S7 E6 | The Radical and Modern Philosophy of Charlotte Mason (Julie Ross with Leah Boden)
Join Julie for this interview with Leah Boden of Modern Miss Mason as they discuss Leah’s new book on applying the Charlotte Mason philosophy in today’s homeschooling family!
Leah is a writer, educator and leader. She desires to encourage people, especially women, to grow intellectually, spiritually, and holistically as they live deeper, pay attention to the beauty in all things, appreciate wonder, love their children well and thrive in life.
This heart is particularly expressed through Modern Miss Mason which is about sharing the philosophy of the 19th century educator Charlotte Mason with a new generation. Over the past decade, Leah has been sharing her own journey of homeschooling with mothers around the world, and it seems to be resonating with an ever growing group of incredible friends!
Julie H. Ross believes that every child needs a feast of living ideas to grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. As a former school teacher, curriculum coordinator, and assistant director of a homeschool academy, Julie has worked with hundreds of students and parents over the past 20 years. She has also been homeschooling her own five children for over a decade. Julie developed the Charlotte Mason curriculum, A Gentle Feast, to provide parents with the tools and resources needed to provide a rich and abundant educational feast full of books, beauty, and Biblical truth. Julie lives in South Carolina. When she’s not busy homeschooling, reading children’s books, hiking, or writing curriculum, you can find her taking a nap.
Modern Miss Mason by Leah Boden
Julie Ross | Instagram
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Julie Ross Welcome to The Charlotte Mason Show, a podcast dedicated to discussing Miss. Mason's philosophy, principles, and methods. I'm your host, Julie Ross, and it is my hope that each episode will leave you inspired and offer practical wisdom on how to provide this rich living education in your modern homeschool. So pull up a chair; I'm glad you're here.
Julie Ross Here's a riddle for you parents: Homeschoolers love them. Enemies of freedom hate them. What are they? It's the Tuttle Twins books. With millions of copies sold, the Tuttle Twins help you teach your kids about entrepreneurship, personal responsibilities, the Golden Rule, and more. Get a discounted set of books with free workbooks today at TuttleTwins.com/Homeschool. That's TuttleTwins.com/Homescho. Alright, now on to today's show.
Julie Ross Hello, everyone! Welcome to The Charlotte Mason Show. I'm your host, Julie Ross, and I am here today with the beautiful Leah Boden from Modern Miss Mason. Thank you so much for joining us today, Leah.
Leah Boden Thanks for inviting me. It's always a pleasure to talk to you, Julie.
Julie Ross Yes, I just love you, and I've been a huge fan of yours since your Periscope days. Remember those way back when?
Leah Boden I really do. Haha!
Julie Ross And I found you, and you were such a bright light and voice in the Charlotte Mason space, and you were so encouraging. And I just loved your message of: "This is doable. You can do it. You don't have to do all the things." And, you know, that there's this beautiful way to educate your children. You just painted such a lovely picture of it that was inspiring. And you've continued to be that voice since then. So thank you for the work that you do, and the influence that you had on my life, but also the Charlotte Mason community as a whole.
Leah Boden Thank you.
Julie Ross Yes! And so today we're here to talk about your book, which I am so excited because this is so needed. So I'm going to hold it up for those of you who are watching it on the YouTube channel. So Modern Miss. Mason. And that's easy because that's the name of your social media and everything too. So it's easy to find.
Leah Boden Very easy.
Julie Ross And I love this book. You know, I think everyone's kind of gateway into Charlotte Mason has been For the Children's Sake, which is absolutely incredible. And I read that back when I was a public school teacher, and that inspired me to homeschool my own children and provide this style of education. It gives such a lovely picture of Charlotte Mason education as opposed to traditional education, but it's greatly lacking, I feel like, in practicality of, "What do I actually do come Monday morning?" It's very inspiring, but how do I actually homeschool all these kids? So I feel like you combined that inspiration that I found in For the Children's Sake, and you put that into your book and brought it up to date with kind of modern research, and modern stories, and modern, you know, celebrities and things, which I found really amusing. But you also made it really practical. So thank you. That is a huge accomplishment, and much needed in the space as well. So I'd love to hear from you, what inspired you to want to take on that big project of writing a book?
