God made all kinds of people: the timid and the bold; those who need to put one toe in to test the waters and those who are ready to jump right in; people who are confident to undertake new experiences and people who spend days, weeks, or maybe even months talking themselves into taking what others might consider a small risk.
Recently, I was invited to join some friends who were embarking on a fairly radical life-improvement endeavor. In many respects it sounded great to me because 1) I needed to make changes in this area of my life; and 2) I immediately envisioned the end results of said changes.
OK. Yes. It was a diet. “Whole30.” No sugar. No dairy. No grains. Only certain, approved fats. I jumped in and lasted . . . a WholeMeal.
In hindsight, I recognize I did not have adequate time to prepare for such radical changes in my diet (not to mention my family’s diet). But my friends were starting on a certain date and I really wanted to join them on the journey. Oh, I wasn’t planning to make these changes long-term. (For one thing, I am not willing to give up the muffins I make from freshly-milled flour.) Still, the defeat stung. I definitely needed to make changes; now I was left to make them without the support of a striving-to-work-toward-the-same-goal community.
It occurred to me that some of us get discouraged—even paralyzed into not trying—by all-or-nothing thinking. We think we have to do “WholeCM”—that if we aren’t doing everything as Charlotte Mason would do, we are failing. Or, we think that we have to change everything about our lives all at once. After all, Mason wrote, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” It all has to be done right, doesn’t it?
This is when the Lord brought to mind two things:
How might these two things apply to a Charlotte Mason education?
If your teaching is not yet precisely lined up with all six volumes of Mason’s educational philosophy OR if you are not yet perfect in your living a Charlotte Mason lifestyle —even if BOTH of those scenarios describe you (Gasp!)—it’s OK! Consider these verses of Scripture:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2)
Both the education of which Mason writes and the transformation described in those verses are processes—not instantaneous metamorphoses. Habit formation is critical. It begins with an act of the will. Discipline is required. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
Let’s look at some ways we could “Start now!”
One of the first bits of advice given to someone just beginning in Mason’s philosophy is to read “the volumes.” Reading Charlotte Mason’s volumes can be a bit intimidating to the novice—especially when said novice has not been steeped in great literature herself. Having a group with whom to discuss the volumes is so very helpful. The local book club that nourishes me, CM in the Foothills, began in the home of Carroll and Andy Smith. There is mutual encouragement among the members as we delve into the treasure trove of Mason’s writings.
Is there a reading group in your area? If not, why not start it yourself? There is no better way to get to know Mason than to read her volumes. The benefits outweigh the risks. Start slowly, but meet regularly. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:25)
“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” How can we become more fully educated in this sense, both as persons who teach and persons who live?
PERSONS WHO TEACH:
There is a tongue-in-cheek maxim among homeschoolers that, “If we did math, we did school. It counts as a school day.” Establishing a Mason home school or a Mason classroom in a public, charter, or private school seems a formidable task—definitely not for the weak-willed! But it is doable. If the “We did math!” scenario is familiar to you and you would like to begin to incorporate more of Mason into your school day—or if you have modeled your classroom or homeschool on Charlotte Mason’s philosophy but would like to dig deeper, consider the following questions. Which one thing would you like to change? How can you “Start now!”? Here are some possibilities:
PERSONS WHO LIVE:
If you have poured yourself into teaching to the detriment of your own person (spirit, soul, and body), remember Jesus’ words: “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Start now. Live the full life Christ intends for you. Consider these possibilities:
We all need reassurance and encouragement. I saw a video of a 3-year-old Shirley Temple look-alike seeing her baby sister for the first time. She explores the baby’s fingers and toes (and narrates her observations!) with delight. Then the baby begins to cry. The big sister’s smile disappears. For a moment she is dumbstruck; then, she begins assuring the baby with non-stop exclamations of “You’re OK! You’re OK! You’re OK! You’re OK!”
There is no need to try to “do” Charlotte Mason alone; nor is it advisable to do it in your own strength.
Encourage one another and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)
There are many, many people—lovely people, I might add—on this journey. Jump on the bus with them. Better yet, join them for a walk in the countryside. Attend the CMI National Conference in June or a regional event in your area. Avail yourself of the incredible resources out there. Here is a small sampling:
CMI website (Thank you, Carroll Smith and CMI board members past and present.) https://charlottemasoninstitute.org/
CM digital archives at Redeemer (Thank you, Deani Van Pelt.) http://www.redeemer.ca/charlotte-mason
“For a Great Door is Opened” (Thank you again, Deani.) http://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/3132/for-a-great-door-is-opened/
Ambleside Online (Thank you, Leslie Laurio.) http://amblesideonline.org/
The Living Page (Thank you, Laurie Bestvater.) http://www.bookofcenturies.com/shop.html
Sage Parnassus (Thank you, Nancy Kelly.) http://sageparnassus.blogspot.com/
Change one thing. Start now. For nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)
Purity of heart is to will one thing. Sören Kierkegaard
© 2015 by Dr. Cindy Swicegood