Is a CM Education for All? Principles, part II of III

Part 1 is here.

My premise is that yes, certainly a Charlotte Mason education is for pretty much everybody. When it isn’t, it’s because of two reasons:
1. somebody has misunderstood what a CM education is, or
2. Something is clinically wrong. Our Cherub, for instance, cannot really participate in much beyond the 9th principle- but for most children, yes, I do think this form of education is for the majority of all humans, and elements of it apply to every one of us.

Let’s pick up with principle 12:

“12. Education is the Science of Relations”; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of––

“Those first-born affinities
“That fit our new existence to existing things.”

An affinity is a natural connection, a relationship, a sympathetic interest. It can also mean a ‘Relationship by marriage.’ This starts to make sense of what Miss Mason means when she says that ‘education is the science of relations.’

You see, the more things we know and find interesting, the more connections we discover between those old things and new things we learn- the more we know, the more we can know, and the more we care about things, the more interested we will be in knowing more. This isn’t some esoteric nonsense that only applies to a few people. This is the way the world, and human nature, work. It’s a description of things as they are, and it’s true for all of us. We all have ‘affinities,’ and there’s something uniquely special about those formed in childhood.

For the rest, do we really need to argue about whether or not it’s true that all children need some form of physical exercise? All children benefit from knowing nature lore, from knowing things about the world around them, from handicrafts, science, art, and living books.  None of us are better off for not knowing these things.

 

13. In devising a SYLLABUS for a normal child, of whatever social class, three points must be considered:

(a) He requires much knowledge, for the mind needs sufficient food as much as does the body.

(b) The knowledge should be various, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite (i.e., curiosity)

(c) Knowledge should be communicated in well-chosen language, because his attention responds naturally to what is conveyed in literary form.”

As born persons, it’s obvious that they are born living.   Living organisms are sustained, they grow and develop, on what they take in, not by what is applied from without.  Whatever is applied from without might help or hinder proper growth, but it doesn’t nurture, sustain, and produce growth. Good shoes can protect feet, bad shoes can hurt them, but the shoes are not what make the feet grow. Food for the body must be nourishing and must be the sort of thing the body can absorb and derive nutrients.  Panda Bears thrive on a massive diet of bamboo because that is the food proper for
them. The food proper for the human mind is ideas.  Where there is a human who cannot take in and learn and grow from ideas, that is a human who is in need of a permanent care-giver, and I am not being rude.  Something has gone wrong.   But when a child’s mind is able to develop beyond that of an infant, that mind needs food and that food which nurtures minds is ideas, not merely facts. This is true of all humans.

I suppose some may chafe at the notion that all children should learn from books written in well chosen language and that children respond to what is conveyed in story form. For my part, I have known thousands of children to ask to hear a story, and I have never known one normal preschooler or school aged child to plead for his parents to recount the multiplication tables or a list of dates just for fun. I have known a few children who like to show off by recounting lists of memorized facts, but that’s different from wanting to hear somebody else perform the same demonstration.
Every culture has beginning stories, traditional stories told around the hearth or campfire or bedside, stories designed for teaching children the cultural standards and norms. Genesis begins with stories, not the geneologies.  Since all cultures do tell stories it seems that stories are uniquely suitable for all humans.

 

14. As knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced, children should ‘tell back’ after a single reading or hearing: or should write on some part of what they have read.

I first heard this principle iterated to me in a sixth grade science class by a teacher who had likely never heard of Miss Mason.  He told us that unless we could communicate what we had learned, we couldn’t really say we had learned it, and untill a scientific experiment had been written down and communicated to others, it was essentially incomplete.  “Telling  back” can be done in a variety of ways- the point is that they must reproduce the knowledge some way, in written form or oral, via a drawing, a skit, a report- the thing that matters is the telling back.

 

Your child might tell back by writing a poem, painting a picture, making a test, talking about it to you over the dishes, calling Grandma on the phone to tell her about it- all sorts of ways.  The telling back is the essential part, reproducing knowledge, working through it in his own mind.  This is often harder than it seems, but it’s no less worth doing.

I’ll cover the final five principles in a week or two.

 

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Cringe

Don’t be this person.

