I received a couple questions recently regarding AmblesideOnline, Charlotte Mason, and the teaching of history that made me think of conversations I’ve had in the past with Karen Glass. I decided to use them as an excuse to have a conversation with her and record it for AfterCast. That’s what I’m presenting to you today.
Karen is the author of Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition, and also the brain behind Mind to Mind, an abridgment of Charlotte Mason’s sixth volume. Karen Glass is part of the Advisory of AmblesideOnline. She has four children, ages 13 to 27, who have been homeschooled using Charlotte Mason’s methods from beginning to end. She has been studying and writing about Charlotte Mason and Classical Education for over twenty years.
Listen to this episode:
Here are the two questions I read at the beginning of the episode:
I wanted to know your thoughts on history cycles. Why you like AO 6 year cycle compared to the many others (3,4, 5, 6). Do you think/know that they really know history? Have a good overview? Do you feel they have the “right pegs” to fill in the rest of history as they read/study on their own? Such as they are not memorizing a timeline like CC or Veritas?
My oldest has completed Years 1 and 2 of AmblesideOnline and we actually did the first term of Year 3 last year. I am feeling muddled in my head, though, regarding history. It is probably a pedagogical problem on my part, but I worry that my son is not getting a strong sense of the broad sweep of history, chronologically and geographically. We are putting events and names on a timeline, and we do consult a map, but I still find myself longing for a more straightforward approach to the big picture and more clarity overall. Can you speak as to your student’s grasp of history, having faithfully done AO? And are there things that I should be doing as a teacher to make things more clear (without lecturing and buying textbooks!) Oh, and we do narrate every reading. But obviously dates and names don’t always sink in.
Links to things we mentioned:
- AmblesideOnline History FAQs
- This Country of Ours
- Our Island Story
- Norms and Nobility
- The Parents’ Review
- The Archives
- Volume 1 (Home Education)
- Volume 3 (School Education)
- Volume 6 (Towards a Philosophy of Education)
- “The mind is restricted to pabulum of one kind: it is nourished upon ideas and absorbs facts only as these are connected with the living ideas upon which they hang.” (p. 20)
- AmblesideOnline Year 1
- In Memoriam
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The updated AO History FAQ link: https://amblesideonline.org/art-history
Thanks! I updated the link.
I really like your podcast. Please change your intro music/length of intro music. It is very distracting and music I don’t allow around my home so it’s hard to have your podcast start playing with my children home. Thanks!
I’m glad you like the podcast. Please feel free to skip the intro using the 15-second button or fast forward, but I won’t be removing it. I’ve gotten so many rave reviews on the music from other listeners, and to be honest I chose it because I love it. 🙂
Wow, this request made me chuckle. You handled it well! lol 🙂
Is the Parents’ Review article that Karen mentioned (which states that one of the goals of education is to preserve a sense of ignorance) available online anywhere? I’d love to use it in my doctoral research!
Becky, I just saw your comment here, and it made me want to share another quote with you. This one is from Mark Van Doren’s book “Liberal Education,” but he says he’s quoting Pascal, so maybe you’d rather track that down. Anyway:
“The educated person, says Pascal, is one who has substituted learned ignorance for natural ignorance. That is valuable because it keeps ignorance in the picture, which otherwise would be false.”
Thank you, Karen! I definitely want to bring out this point in my Philosophy of Education seminar this semester. This sense of ignorance or incompleteness–humility when it really comes down to it–is so important and so often overlooked as an educational goal. It also puts me in mind of the article by George Grant, when he says, “Education is that unique form of discipleship that brings us to the place of admitting our inadequacies.” I think if we are to define education biblically, we must include humility in the equation.
I just want to sit and lap up wisdom from Karen Glass all day long. I will be listening to this again. There is so much goodness here! Thank you both!
You are so welcome, Jessica! ♥
This was such a helpful podcast! Every year I think – I’m not doing this history thing right – but really I’m not! Thank you for answering the questions and really diving into the GOAL of teaching history. Definitely bookmarking this to come back to each year when I feel anxious hearing about everyone else doing 4 year cycles. 🙂
I think some people like the timeline memorization because they don’t feel like they can do anything deeper with young children and don’t want to waste time. They may feel that students won’t remember the hero stories and ideas but will remember route fact memorization if drilled enough to introduce ideas later. Many people believe that think that fact memorization is developmental appropriate for the youngest children and that sharing ideas is over the youngest kid’s heads. I am torn on this. I’d like to learn more…
This is so so helpful and answers so many questions and internal struggles I have had. I am one of those moms who is just starting out. My kids are 6, 5, 3 and 1 and I am in a large homeschooling community. The other mothers I know following Charlotte Mason have older children, but most of my peers are doing CC. I have felt so insecure about our path, but this episode REALLY encouraged me to just trust cultivating care over constructing perfect mechanics. Thank you!
