The Close of One Discussion – and the Beginning of Another

A few months ago we began a book discussion of The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater.  It’s been delightful digging into some of these ideas with you.  At the author’s request, the book discussion will not continue and past posts discussing the book’s content have not been retained on this blog. I am truly so grateful to those that joined the earlier discussion – your own sharing was such a blessing to me!  Ms. Bestvater’s book, The Living Page, is a welcome aid to Charlotte Mason educators, myself included, and I’m grateful to have read it.

In re-reading my book discussion notes I chose to retain those ideas that were not book-content-specific. The easiest thing to do was to just merge my notes into one rather long post, and share the resources in another.  I apologize for the length, but maybe it’s nice to find all the CM notebook ideas in one place. ?? What remains are compiled and organized in two posts:

Will the mothers who are doing this {Mother’s Education} course make it their duty to hand on the knowledge they get, as they get it, to {other} mothers…whether in the way of asking a few mothers to tea and chat, or in talk with a single mother in the course of cottage visits, or in mothers’ meetings; anyway will they make “pass on” their watchword. 

Charlotte Mason, 1897, as written to the members of her Mother’s Educational Course

I hope I preserved ideas to “pass on” that are worthy of sharing.

A beginning


For the last few months I’ve been re-reading some of my Charlotte Mason – a lot of hopping around as I research a couple of topics and one thing began to stand out to me: teaching.  Charlotte Mason had some things to say about it.  And I thought, you know, we often speak of narration, forming good habits, nature walks, the rigor of a structured Charlotte Mason education  – but I thought this summer might be a good time to look into what Charlotte Mason had to say specifically to those of us who find ourselves in that position to come alongside and act in the role of teacher.

I’ll be pulling thoughts from Charlotte Mason’s 6 volumes, as well as from Essex Cholmondeley’s excellent book, The Story of Charlotte Mason, and some Parents’ Review Articles.

I’d so enjoy your company!

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  1. You go, Jen 🙂 I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this summer, when things slow down a bit, I’ll be able to hop into a discussion here. Have a great week! I head home Tuesday <3

  2. That’s too bad about the Living Page discussion. I would never have heard of the book and added it to my wish list if it had not been for you writing about it. I’m looking forward to the next one for sure. I learn so much from you!!

  3. I have enjoyed the discussion too, though as a blog reader, not a participant. Like another comment states, I purchased the book only after your blog began the discussion and otherwise would not have run across it. I am sorely disappointed in the author’s request and find it puzzling, since your discussion generates interest in and use of, her book. Numerous blogs use numerous books to do studies of all sorts and usually an author is grateful for the “free” publicity and happy to see their books used, read, and studied. Of course, I understand you have no choice but to graciously abide by the author’s request, as offensive as it may be (to me, anyway!), but I hope she reconsiders such demands in the future, made of the internet community. Thank you for your efforts in the book study and as a long-time reader of your blog, I look forward to reading your future posts on CM.

  4. I, too, am surprised by the author’s request!

    Jen, i am truly looking forward to your thoughts and posts on teaching! I just love teaching my children, and yours is one of my very favorite homeschooling blogs: you bring such thoughtfulness and deep-thinking and a joyful spirit to your readers!

  5. I must confess that I, too, have been scratching my head trying to figure out why she would want this discussion taken down, but! I have also been re-reading Charlotte Mason’s 6 volume series as I think about next year and I’ll look forward to this new discussion 🙂

  6. Oh Dear! I am also surprised at the author’s objection to the book discussion. I never would have even found her book if it hadn’t been for your blog. I think the discussion was very positive and fruitful, and certainly encouraged the purchase of her book. Perhaps the posts about her use of CE/BCE in the BOC (and our alternatives) were upsetting since she has so many to sell. Of course this is simply conjecture, and one can only wonder at the odd request. It is so very gracious for you to honor the author’s wishes, and I look forward to other discussions.

  7. You are always a class act, my friend. Looking forward to jumping into the discussion this summer when I can…thanks for all you do!

  8. I too, bought Ms. Bestvater’s The Living Page book only after your discussion began.
    I could have written Danielle’s comment below (though probably not as eloquently!) as everything she said is as it is here with me.
    I’m looking forward to this summer’s discussion in teaching. Thanks Jen.

  9. I am saddened by the news, but encouraged that you handled it so gracefully! Thank you for beginning a new discussion. I am certain that it will bear much fruit.

  10. I too would not have bought the book had it not been for this discussion, and I wish it could have been brought to a more natural conclusion.

    But I am really looking forward to a discussion teaching and the role of the teacher in light of CM’s philosophy of education. Thank you!

  11. Just adding that I bought the book because of the book discussion here. I hope the author realizes how many sales were gained because of your discussion! Jen, it was a wonderful series and very helpful along side the book! Thanks for it!

  12. Jen, I am so sorry for the upsetness this must have caused you. I appreciate all the sharing you do and always feel so inspired and encouraged when i come for a visit. I am sad to loose the discussion, I enjoyed reading it and gleaning from the ideas. Blessings to you as you continue to share your educational life. We are wrapping up the term next week and it is the first time that I do not have a clear path of where to go next. I am looking forward to your further discussions of Mason for direction. Thanks for not giving up inspite of adversity.

