Podcast: Modern Miss Mason

Brave Writer Podcast

On today’s Brave Writer podcast:

  • Meet Charlotte Mason—who she is and why her method of education was so revolutionary.
  • What constitutes living literature and where do we find it today?
  • Meet Leah Boden—Modern Miss Mason. How has she helped bring Charlotte’s teachings into the 21st century with our iPads, movies, and video games?
  • What’s a short lesson? Why are they important?
  • What does it mean to bring your own “breath” or “spirit” to the home education you give your children? There’s a word for it that Leah shares!

Leah Boden is a wife, mother, homeschooler, podcaster, writer, and speaker. She has four children — one who is an adult and the remaining three that are still educated at home. Leah is passionate about bringing learning to life and is committed to modernizing the Charlotte Mason method of education.

Her new book, Modern Miss Mason, is published by Tyndale (a Christian publisher), and has wonderful resources and supportive information for any parent. Leah is known for her wise, warm voice in the home education space.

Leah Boden
Leah Boden

Charlotte Mason was an education reformer and pioneer. Her method of education relies heaving on immersion in living literature, history, art appreciation and nature study. She established an open and expansive vision of learning, and Leah Boden has done an excellent job of modernizing that vision and applying its spirit to the world we live in today.

If you want to read more of what Leah shares, purchase a copy of Modern Miss Mason.

Show Notes

Who is Charlotte Mason?

Charlotte Mason was an English educator and philosopher in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She developed a method of education that focused on developing a child’s character and imagination by teaching them living ideas, rather than rote memorization. Her approach to education has had a lasting influence on education and is still used in many schools today. Her approach was made popular in homeschooling through the re-publication of Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschool Series, a six volume set released in the 1980s.

For over 20 years, Leah has been a parent and practitioner of home education and the Charlotte Mason philosophy. When she first began her homeschooling journey, she found the vast majority of information about Charlotte Mason’s work was from America. After doing extensive research, she discovered more material from the British archives and Charlotte’s original work. Leah was immediately drawn to Charlotte’s philosophy on childhood, education and motherhood. She tailored her philosophy to fit her British culture, time period, and the individual personalities of her children. Now, her goal is to help other people find freedom in Charlotte’s teachings.

It was only near the end of Charlotte Mason’s life that she began to see the results of her work taking shape in the world — now it is up to a new generation to carry on her legacy.

What does it mean to be a Modern Miss Mason?

Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of living education emphasizes getting to know the people behind a subject, rather than just reading old books. She encouraged her readers to discern for themselves what a living book looked like, and to find modern authors who could bring that same energy to their work. Leah’s book, Modern Miss Mason, encourages readers to educate themselves, stay intellectually alive, and bring their own energy to their children’s education. 

The power of short lessons

Charlotte emphasized the power of short lessons and how they have helped her with her family. She believes that keeping lessons short helps to develop the habit of attention and that knowledge should be celebrated rather than focusing on the quantity of what is retained. While longer lessons or hitting bigger milestones such as reading a certain number of books may seem impressive, the end result is often inferior. Charlotte Mason’s focus was on giving children the opportunity to dig for their own knowledge and to make the associations that are most meaningful to them.

Charlotte Mason established an open and expansive vision of learning, and Leah Boden has done an excellent job of modernizing that vision and applying its spirit to the world we live in today. If you want to read more of what she shares, purchase a copy of Modern Miss Mason.


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Brave Writer Podcast

Brains before Curriculum

Brave Writer

Whether “science” or “knitting,” your children are using their minds to think critically and creatively about any subject they encounter. Parents and teachers, however, have decided which subjects are more deserving of absorbed attention than others. Science, we can all agree, is a subject adults consider essential. Knitting? Less so.

Yet what does it take for a mind to use a microscope? What kind of mental and digital dexterity is needed to knit? What kind of thinking is required to examine angles? What kind of mind is used to crochet or quilt?

When we talk about physics, we forget the physics of our bodies in motion on a playground or the skill to create a perfect tumbling domino chain.

Next time one of your kids assembles a LEGO build from scratch relying on the 2-D instructions to build a 3-D model, say aloud all the ways the brain did that bit of gymnastics to SEE what should be seen and to fit the pieces together in just the right way.

How many times do your kids compare movies and song lyrics to one another? How well do they forecast the next plot in a book series?

