Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Mindfulness

Welcome to the February 11, 2014 edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival. The two carnivals for the month of February focus on Chapter 11 of School Education, and I encourage you to read it in Mason's own words or Leslie's lovely paraphrase (Sh..., no one will ever know). Not only do I encourage you to read the chapter first, but narrate it, copy your favorite phrases, make your own connections. How can we expect our children to develop mindfulness if we aren't doing it ourselves?

Carol focuses on ideas in her post on this chapter, and ideas are at the heart of intellectual habits. They are the things that our minds digest to absorb nourishment that causes new ideas to grow. Like many of us, she longs to hone her own mindfulness,
I underline passages, scripture or quotes that stand out to me as I read. It's telling that often when I go back through books I've read and see what I've underlined, I think, 'Why on earth did that strike me at the time?' and I am clueless because I allowed it to pass over the surface of my mind. Taking the time to write some notes in the margins or in a notebook makes all the difference for me.
Nebby shares her struggles with mindfulness, too because she wants more for her children. Don't we all?
All those things that my kids in a Charlotte Mason education are supposed to be learning, the habit of attention, concentration, being able to focus all their mind and to remember after one reading, I am horrible at those things. Perhaps that is why I am so attracted to Charlotte’s methods; I want something better for my kids. My mind always drifts during sermons. And I rarely remember things I read well. That’s actually why I blog on books so much — so that I can look back myself and remember what I read. It’s actually kind of nice when it comes to movies because I can watch them again without knowing what is going to happen.
These are great questions. Does my mind drift during sermons? Can I remember what I read? What intellectual habits might I encourage for myself? This year, I'm expanding my habit of keeping. I draw and write in a nature notebook consistently. Now, I'm adding a language arts notebook for my own copywork and narration to better understand what students at my school are experiencing. Doing so led me to some wonderful connections between Psalm 100 and this chapter on mindfulness.

Amy has asked herself similar questions with an eye toward the aging process. Here's her plan:
I hope this year to really give my children an opportunity to develop their intellectual habits, and I think my own could use some tweaking as well. I think our explorations with AO will give us some lovely scaffolding as we explore and form our intellectual habits. Reading, discussing, asking some tough questions and paying attention to how we present our ideas and our written work will all play their role.
Nancy shared an important discovery in asking questions about the leading questions at the end of Mason's book Ourselves. Mason wrote this book for students whom she trusted to read one time and narrate. Why include such pointed questions? Well, you'll have to read Nancy's post to learn why but it connects to our struggles with developing our own intellectual habits.

While many place their faith in reason, Mason viewed it with doubt. Look where Lady Reason lead the French during their revolution. Being mindful is reading something old and comparing it with something new. Kristyn pondered the limitations of reason with the recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham (as did I at my math blog). Her questions illustrate beautifully what an active mind does naturally:
Could your reasoned conclusions of any particular point be unreasonable? How do we know if they are? And how do we change, if so?
Blog carnival coordinator Amy Tuttle describes a hands-on way to develop mindfulness through paper sloyd. She and her children are seeing intellectual habits emerge as they make projects together. She explains,
I had to learn to be clear and careful in GIVING instructions. We have all had to work to maintain a friendly and relaxed atmosphere (struggle on, perfectionists!). The kids have had to make an effort not to get overwhelmed or frustrated while listening and concentrating in a group context with various skill levels represented.
Speaking of sloyd, Gina shared pictures of her children making an envelope. She compares it to the Japanese art of origami, but with more cutting, drawing, and measuring. Like Amy, Gina hopes her children will refine intellectual habits as they do more lessons.
Our first sloyd project was a simple envelope but it required the kids to carefully measure and cut. I assisted them a little. I showed them how to use a ruler and where to find 'inches'. They carefully measured, cut and folded to make an envelope. For the succeeding lessons, my job is to read the lesson and have them figure out how to measure, fold, and cut based on the instructions and diagram with minimal assistance.
Moreover, sloyd shows students one place where math ideas live in the real world. Yesterday, I was guiding a boy in making a picture frame. When he drew the two diagonals, he exclaimed, "Hey! I just made an intersection." I probed a little further since he started the conversation, "I have a bonus question! What kind of angles are formed when the diagonals of a right triangle intersect?" He grinned, "Right angles!"

Today, a girl elaborated on her ability to make a 6″ by 6″ square. She needed a 10″ by 10" square to draw a frog. I have no idea how this turned about because she didn't show me the process. I was excited for her to link what she learned in paper sloyd to what she wanted to make. Elaborating on a previous idea is another example of mindfulness.

Speaking of math, our potpourri of posts touches on Cindy's take on living math. Two more posts point to nature study: a year-long milkweed study by Barb and Friday's Great Backyard Bird Count by me. And, if you have littles underfoot while you try to teach the older ones, Celeste shares how her days with six children and one on the way look.

Thank you to all the bloggers who worked so hard to make this carnival possible. You have given us all food for thought. If today's posts inspire you to write about the topic of mindfulness (intellectual habits), feel free to submit it to the next carnival. The carnival schedule for the year is here.


Celeste said...

Thanks for hosting, Tammy! Looks like a wonderful selection of submissions--I'm looking forward to reading my way through them.

amy in peru said...

oh dear. you mean you want us to do the stuff we make our kids do?! wait but, it's so hard!! ;)

actually, i agree. i try to narrate regularly to my husband or by writing what i've read. it is SO helpful, not to mention, hard. though, it does get easier.

the carnival turned out wonderful! thanks so much for mindfully working through the posts! :)

Barb McCoy said...

You did an amazing job on this carnival...I want to read every single entry. :)

Thanks for hosting.

walking said...

The blogpost came so easily because the entries were very thoughtful! A living example of the subject at hand.