Thanks to reader Jennifer Miller who recommended Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss. Like I said in my last book review, Charlotte Mason did not initially grab me. But I was very intrigued by Elizabeth Foss’ combination of CM and Edith Stein, who is a hero of mine ever since I accompanied my father to her canonization in Rome some years ago (He’s a secular Carmelite and his community in Austin, TX is named after St Teresa Benedicta, Edith Stein).
So far this book is my favorite home schooling book. It has a perfect balance between philosophy of education and description of Foss’ actual practice. I get quite frustrated when books slather on the philosophy but I’m left scratching my head as to how to actually implement it. One of the things I like best is Foss’ inclusion of actual narrations and artwork by her children and others.
To Melissa who earlier expressed doubts about incorporating ideas from Charlotte Mason into a Catholic homeschooling curriculum, I think this statement is quite eloquent:
I am not Charlotte Mason. I do not play her in my home. She lived one hundred years ago. I live today. She was British. I am American. She had no children. I am expecting my seventh baby. She had no household to manage. I most certainly do. She was Anglican. I am Catholic. She disapproved of competitive sports. I spend several hours a week driving to and from soccer practice. She did not have to contend with television and Nintendo. Unfortunately, I do.
She also did not have the benefit of Karen Andreola, Penny Gardner, and my favorite, Sally Clarkson. These are women who have studied Charlotte Mason’s philosophies and applied them to the here and now. I have learned so much from them. None of these women has benefitted from the writings of Edith Stein. The lifestyle of learning that I propose takes the best from Charlotte Mason and her modern followers, prayerfully considers the wisdom of St Teresa Benedicta, and incorporates the whisperings of the Holy Spirit to me and to you. No book is complete. You will not find a perfect ‘how to’ manual because each family must write its own. Home education is unique to each home.
I am currently in the midst of research and reflection about home education. And this process will not end until the last of my children has departed for college. Probably not even then. I am just beginning to compile my own list of influences. Certainly Elizabeth Foss will be among them. But I am and will continue to be open to whatever the Holy Spirit blows my way. Above all this is an adventure for me.
This review was going to be much longer with some great block quotes and more insightful comments. I had it all planned out in my head the other night. But I can’t remember what I was going to say so I’ll leave it as it is. Bottom line is I want to go buy this book. Once we have an income again and can afford to buy books.
I forgot to include the link to Elizabeth Foss’ blog, Real Learning: Education in the Heart of My Home
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