTunes, can you just take like thirty seconds and do that right now? That would be so helpful to get the word out about it and, yeah, it just really encourages me to hear from you. So, thanks again Misty for doing that.
And today's episode is a talk that I gave, part of it, for the members of A Gentle Feast.
And this talk is on one of the most powerful and effective tools for transforming your homeschool. Do I have your attention? The most amazing part of this is that it costs absolutely nothing. So, you know all that curriculum that sitting in the closet or on that shelf that you've never actually opened and used? I have good news. You can stop buying that. Because this powerful tool is absolutely free, and I've learned in my own life and seen this in the lives of so many other homeschoolers, that the most powerful tool that we have to change the dynamic in our homeschool is our own thoughts.
Okay, Julie, that sounds really easy, right? I just have to change the way I think about things. It's a lot harder than it sounds. So today I'm gonna kind of go through some of the mindsets that successful homeschool moms need to adopt and just give you some practical strategies for how to change your thinking. Charlotte Mason talks a lot about this. She was living at the time when neuroscience was just becoming a thing. And so it's really fascinating to see in today's age with MRIs and whatnot that science is proving what Charlotte Mason said about how our minds work and just the importance of training our thoughts. And the Bible says to take our thoughts captive and that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and, I mean this. I have seen this so much of my own life that the way that I think greatly affects my homeschool. So, I hope today is super practical for you, super encouraging for you, that you have the power to change the way you think in the dynamic of your homeschool.
Alright, thanks for listening everyone. Let's jump in.
One of the things I really love studying is how our brains work and how people learn and think. It's funny like that's always been something that I've been interested in. But lately, you know start studying Charlotte Mason's methods and how much she has to say on the subject is just really neat. To pair that with all of the modern research that's been coming out and to go, oh yeah, everybody like she said, that's like 120 years ago. Way to go to figure that out, people.
But now they have, you know, big universities backing up all this research and now we have the technology to actually see inside our brains and see that the stuff that she said is actually what is happening, which is so remarkable and cool. So, I don't have a whole lot of time to talk about this, but the two things that we talked about last time were focusing on our own happiness. And we did that by writing down three fun things that we did every week.
But I try to write down three fun things I do every day, not just every week. So that was like if you like that practice and you want to like take it up a notch, just to try to do that every day. And you know, sometimes like it's really small things, right? It doesn't have to be this like I went out on a date and I went and saw this movie with my friend in this big expensive like time-consuming thing. It can be like I rocked out to Hamilton in the car on the way to book club. You know, like to me that's fun. That's making me more happy and a more life-giving person, but it's not like some big huge thing like I got a pedicure, went to the spa, you know.
So, I think, and then what happens is the more you do those things, the more you start to seek out those little opportunities in your day to, like do those little fun things. So, I'm gonna share a couple books today, but this one is called Rewire, Change Your Brain to Break Bad Habits, Overcome Addictions, and Conquer Self-Destructive Behavior. But in here he actually talks about doing that practice of writing down three things every day, and he calls him, you know, three good things so you know we talked about like writing down our wins. That would fit in there as well. And then so that's kind of where I got this from.
But you know, it can be with the winds were talking about like things with our kids in our homeschooling, but, you know, I think it's both important to focus on both. Like our own self-care, what things we think are fun. That changes our atmosphere and those leads to more wins.
But what happens is, and he says in here, one effect of practicing this exercise may be to help you appreciate your life more often and more easily by queuing you to pay attention during the day through the moments of beauty, pleasure, and pride. A beautiful flower just opened in the garden. I'll have to remember that tonight. Another effect may be that you begin to realize how few of the things that make you happy depend on possessions, wealth, or status. In today's sophisticated and ironic age, the simple things that make you feel good may seem pedestrian or corny, but that's the way we're wired. Get used to it.
Which I love that. You know in here, he says, you finished a task at work. You worked out. Your fifteen-year-old gave you a spontaneous hug. You were thoughtful and kind towards your partner. Dinner was delicious. You know they're very small things. But the more that we focus on those, the more we see them. Like you never notice like when you buy a new car and then you're driving around and you're like, oh my goodness, look, there's my car. There's my car, there's my car. You know it's not like all of a sudden there came to be more Toyota Sequoias in the world. It's just I notice them now because that's what I'm driving.
And so, the more we notice these good things in our lives, that creates those neural pathways, and then our brain automatically will see that. Oh, look, that flower. I didn't notice that flower before. You know, you start to notice those things more and it becomes an easier thing because that habit that we talked about that you're not having to like think through. Okay, right now, like, what did I do that was fun? You know? I could just sit down and list off three things like this. Think of three wins every day. Three things, like he said in here. Cause he's so simple like dinner was great, or for me, I didn't burn dinner. That's a win at our house. You know my teenager gave me a hug. My teenager sent me a text and told me they love me. You know, I mean, it could be very small things and I think we need to get out of that mindset that has to be these big huge things or they don't count. And I used to think that too, like if unless it was something really major in my life. Like I couldn't acknowledge that I was happy about it. I couldn't acknowledge that I was thankful for it. But it's building those habits of small things over time.
