Home Schooling book review: Real Learning

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.

Update:
I forgot to include the link to Elizabeth Foss’ blog, Real Learning: Education in the Heart of My Home

5 Responses to Home Schooling book review: Real Learning

  1. Kate B. June 20, 2006 at 12:37 pm #

    I loved Dr. W’s class on Thos. More.  One of the best I took at UD (and that’s saying something!).  Did you watch the whole interview?  If so, was it interesting?  I really need to go back and reread some of the books by More that I bought for that class—I couldn’t part with them!

  2. Melanie Bettinelli June 20, 2006 at 1:15 am #

    I had Dr. W for Jr Poet. Wish I’d taken his Thomas More class. Don’t think it was available, not sure I’d have taken it back then, either. Now, I’d jump on it.

    The interview was interesting. Frustrating a bit too. There was a great portrait of Thomas More and family they discussed, but the camera man didn’t know what to point at so I couldn’t tell which figure they were talking about.

    I don’t know much about More, but it definitely whetted my appetite. Mother Angelica’s focus was on More as a great role model for politicians. The interview felt a little stiff at times—I wonder if I’d have stopped on it if I didn’t know Dr W. But on the whole interesting and informative.

    I wasn’t able to see the whole thing. I had to walk away and then got distracted by the computer. I thought I’d paused it (we have tivo) but then it became unpaused somehow so I missed the end.

    More is on my list of things to read… one of these days. First I’d have to acquire the books. (I’m embarassed to say I haven’t read any thing by him, not even Utopia.) It would be nice to read him in the context of a class though. Some things are much harder to get through on one’s own. (Like The Brother’s Karamazov. I had to drop that class because I was overbooked that semester, but I’ve never been able to get more than a few chapters into it. )

  3. Kate B. June 20, 2006 at 2:39 am #

    I took the class becuase I was trying to do a Renaissance Studies concentration (which I didn’t complete).  I wouldn’t start with Utopia—I’d find the Dialogue of Comfort or the one about Christ’s passion (the title of which slips my mind).  I can lend you either, if you’re interested, either by mail or by your sister, next time she goes up to visit.

  4. Kitty Eleison June 23, 2006 at 12:34 pm #

    Wow!  I am discovering more and more bloggers who went to UD!  I didn’t have Dr. W but I went to some of his talks on campus.

    Paula (Borobia) Rutherford

  5. Ian June 24, 2006 at 12:09 pm #

    I frequently regret how little I took advantage of the opportunities to talk to and meet with professors at UD.

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