Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Value of a Child

I have the privilege and pleasure of participating in Nancy Kelly's Living Education Lessons. I cannot tell you how much the first two classes blessed me, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the sessions more than I can say. The next one is tonight, in fact! I missed the CMI conference last summer because of our move, and will miss it this year, too, because I waited too long and it's sold out. I needed something to renew my spirit, and these classes with Nancy are just the ticket. Do check them out and see if it's something that might interest you. You won't be disappointed. Her blog, Sage Parnassus, is also a wonderful resource.

The first two weeks we discussed Miss Mason's first principle of education: "Children are born persons." Upon first glance, it seems like an obvious statement in some ways. The longer I've had to ponder it, though, the more I find there is to consider.

It's not simply that children are human, or that they are people. Person almost needs to have a capital "P," because personhood, I believe, is talking about a child's soul, the very thing that makes them who they are in the eyes of God.

This first principle is what first touched my heart and drew me to Charlotte Mason. When I was growing up, personhood was not something that was ever discussed, much less seen as important. Certainly no one had heard of Charlotte Mason. The parenting style was punitive, with little or no regard to circumstances or the heart of a child. When I learned from Miss Mason, and the lovely people God's brought into my life along this journey, how to see my children as Persons, my heart and parenting were forever changed for the better. I'm so grateful!

I made a new connection on Personhood as I was reading our first assignment. Nancy has asked us to keep commonplace entries of our readings, of course, and sometimes I feel as though I should just copy the entire book out by hand. There seems to be more underlined than not! The quote I chose was this one:
If we have not proved that a child is born a person with a mind as complete and as beautiful as his little body, we can at least show that he always has all the mind he requires for his occasions; that is, that his mind is the instrument of his education, but his education does not produce his mind. --Vol. 6, p. 36 
When I read that initially, I felt a huge sense of relief. I was assured that the education I'm giving my girls is not what is making their minds. They already have all the mind they need. It was a breath of reassurance I needed.

Then, though, I looked back over the reading as I prepared to read the next week's assignment, and I came across this quote:
...the beautiful infant frame is but the setting of a jewel of such astonishing worth, that, put the whole world in one scale and this jewel in the other, and the scale which holds the world flies up outbalanced.
--Vol. 6, p. 34
Can you see that vision with me? Can you imagine the soul of a child as a precious jewel whose value outweighs that of the earth itself? That image has captured my imagination, and is again reworking the way I see my children. I know as mothers, as parents, we all see our children as precious. I have no doubt of that. I am beginning to see that they are worth still more than I knew, and they are so incredibly beautiful.

When I put those two quotes together, I found an expansion on the idea that children are not blank slates or empty buckets to be filled. No matter what book we assign our children to read, each one will receive it differently. I am continually amazed by the connections my children make in their reading, and it's never the same thing from any of them. We can no more turn a child into a doctor or a lawyer than we could turn them into a squash. They are who they are made to be by the Creator, and He is forming them according to His purposes.

Of course, I still want them to experience truth, beauty and goodness through the books they read, and my goal is still to provide them with the feast of ideas Miss Mason talks about spreading before students, but in the end, the ideas help them find out more about who they already are, rather than making them into something want.

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