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Without packages, boxes, or bags

It was in my email inbox, under the subject line “New Year, New You:”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to look back and say “20** was the year He made all things new”? With motivational books, exercise music, devotionals, daily Bibles, and God on your side you can. Get into shape spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially, and regain your health and vitality when you shop our New Year’s Store!

You cannot buy the new you. It won’t come in packages, a boxes or bags. It won’t come accompanied with a sales tag. YOu cannot accessorize yourself into greater spirituality or a better personality.
The first products listed are diet and exercise books, tapes, and music. There there’s a study guide for something called the ‘moment’ Bible (good grief).
I’m pretty sure that God needs none of these things to make all things new. I am reasonably certain that many of these things even interfere with the sort of renewal God has in mind for you.

The advertisement concluded:

Visit our New Year’s Store for more motivational tools to help you accomplish your New Year resolutions!

Develop your spiritual life with books available in our Christian Living and Devotional Stores.

I’ve fallen prey to this line of marketing before, not because of their evil, seductive, manipulative and slick appeals tricked my weak and lazy inner woman, but because I have a slothful inner woman who loves to be deceived that way in the first place.

The truth, the sad, humiliating truth is that while there are many things I want to be able to do, few of them are things I want to take the time to learn to do. I don’t want it to hurt, to require self-discipline, or take much time. I just want to be that new woman much as Cinderella was able to go to the ball. Playing the role of Cinderella in my personal fairy tale dream is yours truly. Playing the role of the Fairy Godmother would be my checkbook, or worse, a credit card.

You can’t buy a better spiritual life. You have to live it, pray it, study it, and you probably have everything you need at home already.

Ironically, the last line of books in my annoying little email said “Get out of debt and save money!” Good idea. Start by walking away from advertisements like this without spending a dime. Become a new you the old fashioned way.

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How to pronounce PyeongChang

The Chang part of PyeongChang should rhyme more with tong or chong or bong than it does with tang or sang.  It’s ‘ohng,’ or, rather, the whole word is 평창.
It turns out that NBC Olympics commentators aren’t just being ignorant when they consistantly mispronounce PyeongChang to rhyme with one of Dracula’s teeth.  It’s a deliberate policy decision.

Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports.  decided they should pronounce it the “American” way, rhyming with twang or tang because ‘it sounds cleaner.’

Whut.

It’s not an English word. You’re not in an English speaking country.  You’re in somebody else’s home country so pronounce the name of their city the way they do- especially since it isn’t even that complicated.  I mean, I could understand if it was a city name that included a lot of Korean sounds the American tongue doesn’t even make, but this one is just not that hard at all.

I understand we don’t always use the local words for place names in foreign countries, usually for good reasons.  Koreans don’t call  their country “Korea” unless they are talking to English speakers.  They call it something more like daehanmingug (I hear this as more like day-ha-ming-go, but my hearing isn’t reliable). It wouldn’t make sense for English commenters to suddenly start talking about Daehanmingug because nobody would know what they were talking about (not even Koreans, because the Americans would blow the pronuciation to smithereens).

But… PyeongChang is different.  All of the sounds in that name are sounds our tongues can readily make.   We don’t already have a well known and understood and totally different pronunciation.  Most of us don’t have a pronunciation for it at all.  So use the correct one, not something you, in your American stubborn-ness, find ‘cleaner.’  What does that even mean?

Let me share a little story.  Recently, I went to a little coffee shop here in the PHilippines and ordered their toffee coffee frappe. I’m American so I read the menu aloud, and frappe has two syllables and the second syllable is ‘pay.’

My waitress said, “Whut?”  No, she didn’t. She just looked politely puzzled and asked me to show her on the menu.  I pointed, and she said firmly, “Oh, the toe-fee kah-pay frap.”

I agreed, but I thought smugly to myself, “How cute. She doesn’t know how to say frappe.”  I privately but generously conceded her pronunciation of coffee because the Filipino word for coffee is kape and the e in Visaya doesn’t ever have a silent form, it’s always pronounced as ‘e’. I decided to split the difference over toffee, as  the ‘o’ here sounds like something between oh and oo, and it just depends. On what, I haven’t figured out.

