|We had this squirrel very close to us, it ate from our hands, it was wonderful.|
Around nine years ago, I was sitting in a classroom alone. It was my lunch break. I was the substitute teacher now. I had been a school teacher for six years and after I started substituting once or twice a week. I was pregnant with my first daughter who is now eight.
That day, I was reading from Home Education about magnanimity, and my captivation for Miss Mason was growing by the minute. I was taking notes and devising a blurry dream of home educating my children. I was determined to be the best teacher ever, but deep in my heart, I probably wanted perfect students.
|I thought this weed looks like mathematical Pi|
Nine years after, much of that dream has come true. The rest keeps unfolding differently than the original. We are entrusted and blessed with two wonderful girls, and yes, we are constantly learning with them, and at times, I teach them.
What is that I like most about Charlotte Mason? Without a doubt, her view of the teacher. Since I was a public school teacher, those around thought it would be very easy to just have two students instead of twenty four, and that I already knew the tricks of the trade. But since I became acquainted with Charlotte Mason, my paradigm of education has shifted. Ideas and biases have been gently challenged by Miss Mason; from the role of books, to the value of curriculum, the importance of waiting for certain disciplines, the need for music and art as essentials… The list is rich and long and we all love to plot and discuss its intricacies and traverse its corners, which we do at the forums, by email, through our blogs, etc.
But back to the most personally impacting of Miss Mason’s principles or ideas, that of her view of what good teaching is. Our mission and desire to become the best teacher for our children, will provoke and awake a desired inner change in us. I am not longer aiming to become a perfect teacher who has perfect students. Reading Charlotte Mason has led me to grow as a person, it has unveiled hidden talents and interests in me. It is not anymore what they will learn, what I will do, it is a deeper meditation about the atmosphere of my home, my habits, my true motives, the respect my girls deserve as persons. All her principles can be seen from the angle of the teacher, thus deciphering and living up to what that role should be, is the corner stone of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, and it happens that I also enjoy being this new teacher the most, a most delightful duty.
|Ansen Johnson and his family. The last president of Texas.|
Not long ago, they were talking on the radio about this music conductor still alive, who started as a cello player, but who realized that nobody was playing Mozart the way he envisioned he should sound. To him, Mozart was not as mellow and sweet as others rendered him, but energetic and vibrant. He started conducting Mozart pieces, and the public and critics received his interpretation of Mozart with admiration. He is a star in the classic music world -I apologize about having forgotten his name-. When interviewed, he briefly said that conductors live and die and they should never remain in the music hall of fame, that is for the composers. They are to him the real heroes. He said that nobody knows how Mozart was first played, or the names of those who conducted the first performances of his music. He too will die and be forgotten, but Mozart will not. In the same way, the greatest teacher should be of no relevance. Like this conductor, our days are numbered. Others will come after us, as he also said. We are important here and now, to our children, maybe to our grandchildren, and it stops there. We also know that it is not for fame or glory we learn and grow to be the best possible teachers, but to bring true learning from within us and our children to the surface. The piece being played is a master piece, the learning is the unveiling of this Great Conversation with the ideas of the masters, the formation of character, the knowledge of God. This will live in them as much as it also lives in us, and it will keep perpetuating for generations. If we read Charlotte Mason’s writings, it is not to find out or replicate the teacher that she was, to use exactly the same books, or schedules, but to understand her principles and make them our own.
No matter our limitations, it is not in our power to destroy or create, to make or break. This does not liberate us from our responsibilities, though. While some will claim that the teacher is of most importance, that how something is taught is key, making teachers modern bella donas, Charlotte Mason put us in our natural place, the best teacher disappears. And oh, do we disappear with a pleasure! When we hear our children make knowledge their own, playing an instrument, drawing with talent, speaking about an exciting discovery in nature or in human history, singing beautifully songs worth hearing, describing a painting, reciting a poem, we do not jump and shout, I taught her that! Nobody usually ask who taught the children this or that, unless they look at the children with the suspicion of the outsider, who does not hold them capable of such feats. But do not take me wrong, while others want to produce the “best teachers of the year, who bring the best test scores for their districts”, for us, being the best possible parents and teachers in our families is simply our moral obligation. Do not stop and wait for applause or adverse critics, for prizes or headlines, remember it is not about YOU. Have faith, and yes, enjoy this time too.