Accepting and Rejecting Ideas

A trait that I admire in Charlotte Mason is how well-attuned she was to human nature. By this, I mean, that she was able to narrow down a lifetime of observations into 20 principles that – once known and understood – could guide educators without overwhelming them. Whenever I am in doubt about how to proceed with my children’s education, I come back to the principles.

Before moving ahead in my research, there are two principles that I would especially like to focus on. These are numbers eighteen and nineteen, and I have included them, in full, below.

18. The way of reason: We teach children, too, not to ‘lean (too confidently) to their own understanding’; because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth, (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case, reason is, practically, an infallible guide, but in the latter, it is not always a safe one; for, whether that idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.

19. Therefore, children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching, that the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas. To help them in this choice we give them principles of conduct, and a wide range of the knowledge fitted to them. These principles should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need.

-Charlotte Mason. “Preface.” Towards a Philosophy of Education.

There is one expression in the above quote that I especially want to emphasize, and it is this, that “…the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas.”  Charlotte Mason argued that once an individual has accepted an idea, he could use reason to prove it true even if the original idea wasn’t a sound one.

I started this blog on the premise that technology and media can be integrated successfully into a Charlotte Mason school without taking away from the benefits of her original approach. If I read research or make observations that call my original premise into question, I may be “blinded” by my bias, and I may mistakenly blunder onward.

athena

Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom & War

For this reason, it is more important than ever to have this conversation in a public space with other families that are implementing a Charlotte Mason education as well. It would be especially helpful to receive input from families that do not agree with my original idea. Through thoughtful discussion, we can ask better questions and come closer to a decision about whether to integrate technology into our home school, how to sift through the available materials to assess their worth, and what limits, if any, are required for our families’ health and well-being. With that in mind, I will share articles, books and other resources as I find them so that others have the opportunity to read the original information and come to their own conclusions.

I leave you tonight with a link to an article by Devorah Heitner, Ph.D., whose book ScreenWise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World is on my list of potential resources. The article is “Thinking Beyond Screentime: Creativity Over Consumption.” I hope you find some food for thought!

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4 responses to “Accepting and Rejecting Ideas

  1. I will be following along with interest! I am personally concerned about screens as I observe more and more how they tend to isolate people who are physically together in the same room! I don’t fall into the “all screen time is bad” camp but I do want to be very cautious about forming habits of interacting with those around us FIRST before seeking out those in the virtual world. Do you have thoughts on that aspect?

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    • I share your concern! Earlier this year, I was working as a home visitor with Head Start, which is a government-sponsored early childhood education program. When I visited parents in their homes, it really struck me how often they were on technology and “zoning out” their children. These were very young parents, members of the so-called “iGeneration,” and they were texting with their friends and checking Facebook and Instagram. On the one hand, they were probably feeling less isolated than many new moms of the past. Yet, they didn’t even seem aware that they were missing important connections with their child. I couldn’t help but wonder what their babies and toddlers were learning about social interaction.

      I am in the middle of a little experiment with my kids. We use digital devices a lot during our frequent medical and therapy office visits. I’ve replaced most of the old apps on our tablets that gave access to passive activities, like watching videos (i.e. Netflix), as well as single-player games, with games that require interaction with another person in the room (not those games where you can “invite” your friends to play virtually). We have Tic Tac Toe, chess, CandyLand, Chutes & Ladders, etc. Many of them come with a “face the computer” option, but because my children are naturally social, 95% of the time they prefer to play together. They will sit knee-to-knee and hip-to-hip, laughing and talking the entire time! It is so wonderful, and just last week I had a therapist complement me about how well my children interact with each other and with me. When their cousin came to visit last Saturday, my kids invited her to play Minecraft with them, and all three were playing in the same “virtual world” and conversing aloud the entire time. That is a big change from six months ago when they would get “lost” in their own little digital universe and “tune out.” I set clear limits on when technology is allowed and not allowed, and I enforce that they must respond to people who speak with them by making eye contact. That is my current experiment. We shall see how it goes in the long-term!

      As I learn more about how technology use helps and hurts, I will definitely be sharing! Thanks for joining me!

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      • I really like the idea of apps that social rather than solo. I will have to look for some. I also love your rule about making eye contact. I think that is so important. Do you struggle with modeling that? I know I do! Haha

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      • Ha! Yes! I only noticed it was a problem for me after seeing it in the extreme with Head Start! That ‘s why I started the rule! Lol 😊 I do encourage them to hold up their hand in a “wait” gesture if they really can’t pause and listen, but only for a minute.

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