Tag Archives: Book Club

Assignment 5: Review – Pocketful of Pinecones

Did you get the opportunity to read  pages 17-18 from Pocketful of Pinecones?

In our reading, Carol is out shopping and goes into the book store looking for field guides.  The clerk recommends “The Handbook of Nature Study” by Anna Botsford Comstock.  Wow!  Have you seen the book?  Do you have a copy?  I do, and it is a little intimidating. I am glad that our character, Carol, bought the book.  because it was recommended on Ambleside Rotation – Handbook of Nature Study.  So, I also bought it on a recommendation.

When I first received it, I read the introduction, and was really motivated.  However, that was it.  I put it down and kept thinking I would get to it eventually.  Then, I went to the 2015 CMI Conference and there was a chat (a discussion) on “Using Comstock Handbook”.  Yeah, I thought.  Now, I am going to learn how to use this book.

The first thing I noticed in the class was – it was FULL.  Obviously, I was not the only one intimidated by it 🙂  The discussion leader gave some very simple instructions on best practice for using the book.

  1. Read the Introduction in the Handbook for Nature Study on your own.
  2. Remember this is a resource and not a text book.  So, do not read the lessons out loud to your children (obviously, you can if you want ,she was just giving advice.)
  3. Select a lesson.  Read the lesson on your own prior to your nature study time with your kids.
  4. Gather your students for nature time (preferably outside). Present them with a quick lesson (brief overview) of what you read.
  5. Begin your nature walk.  If they happen to stumble across something that brings the object lesson up in the conversation – great.  If not, follow their lead. Don’t force the topic.  Let them be children and ramble and discover.

Did you love the quote “Wear the old quote, buy the new book.”?


Chapter 5 “Education: A Science of Relationships” Discussion Questions

Chapter 5 “Education: A Science of Relationships” Discussion Questions

  1. What does Charlotte Mason mean by “Science of Relationships?
  2. What did Charlotte Mason believe were the three sorts of knowledge proper to a child?
  3. In her example of Christian education , how did Susan Schaeffer Macaulay apply this to Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life?
  4. Of the many subjects SSM covers in chapter 5, was there a particular subject that you felt you needed the most assistance with in applying the philosophy of the “Science of Relationships” and “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life”?

“For the Children’s Sake” – Chapter 2 – Children are Born Persons.

This week for book club we turned to Chapter 2 of the book “For the Children’s Sake” entitled “Children are Born Persons”.  The title of the chapter is actually a quote from Charlotte Mason. Right off the bat, Susan Schaeffar Macaulay seeks to impress upon us the importance of this quote and warns us not to just read it and move on, but to consider it.  She stresses that “He is a separate human being whose strength lies in who he is, not in who he will become.” (pg 12).

I have to say that this was a very profound statement to read.  I was educated in a traditional school system, and I realize after reading this chapter that I need to confront all my ideas about what school is and how it is done.  This child is not a pitcher to be filled with ideas that I like.   I must first turn to my child: observe him, talk to him, consider him.  I need to truly get to know my child.  Not just usher him through exercises and daily routines, passing through the day without ever really engaging him.

SSM continues this theme through the rest of the chapter as she helps us understand how we may get to know our children: by reading books with them, by listening to them.  She stresses here that we must leave off giving them “twaddle” defined on page 15 as “the mentally inferior and useless stuff produced or written for children by adults.” In contrast, we need to give them books with ‘literary power’ (pg 32).  “As for the matter of these books, let us remember that children can take in ideas and principles, whether the latter be moral or mechanical, as quickly and clearly as we do ourselves.” (quote from Charlotte Mason)  She warns, though, that “the adult, whether teacher or parent, has to be able to enjoy and understand what he or she is reading with the children.”

