In the Charlotte Mason world, there are very few experts, at least in the way that I think of experts. We tend to be homeschoolers, after all. Homeschooling is the bastion of the amateur. And that, my friends, is the word we want: amateur.
An amateur, you see, is one who loves. Love, being the heart of true study, is where we want to begin, and something we want to remain, even when we’ve come to know a lot more than when we started. We don’t want Charlotte Mason’s philosophy professionalized and institutionalized and given its own fancy academic language and eventually becoming inaccessible to normal folk.
Probably the reasoning behind a statement like “I can’t lead a Charlotte Mason group (or other book group) because I’m not an expert” is something like this: I don’t feel like I’m far enough down the road in my experience, or wise enough in general. I shouldn’t be held up as an example.
You know what? It’s probably true!
When I first started leading a group, I had about 18 months of actual Charlotte Mason experience and I was young — barely over 30. Did I think I was “expert” enough?
The thing is, I never thought leading a group like this required an expert. It needs someone to organize, yes. But, my dears, why don’t we all be content to let the author be the expert? We don’t have to already know — that’s why we’re reading the book. We can all be co-learners.
I’ve been leading book groups for many years now, and you know what? I still learn something new at every single meeting. I know this might sound shocking, but my train left the station years ago and still hasn’t arrived at my destination.
Because it’s all a journey.
Yes, some of us have been on the rails longer than others. That’s true. But I really don’t see what that has to do with leading a group. If you can set a date and time, find a location, and make a reading assignment, you can lead a group. (Actually, I’ve even made some reading assignments for you, if it sounds scary to do that part.) The ability to serve coffee nicely is an added bonus, but not a requirement.
I’ve met so many people lately who say things like, “I wish I had a group,” but when I suggest starting one, they get this deer-in-the-headlights look. You know what? It’s not so scary! And if you have the love, you’re going to do just fine.
I really think so.
Think about what is stopping you. For me, it was all the logistics. I can’t get my housekeeping together well enough. Fine, we can meet at a coffee shop. For others, it might be childcare. Fine, have a small group come over after the kids are in bed.
And if your hangup is not being an expert, let. it. go.
You’re not an expert? Fine. You’re not well-educated? Fine again! Homeschooling will give you a better education than you initially received. You’ll be awesome in 12 years or so.
All you really need is love and a few organizational skills.
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