Leah Boden I think it was kind of a continuation of the work that I've been doing since the Periscope days, which was to share the freedom that I found within a philosophy. And that has always been my message, that has always been my intention, is to kind of help others to see what I found, and how we've learned to implement her ideas--Charlotte Mason's ideas--in the 21st century. And, you know, way back then, Julie, in the Periscope days, when I first-- And I was probably six/ seven years into my journey then. But very early on, when I first discovered Charlotte Mason, I didn't have...we didn't have social media, we didn't have all these voices saying, "This is how you should do it." You just had...I had these six pink books. And I had [00:04:11]Karen Andreola's Beautiful Companion, [2.2s] and I found Lynn Seddon, my fellow Brit...eventually, I found her. I was like, "Oh! We can talk." And I-- So all I had to go on was the original teachings of Charlotte Mason. And even that was like trying to figure that out, "What did she actually mean?" And so I was reading and doing, reading and doing and trying to implement, and then I started to share. Now, this is before you had a thousand voices from everywhere saying-- Even in all the good stuff-- I mean, you know, we...I love social media. It's fantastic when it's used well, but, even when it's all good, the loudness, the cacophony of voices, saying that "this is how you should do it," can be really overwhelming, especially if you're new to homeschooling, especially if you're new to the Charlotte Mason philosophy. And, because people are taking more from that, there's often a limited understanding of the philosophy, and people are trying to rush into doing stuff without really, fully, feeling the-- I talk in the introduction about this word called [00:05:22]nafas, [0.0s] which is just this sort of knowing it, learning about it, living it so that it becomes a part of you. And you'll have to read the introduction to understand that, but.... So, here I am on this journey. I've been hearing this, like, growing community here in the U.K., and across the world really. And, you know, you start to hear the stories of people on the verge of burnout and just giving up, and it's too much, and it's this, this, this, and this. And I realized that, no matter how big your platform is, there's always a limited capacity to the message that you want to get out there. And I-- You know, I was at a time where I was speaking more and meeting people who had been publishing books. And, you know, the conversation started to come around, "Are you thinking about writing a book? I want you to meet my agent. You should do this..." You know, and those kind of connective conversations started to happen. And I thought, "Well, you know what, it's been a while, I'm in my late forties now, maybe I'm ready to start to say something about this in a more permanent form." You know, everything you put out there, even YouTube workshops, whatever, you can delete it if you want to! But put a book out there...haha! I was never...
Julie Ross No pressure!
Leah Boden And I was never going to rush into it. And I and I don't think people should rush into it. But it was a really important project. So, you know, really there was favor and opportunity to be able to step into this. And so I began the process of like, so much, "What do I want?"-- How do we help people find their freedom within the Charlotte Mason philosophy in the 21st century in, you know, 200 pages? How do you do that? So lots of work, a lot of refining, a lot of editing, a lot of prayer, a lot of really focusing on what was important...what is important. But also, from the women that I'm working with in my coaching, in my courses and all that, what I'm hearing from them--the familiar questions and the familiar struggles, trying to bring some understanding through. So that was a real long answer to your first question, but really, you know, it wasn't an overnight-- It wasn't like-- It wasn't a decision of, "Ooh, this would be a nice thing for my, you know...for my platform, or gain more this, that, and the other." It was very much, "How do we get this message of freedom out to more people?" And a book can do that. And the opportunity came, and so I took it. It took a few years, but it's here. And I'm so grateful. So utterly grateful!
Julie Ross Yes. And I'm so proud of you. And I cannot imagine-- As I read it, I thought multiple times, "I can't imagine how much work this took. I can't imagine how much work this took!" Just take all [00:08:17]this... [0.0s] You know, and all of your experiences, and then kind of going, "What do I want to keep? What I want to go? What's the main things that we need to focus-- Like a person who's completely new, what do they need?" I mean, I just can't imagine all that work.
Leah Boden I know! And sometimes I would read a whole book, like a huge book on some kind of research, or a Ph.D. paper or something, and then you pull out one sentence. Haha! And that's just writing. I mean, that's what you do. But that one sentence can encapsulate something that actually really helps somebody's understanding of a method, a philosophy, a principle, whatever. So that is the work, and it is a privilege, but it does take time. Yeah.
Julie Ross Well, thank you for taking the time. Like I said, it really is-- I feel like this book really fills a big need, which is for that inspiration and encouragement, but also, "How do I actually practically do this?" So, you know, each chapter kind of lays some key Charlotte Mason principles, but then you have the section at the end of each chapter, which I love...
Leah Boden "The Mason Moment."
Julie Ross Yes! Take a Mason moment, with just little suggestions on how to do it. And it's so great for people who are like...I kind of say, like, dipping your toes into the water. "Do I-- This is different. This isn't how I learned. This isn't how my neighbor's homeschooling. What's going on with this Charlotte Mason person?" Like you can just kind of take these little baby steps. As opposed to, "Here's the whole philosophy, and you need to do X, Y, Z." And then it's like so completely overwhelming that you're, like, "I don't even know where to start!" Like this is so-- I just see it as such a gift. And I'm like you, I go around speaking, I'm talking to people all the time and they're like, "I don't even know where to start." So this gives them a really practical kind of blueprint. So thank you for including that. That was just brilliant. I love the subtitle, it says, "Discover how Charlotte Mason's revolutionary ideas of home education could change how you and your children learn and grow together." So why do you call her ideas revolutionary? I love that you use that word!