So, just keep up doing those two and so, then today we're gonna shift and talk about some different ones here.
So, the first one is self-fulfilling prophecies. It can be about you, or it could be self-fulfilling prophecies about other people. Now, hopefully, as I go through this and I explain some of the research and explain some of the Bible verses that go with it, like I think we can kind of put this all in this category of like psychological mumbo jumbo or like self-help stuff. And I'm not, you know, there's definitely that out there for sure, but it's not like we can't look at any of this. And since you know the Bible talks about this and Charlotte Mason talks about it as well, I think it's definitely worth something looking at.
So the book that she talks a lot about training our thoughts and our habits is Parents and Children, which is volume two. So, if this is something that interests you, I mean, she talks a lot about that in this book. She talks a lot about it in all of her books, but and this one, especially, about the thoughts that we have as parents and then the importance of what we're training our children to think as well. And, I'll probably say this a couple of times but just blows me away that like she knew all this stuff 120 years ago and now everybody's talking about the same things that she was talking about.
But, alright, so this is on page 46 of Parents and Children. And the title of like the little section here is To Look at Thoughts as They Come. But what if from childhood they had been warned? Take care of your thoughts and the rest will take care of itself. Let a thought in, and it will stay, will come again tomorrow, and the next day, will make a place for itself in your brain, and will bring many other thoughts like itself. Your business is to look at the thoughts as they come to keep out the wrong thoughts and let the right in. See the ye enter not into temptation. This sort of teaching is not so hard to understand as the rules for the English nominative. If you're studying English nominatives, you would find that amusing, because those rules for those are...anyway.
It is of infinitely more profit in the conduct of life. So, you know grammar. It's good to know, but not as much important as this one thing right here, is taking control of your thoughts, right? It is a great safe card to know that your reason is capable of proving any theory you allow yourself to entertain. So, in here I really, I mean, it can really relate it to you, know the Bible verse said take every thought captive, right? Sally Clarkson, whom my love. She's like my Mother in mentor. I've been waiting here since, well, twenty years, but one of the things she said once, which I just love. I love like visual pictures, is you can't keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from making a nest in your hair. And, her point was, you know you might have negative thoughts that come into your head, but are you gonna let them stay there? And Charlotte Mason's saying that here. Like we're teaching our kids like those thoughts may come in, but are you making it? Are you allowing it to stay? And, like what Charlotte Mason says, and now research actually proves, that those thoughts that we believe do actually change the brain structure. They do make a physical impression as well.
And that is our business to look at those thoughts and determine is it right, is it wrong? Get the wrong thoughts out, keep the right thoughts in, and you know it was funny, she's saying that's more important than teaching our kids grammar is teaching them this. This is a lifelong skill, and if you're like me, it's a lifelong battle, right? ??? I thought was so important, it is great to safeguard to know that your reason is capable of proving any theory you allow yourself to entertain. So, like just to give you an example like my kids might be fighting and one kid like, it was the other one, right? And why did you elbow, why did you elbow your brother? Well, she told me that I couldn't borrow her pencil. Okay, like so that justifies you elbowing her in the stomach, right? Like our brains like we can reason our way out of stuff. And I know I can too, like I can reason like nobody's business and when I was a kid, I used to do this all the time. I mean I have my parents...full plate.
But and I just think it's so important to teach our kids, you know that we can, you can't always trust your reasoning. We will try to reason, defend, argue, explain what it is that we want sometimes, right? Being selfish people. But also, even negative thoughts that we have. So, what happens is, and this goes back to the self-fulfilling prophecy that I'm gonna talk about here but, when we are, our brains can't hold a belief that we don't have proof for. That's called cognitive dissonance. We don't like that, psychologically speaking, it makes us feel really uncomfortable, right? And so, our brains look for evidence to prove what it is that we're believing.
So, for example, I can believe that my husband is a jerk. Right? And I could probably list twenty reasons why my husband is a jerk. I could go through like past year. Give you twenty examples. Or I believe, you know what? My husband's a great guy. He really cares about me and my family. And I could list twenty reasons right now, in the past year, twenty my husband's done to prove that he's a great guy. Has my husband changed at all? Nope. Did the same stuff, right? But it's what I'm choosing to believe and what I'm choosing to look at, and then our brain starts collecting evidence. Like I was talking about, like, you know, seeing your car everywhere you go. When you have those beliefs or those thoughts, then we start seeing them.