And then about three seconds later I gave myself a resounding mental slap for being provincial and American.  I am not in America or France, so if my hosts pronounce frappe with one syllable so it rhymes with slap, then that’s how it’s pronounced. I was being a jerk. At least I was only being a jerk by myself in my own head and I caught it and fixed it.

NBC made their jerkitude public policy and put it on the air.

And here’s what really roasts my transisters over the NBC thing.  They think they’re the ‘woke’ ones and assume the worst about the motives of everybody to the right of them.

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A Box of Food Idea for SNAP

The gist of it is here.

RAndom thoughts in no particular order- right now it’s an idea only barely beyond brain-storming, from what I can tell.

The idea at this stage is that it will only be a replacement for part of their SNAP allotment. There will still be the SNAP debit card, just in smaller amounts, for purchasing other food.

No, the stuff in the box isn’t what I’d call healthy at this point. However, you’re naive if you imagine that the majority of what people purchase with their SNAP allotment is healthy. My husband worked for several years in the grocery industry, and people useing SNAP cards almost never were using them for fresh food and produce. They went for cokes, frozen pizzas, candy, chips, convenience foods and other junk. Yes, there are exceptions. If you’re reading here you are probably one of them because I’ve been told more than once people come here for the recipes as much as anything else (sorry I haven’t been posting those so much). I don’t know if somebody else has done the research, but if not, they should- before we argue about the quality of the food and nutrition in the proposed SNAP boxes, we should have a clear idea of where the money goes now.  I am positive it’s not really being used for nutritious food the vast majority of the time and I have considerable exposure to the use of food stamps in several counties, not just my own purchasing habits when I had to rely on government assistance.

I don’t know if this boxed food idea is a workable, useful idea or not, but I do know reforms are needed. I also know they aren’t going to happen without some major strong arming. This is because businesses and politics are too firmly intertwined. The companies who make cokes and easter baskets and frozen pizzas are not going to stand for being shut off from the government SNAP faucet, and the grocery stores won’t accept that, either.

I don’t think the government keeps track of these numbers but when my husband was managing a chain of groceries he checked, and food stamps/SNAP/EBT (different names for the same thing) accounted for half of the business of several of the grocery stores- more in one community, quite a bit less in another community, but about half by average. One week it might be 53%, another week 33%. They are not going to be happy to see that income reduced. They are now dependent on it. So of course, as it says in the article, grocery store owners are objecting to this plan. IT’s in their own personal best interest to object, and that has nothing to do with whether or not it’s good for the rest of us or the people actually on SNAP benefits.

I really don’t care if the food in the box is not to somebody’s personal taste. I know I’m hard nosed about this, but I am saying this as somebody who has used WIC and food stamps and has had family members use them as well, and it’s tough if you don’t like it, it’s not your money. It’s really not. It’s the money your neighbors and friends and and people you don’t even know in other states have worked hard for and had taken from them by the government to give to you. It’s grace. Be grateful and make the best of it instead of having an ugly sense of entitlement. You paid taxes so you deserve it?  Yeah, not really.   It’s highly unlikely you have actually paid out in taxes what you’re getting back (one of many reasons the gov’t is in debt).  Add up what you’ve gotten in governtment money and compare it to the federal taxes you’ve paid.  Be honest.  You need to be counting up what you’ve received not just through programs like SNAP, but also through child tax credits given to people who didn’t even pay federal income taxes, school lunch programs, college grants, and various other subsidies. If you’ have connections to the farm community, count farm subsidies, too.

Whenever this topic comes out somebody trots out the very tired and baseless assumption, “You can’t judge somebody on food stamps based on standing behind them in line for 30 seconds.” Mostly (not always, but mostly) true, and that’s not what I’m doing. I’m basing this on years of my husband and a couple other family members being at the cash register at the grocery store and watching what hundreds of customers buy and how they pay and hearing what they say when they do.

I’m basing this on some up close and personal and very first hand experience of spending time, lots of time, trying to help people living in subsidized apartments and hearing their complaints.