Leah Boden Yeah. I mean, you know, here we are. We're just...we're in the month of her centenary. She's been gone from this earth for a hundred years, and yet here we are. You and I are sat here as 21st century women talking about her philosophy and how it's impacted not only our families, but the families we get to work with. And that is amazing because so many ideas run through history, but they're often inspirational, but yet her ideas are transformational. They do something if we are willing to take them on board and try them, they actually do impact the way our children can learn, not just for their school years, but forevermore. And as mothers...as a mother, her ideas around learning and staying intellectually alive has been transformational. So she was revolutionary in her time when, you know, children were just seen and not heard, where the wealth gap was just huge. And children who were in wealthy families, who could afford a governess and nannies, would receive a certain education, and yet she wanted to reach every child. Like she said, "Maybe the soul of every child should be awakened to delightful living." And her passion was...her phrasing was, she was doing it all "for the children's sake". And that wasn't just the select few, but that every child, whether they were destined for the factories and the coal pit in the Welsh villages or in Bradford in the schools where she was...where they were able to get books into, or if it was wealthy homes that were hiring governesses in the [00:11:56]PNEU, whatever! [0.0s] Everything in between. She said, "Every child is a born person and is able to connect with the world and communicate what they hear, see, and believe." And so that in its time was revolutionary, but sadly, it's still revolutionary today. I call it an upside-down, inside-out educational approach because traditional education says, "Let me spoon feed you what you need to know to get the grades to graduate." Whereas what the Charlotte Mason philosophy...it says, "Let me open up a world to you and then you get to tell me what it means to you, and you get to tell me what you've heard, what you've seen." And that is mind-blowing. And I feel if after, you know, twenty years of being a mum, whatever, I'm still unpicking what that...unpicking and unpacking what that means to me and my children and the other families I work with, it's just incredible. And it's not an overnight thing. You can't just read a blog post and think you know what you're doing. I think you kind of have to step right into it, don't you? It's like, "I'm going to wade in this water. I'm going to figure out how to do this." And it is worth it. It's definitely worth the time of reading and researching and finding community and walking it out.
Julie Ross Yeah, I love that. And you talked about that in the book, kind of like where you were talking about spoon feeding. And I loved that because you titled that section "Laying out a Feast of Learning", which is obviously, you know, my curriculum's "A Gentle Feast" so that's my favorite metaphor. And is why, you know-- I use this all the time when I'm trying to explain this to parents, you know, "What's my role? What's the student's role? What are we actually doing?" You know, and what you were talking about, where our traditional system really is spoon feeding, and that's creating this generation of passive learners that have no interest or excitement because, "I don't care. I don't want to hear what you think is important."
Leah Boden And they don't remember anything. I mean, I don't remember my, you know, my history class from when I was fourteen/fifteen years old. I don't-- You know, you don't remember anything because of the method that is used. And that's sad. All those years!
Julie Ross Yeah, right! And so can you just kind of-- For people who aren't familiar with this kind of metaphor, explain what you were saying here about the dinner and the differences. I just love that...I love that picture because it just makes it so, "Oh, that's what that means! Okay, great!" Like, it's so simple.
Leah Boden Yeah. So I write about this in the book. I talk about: Imagine yourself coming to the dinner table and your children are there and there are lots of dishes available. So there are various, you know-- We talk about the feast. I think the feast can be very small for younger children and gets larger as they get older. But there are a variety of dishes at the table and you sit down with your family and then you start to pick up a spoon and you feed a child, and you tell them-- So say if it's chili, you say, "This is chili. I want you to put it in your mouth. It's going to be slightly spicy. This is the texture. When you swallow it, this is what you're going to feel like. You're going to love it." And there's this kind of like, this predictive, already set standardized answer of, "This is what it will do to you. This is how you will feel about." And then you do it again with another dish. Whereas completely turn that on its head, the Charlotte Mason philosophy and methods, what they do is, you know-- I think I talk about cooking the meal together and sitting down at the table welcoming everybody around, and you throw the napkin on your knee and you say, "Tuck in. Like, what do you want to eat? And then tell me what you think." And so they get to try it and they get to say, "I like this one and this is why." And somebody goes, "Oh, I didn't like that. That wasn't the same for me. And I'm going to try it with this one." And there's this discussion and this conversation going on. And it's the same table, same meals often, maybe served in a different way, but the way we approach that-- So you still might have history, geography, science, and math. But actually our approach, and our how we see the child...how we view the child and how we view that particular subject is the difference. It completely turns it on its head. And yet it's just those simple adjustments which I think so many people can probably apply in their homeschool, whether they call themselves Charlotte Mason educators or not. So many of her methods-- And that's what I'm finding, Julie, is that the response to the book in the States at the moment-- Because we haven't quite got it here in the U.K., as I was telling you earlier. But the response to the book in the States at the moment is, people are reading it from loads of different educational backgrounds and saying, "Oh!" Either, "We do these things already." Or, "This is so simple to add into my Waldorf education or into my classical way of doing things." And so they're starting to bring in those threads, which is so exciting. I'm sure that is for you too. That her ideas go beyond the walls of our community.