So, for example, the other day I was doing long division with my 5th grader and she's like getting all frustrated. She's like, I can't do this. I'm terrible at math. And I was like, okay, well that's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you're terrible at math, you're gonna look for ways to prove to yourself that you're terrible at math. So, right now your brain is saying, oh, I can't solve this problem fast enough. Here's another proof. Here's and that's more evidence of why I'm terrible at math. And I was like, let's think a different thought. And she's...is there something else you could think about of how you are at math, and she thought for a minute. She goes, well, I can't say I'm good at math, cause that would be lying. I'm like, okay, right? But is there something true about you and math that you can believe? Other than I'm terrible at it? And I'm like how about you're trying really hard? Is that true or you trying really hard? She goes, yeah yeah I'm trying. I'm like okay. So why don't we believe about yourself that you're trying really hard at math? And she goes okay.
I said okay, I, you know, we finished the long division problem. I gave her some problems to do on her own and she came back, you know, ten minutes later, had finished the five problems and we're correcting them. And I was like, so what do you think? Was it as hard as he thought? She goes, well, it was pretty hard, but I tried. How'd I do? And I said, well, you got em all right. She goes, oh, I guess I'm better than I thought. And I was like, yeah.
So, your brain's gonna try to find proof for what you believe about yourself. And I actually got to share this example with her at the time. I'm sure you all can remember. Well maybe it's just me cause I have issues, but remember back to something a teacher said to you when you were growing up that like, and that defined how you viewed yourself. So, she probably got the, I'm terrible at math for me, cause I still to this day joke about like I can't do that. That's too hard. ??? I don't know how to do that. Or my husband will do some, you know, say something about something, I'm like, I know I'm just terrible at math. So, I find myself saying that, so I wonder where she gets it from. I love how children convict us.
So, but the reason I say that about myself is because when I was in eighth grade, I was in this, like, weird advanced math program where it basically had to teach yourself algebra. Like it was supposed to be that like kids could work at their own pace and maybe it would go faster and they'd be able to get through calculus. But I hated it. So, I had to teach myself algebra, which was really challenging. And anyway, I'll never forget my eighth-grade teacher said to me, she said, Julie, do you think you're stupid? And I said no, not particularly. And she said, well, why do you act like that in my class? You know, and from then on, after that, I dropped out of the honors math program in high school. I was always like in regular math. I was like forget this. I ain't doing math anymore. And then when they got my SATs, my math score was the same as my verbal score and I remember saying to my Dad, I was like I can't believe that. I'm terrible at math. How did I get such a good score? And he's like, I've been telling you you're not terrible. Right? But still to this day I get all, like, flustered with myself about it, you know, and so I don't want my fifth grader to have that, so I'm trying to not have her believe those things that I believed about myself, you know.
And so, you know, obviously we're not going to say words like my eighth-grade teacher said to me to our own children. But are we saying, or are we helping them think through their thoughts, right? I wish someone would have told me when I was in eighth grade, you don't need to believe that lie. You don't need to believe that thought about yourself.
Believe something different and look for evidence to prove that.
And so anyway, the point of this self-fulfilling prophecy, like I said, it's not necessarily like changing the circumstances, right? Like with my daughter. Long division is hard, right?
I'm not changing the circumstance, I'm changing how she looks at that problem, right?
How I look at my relationship with my husband. I'm gonna collect evidence to support that. And that one's a huge thing for me personally. You know, I can, I mean, I used to believe all kinds of lies about myself. And so, to be able to take those thoughts captive and go, okay, what is actually true? And then write those down and start collecting evidence for those.
So, the next part of this would be just to write down a self-fulfilling prophecy for you in terms of like your homeschooling. I mean, if you wanna do ‘em for your life and your marriage and all that too, you're welcome to do that. But just think in terms of your home school. So, you know I hear Moms say I'm not really good at homeschooling. Homeschooling's too hard. We'll never will never get a good routine. We'll never be able to read these hard books. My child's never going to figure out how to do long division. And in a way, those are right, self-fulfilling prophecies, that this is too hard. You're gonna look for all the ways that it's hard rather than reframing that and saying, you know, I want us to get better at having a routine. We're really working on our relationships. We're really working on going through these tough books and we're going to build that mental muscle, you know, to change that, and then your brain every day is gonna start collecting evidence to kind of support that.
But also, for your children too, like my daughter with her math, right? And so, I've just been encouraging her. Her self-fulfilling prophecy is I don't know this yet, but I'm going to try my best. And then I have another daughter who is really bossy, and I've been trying to really reframe that with her and also with myself of saying you have such great leadership potential. Which she does, right? She could get the whole entire house doing what she wants. Life would be good for her. We do need to re-channel that, right? But I'm choosing to focus on the, wow, you have really great leadership potential.
And then to find, and I've been saying that to her and we've been working on that. And then she'll come to me and be like Mom, there was this girl at my co-op and she didn't have enough lunch and so I shared my...I remember what you said, and I shared my lunch with her because I wanted to show the people in my class the right thing to do. Right? She's collecting evidence to support that belief rather than, I'm bossy, and I like to tell everybody what to do all the time. Which is what I used to say, and think about her right to reframe it and have it be a positive thing. And so.
Anyway, so I encourage you to think through that for yourself, but also through that for your children.
