Children as persons is principle number 1 in a Charlotte Mason education. In the readings of her material as well as the second hand resources written about her material, this concept is thoroughly covered and expounded on. I never really got it until now. Her point that is. And it was the straight forward comment of my husband (whose brain does not get muddled with all of the fluff as mine does) that helped me finally understand. Of course children are born persons…they have body, mind, and soul just as we all do…but that is not all there is to it. Charlotte Mason is talking about their nature. The nature of children is the same as the nature of adults. Children are born able to learn, able to love, and apt to sin.
I think we often look at children as potential persons and that we, as their guardians, are the ones to mold and shape them into complete persons. We look at them in stages…oh, here is the infant stage, let us give them bright colored noise makers, feed them multi-colored food in plastic packaging, and stimulate their senses with baby dvds. Oh, here is the toddler stage, let us buy character toys and board books and fill their minds with animated, educational videos. Oh, here is the preschool stage, let’s dress them in cartoon character clothing that makes them happy, and continue to buy the latest and greatest popular toy, and feed them child friendly food like, dinosaur chicken nuggets and yougurt in squeeze containers. Anyway, you get my point. And not to say all of this is bad…but it is a child-centered world we live in and it would take a lot of determination to break free of the hold it has on our families.
Considering all of this brought me right back to Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” How many of us focus on the end of that verse? Of course we do. It’s comforting. We think, if we do our part now, then God will keep our dear child from going astray later in life. I’m not a Bible scholar, so I’ll leave it to you to research the difference between maxims and promises in the Bible. What I want to look at is the “Train UP” part. Defined as “from a lower to a higher place, position,” the word up suggests that as parents we should not settle into the child-friendly culture, but rather, be mindful that we are training UP.
I am no expert, and I do not claim to know even how to begin. But I believe it’s why I tend to avoid the “pea and stick” crafts of the preschool world and why I tend to purchase good quality art supplies for my toddlers and why we really have very few toys in our home. This idea of training up has somewhat taken root. But OH! The children’s programming! I wouldn’t know where to begin to weed that out. And the junk food! I am so guilty of feeding the child instead of the person.
In education, this is why CM advocates avoiding twaddle. It’s why she promotes journals and blank pages over colorful worksheets. It’s why she suggests studying beautiful art and great music from the earliest ages. It’s why outdoor time is so tied in to a CM curriculum; how much better is it to whet a child’s appetite for beautiful things by letting him explore the wonders of nature, then for him to become accustomed to stimulation and pleasure in front of a screen.
Training up. Feeding the person instead of the child. Able to learn, able to love, and apt to sin. How much I have to learn!