Thursday, May 25, 2006

For the Imperfect Folks

On Monday, I disobeyed Flylady and did not bless my house.
On Tuesday, we ate supper an hour late because I was blogging.
On Wednesday, I combed the snarls from my daughter’s hair too roughly and brought tears to her eyes.

As you can see, I am a successful person. Yes. That’s right. If you don’t believe me, ask Winston Churchill. He said, “Success is nothing more than going from one failure to another with undiminished enthusiasm.” Oh, how true that is. I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I fail daily. But I just dust off my britches and get back up again, and again, and again…

Another reason for my success is that I aim high. I mean REALLY high. Of course, I will miss the mark, but I will have accomplished much more this way rather than if I didn’t aim high, or not at all. I have a very clear vision of the kind of woman I want to be and the kind of education and training I want my children to experience in our home. I make goals to reach that vision. Then I make plans to reach these goals. It requires time, prayer, research, routines, lists, seeking advice and help from others, among other things. This is another reason why I like Charlotte Mason.

I need to back up though, and tell you that when I taught in the public school system I was trained well in the art of dumbing down material to make it ‘palatable’ or ‘understandable’ for the young minds in my charge. By the time my children entered the world stage, I knew just what to do to make learning easy for them. Enter Charlotte Mason…

She said outlandish things like read Pilgrim’s Progress-(the original unabridged one) and the King James Bible to your seven year old. Teach your child the great works of a new artist and composer every month or so. Have them memorize passages, not individual verses, from the Bible and 40 lines from Tennyson or Shakespeare while they’re at it. Don’t forget to add Plutarch to the schedule for showing character sketches of real heroes to your children. Teach a few languages, too. This will be the beginning of a wonderful journey that your children will love to embark upon...

This irritated me and intrigued me at the same time. I had become convinced of the benefits my children could receive from such an education, but could they really do these things? and enjoy them? I had to go through a complete paradigm shift in my thinking and then, took the plunge. My children began to blossom in so many areas and I was amazed. My three year old drops his toys now and joins us every time he hears me reading Pilgrim’s Progress to his older sister. He adores this book. My 13 year old is fascinated with Tennyson and quotes whole sections of his poetry just because it speaks to her heart. My 11 year old loves to tell the family at dinnertime about the Travels of Marco Polo because they are so exotic and fantastic. One child is learning to play ‘Fur Elise’ on the keyboard in her spare time just because it is Mom’s favorite piece. My kids love to learn and their books are HARD. Or maybe it is just me. After all, I was public schooled.

Now, I do not have great academic ambitions for these kiddos of mine. I just want them to be “heroes in the strife.” They may never be music virtuosos, or famous writers and poets, and that’s okay with me. But I’m aiming high and teaching them to do the same—in every area of their life. They will miss the mark, no doubt, many times, but they will have been successful. They will have really lived and I’m doing the same for my own self. Now, excuse me, while I get my successful self out of my robe and slippers before lunch time.


  1. Hi, Lindafaye :) I was reading through some of your older posts tonight and came across this one. Good stuff. I was just talking to a friend last night about whether or not to give my just-turned-three-year-old something specific to do (roomtime, blankie time with leogs)while I read to her sisters or whether I should have her listen to the reading. I literally said something like, "But these books are HARD books. I mean, should she have to sit still for Pilgrim's Progress???" Eventually, I came to the conclusion (with my dear friend's help) that I could always *let* her listen if she shows an interest and I should *not* assume that her interest will not be there. I had to chuckle when I read the part about your 3yo and Pilgrim's Progress! I really enjoyed this post :)

  2. Anonymous22.2.08

    Linda, I am so moved and my body shivers while reading this post. It's such an encouragement for a new-to-homeschooling-and-CM mom who lives in non-English speaking country like me. Sometimes I'm just lost, where I should go after choosing this path. I will visit often to read again and again this piece of your thought.

    Thanks beyond words,

  3. Ellen, your email prompted me to read my own article again and even I was encouraged! It's good to be reminded that failure is not fatal, isn't it?

  4. Anonymous26.7.12

    I don't know what school you taught at but if mediocre was acceptable . . . well, that school needs a kick in the seat of the pants. I'm a public school teacher starting my 32nd year. I have high expectations for my students AND, I expect them to also have high expectations. If you taught for long you know how difficult it sometimes is to "cause" students to set high goals. In the public school system you have children coming with all sorts of baggage--some of which is just, really, unthinkable. You have to do the best you can to help them deal with their home situation, BUT you have NO control over it. You, in your home, are sort of the "dictator" and are in pretty much in total control of the lives of your children. It really does make quite a difference. Parents DO make quite a difference. Your children are lucky to have you.