Today's episode is brought to you by A Gentle Feast. A Gentle Feast is a complete curriculum for grades one through twelve, that is family-centered, inspired by Miss Mason's programs and philosophy, and rooted in books, beauty, and Biblical truth. You can find out how smooth and easy days are closer than you think at agentlefeast.com
Another book is called Switch on your Brain. And this is Caroline Leaf who, she's a believer. She's also, does, has all this research in neurophysics, which is like right, I don't really understand how it all works, but if you wanna know a lot of like the science behind how our thoughts and beliefs actually change the actual real physical structure of our brain? I mean, she's talking here about like quantum physics and things moving at the speed of light, and I'm just like, what? But it does have some really awesome super practical stuff in here as well, so don't get bogged down with the science of it. But one of the things she says in here, current neuroscientific in quantum physics research confirms that our thoughts change our brains daily. In fact, neurological literature has coined the term self-directed neuroplasticity. As a general description of the principle that deep thinking changes brain structure and function. This plastic ability of the brain to change in position of positive or negative direction depending on the state of mind is called the plastic paradox. Positive plasticity produces positive behavior and negative plasticity produces negative behavior, so.
Wow, right? So that's self-directed neuroplasticity. Like that's like a really big word.
But if you use that like, out in social circles, people are gonna think you're really smart. I'm just kidding. ??? just sound like super smart. But then, we actually can change the structure of our brains. You know, it talks in Romans about, be transformed by the renewing of our mind, and they're actually able to show that transformation. She, doctor Caroline Leaf, if you look her up like on YouTube, she's from Australia, so she has a super cool Australian accent which is fun to listen to, but she works, if you have had, like traumatic brain injuries, car accidents and things and help them learn things again, help transform their minds and be able to talk and walk and do all these things that doctors said they weren't ever going to be able to do again. Which is really cool.
And then talking about that kind of self-fulfilling prophecy here she calls it brain integrity.
She said you can be presented with all the reason, logic, scientific evidence, and just plain common sense in the world, but you won't believe something is true unless your brain's limbic system, the central location of your emotions, allows you to feel that it is true. So, you can't imagine and feel, change your brain structurally one way and speak about something different. Because if you do, there will be a lack of integrity operating in your brain which will leave you an overwhelming feeling of being out of control. So, if I want to believe something is true about myself, about, you know, my homeschooling or my kids, I have to actually, I can't say something different. So, I can't believe, you know, I'm doing the best. I'm doing a great job homeschooling my kids and then go, be complaining about I didn't do this well, I didn't do that well, this didn't go great. You know?
Not that we're not gonna like ever. I'm not talking about like just painting roses over everything, right? Like we can acknowledge, hey that is really difficult. We're learning a lot from this. Or this is really stretching me right now. But if I keep saying to myself, this is hard. I can't do it. I don't know what I'm doing. I can't say those words and then try to believe or feel differently about it. So the way that we speak to our kids, but also the way that we speak to ourselves really does those kind of self-fulfilling prophecies. They really do change the structure of our brain here.
So that's one thing to think about. But the other thing is a concept called grit and this is, you know, you probably heard that word, it's going all, it's like a buzzword, right? But it comes from a researcher, Angela Duckworth. She studied West Point incoming freshmen and you know, West Point is extremely selective. Extremely hard to get into. And then there was a really high percentage of students that were dropping out in the first couple weeks of school. And so according to her research, the kids that stayed and that were most successful at West Point were the ones with this, what she determined, grit. That it wasn't their physical fitness test. It wasn't their SATs or their IQ scores, or their talent that made them successful. It was this grit term. And then she studied, you know, schools around the country and that kind of thing for further proof of this kind of concept.
And grit has to do with the ability to persevere with our passions. And that's one of the things I love about this Charlotte Mason education is it can become really easy to learn when you're sitting in a classroom and someone's just talking to you right? And they're pouring out all the information to you and they're going to write on the board the ten things that you need to study for that test. And then on that test, you get to regurgitate the information that you just sit there for an hour listening to. It is a lot harder to learn when you're reading those thoughts from a difficult book, and you have to put them into your own words. That narration ability, right? That's way, way, way, way way, way harder than that passive learning that we have in schools.
But doing that over and over and over and over and over and over again throughout the course of a child's education, that really is building this concept of grit, right? The perservering through it, building that mental muscle. You know, talk about like muscle memory, about like riding a bike. Or you know, athletes have that muscle memory. But we're building that mental muscle memory and our brains really are changing. The research shows as we learn. There was a article I read the other day about taxi drivers in London. Like the spatial reasoning part of their brain, MRIs have shown that that part of their brain is bigger than average people in London. Which if you've ever been to London like those people, are incredible cause there's all these little tiny little one, like one car can fit down this little alleyway street, and none of this, like you know, my town, you know, the streets are laid out very nice. Like there, they're all like jumbled together and that taxi, I swear, was going like 150 miles an hour. It really wasn't, but I thought it was I. I thought I was gonna die. And I don't know how this guy knew where we were going, but he's just like, ohhhhh, you know?