Julie Ross Yes. Oh, wow. Yay! That's exciting! Because what's going to happen as they start these little threads, is they're going to realize how amazing it is.
Leah Boden Absolutely! That's right. Yeah.
Julie Ross So I'm completely in there. I love that you started out with, kind of, raising humans, like the children as born persons. Her first principle. Because I think, you know, we can focus in on the how, and there's so many people teaching, "Okay, you do this and you teach it this way, and then that makes it Charlotte Mason," and you lose the whole big picture. And I'm constantly telling people, "Get out of the 'how' swamp and renew your mind with the why? Why are we doing this? What's the big picture? Why does she say to do these things?" And I think so many parents, it comes down to the lack of control and the fear and the faith that it takes to release some of that. Can you talk a little bit about that? You talked about in the beginning about like pulling up the flower, like, "Is it growing?!" You know, and we...
Leah Boden I know! Haha! That's right. I mean, I think, within parenting and mothering, control is a huge thing that we have to deal with as our children-- You know, just in our normal...our children just growing up and growing-- But within the educational setting, we rightly feel the responsibility for what we've taken on. Okay. So we're saying, "Okay, I'm not going...we're not putting our children into the traditional education system. I'm going to take on that responsibility." And that is-- It's a noble calling and it is a serious responsibility. But what comes with that is this...it can be this sense of, "Am I doing enough? You know, are they keeping up with whatever..."-- I don't know. This image of whatever the keeping up thing is. I'm like, "Keeping up with who?" And, you know, there's those questions of this: "Should I do this? Could I do that?" And they become often the focus of your energy or cause of anxiety, rather than putting...rather than drawing out delight in their learning, and putting that energy and time into creating an atmosphere of joy, and finding living resources that bring delight. And so what we are-- That, I mean, the born person approach ties in-- It works hand in hand with the "Masterly Inactivity" chapter, which that also works hand in hand with the living books, because they all come together. If you trust the child, then you can stand back. If you trust the method, if you trust the process of education, which is our children drawing knowledge from living ideas--you know, it's all in there--it all ties together. But they have to work together. So you can have a library full of beautiful living books that you've selected from somebody's list, but you are still quizzing your kids and, you know, you're still stressing about, "Have I got through it all in time? And are they really grasping...?" Or you're finishing their sentences, or they're trying to narrate and you're correcting them. So it takes-- If you're doing that, then you're losing the whole point of that living resource. The whole point is that, Charlotte Mason said, "The science of relations is allowing your child to connect with the living resource, book, idea, art, painting, [whatever]. Don't get in the way." So we have to stand back and allow them to fully hear what the author wants to say, or fully see what the artist has painted, or fully hear what the composer has done for us. And we set up that...we are masterly in the way we create an environment, set up resources, plan, all that kind of stuff, but we are inactive in our interference of their learning. So Charlotte Mason says, you know, you can get in the way when you start lecturing, and you start finishing the...answering the questions for them. It doesn't do a thing. You know, you might be able to tick a box and say it's done, but have they actually found delight in that learning? Has it gone into their mind gallery? Has it made a connection with them? If not, you know, you might as well go and do something completely different. So, but, I also acknowledge that this doesn't come overnight, and that's what I've tried to do in Modern Miss Mason, is really use story and analogy and trying to help people to grasp that this is-- Yes, it's a big concept. But it's actually really simply implemented. And it is about-- You know, I say right at the beginning of the book, you know, with every conversation I have and every coaching call, I can hear it: Every mother is just calling out for confidence. And it's that confidence that enables you to stand back. It's that confidence that stops you from worrying about "Are we keeping up?" It's that confidence that enables you to enjoy your children, and enjoy being a home educator, which is and should be a delight.
