S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Education is...an Atmosphere

05 June 2008

Elizabeth Foss is leading a summer study of Simply Charlotte Mason's Education Is... eBook. It is a free download so head over there and read this great little gem. It focuses on three words from Charlotte Mason's writings that encapsulate her approach to education. What are those three words? Charlotte Mason said, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."

Webster defines education as involving training by both formal instruction and supervised practice; it includes all that we do to help our children develop mentally, morally and aesthetically; it entails our persuading our children to feel, believe, or act in a desired way. Simply Charlotte Mason makes the case that this all-around approach is what Charlotte Mason had in mind when she considered education. We can equate Mason's atmosphere with Webster's aesthetics, her discipline with his morals and Mason's life with Webster's mental development.

Let's address today the first third of a well-rounded education then. Simply Charlotte Mason focuses first on atmosphere with 6 quotes from her writings.

1. Children should grow up in a natural home setting, not an artificial, adapted "child environment."

To this particular chosen quote I'd add one more gem of Charlotte Mason's, "It stultifies a child to bring his world to a 'child's' level". This was oh so easy for me when Marianna was little, I never goo-gooed at her, we listened to great music together and frequently attended live productions, used real art materials, etc... but now that she has in fact entered that new realm called adolescence, what does this look like? I think it will result in acknowledging her ideas as valid and allow her additional input into that environment we call home. We are all (literally!) in this boat together.

2. Character traits can be learned through the atmosphere of the home.

Does my home have an atmosphere of respect, courtesy, kindness, etc? It only makes sense that if these virtues are apparent in the atmosphere of my home that Marianna will absorb them into her being. As my Mom was so fond of saying throughout my childhood: "Actions speak louder than words."

3. We must be careful how we live, because our children will pick up attitudes and ideas from us that will affect them the rest of their lives.

Gosh, can I be a little nautical here and quote one of my favorite mottos from Latts & Atts? "Attitude: The Difference between Ordeal and Adventure." How am I living my life? Is every little thing met as a challenging adventure or with the big ol' sigh of an ordeal? I know which side of the coin I'd prefer to be on, so what can I do to make certain that happens? Personally, I find that the big things are easy to file under Adventure but the small things drag me down into Ordeal-ville.

If I could relate a small story? Memorial Day after work I grabbed some fried chicken from Dion's and Hal and Marianna prepped our flats boat for a picnic. We haven't had rain down here for 40 days and 40 nights so we didn't pay much mind to the clouds blowing in from Cuba. Bad mistake there. We lost the impeller just as we were making a run back up the channel to the mainship as huge monster raindrops began falling. The channel's narrow so we just blew over onto the flats where we angled the bimini to provide a bit of shelter from the rain that was now driving horizontally beneath dark lightning-streaked skies. At this point I brought out the chicken for our picnic. We had a great time, we have another jewel of a memory to file away and once the storm lessened we made a dash back home absolutely drenched to the skin and laughing the whole way. We were met at the dock by our neighbors, horrified that we had been out, that our paddle had snapped in half, that our flats' pole was now a bit shorter than it should have been, that we had been through such an ordeal.

No. That was an Adventure! Marianna was right there beside us holding up the bimini with one hand and chewing on a drumstick with the other! She wasn't cowering in the bottom of the boat terrified out of her mind because I was wailing my head off at Hal because I just knew we were going to die! Could we have died? Of course, but as we all know, more people die from coconuts conking them on the head than from shark attacks each year.

Now those small things, the things that drag me down into
Ordeal-ville tend to be things like dishes. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I had a little system that worked wonders for organizing this boat and it fell apart over the last year. Slowly but surely I am bringing it back into play and I am determined that the dishes won't win the war! They may lay claim to a battle or two but I will be victorious!

4.The atmosphere of our homes is formed out of the ideas that rule our lives as parents.

What are these ideas that rule our lives? I think this might be where most of our time and effort is spent. Do we as parents value education? Our faith? Our health? Or are they simply afterthoughts in the rat race of our lives? If I continue to learn something new (a language, an instrument) I show by my actions that education is important. The same holds true regarding making time on Sunday to attend Mass, choosing healthy meals or attending to those neccessary things like annual eye appointments.

5.Atmosphere is only part, not all, of a child's education. We must also give the discipline of good habits and the living ideas of a generous education.

Balance. I think balance is key. An overabundance of any one thing will not lead to the generous education I hope to give my daughter.

6.The atmosphere of the home should encourage freedom under authority and obedience.

Perhaps a picture would be an appropriate example now. While I was writing this Marianna was swimming with her friend. She has the freedom to be in the water if she has a buddy. Simple rule laid down by those in authority that if obeyed results in freedom...freedom to find the largest Horse Conch we've ever seen!

Being the good boater girls they are there was no chorus of "Can we keep it?" Rather, the resounding chorus was "Can we eat it?"
Vessel Make/Model: 35' Coronado
Hailing Port: Boca Chica
Crew: Capt. Hal, Jennifer, and our daughter Marianna, a great photographer!
Extra: Warmest Wishes!
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/marihalojen/
Album: S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen (Main) | S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen

Who: Capt. Hal, Jennifer, and our daughter Marianna, a great photographer!
Port: Boca Chica
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