And so, I could totally believe that that part of the brain is bigger than everybody else's. But because they’re persevering through that right? That is actually changing like their physical structure of their brain, which is so cool. And so, one of the things that's really humbling as a home educator is to realize is not only am I like stressed. Is my child learning XYZ right? More importantly, like I'm actually physically changing like the structure of their brain. And so that is so cool to think that I am having that kind of input that is permanent, right? And going to change and last throughout their lifetime. It's humbling, at the same time, and somewhat terrifying, but also really need just to think about these little habits and this hard work, what that's happening over time.
And so unfortunately, in today's culture, like students, I mean, they just give up so easily. And they found that they don't have that perseverance to deal with failure to keep going through it. So, let me read to you from Parents and Children again. She's saying here, this is page 66 and 67, that education is a discipline, and she talks about that in this training of their mental thoughts, not just in knowledge, but the training of these mental thoughts that will go throughout their life. And she says that a steady progress on a careful plan.
And that wise parents cultivate systematically in with as definite results as if they're teaching the three Rs. So as important as those are right, that we are to focus on these mental habits as well, and the importance of those in producing those in the child. That's this careful, steady progress on a careful plan. That we have a plan that's laid out.
But we're making this steady progress.
And so, I think, I was talking to a friend last week about this. You know, it does take this leap of faith to do the Charlotte Mason method because it's not like, okay, today's lesson is on, duh duh duh duh duh. And then I'm gonna ask you these questions and see if you learned duh duh duh duh duh. And then the other day I would say my child learned duh duh duh duh duh, right? Then it may take weeks, days, months to, for this stuff to start coming out of your child, for you to start seeing these changes in their mental habits. To start seeing the way that they're persevering through these.
In terms of that, that great quote my daughter is applying for colleges and we had to write a essay. The essay prompt was I will be successful at Blank University because. And so she starts her paper with, I will be successful at Blank University because I like to study. And I was like okay, first of all I know I taught you better, to write better than that. Like you know not to answer the essay prompt with the essay prompt, right? Like come on, get a better opening than that. And then second of all, that's lying, because you actually really like to study.
So, I said let's write your essay truthfully about things you actually do like to do. And I'm like I have a quote that I think would be great. And she looks at me and she's like, Mom, is it from Charlotte Mason? And I said yes. And she's like, okay, fine. What is it? And anyway, so it's a quote we always say I'm probably gonna butcher it, but you know, at the end of the child's education, it's not how much does the youth know, but how much does the youth care, and how large is the room upon which his feet have been set. And I said to her, I'm like looking at you at the end of your education, ot really, because education's a life, right? It's gonna keep going. But then end of her education with me. My goal has always been not how much do you know? I mean love for you to pass those tests to get into school and get a scholarship. All that stuff is awesome, but what I care more about is, do you really care and what do you care about? And do you care about a lot of things? How wide is the room upon which your feet have been set? And I said write your essay about what you care about?
And she goes well, it's not always like book stuff. And I said that's fine. Like academically successful doesn't always mean...I'm like, haven't I taught you this? But it doesn't always mean book smarts, right? And test marks. It's, academic success was what kind of person you are and what kind of things you're interested in, what you're able to do? And anyway, so she went, and she wrote her essay on that and she talked about grit and Angela Duckworth and, cause I've talked to her about that. Just about this, persevering with your passions. That's really, I said studies show, girl, it's not what you got on that SAT or what you, like you score, what your GPA is. The successful people are the ones that keep persevering and keep showing up. And when they make mistakes, they learn from it and they keep on going. I'm like talk about that.
Anyway, so that was just really cool, just to kind of see that in her and, she's like well, do you think I can write about like my photography stuff? And I was like yes. Like, you ran your own business for the past 40 years of high school, right? And you were able to do that cause you were homeschooled. Like if you were in a classroom all day for eight hours like you wouldn't have had time to go teach yourself Photoshop and learn how to work a camera and set up a website and learn how to do all that stuff right? You're able to do that because you were homeschooled, and you were able to devote time into your passions and so.
So anyway, my point with all that is that we're not just developing grit in our children. That ability to persevere with their passions. We're developing that grit in ourselves. And so, if you're a new homeschooler or you're new to the Charlotte Mason method, please give yourself some grace. Like, this takes time, y'all. It is running a marathon. And you know I could say that now, with one about across the finish line, is like it really does take time, and you're developing those mental muscles and you're developing those habits just as much as your kids are developing those.
But it, grit is the ability to go, even though this is really hard. I know that this is making a difference. I know that this is worth it. And that will keep you going through the hard things. And, but then also with our kids to say you know, you can talk to them about this concept of grit. Like studies showing people that are the most successful aren't the people that they don't ever make a mistake. It's those mistakes, it's those things like, yeah, that long division? That's not really...let's let's refocus on how you do it. Let's talk about this way, you know. Now you learned, you know how not to do it, that one way. Now you're this way you know? That it's that constant building of that mental muscle and constantly working that out.
