I imagined my life without the job. The girls come back home — at least the younger ones. I looked back at my old journal and read a Charlotte Mason excerpt:
The child of six works for 2 1/2 hours a day, but half an hour of this time is spent in exercise and games. Including exercise, he has thirteen ‘subjects’ of study for which about sixteen books are used. He recites hymns, poems, and Bible verses; works on arithmetic; sings French and English songs; begins piano; learns to write and print, learns to read, learns French orally, does brush-drawing and various handicrafts, Bible lessons, read from the Bible, tales, natural history, and geography are taught from appointed books helped by the child’s own observation.
The thirteen subjects might seem overwhelming until you realize each subject is no longer than 10-15 minutes. This change of pace suits children perfectly, and the idea of a child being ADD doesn’t enter parents’ heads. All are blissfully ignorant that Johnny can’t sit still for six hours and Johnny can forgo medicating his mind while it grows, perhaps forming pathways that will right the problem.
Memorization is out of vogue now. What convinced me to go against the trend is whenever I read biographies of someone great, he or she has loads of poetry, Bible verses, and other great writings in their heads to pull from at will. Patient memorization of a wide variety of subjects should be encouraged for all children. Children should memorize the scientific names of birds, geography, bits of wisdom, poetry, favorite passages, the details in a landscape, the parts of the body, the way to the store …. memorization should be a part of the daily routine. Just a little bit, everyday.
Charlotte Mason continues:
Our plan in each of these subjects is to read him the passage for the lesson (a good long passage), talk about it a little, avoiding much explanation, and then let him narrate what has been read. This he does very well and with pleasure, and is often happy in catching the styles as well as the words of the author. Sometimes the narrations are written down by the teacher.
Such a happy, natural way of teaching seems almost criminal to call it so. Funny thing though, it delivers superior results. Students are using vocabulary they would never use in conversation or come up with on their own. They’re imitating good writing with the summary of the passage. Saying these things aloud are what writers do in their heads — they say the words as they’re writing them. It’s laying the groundwork for excellent writing skills. Being able to write knowledgeably on a subject is the pinnacle of learning.
Tomorrow, I go in to school to finish grading for the semester. I’m expecting news from the principal as to which way the wind is blowing regarding my job. Looking at a glimpse of what life used to look like makes me long for it. But sometime tomorrow, I’ll have to face the bills, and then I wonder if life will ever look like that for me again. I figure I must move toward it just the same in little ways and steps. It’s diligence in the little things that transforms glimpses into reality.