I have workd personally and quite closely with more than a few people on food stamps who not only do not feel grateful for them, they would feel astonished at the notion that anybody should feel feel grateful for something they think we all should be entitled to.
Rather than gratitude, there is more often grumbling, complaining, and resentment that the government isn’t doing *more.* I have watched a mother spend her food stamps on candy and junk food (including toys with candy in them- they qualify for food stamp purchases), eat out at McDonalds (NOT on the dollar menu), buy herself gourmet coffees and fifty dollar shoes, and then on the same day grumble loudly about having to pay a 3.00 co-pay for her child’s prescription, rudely demanding of the poor clerk, “Where is this supposed to come from? I guess it’s just coming out of my baby’s Pampers.”

I have listened to complaints from women living in government housing, where most of their rent and utlities are paid for courtesy of taxpayers, angry that when they let their boyfriends who are NOT on assisstance move in with them, the government expects the boyfriend to pitch in for the rent. They don’t think that’s fair. Their neighbors don’t think that’s fair. So they conspire to hide their boyfriends in their government subsidized apartments at taxpayer expense.  Incidentally, I’ve also been there when they throw away fod they purchased with taxpayer funds because, for a real example, they used their foodstamps to stock up on boxed and bottled comodities like salad dressing and now the dressing is one day past its expiration date- never mind that the ‘expiration’ date is a sell by date and not an ‘eat this one day later and you die’ date.

I have listened to resentful, indignant, complaints that their free housing requires that they pay a pet deposit out of their own pockets if they want a cat. They don’t think that’s fair.  They think taxpayers should cover that. Are there exceptions?  Of course there are.  The point is, I have seen pretty much an entire apartment complex of the ungrateful complainers, and the appreciative, still frugal with other people’s money are the people who try hard to get off the welfare train, and the ungrateful are those who are living in generational dependency and there are a lot more of them.

So, you see, I am not assuming that there are many people on government assistance who feel that it is their birthright, not something they should or do feel grateful for, I know this first hand. I witnessed it regularly.

Somebody else who worked as a manager for such an apartment told me her experience was the same:
“after being a apartment manager for government subsidized housing for many years. They often had the best and newest furniture, electronics (my favorite was the one with the almost wall sized flat screen who needed extra food vouchers every week), and newer cars, but then would come and want a payment arrangement because their rent was going to be late. One person even asked to pay their rent late because they “needed” to buy a bouncer for their kid’s birthday party. It’s sad.”

It’s sad, and it’s just part of a long laundry list of things wrong with us as a nation and I say us because I am not really immune, either. Oh, I may be immune to that specific example. But I’m sure there are others where I fail.  But other failings are not our topic today.  We’re talking about SNAP and possible reforms and solutions- I believe reforms are still desperately needed and people need to be rather firmly weaned from generational dependency.

So, anyway,  The SNAP box. I don’t think it’s a great idea, but I do think it’s an idea worth considering and most of the objections I’ve heard either are irrelevant or require more data before being considered relevant or not, or it’s just plain whining and a sense of entitlement.  The current system has a lot of problems that need fixing.  No solution will be perfect, but something should be changed.

 

I’ll add one more observation.  I was recently talking with a half Filipina half American teenager who spends about 2/3 of her time here in the PHilippines and a third in the U.S.  She’s told me one of the things she hates about going back to the U.S. is what whiny complainers Americans are.  They “complain about the food and not getting what they want, and they complain about how poor they are,  and they care more about animals than people,” she said, “But I  live in a third world country. It’s my real home.  And I see children picking garbage out of trash cans to eat all the time, and I just don’t have any patience with the whining.”

There are kids here who don’t get to go to school because they don’t have money for uniforms or supplies as basic as paper and a pencil.  Sometimes at night on my way home from church I see families with several young children rummaging through garbage bins.  I have been confronted by a family of beggars when I had no cash, but I did have a few pieces of fruit in my bag and when I gave them that, they immediately gathered on the corner of the road and sat down to share the slices of fruit together.  I’ve seen scorched rice brought to a potluck because that’s all somebody had to bring.  And I am never one who thinks we need to feel guilty about being American. I think it’s appropriate to feel blessed and thankful for that, not guilty.  But when I read objections to the SNAP box suggestion that go something as follows-  ‘… that stuff is gross. I don’t consider that food. We should be able to get whatever we want…’  my sympathy monitor flatlines.  Get whatever you want with your own money, not taxpayer dollars.   Send me your boxes and I can share them with people who actually know what real hunger is.  That sense of entitlement is disgusting.

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