How many times people come up to me and say I didn't wanna read that one book? We didn't like it, but then we kept going and it was my kid's favorite. Or we loved it. Or we learned so much from it, you know. And then the next one becomes a little bit easier because you worked with that one. So, the other mental habit. So, we have the, so, so far today, just to recap, I've talked about the self-fulfilling prophecy, right? What we say about ourselves and what we say about our children. This mindset of grit. That it's okay if something's hard. Persevering through it is going to make me stronger and better and more knowledgeable and build that mental habit that's gonna make it easier the next time I do it.
And then last one here is the concept of growth mindset and this has become really popular in the past couple of years. Carol Dweck is the lady who wrote the book called Mindset, and she is a professor at Stanford, and so she's done tons of research all throughout schools. All over the world, which is really cool. Last time I listened to a podcast with her, she was talking about a school in Chile that they had worked with all the tenth graders in Chile. And kind of examining this kind of concept.
The concept of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. So obviously that fixed mentality that I am the way that I am. I think the way that I think. I'm only as smart or knowledgeable as I'm ever going to be, right? So, you believe that intelligence and talent are fixed. Either you're smart or not. Either you're talented or you're not. The effort is fruitless, right? There's no point. I'm terrible at math. Why even bother, right? That failures define who we are. That, well, let me go back and forth here. I'll do the two two here.
So, a fixed mindset is intelligence and ??? And then the growth is that we can learn and develop these. And it's really interesting. I was, in that book, she talks about the French person who created the IQ test, and it was never meant to be this... He, the person who created the test did not use it as a measure of fixed intelligence, right? He was trying to prove that students who the school district, schools in France had written off could actually learn and grow. So, it really doesn't fit with this growth mindset. That, again, fixed mindset is effort is fruitless. Growth is effort can change to make us grow, and that's, well, it's that grit that I was just talking about. Failures define who we are, but mistakes are part of learning, right? Like the Edison quote. I share that with my kids all the time, right? We're learning, we just learned away not to do that problem. Great.
A fixed mindset person hides the flaws and that perfectionism comes with that, and our schools really do reinforce that right? And it's interesting. And Carol Dweck's research on the growth mindset, how people with a fixed mindset cheat more than people with a growth mindset. So, kids they evaluate, they determine had a fixed mindset would cheat more than the kids that had a growth mindset because to them failure is personal. And, above all else, I can't let people know that I've failed, or I don't know something, so I'd rather cheat than let people know that. Whereas a growth mindset is, I don't know this, but I can learn it and so I'm going to figure out how to learn it and those kind of students they ask the teacher for help. They'll do extra problems. Like they realize that effort can lead to success.
A fixed mindset, they don't wanna hear feedback, right? Whereas a growth mindset, it's like, oh okay, yeah, thanks for telling me that. I'm going to work on that. They don't take it personally. And then a fixed mindset feels threatened by other success, whereas a growth mindset use it as inspirational. And I don't know about you, but I see this with my own children, right? To, one of the things I really try to encourage them is to celebrate your sibling's successes, right? And so, we talked about like sharing our wins and writing those down. But I'll have my kids say, okay, tell me something, tell me a win from today. And then get like the siblings to like, wow, that's great. That's so cool. You know? To let them know that, just because your sister did really good on whatever doesn't mean that like you're a failure. That we all can celebrate each other and build each other up in this area.
Well, one of the things I really like is the way that we can talk to our children about it. That we really like, Charlotte Mason said, we're forming those mental habits, right? And so as much as learning English grammar is important, learning this mindset and the habits of thought is just as important. And so, or she said even more important. You know, like for example, instead of saying I'm not good at this, like, what's missing? What help do you need to get better at it. I'm awesome at this. So, it can go the other way too. It's not always self-deprecating. You know it could be, I'm really smart. Well, what did you do to try harder to learn that you know? Cause when we say you're so smart, to our kids, that, and she talks about that in the book, that it's just, oh yeah, she's so smart. I'll never be that smart. Well, that's this self-deprecating here but. Oh no, that's not it. But in her book talks about that. Like if, where kids say of themselves all the time, I'm so smart, that they develop this fear of not being smart. Because in their mind it's, it's fixed, right? Either I'm smart and I'm not, and so if I am smart, I can never fail. I can never show people I don't know something. I can't ask for help. I can't ask questions. Rather than, you know, I'm constantly learning, would be like the growth mindset mentality of it.
And I like this one too with my kids. It's good enough. Like, let's look at your copy work, for example. Let's look at how we made the letter A in that word. Oh, that's good enough. Well, is that really your best? No. You know? To get out of that mentality. Good, bad, smart, not smart. But develop that growth mindset. And then you can see, I just can't do math right? But I'm going to train my brain in math. I'm going to grow on that. To teach our kids, and this really does fit well with that concept of grit, right? That growth mindset is I can learn. I can improve. I can make mistakes, but I can learn from them kind of mentality that's not something that is fixed here.