Julie Ross Yes, wow, that's so beautiful. And I love too that you're talking about-- I think a lot of that confidence comes from the mother learning for herself. And I love that you included the bit...like mothers who water their own gardens because we can-- Well, I'm just going to read what you wrote. You said, "It can be easy to lose focus on ourselves when you're so focused on others. We never have to feel guilty about investing in our own soul. For in doing so, we are overflowing into others' as a result." And you know, I think a lot of that burnout, especially this time of year, you know, the winter, like the newness of school has worn off, the newness of the holidays, and now it's like, "Wow, May's way out there. How are we going to make it through here?"
Leah Boden Yeah, and we go till July here.
Leah Boden Really?
Leah Boden Oh yeah. No, we don't finish till July and we just take six weeks off. So yeah. But I get that. I can hear that in people. I can see some of the stuff that's going on. People are getting tired and they need that fresh impetus. But actually, yeah, if we are continuously...if we have a rhythm of input into our own mind and soul and body, which Charlotte Mason talks about, then we can-- You know, I'm not saying you don't get tired, I'm not saying we don't need to press pause and take a break, but we can very quickly again find the joy and find the delight in learning. But it's when you get to the end of yourself, when you're absolutely done, and that's when I'll often get an email, somebody saying, "I want to quit."
Julie Ross What do you say when people email you that and say, "I'm done. I want to quit. I'm at the end of my rope."
Leah Boden Yeah, I mean, my two initial pieces of advice when you feel like that, is you need to pause or pivot. So something has to change or you need to just stop completely and take as long as you need to reassess. Sometimes it sounds more dramatic than actually what is happening, and depending on your personality. We're all so different. So some people have this drama moment like, "I'm looking for school places. I'm da da da da. And then you've got...
Leah Boden Yes. "I'm going to chase that bus down when it comes down my street tomorrow.".
Leah Boden Right, right. And people will yell at thier kids, you know. And then in forty-eight hours I'm like, "How's it going?" And I'll chase up with the mum and they're like, "Oh it's fine! I'm fine now. You know, it can be...honestly, it can be everything. It could be the time of the month. It could be peri-menepausal. It could be to do with her personality. So...but genuinely, whatever the reason, if you feel like that, pause or pivot. So you either stop and say, "Hey, we're going to take two days off." Or, "We're going to take a week just to play, just to sleep a bit later," and you need some time to reflect. And it's pulling everything back, remember what your "why" is, like you were saying. What is your "why"? What's your reason for doing this? And what are the--looking for the roots--even the very clear things of "Why is this happening?" And sometimes it's genuine things like a child is struggling. Maybe they've got a learning difficulty, maybe there's some neurodiversity in the household. Most households have that. Maybe there's a real situation going on that you just need to attend to, and just give that the time and attention for a little while and then get back to whatever it looks like. And I think you can strip back and rebuild. And when it really feels severe, and that-- You know, get people alongside you to find someone to talk to about it. I think sometimes it's just a case of pivot. So you just need to change direction a little bit. And so sometimes, I think, it's these small adjustments that get you back on the track. I remember hearing Bob Goff talk about having a helicopter lesson, and he was in the driving--flying seat, driving seat, whatever--and the pilot said, "Well, we're going to go right." And his reaction was to do it like a car, you know, to turn the wheel or the steering (I don't know what all the terms are), but to turn it severely in the direction of where he was supposed to go. Well, it sent the plane...or the helicopter totally off course. And they're like, "No, no, no, no, no, no.". And the instructor said to him, "It's just like a thousand tiny, tiny movements that get you on the right track to where you need to be." And so it's this little inching. And I think sometimes when people feel under pressure, they're like, "I'm done." I'll often say, "Okay, if you could change one thing, what would you change?" And sometimes it's a case of, "You know what, we've been trying to do Latin, and I am not loving it. No one is loving it. I'm feeling like I should do it because so-and-so does it." So I'm like, "We're going to get rid of it. Let's just get Latin off the list." And suddenly their countenance changes and they're like, "Okay, can I do that?" I'm like, "Of course you can do that. You can do what you want! Come on, girl, take the Latin out and live your life." And just sometimes the tiny adjustment of somebody giving them permission. Like, "You don't have to do that. You don't have to do a nature walk every day if you don't want to, you can do it on a Friday afternoon, or do it-- Or you don't have to go to every club or every..." And so pivot is just that, "What can I take out or adjust or just pause on for a moment that will actually bring that freshness of life back?" So I think those kind of things are really helpful, just some small reflections, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater and suddenly enrolling your kids in school. Just look at, you know, "Do I need to stop and reassess and rebuild, or can I make two or three adjustments that actually get us back in the right direction again?"
