Monday, March 9, 2009

Education and misc other bits

A while back Jenny P wrote a couple of posts about education and learning which I've been thinking about ever since. As you know, we have always homeschooled, I wouldn't want it any other way but I've been trying to pinpoint what, exactly, my educational philosophy is. There are several divergent schools of thought within the homeschool arena, but mine comes closest to the Charlotte Mason philosophy. Charlotte Mason was a 19th century English educator that believed children should be respected as persons and treated with dignity. That probably doesn't seem very revolutionary to you, but keep in mind this was the era of dunce caps and corporal punishment for wrong answers. She also believed that much of what children are learning is "twaddle", her term for useless, pointless busywork. She believed that children should see history as one continuous story full of interesting people and events and this should be accomplished through "living" books. Mason disdained history texts because they fragment history and reduce it to the memorization of facts and wars. Another belief is that children should be immersed in beautiful art, poetry and music, the art appreciation is an important element in our language arts curriculum, for this we use the Queen Homeschool company. You can see samples of their language arts books including the artwork used for picture study.

For our preschool little people we use Before Five In A Row . This is a curriculum using many classic children's books such as Goodnight Moon, Blueberries For Sal, and Corduroy. The little children have always loved it and this year Katie is the main teacher. She will someday have children of her own to teach and this is an excellent training ground for her. FIAR follows many of the Charlotte Mason philosophies outlined above and so meshes perfectly with our goals.
On the maple syrup front things are going better than expected. I must confess that I was sceptical about boiling it in a cauldron. I know the old timers did it but come on, it has to be so inefficient! Well, color me surprised! It boils down faster than I've ever seen sap boil. Aleks boiled off roughly 75 gallons of sap in one day (still woefully behind modern evaporators) and we had fresh syrup on homemade french toast with sausage for supper on Saturday. That's our tradition, to eat the first syrup at a special "thanksgiving" meal. Below is the sugar camp.
The sap storage barrel is on the left, the warming pan is just to the right of the cauldron. The corrugated metal is to keep sparks from flying around. The children spend all day up there (after school work is done) and come home to eat, bathe and fall into an exhausted sleep. It's a good, good life!


  1. Oh, I want to come live with you Paris! Making surup sounds like so much fun!


  2. Thanks for those links, Paris! I'm going to check them out!

  3. Ooo, I wish I could be up there watching the syrup making! How wonderful. :)