And so, Charlotte Mason talks about this growth mindset as well, so again, parents, I'm still...wait, let me stop sharing this. And parents and children here. But on page 43 it says and I don't know should be followed by the effort to know. The research necessary to find out. And that's one of the things like I was telling my daughter when I was helping her with her essay, that I just have loved about homeschooling her is, and myself, right? I went from, like, now I just have this insatiable hunger to like learn stuff. The more I homeschooled, the more I realized, I don't know. And so, I want to know. I want to research. I want to find out, you know. And I said for her I was like you wanted to learn how to do photography. So you went into classes and you figured it out on your own time, right? And you did research. That that lifelong learning mentality is I don't know something, but I know where I can go find it. And I said praise the Lord, you live in the age where that's super easy because back in my day, I'd have to like go to the library and hunt through like microfiche, and I want to learn how to like take pictures you know? I think, but yours is much, you have it made now. It's so much easier to have that growth mentality.
Okay, so this is on page 45. Let them know that once an idea takes possession of them, it will pursue, so to speak, its own course, will establish its own place in the very substance of its...of their brain, will draw its own train of ideas after it. So, once they have this thought, and they have that like, it will, actually, we said this before, right? Change the brain structure here. But it's gonna draw a train of ideas after it. And so, and I was talking to my daughter about this when we were working on something the other day, I can't remember what it was. But it was really hard. And so, let's say you wanted to clear a path in the forest, right? So today I'm gonna go in this brooke behind my house. I'm gonna make a path. The first time I go to walk through that forest is going to be terrible, right? I'm gonna need like a machete. I'm gonna get all cut up with the thorns, and, like, the kudzu that grows down here in the South. And I might not get very far all. And then I need to go take a break. I said, but then tomorrow when I go back to make my path, maybe I just need some like prune trimmers or an axe or something like that. Now I'm clear. Cleared a lot of it away. And then the third day I go. Man, that path is there. I can go easier. And then the fourth day, I've kind of made way in the dirt and that path's gonna get easier and easier and easier. And that's what we're doing when we're learning something new. We're clearing a path. So, the first time it's going to be hard. And the first time I read this thing, or I understand this idea, or I get this concept, it's gonna really be hard and I might only be able to do it for like five minutes. But then I'm gonna need to rest. Just like clearing out the branches, right? I may only last like thirty minutes and then I'm gonna need to go take a nap. But then the next day I can do it a little bit longer, you know? And so, like we talked about like with copy work, you know? Start out really small if your kid's struggling with it and add on a word two a day or add on a minute or two. You're building that habit over time, which I love that Charlotte Mason addresses that right? It's not something you have to be good at. Like, day one, and be able to do this right away for 45 minutes. You know, that over time, throughout the twelve years of a child's education, you're constantly adding on. Once that passes there, it becomes easier and easier. And then what happens in our brains is those ideas, those connections, those books that we're reading, they're gonna start connecting to those paths easier and easier, which is so cool. And, just seeing now with my older kids, how they're able to make connections so fast and easily among multiple books that they're reading in multiple different genres of literature or multiple different subjects. Even because those pathways have been cleared and cleared and cleared, which is really cool.
So, those are the mental habits that we're going to focus on today that I'm going to challenge you to focus on this month. Again, doing something every day, over time, that slow and steady progress right? Can make a huge difference. So self-fulfilling prophecy was what are you saying about yourself and you know, look at each of your children and what's the prophecy that you would like to say to them. You really work hard. You're really determined.
The second one would be focusing on grit in yourself, right? And doing the hard thing every day yourself. How that's changing you. And then you know working on those things with your kids too. Just explaining that to them. You know, I think we just assume that people know this. Or our children know this, but they don't. They don't know that, persevere...they live in a culture where you're either smart or not right? They don't realize that doing these things every day, these hard things, how it's actually changing them for the whole life.
And then using some of those growth mindset sayings with them. Focusing on the effort rather than the results always. You tried really hard with that today. You know, focusing on those things. And you know in the school system that we live in, is so focused on competition and marks, and it really does create that kind of fixed mindset here. The fear of failing in front of other people. And Charlotte Mason does talk a lot against that marks and that competition.
So be careful with you know what you're praising your children for. You know, and that's really, I'm just gonna be honest with y'all, like one of the things I really had to retrain myself out of as a former public-school teacher I was so good at saying, great job, awesome, you're so smart, love that. You know. I see right now, and people's, kid's papers all day long and give them little smiley faces and they were on...got green stars and you know. And so when I started homeschooling, I thought that's what I had to do with my own children. And then, you know, rewards. I was like, oh. Okay, she doesn't like to do that. And then like well then what do I say? I don't know. I'm like.
