Johannah and Noah attending a Vintage Dance
Repeat after me: process, not product.
“Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” –Charlotte Mason
Let’s notice what Charlotte did not say.
She did not say:
“Education is meeting the requirements of the Common Core.”
She did not say:
“Education is the successful achievement of degrees—first high school, then college, then graduate school if you have a TRUE education.”
She also did not say:
“Education is mastering Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.”
Moreover, she did not say:
“Education is what someone does to you by teaching Important Information through tests and grades.”
Instead, Charlotte tells us to take our eyes off “end points” and to focus on creating a rich life through shaping the atmosphere (environment), through discipline (intentionality—being conscious of learning opportunities, creating them, acting on them), through life itself (the process of being alive is our best classroom).
You are on the right track when you get off track and focus instead on the feel of your home and family vibe. Ensure that people feel heard, loved, and that their dreams and hopes matter (can be achieved).
You’re on the right track when you ebb and flow—some weeks making a “course of study” a priority in a systematic way, other weeks learning as you go guided by curiosity and enthusiasm.
You’re on the right track when you see all of life as your classroom—that the conversation about recycling plastic bags over bagels at breakfast is as important as the math pages completed before lunch.
No one “arrives” at an end point: Time stamp—EDUCATED.
Rather, we have intermittent markers that let us pause to appreciate this new place (graduated, finished a book, learned to read, understood a principle and can use it). The purpose of education, though, is to LIVE a LIFE—not to idolize the mastery of facts, figures, and theories.
That’s why I return to this mantra: It’s the process, baby. If you can let go of your need to match the state’s expectations, or your schoolish memories, or the pressure of your very academic classical homeschool community, or the stringent requirements of some important university, you can surf the waves of learning as they roll onto your shores.
You’ll feel freer to put Vintage Dance Lessons (and distributing flyers every Monday for three hours in the snow with kids along for the ride to pay for them) ahead of history for that one six months period. The learning is in all of it—the lessons, being with adults, the history of dance, the bartering work to pay for the lessons, the music, being in the cultural center of our local community, borrowing the fancy gown for the ball, participating in the ball, watching Jane Austen films over and over again to see which dances they are performing and which ones are being learned at class, manners, exercise, being paired with a sibling and learning to work together and love each other through it…
Atmosphere: dance lessons, with adults, people who are passionate about preserving historical dance.
Discipline: weekly lessons, must memorize steps and practice, weekly distribution of flyers to pay for lessons.
Life: siblings dancing together, community supplying costumes for ball, family attending the ball to see how the two students mastered the dances, attending rehearsals with all five kids, distributing flyers with all five kids to pay for two kids, watching and learning by being in the room with the dancers, being a family that loved Vintage Dance.
Did dance go on a single transcript anywhere? No. Yet Vintage Dance still ranks as one of our top educational experiences during the homeschooling years. AND no one still dances! The kids moved on…because it’s the process, baby. Onto the next atmosphere, discipline, and life.
Cross-posted on facebook.