"Knowledge is more than an accumulation of information. It involves the ability to view that information with the right perspective and to use it for its proper end... It is the fear of the Lord that gives us the right perspective and prompts us to use it for the right end...Our main goal should be to glorify God. That is the ultimate goal to which all knowledge should be directed. Regardless of how helpful an item or body of knowledge may be to society, if it does not have as its final purpose the glory of God, it remains defective."
- Jerry Bridges The Joy of Fearing God
Happy New Year, everyone! I wrote this before break. I'll be back to blogging in real time this weekend! We start our second term on Monday :)
We have now finished up our first term, and I've been reading and re-reading some of Miss Mason's writings to evaluate my methods. One area that I have been way off on, has been how many pages we have been reading in one sitting. I know, I know, if I had just followed the Ambleside Online booklist and schedule, I wouldn't have made this mistake. But, I didn't. I have some inexplicable desire to get my hands dirty when it comes to choosing curriculum. It's the same way in cooking; I can never follow a recipe exactly as it's written. I add a little here and take out a little there to make it taste just the way I want. I'm sure I could write an entire post analyzing this personality quirk, but I'll pass by the temptation to do so tonight.
So, I've been reading too much in one sitting. I realized this as I was preparing my exam questions for the end of the term. In the appendix to Volume 3, Miss Mason writes that the children in the lowest grade (Form 1a.) have "thirteen subjects of study, for which about sixteen books are used". She specifies that roughly 40 to 50 pages from each of these books are covered in a term. When you divide 40 or 50 pages up over the course of the term's 12 weeks, that leaves only 3 to 4 pages a week! That is far, far less than what we have been reading for most subjects. My worst offense has been in our missionary biographies. I had intended to study two missionaries this year, switching to the second in the middle of the year. The trouble is that each of the two biographies I had chosen was over 200 pages long! Even reading only one of those books all school year would still be more pages than Miss Mason recommends. Woops. I guess this is why we keep reading... so we can keep learning, right?
I'll be honest, only 40 to 50 pages seems like next to nothing to me. My husband thinks it sounds like hogwash to only read three pages a week in a book, but we are both willing to try it out. We've been continually impressed with Charlotte Mason's methods so far. What reason do we have to doubt her on this point? Our only objection is based on how very different such a schedule is from our own school experiences. That's not really much of a sound argument ;)
This little epiphany, of course, completely derails my plans for the second and third terms. I need to reconsider how quickly we are going through our books. I have to laugh as I write that, because it has taken us the entire first term to get through two thirds of our David Livingstone book! But, apparently, that's too fast. We still have 84 pages left to read. Originally, we were going to finish this book around Week 6 of the second term, but now (with my husband's agreement) we are going to try to finish the book on a truly CM pace. That means we will take the rest of Year One to finish those 84 pages. Doesn't that sound crazy? Two whole terms to read just 84 pages? I'll be doing the same thing with several of our other books.
It is interesting to note that, when you realize how few books you will have in one school year, you begin to feel very choosey about which books you'll use. We're not terribly excited about using the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series for missionary tales if we're only going to read one book a year. It's a decent book, but we might be compelled to find something better if we're going to spend 36 weeks on it, ya know ;) I'm not sure where we're going with the missionary biographies. We had chosen them to replace Trial and Triumph, but the switch to (truly) short readings has us rethinking more than a few things about our booklist and schedule.
"Well, what is a hero anyway? 'Any man admired for his courage, his nobility,
or exploits, the central figure in any important event, honored for
outstanding qualities.' Wasn't Jim a hero? We badly need heroes. How else
shall we grasp the meaning of courage or strength or holiness? We need to see
such truth made visible in the lives of human beings...Heroes are paradigms.
They show us what strength or purity or courage actually looks like".
- The Mark of A Man
I have been thinking a lot lately about the importance of Christian heroes. Not just how they will fit into our 'curriculum', but how they will impact the lives of our children... and ourselves. I did not grow up with the heroes of the Bible or of the early church. I have shamefully little knowledge of the brothers and sisters in my heritage who have given all for Christ throughout the centuries. But, I want to know them more. I want to learn from them.
As I was considering this whole idea of 'heroes' I got to chatting with the girls the other day about the concept. I'm sorry to say we haven't used the word around the house much. After we talked a bit about what a hero was, I asked Shug if she had any heroes, yet. She thought for a moment and said, yes, she had.
David. He was awfully brave to fight Goliath.
I was encouraged.
I am still carrying around with me, though, this deep sense that it is of the utmost importance that Sam and I take great care to keep godly heroes before our children. We are not nearly purposeful enough. They must be prepared for great battles. How are we preparing them? All of the things Tracy Lee Simmons wrote in Climbing Parnassus about the significance of hero training in the young Greeks and Romans really struck a cord with me. How much more so should godly heroes be held up within Christian families, for the next generation?
Later that afternoon I was looking for the quote above. I sat on the couch, skimming through the book, when Punkin (whose middle name is Elisabeth) came running up to my side. She pointed at the picture of Elisabeth Elliot on the cover. "Who's dat?" she wanted to know.
I looked at my bright-eyed two year old, and then I looked at one of my most beloved 'heroes', and tears welled up in my eyes. "That is Elisabeth Elliot, honey. You are named for her".
By God's grace, may my daughters learn to hold her and many such spiritual mothers close to their hearts.
"Moral choices face all of us, every day. How we choose reveals
the stuff we're made of. It is, in the final analysis, the willingness
to take the consequences of our decisions that makes
... that this is just a blog. It's not real life. Because I want the posts and photos I share to encourage and inspire our readers, I don't often write about the negative, discouraging times. Believe me, though, they are there. Every day. By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are sinful people striving to live lives of obedience that glorify Him and to love one another. Anything good is all of His grace and all of His work in us. Let God Almighty have the glory.