Monday, August 10, 2009

Charlotte Mason - the "gentle art of learning"

I have alluded to Charlotte Mason but I have not yet really described her the way that she should be. It could be difficult in one or two sentences to summarize her and the influence that she had on the school systems in the late 18oo's early 1900's.
I have been drawn to CM's way of thinking since a friend gave me the book "A Charlotte Mason Companion" by Karen Andreola, four years ago, to peruse and read at my leisure. I quickly learned that, "Charlotte saw children as thinking, feeling human beins, as spirits to be kindled and not as vessels to be filled...She believed all children were entitled to a liberal education based upon good literature and the arts." This was radical for these times where - upper class children only were given any education and even that was very regimented and "boxed in". CM wrote a book and then more books explaining "how parents could- and should- provide their children with a broad, stimulating, even exciting education, far removed from the common diet of so many elementary schools of the day." Her literature was received gratefully and she quickly became a leading authority on early education.
There is a book called "For the Children's Sake" by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay which I have not read, and do intend to (when I am done re-reading my brand new copy of "A CM Companion") - Karen Andreola was first inspired by her book and then had CM's original books republished back in the 80's.
Here are the main points of a CM Education that I will expand on in further posts: Living Books, Narration, No Homework, Short Lessons, Free Afternoons, Few Lectures, Ideas and Culture, and Habit.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture - what did you say?

Mmmmmmmmmm ....Fooooood. I have the privilege of being part of CSA - that is a Community Supported Agriculture. I pay a chunk a few times during farming season (April-Oct) to a local organic/heirloom farmer. It helps her out by supporting her financially to get through the year, and it helps me out cause I get a basket "full" (depending on the yield) every week. This is the basket that we received today. Notice the second picture where my 3 year old Mia can't keep her hands out of it. Tuesdays are exciting days in our family! Today I recieved some heritage cucumbers (yes one of them is an odd orangey colour but tastes amazing), lots of tomatoes (notice the variety! You won't find that kind of variety in a grocery store), some peppers - sweet and hot, swiss chard, onions, beans(they look different now but when they are cooked they turn green -true story) and even - yes - POTATOES - I was very very excited about that one - I know we are getting close to the height of our growing season when I see those included in the basket. I love supporting someone local, love that my food is fresh and highly nutritious and I really want to support someone that grows varieties of vegetables that our ancestors grew but we haven't seen for years in the grocery store because the skin is too thin (like with tomatoes) or the size isn't big enough, or "Monsanto" isn't creating it - or whatever the reason. Do you know that this farmer alone deals with over 400 VARIETIES of tomatoes alone? Where are all these varieties disappearing to? By the way if you live in the Toronto area and go to a good restaraunt with "heirloom" tomatoes - they are likely from my farmer friend - she has a blog too- check out if you are interested in more info.
In the meantime, enjoy the local fruits and veggies that are in your area - find a farmer that cares about the soil, spends some time and effort putting back into this earth that God has entrusted to us, rather than pulling and demanding from it the way we have traditionally done as a nation. It isn't easy in some areas but it is becoming more common, so keep a look out, and if you can - support a farmer. Join a CSA - or start a garden for yourself :) You never know - you might just grow something really yummy. Our family bit the bullet last season and tore up half our front lawn so that we could grow some veggies (our back yard is totally shaded) - and yeah, the neighbors wonder about us no doubt - but we are growing some veggies (more to come on that later) and we are doing our part. Go do your part. Whatever that might be :)