So, this growth mindset was really helpful for me to have words to put into practice. Like you didn't give up on that reading today. Yeah, I actually said that to my daughter in this Liberty book. One of the words she had read was tight-fisted. And we got to the end of the chapter and I went back to that word and I pointed it to her, I'm like look. You sounded that out all by yourself. You didn't need my help at all. You just read it like that and kept on going. I'm like that's amazing, you know? Before you would've really struggled to sound a word out like that and now you're able to do it, you know? Just to focus on, give them something tangible, like your effort made that possible. It wasn't because you're a genius or cause like I'm super awesome rockstar homeschool mom, right? It's because you have consistently been trying to read this book that's hard and you’re developing that skill. That's awesome. You know? I still use the word awesome. I'm sorry I can't get rid of awesome. I just love that word.
So, I'm still use it. Hopefully, it won't like ruin them for life or anything like that. Alright, so in closing here, again, Parents and Children, page 89. It says we are getting by degrees to Henry, this boy she talks about in here, and his bad habits. Somehow or other the nervous tissue of the cerebrum grows to the thoughts that are allowed free course in the mind. I mean, how cool...how did Charlotte Mason know that? I don't know. That's so crazy. That's true. Our brains actually are growing tissue around the thoughts that we allow. Crazy.
Anyway, how science hardly ventures to guess as yet, but for the sake of illustration, let us imagine that certain thoughts of the mind run to and fro in the nervous system of the cerebrum until they have made a way there. Busy traffic in the same order of thoughts will always be kept up, for there is the easy way for them to run in. Take the child with an inherited tendency to a resentful temper. He has begun to think resentful thoughts, finds them easy and gratifying. He goes on and on. Evermore, the ugly traffic becomes more easy and natural, and restfulness is rapidly becoming himself that trait in his character which people couple with his name. Which people couple with his name. Sorry.
So, she's saying here, you can take the boy who has a resentful temper right?
And then the more he thinks about those resentful thoughts, the more the traffic in his brain is going to go there, and the easier it's going to become for him to think those resentful thoughts. And the faster he's going to think those resentful thoughts. And, you know, that it is that brain structure here, and this is the importance of teaching our children to take those thoughts captive and change them.
I'm reading my girls this book called Hinds’ Feet on High Places. Which, if you've never read, I cannot recommend this book enough. I'm sorry, read them Pilgrim's Progress last year, and then we're reading Hinds’ Feet on High Places, so it's Hinds’ feet like a deer's feet. It is an allegory as well. And in the book, the girl's a shepherdess and she meets the Great Shepherd and He's going to take her to these high places, where she'll be renewed, and, you know. I mean, the Biblical illustrations in this book are amazing.
But anyway, before they go, you know she's following the Shepherd. But the first place she goes is the desert, and she's like, you know, why am I in this desert? You promised you'd take me to the high places. I'm in this desert. And then He takes her to this lonely shore where she's all by herself, and in there, her enemies come. So, she's all by herself and bitterness, resentment, and pride come, and they start talking lies to her. And you know, in the book you read what they say to her, kind of like, you know. in Pilgrims Progress where people come up to Christian and the different characters, like the fool, and they have, you know, their names reflect what they're saying, right?
And, anyway, in the book Hinds’ Feet, at this point takes up rocks and starts throwing them at these enemies that are attacking her thoughts. And so, I just love that picture. And so, I kind of explained to my daughter. I have one daughter he tends to go very quickly to self-pity, and everything is terrible. So, the moment like something doesn't go her way, or something's wrong, it's this hour-long cry fest of life is terrible, and you know, yeah. And so, I said to her, I said, you know, you have to stop those thoughts before you keep going with them and it's very hard to do. But I want you to picture in mind that story that we've been reading, like Hinds’ Feet, and I want you to take some imaginary rocks and throw those at those thoughts and tell them to go away.
And then at one point in the story, so she throws the rocks, and pride, or bitterness and resentment go away. But pride is still there, like attacking her. And she calls to the Good Shepherd for help. And the Shepherd appears, and He actually takes pride and He lifts him up and he throws him off this cliff. And I was like, if you just, if you're like, these thoughts, just keep going. Just imagine yourself ask Jesus to help you and He can come and He can take those thoughts and lift them up and throw them away, because they're not true, right? And you need to stop them and think about the things that are true. And but we can't do that ourselves, right? So that's why we need God to help.
And so I just love that the stories that we read fill our children with these ideas and these mental pictures of things that they can use in their actual real lives. They're not just a bunch of information that I'm trying to fill them with right? And even for me, like, honestly, like I picture myself throwing rocks when I start thinking bad thoughts now. I know I'm just like, whoop. ??? Because I'm 41 years old and gosh darn it, those ruts are really deep at this point in my life because those thoughts come really easily too. Look what I did. I'm terrible, you know? I can go there so fast if I let my brain go there. But to really to stop it and change it. And I just love that, you know Charlotte Mason talks so much about that, and especially in this one about how that's forming a person's character over time. The thoughts that we believe about ourselves. But that God gives us the ability to change those. It's really cool as well.
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 person. All of the Great Homeschool Conventions have been rescheduled to 2021. Go to greathomeschoolconventions.com to find a convention near you.
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