Julie Ross Yeah, that is such great advice. I love that. And I think part of it, you know-- No matter what, pause. And in that reflection, you can pick some of those pivots. But you have to sometimes silence the chaos that's happening before you can actually hear, going, "Okay, let's assess here." Like, "What's the damage control kind of thing?" And then, I love those small changes because oftentimes it might not be, "I'm quitting. I'm sending the kids to school." It might be, "I've got to buy a whole new curriculum!" Or, "We've got to change everything we're doing!" And it becomes this huge, monumental change. And our kids are like, "What's happening?"
Leah Boden I remember I had one friend, who's been homeschooling for many, many years, but in the early years I would always know when she wasn't doing great because she would suddenly be selling all her curriculum. Everything! She'd sell it all. And then she'd be like looking for something else. I'm like, "How's it going?"
Julie Ross Yes, I've been there. I am guilty of that. [00:29:14]The [0.0s] amount of times I will admit, too. So I think just keeping in mind, like, what little things can we change? And I think that's kind of key for the whole [00:29:24]overarching [0.0s] philosophy, too. It's just these little moments. I think of them as like these little grains of sand that I'm adding into my children's life, these little seeds that I'm planting here. I'm not trying to get quick results, quick growth. And that comes down to that faith and that confidence piece as well.
Leah Boden Yes.
Julie Ross 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 is rooted in books, beauty, and biblical truth. You can find out how smooth and easy days are closer than you think at AGentleFeast.com.
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Julie Ross At the beginning, here again, we're talking about the "children as persons", kind of laying that foundation. And then you go into like what I call "foundational methods" here. Wrap your mind around these things and the whole thing will become easier: narration, living books, nature study...I use morning time, but you call the chapter "Cultural Capital," I call them like "beauty subjects", you know. If you can start with these things and get your mind wrapped around them, then-- Because I think there's so much research now and there's so--I mean, thank the Lord, right?--we have all this access to all her writings and all these things that we didn't have before, but the whole body of research can become overwhelming. I'm like, "Start with trying to narrate something. Start with changing that textbook out for this living book, you know. Take these little simple steps here." So I loved that you included those, and they're really practical. Like I was saying with the morning time, you call it "cultural capital", can you just kind of give...
Leah Boden Yeah, it's different. I still have morning time. Yeah, that's not-- Cultural capital is a whole, you know, it's an approach...well a part of our social society. And it's a sociological approach... sociological thinking. It is from a philosophy many, many years ago, which is all about life outside of our normal selves. So it can be what we have access to. So I go through the different types of cultural capital in the book at the beginning, and then I tie that into this exposing children to art and culture that might not be part of their normal way of life. And I give some insight into what that looks like in the U.K. education system, it's actually taught in there. So school inspectors here in the U.K. say that kids need to have access to arts and culture, and how it's great for their cultural and character development, brain development, all that kind of stuff. And how interesting it is that these ideas are woven into the Charlotte Mason philosophy as well. So often-- Again, I never saw this in my early years. I've never taught this. But they're often, kind of-- There is a phrase that I've heard within the Charlotte Mason circles. I can't even remember it, this is how much it's not part of my vernacular. But they [00:33:41]almost [0.0s] people group them into something which is almost kind of like a cherry on the top. And I teach it as in: It has to be intrinsically woven through everything. So it's not just this additional thing that you might or might not do. But actually, when children see-- So I talk about having art around on your walls and playing music in the atmosphere of the home. So it's not just a study. It's not just something you do on a Wednesday morning, but it's woven through the atmosphere of the home. So they're seeing art. They're hearing poetry. They're surrounded by nature. They are-- You know, I have art all over the place. And I talk about the story of my childhood, having art prints cut out from calendars on the bathroom wall. I wasn't homeschooled, but how that impacted my character and my view of the world. And so these things, I think the arts are often seen as something separate from academic subjects, but my belief is that they need to be intrinsically combined and seen as a very, very important and a beautiful part of life. And so these things can be done every day. They don't need to be just, you know, a something that is tied in and forgotten about. And so that's why I've given a whole chapter to it. I'm very passionate about children being exposed to art, poetry, music, obviously nature, but that's a separate chapter. But I have stories in there of the impact on my life, and so I looked at the research behind it all and it's amazing really. So, you know, if it's-- And I think I give examples from people through history, and I mean there's just there's tons there. But you see the influence on amazing philosophers, writers, poets, actors, artists, of, they have a very academic life, but actually, connected with that so much was the place of the arts in their life. So that's what that whole chapter is about. It's actually saying, "This is at the heartbeat of the philosophy." It's interesting because Charlotte Mason, kind of, the classical music stuff didn't really come from her. She had a friend who she discovered played it to her children, and she saw the response and felt how it changed the atmosphere. So she later kind of added that into the PNEU, you know, the programs. Now we know more. The research on-- I mean I was the one who was playing Mozart to my babies in the womb because my dad said it was a great idea. I was like, "Okay." "It will make them clever." Research doesn't show that. But, you know, it's a great thing to do. So, yeah, that's what that whole chapter is about. There's a bit of science in there, a bit of sociology, a little bit of history, and it also then ties into why we study poetry, why we read poetry, why we look at art, and why we listen to music.