Brain stuff worth noting regardless of subject:

  • Reading deeply and closely
  • Following directions
  • Modifying directions to achieve an effect
  • Designing and then implementing that design
  • Assembly
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Forecasting outcomes
  • Hypothesizing reasons
  • Identifying themes
  • Correlating one experience or practice to another
  • Building a vocabulary in the subject area
  • Noticing experts
  • Practicing the skill for mastery
  • Using a skill in one field to learn another

The dexterity of a child’s brain can be a bigger priority than mastery of dates, processes, and information.

Focus on how your child thinks well about any subject from cooking to skateboarding to algebra to medieval history.

Brains before curriculum.

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Friday Freewrite: Cake or Pie?

Friday Freewrite

If you could only eat cake or pie for dessert for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Podcast: Becoming a Parent-Coach to Your Child with Elena Aguilar

Brave Writer Podcast

Parents often don’t see themselves as educators or coaches to their own children or communities. And yet, that’s exactly what they are — or at least what they aim to be. Coaching is a set of strategies you can use when you want to help someone learn and grow. Our role as parents is to enable our children to make good decisions once they are on their own.

Elena Aguilar
Elena Aguilar

Elena Aguilar is a writer, leader, teacher, coach, and podcaster. She’s the author of seven highly-acclaimed books, including The Art of Coaching, Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, and The PD Book: 7 Habits That Transform Professional Development. She’s also a frequent contributor to Edutopia, ASCD’s educational leadership, and EdWeek Teachers, as well as the founder and president of Bright Morning Consulting, which helps individuals and organizations create the conditions for transformation.

On today’s Brave Writer podcast, Elena shares with us the ways we can use coaching strategies to help raise independent, critical thinking children.

Show Notes

The importance of coaching through emotional development

Being able to talk about or process emotions does not require specific spaces or a certain degree. Human beings all have emotions, and we all need to be proficient at processing them and moving through them. As parents, it’s important that we acknowledge emotions — both those that we are feeling and those of our children — and offer space for reflection around what those emotions mean.

The difference between learning and skill building

Continuous learning is not about consuming information. Learning goes beyond acquiring new knowledge — it requires skillful implementation and regular reflection, evaluation, and course correction. It requires deliberate, ongoing practice. 

When we are learning something new, there is a “knowing-doing gap” between our understanding of a concept and our ability to perform it. One way we can close that gap is by practicing, getting feedback, and paying attention to what that feedback says about your progress.

Elena’s practical tools and breadth of experience give us the courage to be parents who coach our children to lead effective lives, to enjoy their educations, and to be prepared for life beyond the family.


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Worry Time

Brave Writer

In all your worrying, don’t forget to include worrying about worrying.

And if you forget to worry about worrying, maybe worry a bit about that too!

“What could that mean? Why am I not a first-class worrier who remembers to worry about the fact that I worry? Does it mean I don’t care? Am I too relaxed?” (Hint: you’re not)

Just for today, notice the worry and do nothing about it. It’s too big a step to NOT WORRY (heavens, the whole sky might collapse on your head!). But instead, feel the worry and let it ride sidecar for the rest of your day.

“Oh hey Worry! Need a snack? I’ve got yogurt with chocolate chips or maybe you prefer half a bag of Lay’s potato chips. No? You’re just glad I said hello? Wonderful!”

And go back to life.

I haven’t found a cure for worry. I have learned a technique that helps me not let worry shipwreck the day.

Schedule some worry time.

When worry pops up in the morning, say to it: “Oh hey worry! Let’s obsess about that Very Important Item at 4:00 PM when the baby naps. I’ll give you a full 30 minutes to unleash yourself.”

Each time the worry returns during the day, remind Worry:

“Yeah, I know how important that is. We’ll get to it at 4:00.”

Keep your appointment.

At 4:00 pm, park the kids in front of the TV, find a space for yourself and worry your head off! Really get into it. Make lists you’ll never accomplish, predict the disasters you are sure may unfold, tell off the person who won’t share your worries with you, cry, schedule all the things. Obsess for 30 minutes. Ding! Once the session ends, let your worried mind know you’ll pay attention to it again tomorrow at the appointed time.

We can’t get rid of worry but we can give it some boundaries. It’s not right that it robs you of poetry teatime or the joy of the read aloud. Put worry in its place! See how it goes.

This post is originally from my @juliebravewriter Instagram account.
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