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    Books & Reading, Mother's Education

    A Relief Reading Plan for Charlotte Mason Groups

    May 25, 2021 by Brandy Vencel

    I have been leading a Charlotte Mason reading group for almost a dozen years. It’s hard to say if I should count 2020 โ€” California shut down in March of 2020 and we weren’t able to meet again until March of 2021 (and even then our meeting was at an undisclosed location). But here we are. A year later than planned, we finished Charlotte Mason’s Parents and Children. (Yes, there will be a study guide eventually.)

    I debated over whether or not to take our usual summer break and read or do something different. After all, we didn’t meet for a year. But summer is still summer, and we’ve also always taken a break and read something different between volumes as a refresher (and a chance to search out principles at work in a different context). I’ve often called this “relief reading” to myself because just like we practice alternation in our homeschools, mixing up volume reading with something else provides the same sort of relief and refreshment.

    I chose Louis L’Amour’s Education of a Wandering Man not because I’ve read it (I haven’t) but because a sweet friend of mine kept reading passages aloud to me whenever we had our regular ghetto coffee dates. (Kicked out of Starbucks, we tailgated in the back parking lot. It was classy, trust us. Eventually, we wised up and brought our own chairs.) The passages were compelling, and I could see a number of Charlotte Mason principles at work, most especially the necessity of wide reading.

    Warning: she says it “gets earthy” at the end. Not sure what that means yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite (keep in mind that by “power” he means electricity):

    I have delved deeply into the literatures of the world, yet what is available is scarcely a dusting of what must have been. Great libraries have been destroyed, and books or manuscripts are vulnerable.

    Books as books must be preserved. There is an effort now to preserve everything by mechanical means, but of what use will they be to a man who has no power? No means of reproducing the sounds or the words? A book can be carried away and read at leisure. It needs nothing but an eye, a brain, and the ability to read.


    In my library of some ten thousand selected books, I have the means of reproducing much of our civilization. I have the five volumes of Singer’s History of Technology, which have much on the means of construction. There are other books other on the building of watercraft, books on all manner of crafts and how they were done. From there alone, if all were lost, one might start again.

    Education of a Wandering Man, pp. 120-121

    Our Summer Discussion Plan

    This is what we’ll be doing, and I figured you might like to know, too. I simply broke the book up into three parts and we’ll read it over the summer and discuss at our monthly meetings:

    • June: chapters 1-8
    • July: chapters 9-17
    • August: chapters 18-end

    As usual, we’ll take September off to focus on getting our homeschools in order, and then in October we’ll jump into School Education.

    Need a study guide for your Charlotte Mason group? Just click here.

    Books & Reading, Educational Philosophy, Mother's Education

    Mothers’ Education Course: Summer 2021

    May 21, 2021 by Brandy Vencel

    It’s that time again! Every year, I develop two summer reading lists. This year, we’re doing the MEC list first. Of the two lists, this one is meant for the more serious reader. I often caution moms who have newborns or are otherwise sleep-deprived. The next list โ€” the Mother Culture list โ€” is much more appropriate for that stage of life. But for those of you ready for a challenge, allow me to introduce (or re-introduce) you to a Continue Reading…

    Educational Philosophy

    Humility, the Classical Way

    May 10, 2021 by Brandy Vencel

    I could wish that our students possessed such earnestness that wisdom would never grow old in them.โ€” Hugh of St. Victor Lately, I’ve been knee-deep in curriculum. I’ve looked at options I haven’t looked at before (no, I’m not leaving AmblesideOnline; this is for a side project). I’m not just looking at the curricula; I’m reading what the companies say about what they have made. I’ve noticed a disturbing lack of humility out there in the larger classical world. I’m Continue Reading…

    Educational Philosophy, Home Education

    Give the Student What He Needs

    April 14, 2021 by Brandy Vencel

    In The Didascalicon, Hugh of Saint Victor says there are three obstacles to progress in learning โ€” perhaps we might say three categories of obstacles โ€” that students can come up against: carelessness, imprudence, and bad luck. He then goes on to share his solution for these three. I found myself wondering if it could really be this simple: only three? But the more I went around in circles, the more every obstacle I could think of fit into one Continue Reading…