Julie Ross Yeah. Yeah. No, I really appreciate that, too, because I'm passionate about that stuff too. Actually, I teach...I'm teaching history at a co-op this year, and I teach eighth graders. And just this week we're learning about Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth and [00:36:56]it's so fun. [0.3s] But I brought in all this, like, art and music 'cause I'm like, "You can't separate out history from art and music. They all go together and they all influence each other." But the reason I said "morning time" is because in my curriculum that's how I put a lot of those subjects. But again, it's not like this is the only time we're going to have poetry or the only time we're going to have music. And I do that at the end of the day too, kind of like bookends. Because for me that fills my heart. And I think that's what's so beautiful about this method. And I think a lot of people, like you're saying, see it as this cherry on top, and it's like, "Well, if we have time, we can get to that." And I'm like, No, this is the most important thing. So we are starting our morning with this music, looking at this art, reading these poems." And that motivates me in the mornings because, like, I want to know more about this stuff, I want to see this stuff. And then it just kind of does it the whole time for the rest of the day, of, "Where can we find more beauty in life in these other subjects as well?"
Leah Boden Yeah, and I think it is having them as part of your...the atmosphere of the home and the household. So I think that is-- You know, my kids will be in the kitchen doing dishes and on the boiler, kind of above, there's art postcards up there and quotes from poems. So we have it everywhere, you know, and I just kind of recognize that. It's the stuff like that. I'm not necessarily teaching them while they're doing the dishes. I'm not really quizzing them, you know, "Who's this artist?"
Julie Ross "What time period is this?"
Leah Boden But when Charlotte Mason talks about children, she talks about the mind gallery in ourselves and how we hang these ideas in our mind gallery that can be brought forth in any time in our life. And I love that idea, that actually there are things that we might see when we're doing the dishes as an 11-year-old that play a part in our life many years to come. And I can see that in my life from my upbringing and what my parents did for me. And so that's why I'm very much a big proponent of, "How can you weave it through the home, through the life, through the...?" And I know many people do it. So it's just very exciting to me.
Julie Ross Well, it makes it seem very doable too. It's not like, "You must know all poetry and all the artists and what time period they were from." And this is like, "Just hang some stuff on your wall." Like, that's easy.
Leah Boden Yeah, absolutely. And you know when curiosity and interest drives you, you're kind of like, "Oh, who did that one?" And you look at the back of the postcard and then, you know. And I will quiz myself. I will have them all over and I'll go through them and try and see which one is each artist. That's my own, like, my own nerd...
Julie Ross I'm right there with you. [00:39:33]I told my class the [0.0s] joke, I'm like: baroque when you're out of Monet. And I just started dying laughing and they're all staring at me, and I'm like, "Oh, come on, that's funny!" And they're like, "Are you [00:39:41]are such a geek?" [0.0s] I said, I'm like, "I know! I can't help it!" So I love the end of the book where you're talking about leaving a legacy, because this vision mindset is what motivates when you do feel like throwing in the towel or things are going wrong. And so I'd love to just kind of hear the importance of that and why you included that in your book.
Leah Boden Yeah, I mean, you know, the last chapter talking about legacy and-- We've just done a retreat for our U.K. Charlotte Mason community in Ambleside. We came back on Sunday.
Julie Ross I saw those pictures. So jealous.
