Sunday, August 26, 2012

Feeding My Enthusiasm for Education

I have started my 14th year of teaching my own children and my fourth official year of mentoring others as my career. I truly love the field of education but I have found I need to keep myself fed in order not grow static and keep my enthusiasm up. This is the reason I am glad authors write more books than what is currently available. I have read almost every one I can lay my hands on in certain philosophies of education, especially Montessori, Charlotte Mason and Leadership Education. I have indulged in the artistic and storytelling books on the Waldorf method and half a dozen in several other educational theories and philosophies, besides the official work done for my credential. As the new year starts I reread sections in a few of my favorites, especially on high school as that is a new venture for our family personally this year. But I also went to the nook store and looked up educational books for free. I read through the 1910 Ohio suggested plans of study, books on introducing agriculture to 7th and 8th graders and "The Diary of Free Kindergarten," by Lileen Hardy. I am enjoying this last one immensely. It is the diary of a woman who goes to the slums of Edinburgh and begins a kindergarten, where she teaches the children to wash hands, be polite, sit down to eat a meal instead of walk around all day with their 'pieces' in hand.
She forms a mothers' guild where the rules are that they can join if they will agree to put their 'bairns' to bed at a decent hour. I am having little revelations of where Froebel's kindergarten came from and why. It was mainly to give inner city children like these an experience as much as possible like a good home. My heart goes out to a whole class of people that lived in one room tenements with three to four kids to a bed and no chance until these schools came along to see lawn, be read a picture book, or feed a pet. It makes me more grateful for my four bedroom house with wildness for a yard, but a garden tucked in the corner and cats and fishes and a doghouse built and waiting. I am grateful for the rhythms of our days and our ability to take the kids on excursions to see new things-broadening their understanding and imagination. While, during the very year, Charlotte Mason disagreed with any type of education that rested on the personality of the teacher, Lileen Hardy writes, "A kindergarten is an ideal field for a woman's self-development. In no branch of the world's work is there anything more satisfactory, or encouraging, or beautiful, or which evokes more from a woman or enables her to give more of herself. It is a school of life for women which gives true culture, and helps to make her thoughtful, original, self-reliant and patient. Personality is the great thing, and the personality of an ideal kindergartener require what, despite limitations, we are all striving for-'the soul of a wise and loving mother, the mind of an earnest woman, and the heart of a little child,'"

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