She leaves us with this final quote, “Life is just too interesting for boredom!” – page 41

What an encouragement I have found “For the Children’s Sake” to be! I hope you enjoyed this simple narration of Chapter 2 🙂  I realized after reading this chapter that my approach to Chapter 1 with our book club (go here to see that) was a very “traditional” school approach where I was plying my book club friends with questions that I thought up, very much like what SSM warned against in Chapter 2 (page 16).

What did you think of Chapter 2?

I hope you found this helpful.

May God Bless You on Your Walk!

For the Children’s Sake – Chapter 1 “What is Education?”

Okay, so I was super excited when I woke up this morning and realized that it was finally the first day of book club.  I was nervous, too, hoping that people would show up and that fun would be had by all, but I just couldn’t wait to dive into the first chapter of this book.

Over the course of reading the first chapter, I had been formulating book club questions in the back of my mind.  Not so much to run the conversation, but to help it along if we seemed to run out of things to say.

So, here is the list that we used for our guide:

For the Children’s Sake
Foundations of Education for Home and School
Book Club
Week 1

Why are we here?  The idea for forming a book club in the first place came from my desire to read this book.  I had tried reading it on my own but life always seemed to get in the way.  I knew that if I was responsible for a book club, I would read the book.  And, it’s true!

After reading Chapter 1 page 7, I would also add that I have been helped immensely by other mothers who have read about and know Charlotte Mason’s theories and have led discussion groups covering them.  Therefore, I willingly answer Charlotte’s call to “all parents who had been helped” by her theories “to organize meetings and so pass on the ideas to the mothers who would never be reached through her books.”

After that introduction to the book club, we briefly went over the Introduction from the book.  You can read a quick summary about that here.

Group questions:

1) In the beginning, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (SSM) and her husband were unsure about what what to do about their daughter’s education.  Did you ever feel that way?  How did you come to the decision to home school?

2) How did Charlotte Mason view children?

3)  What do you think education is?  How did Charlotte define education?

4) What did Charlotte think of the job of parents?

5) Do you approach all your children the same way?

6) What is really important?

I did not record exact responses out of respect for the privacy of those that attended the gathering.    Also, as we discussed, our conversation naturally led down many paths, which would be very difficult to record here.  Therefore, I will summarize in italics below what we came up with so that you can get the gist of our responses.

1) In the beginning, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (SSM) and her husband were unsure about what what to do about their daughter’s education.  Did you ever feel that way?  How did you come to the decision to home school?

This was a great ice breaker question.  We went around and everyone spoke about what brought them to homeschooling. It was neat to hear about the journey that led each mother to home school.

2) How did Charlotte Mason view children?

“Charlotte Mason believed passionately that children are persons who should be treated as individuals as they are introduced to the variety and richness of the world in which they live.” This contrasts with the commonly held views some hold that children are more like pitchers needing to be filled and have no ideas and thoughts of their own or that all children are alike and can be taught in exactly the same manner. 

3)  What do you think education is?  How did Charlotte define education?

‘What is education?’ is a very thought provoking question.  We framed it this way: when your child graduates from high school what is it that you want them to know.  One person said that education is life long. Another person said that education is also life skills and those tend to be overlooked.  We all agreed that we had some informal list that we had in our minds that we didn’t learn that we wanted to make sure that we imparted to our kids.  SSM on page 8 said, “When a baby is picked up, spoken to, and loved, he is starting his education as God planned it.  For all our lives we are human beings, in an active state of learning, responding, understanding. Education extends to all of life.”

4) What did Charlotte think of the job of parents?

Charlotte believed “that they (the parents) had the most interesting and valuable vocation that exists amongst mankind.”

5) Do you approach all your children the same way?

The overall response was ‘No’.  We all see that each of our children have different needs and are different people.  While we come together as one family unit, we appreciate all the different personalities in the family.

6) What is really important?

Page 11 “If Christianity is indeed true, then every last little child matters.”  “One day we will stand before the Creator.  Were we willing to give, serve and sacrifice “for the children’s sake“?