Leah Boden Yeah, amazing group. So we've got a community of over 2,000 families just here in the U.K., but we just took about...100 mums came with us. And we called...it was to celebrate the centenary of Charlotte Mason, but we focused on...we called it "It's Your Story" because we wanted to make sure that the legacy of the Charlotte Mason philosophy came...was not held with the academics and the in the so-called experts (which I don't put myself in that category anyway), but it was held with the mothers who are doing the work. So the book ends with a poem that I wrote standing at her grave when I was-- I literally did what I said, I put wildflower seeds in the dirt next to her grave. And this idea of this constant reproducing of her ideas through every single individual family--so it will never look the same--each beautiful, unique family all over the world are the legacy of the Charlotte Mason philosophy, however they're doing it. And so this idea of "it's your story". And then on the weekend we focused on: people were writing letters Charlotte and to give to [00:41:24]the Armitt, we [0.9s] were sharing stories with each other of impact, "This is how it's affected me." And so the chapter on legacy is that you carry this. We get to carry this. We are the ones who are moving this forward. And I...you know, I don't want-- I talk about this on my social media, but I hate when people say they don't feel they're Charlotte Mason enough. Like it actually gets me quite upset when I hear that. And I want to fight for those people. I want to stand and go, "That is not even a thing. That's not a thing! Stop saying that." You know, let's gather the crowds from the corners, and from the places where they feel like they're hiding, and say, "We are the future of this. Our children, and our children's children, we get to set this on fire, run with the torch, and we get to make it our own." And that is the beauty of it. I don't think it's watering anything down. It's not dishonoring or disrespecting what Charlotte Mason set out to do. And she said, you know, in Essex Cholmondeley's biography, she said, Charlotte said, "I left no recipes behind." But yet so many are-- And I've done it, I'm trying to look for the recipe. "Tell me how to...you know, how much of this do I need in this? And how much..." And she's like, she didn't leave any recipes behind. You get to carry this. You get-- So we get these beautiful principles. How do you see...how do you view children? How do you view education? And how are you going to run with that? And so that is the legacy. We are the legacy. You know, every mother or parent who reads this book, that is the message, that they get to sow the seed and see that reproduce. And that excites me to see how far this will go. Yeah.
Julie Ross I'm like ready to get up on my table and cheer now, girl! I love it! That was awesome! I think we're going to end right here because everybody needs to go back and listen to the last two minutes over again. You're having a bad day, and just, "Woooh! We are doing this. We are carrying the torch." Right? And making it our own, which is so important, and not trying to put ourselves--and you talk about this in your thing--in the Charlotte Mason box that we think we are supposed to go into rather than making it our own. Yes. So tell us, where can we get the book and what else are you offering and working on and where can people connect with you?
Leah Boden Yeah. So three main things. You can get the book from wherever you buy books from. If you're in Europe, you gotta-- I don't know when this goes live, Julie, but hopefully when it goes live you will have the book. But audio and Kindle, it's available everywhere. Physical copies...
Julie Ross And you read the audiobook. I think that's important. People can listen to your lovely voice.
Leah Boden Right, I do read the audiobook. That was great fun. But the book...it should be available wherever you buy books from. You know, order it from your library, get it, you know, whatever. I've launched something called "The Collective Membership", where I'm bringing everything I do under one roof. So I've got workshops on there, group coaching, a book club, and a room for writers to practice their writing. And that is The Collective. And then the third thing is that I do a conference and I'm doing that on the 1st of July--The Modern Miss Mason Conference. It is here in England, in Warwickshire. It's a one-day conference, but we will be streaming this live so you'll be able to get a streaming ticket. So yeah.
Julie Ross ModernMissMason.com is where they would find The Collective too or is that separate?
Leah Boden Everything. So either LeahBoden.com or ModernMissMason.com, you will find everything you need. And Modern Miss Mason everywhere else. So yeah.
Julie Ross But we will link to all that stuff in the show notes as well. This has been a delight as always! And again I'm so grateful for your voice and the work that you're doing, your book is absolutely fabulous. And I encourage everyone to go get it in whatever form they feel most comfortable with. And yes, keep on carrying the torch, girl, and planting those seeds. I'm so excited for the work that you do.
Leah Boden Same goes for you. Lovely to talk to you. Thank you.
Julie Ross Yep, you too!
Julie Ross Hey, thanks for listening to today's episode. If you'd like to know more about the Charlotte Mason style of education, check out A GentleFeast.com and click on the "Learn More" button for a free four-day introduction course. If you'd like the show notes for today's episode, you can find those at Homeschooling.Mom and click on "The Charlotte Mason Show." If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast and while you are there, could you leave us a quick review? This will help other homeschooling parents, like you, get connected to our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @HomeschoolingDotMom---that's @HomeschoolingDotMom--and let us know what you thought of today's episode.
Julie Ross Don't forget to check out the people at Medi-Share because you deserve healthcare you can trust. To learn more about Medi-Share and why over 400,000 Christians have made the switch, go to GreatHomeschoolConventions.com/MediShare.
Julie Ross Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are the homeschooling events of the year, offering outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topics, and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit halls in the United States. Find out more at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. I hope to see you there. Until next time, I hope your days are full of books, beauty, and biblical truth. Thanks for listening.