  13. This is saddening as I was following along at my pace with your discussions. I don’t think she realizes that your blog was helping her sales not hindering them. This was a wonderful series now I wish I would have printed out your blog posts to put in my enquire within notebook. Thank you for writing the series. I am inspired and encouraged every time I visit your blog, its like having tea with a friend

  14. I am so saddened to hear that the author requested you remove the posts. I have been enjoying the discussion, but I am behind(obviously!) and was reading it at my own pace. I only bought the book because of your recommendation and book discussion. If it had not been for your praise I am certain I would not have given it a second thought. I do enjoy your posts and musings. Thanks for your generosity.

  15. I was also reading along and would not have otherwise bought the book… now I am trying to motivate myself to finish it without the incentive of keeping up with the discussion! Thanks for always sharing your encouraging perspective on homeschooling!

  16. Hi Jen,
    Thanks so much for your wonderful blog, I find it so helpful and inspiring. I have a question which I which I wondering whether you could help with. I find it very hard to fit everything in to the day, mainly because we run on a long time with each subject. I feel torn between letting my kids complete their work and them feeling fulfilled by really getting stuck into something, or on the other hand, spending a short time on each subject but not going into it in depth or leaving it unfinished to complete the next time, but getting through more subjects. Several of my children really hate being rushed and like to be absorbed in the subject and tend to go in great detail! Desirable but frustrating at times! Do you have any experience with this? I love the Charlotte Mason method, but maybe I am going wrong somewhere. I was also wondering if there is any chance you would give us an outline of how you go about your day, your regular routine, I think you blogged about it before but I can’t find the post! It may help me to work out how to make more time in my day.
    Many thanks for everything, you help me so much.
    God bless you,

    1. Hi Becky –
      Thanks so much for your very kind words!

      On fitting everything in the day – here’s the key: If you’re trying to follow a CM day, you will find scheduling and living it out to be pretty intuitive if you follow the philosophy that informs the methods. The reason I say that is because it sounds like you have a wide and varied curriculum, but you’re struggling to fit things in because the short lessons model that CM insists on accompanying the wide and generous curriculum is missing. It will be overwhelming and burdensome to follow a lengthy booklist and wide curriculum AND spend long amounts of time on each subject/book.

      There is a tendency to think that short lessons = an education that skims the surface and provides a shallow view, as opposed to in depth studying which goes deeper. This is to misunderstand a CM approach. Yes, daily lessons are short…but the fruit is in living it out day in, day out, across the years. The fruits of a CM education are realized over time, and they are quite deep and rich. An example…15 minutes a week reading and memorizing poetry…multiplied by 36 weeks {1 year of school}…multiplied by 12 years…yields some pretty rich fruit in poetry. Imagine this across subjects. Over time. And what you end up with is a liberal education, one which speaks across a variety of topics with ease.

      The benefit of the short lesson is that the child doesn’t get lost in it, overwhelmed with the amount of work, OR overwhelmed after coming up for air and realizing they still have math, and history reading, and geography, and latin…and, and, and.

      Another oft overlooked benefit is that the short lesson gives the student a small portion of ideas to digest at a time. They’ll have plenty of time to think about the short amount they read, turn it over, express it, explore it, narrate it – and then be perfectly ready to add more the next time they approach the subject.

      A side benefit (that I’ve only recently been able to observe with my graduate) of structuring the day with short lessons is that it actually lays down a good habit of time management. Some things must be budgeted and completed a little at a time throughout a day. For example, I might love nothing more than sitting here and writing at my blog, but I MUST budget my time throughout my day and then after completing my daily duties – my obligations – only then can I sit down in the remains of the day and enjoy the extras like writing here. I have observed in the last few months how structuring the day in short lessons, year in and year out, yielded a fruit which I did not anticipate – that of ingraining the habit of time management to my child. She is able to view her {very busy} days, consider them, prioritize, identify those things which must be done, budget her time, and be sure to leave time for leisure.

      So, how do we fit it all in? Short lessons. THEN…since the day was delightfully structured in a wide and generous way, sticking with short lessons, there will be extra margin. It is in THAT TIME that the child can explore, choose to go deeper, research, live out…or not.

      Now…for the practical part. I use tools to help me manage and visualize my day. Sometimes, I print a child’s lesson plan with the approximate time it should take to complete that daily work. So, for example, next to history reading, I might list 20 minutes. Next to Plutarch, 15 minutes. And so on. Then, I spend one week assisting that child in living out the weekly lesson plans to make notes about whether the amount assigned fits in the time frame I envisioned. Now the child knows EXACTLY how much time he can take on a subject. He knows that he can finish his day – start to finish – in “x” amount of time. And I know it, too.

      This response to you is practically a post in itself! 🙂 I should probably write something a little more coherent about it! Until then, I sure hope something here helps!

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  18. How strange!! Who writes a book and then tells a book discussion group to not discuss it?? I actually bought the book after reading about it here! The fact that she wanted the discussion taken down makes me feel a bit bitter towards the book.

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