Oh, Laura, that’s great! I’m glad we could help. 🙂
Brandy, this was awesome!! Thank you so much for your blog and podcast(s). I really enjoyed getting to read more of Karen Glass during the Boot Camp this summer and this interview was really helpful. Karen was very encouraging. I gained more insight into how AO is set up and why. I also feel like I need to make my way through volume 3.
You will LOVE Volume 3 … or at least, I love it, and I hope you do, too. 🙂
Oh, I’m bummed. I posted a long reply and actually got a message that I posted a duplicate reply and now I don’t see either but I have to run some errands so can’t replace the message! Basically, I have loved AO since I first learned about it 10 years ago and I love it even more after listening to this amazing podcast!
Thanks so much for sharing insight into why this rich curriculum has resulted in my kids having a much greater understanding of and connection with the people and places throughout history!
Hey, Lisa! I’m sorry about that — I don’t know why it decided I needed to approve your comments again! Weird! Sorry for the confusion…But I’m glad you left them. 🙂
I have loved AmblesideOnline from the first time I took a look at their website 10 years ago in the summer before my oldest started kindergarten. I had been planning to homeschool using The Well Trained Mind recommendations and was completely overwhelmed at the thought of implementing everything (and yes, I know Susan Wise Bauer does say that not everything needs to be implemented, but I was new to homeschooling, ambitious and really, really wanting to check all those boxes!!)
My homeschooling sister-in-law (who actually was the one who sent me WTM when I my oldest was 6 months old) was listening to all that I was planning to try to cover with my little 5 year old and very carefully recommended to me that I consider AO instead as I was going to overwhelm my son and myself!! I have never looked back. The richness of the curriculum has been such a blessing even in the midst of my imperfect implementation and this interview provides such a beautiful explanation of WHY it has been such a blessing. I love, love, love the connections and the understanding of people & places that my kids have that I never got from my education!
Thank you Karen & Brandy for a fabulous podcast!!
Thank you, Lisa! I saw your comment on the AO FB page and was so grateful to read it. ♥
My goodness. Thank you so much for considering and answering my question….WITH KAREN GLASS! You two answered my concerns so thoroughly and beautifully that I found myself wondering why I had ever asked it. (I don’t want to confess, but I will, that some of my question arose out of a 4th of July party where a little girl from the local classical school blew us all out of the water on an American government quiz. My son, who is the same age, stood there with his mouth open, dumbfounded. She even knew when the Magna Carta was signed! Nobody asked my son for a narration on Bloody Mary, unfortunately…:)
ANYWAY, the most important lightbulb moment for me was that my children are not seeing history the way I do…yet. I love history, always have, and attended a Great Books College (Gutenberg College) where we studied the great movements of history and philosophy and art as one big picture. I am so excited for my kids to see the fascinating elements of this great story! I want them to have the big picture, now! But my oldest is nine. Sigh. So it will be awhile. But you helped me see that they are learning to care. They thrill with the stories, they wonder why anyone would want to be a king or a queen (so many heads chopped off!), they shake their heads in frustration at the New World settlements that don’t plant grain and plan ahead to feed themselves – in other words, they care. Eventually I might have them learn the timeline song, but when they do they will know all about Good Queen Bess (isn’t Island Story just the best book!)
So thank you. That was just marvelous and encouraging. I might have to listen to it again in January when I want to send all my kids to the school down the street! 😉
Oh, Axon, I’m so happy it was helpful! And yes … Island Story IS the best book! ♥ (What is it with kids and that Bloody Mary chapter? It’s a favorite here, too…)
I want to be Karen Glass when I grow up. Just sayin’. Seriously thankful for the gracious wisdom that just flows out of her. This was such an encouraging and helpful conversation. Thank-you.
I want to be her, too. 🙂
That was so encouraging, Brandy and Karen, especially the last bit! ❤
Oh, I’m so glad! ♥