Wednesday, January 3, 2007

How Many Pages In One Lesson?

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.

I admit, I'm just trusting Charlotte on this one.