Conference Workshop Sessions
Dr. Jack Beckman
The Child’s Estate – “Except ye become as little children…”
Charlotte Mason constructed her living philosophy upon a captain idea – the personhood of the child. Upon this foundation she built a solid framework of books and curriculum that guide us to this very day. Particularly in Home Education, we see her vision for the young child under the age of six or seven. She writes, “…the chief function of the child… is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses (HE, p. 96). If this is the vision, then what is the context? In Home Education Mason works towards describing for us the homeishness of the young child’s estate while latterly visiting the schoolishness of the formal education of the older child. In our time together, we will interpret the estate of the young child through several lenses – the Holy Scriptures, Mason’s writings, and other likeminded thinkers who help us understand these unique creatures made in God’s image. My hope is that we can excavate the rich and generative ideas of kinderleben (the child’s life) as they apply to the child under six.
Much has happened in my field of early childhood education in the ensuing years since Mason’s death; some of which is enlightening to our understanding of the development of young children. My thoughts in interpreting Mason are that fidelity to her principles is paramount, and that we can indeed find fellow travelers along the way who can help us as we proceed with the times and construct a more accurate view of the young learner. Much has also happened in my personal and professional life in the last years – 42 years of marriage and grandchildren (three), a commitment to understanding texts and writings (including Mason) from more complex frameworks such as reader response and perspectival hermeneutics, and literacy work through my community library with under resourced families.
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Writing Poetry: Assignment - Write a Paean
Mason students, after being exposed to great poetry for many years, may recognize when poetry best suits their narration or exam question. “She was not asked to write in verse, and was she not taught by a beautiful instinct to recognize that the phrases she had to deal with were essential poetry and that she could best express herself in verse?" (In Memoriam, p. 5) How does a teacher teach poetry? When are there definite lessons on writing poetry? For what other subjects do we use poetry as a means of written narration or composition exercise? Charlotte wrote in Ourselves, Book 2, p. 10: "A thousand thoughts that burn come to us on the wings of verse." Join Bonnie as she explores this fascinating, and for many of us, fearful topic of writing poetry.
Birmingham Meeting House-IV-1942
Form 1 Workshop
LeAnn will demonstrate a morning of Form 1 lessons using Mason’s methods. Subject areas that may be presented include Bible, folksong, reading, writing, history, poetry, natural history, literature, and paper sloyd – all subjects that LeAnn has years of experience teaching. Attendees assume the role of the student, experiencing a feast of ideas and different forms of narration. This workshop is an opportunity to experience a relational education and gain a deeper understanding of the CM method.
Abe Lincoln's First Book - 1944
Music and Children: A Chat with “Music and Morals”Using a uniquely creative piece from the very first Parents’ Review publication, Heidi will launch this workshop into a lively and interactive discussion of why we all should study music in order to live fully. We will visit Mason’s volumes, the Parents’ Review, and other documents to discover together why Mason included such a rich music education in her programmes. This workshop should be an encouragement to parents and teachers who need a little push to get going on this field of study for themselves and their students. It will offer motivations for starting as well as some practical tips and beginning steps to teaching music.
On Music Teaching
Sol-fa, or ear-training/sight-singing, is a lost skill these days, but it is one that Mason valued highly enough to include in almost every form in the P.N.E.U. in morning lessons. Join us as we work out what Sol-fa is and approaches for teaching it in our schools and homes. We will do this primarily by talking through a Parents’ Review article that was recommended to all teachers on the P.N.E.U. programmes for many years: On Music Teaching by W.H. Leslie. This two-part article will help us learn how to think about singing, and how to train our children to hear well, sing well, and read well. We will also focus in on the three key elements of the grammar of music: Time, Tune, and Tone a.k.a rhythm, melody, and pleasing sound.
Cabin in the Cotton III - 1944
Mason’s Living Languages – A Path Toward Universal Brotherhood
“What shall we teach our children? Is there one subject that claims our attention more than another? Yes, there is a subject or class of subjects which has an imperative moral claim upon us. It is the duty of the nation to maintain relations of brotherly kindness with other nations: therefore it is the duty of every family, as an integral part of the nation, to be able to hold brotherly speech with the families of another nations as opportunities arise; therefore to acquire the speech of neighbouring nations is not only to secure an inlet of knowledge and a means of culture, but is a duty of that higher morality (the morality of the family) which aims at universal brotherhood; therefore every family would do well to cultivate two languages besides the mother tongue, even in the nursery (Mason, Charlotte. Parents and Children, page 7).”
Many parents and teachers report that foreign or modern language is the most troublesome area of the feast and the first dish they remove from their spread. Some report a lack of language knowledge themselves; some find Mason’s approach confusing; some have trouble finding and using resources. Whatever the reason, there is hope! Join us for this workshop where we will dig into Mason’s philosophy, look at it in practice, consider resources and walk away better equipped to bring this part of the feast to our children’s table.
Study Group Immersion Discussion: The Sacredness of Personality
Please join CMI Study Group Facilitator, Vanessa Burhorn, for a CMI Study Group immersion and discussion on ‘Sacredness of Personality’. We will be talking through An Essay Toward a Philosophy of Education chapter 5. Continued study and learning together is essential to a growing understanding in the Mason paradigm. We will have some time to talk about how local study groups can be set up and ways you can facilitate or just participate. Did you know about the exclusive Mason’s Alveary Study Groups as well as some CMI Study groups open to any CM educator? Hear about CMIs plan for training, supporting, and even providing access to study groups around the world! Everyone is welcome! You do not have to be participating in of one of the current studies to join in, but please read the chapter ahead of time as we study together the vital ideas on Personhood from this reading!
Study Group Immersion Discussion: Some Habits of Mind
Please join CMI Study Group Facilitator, Vanessa Burhorn, for a CMI Study Group immersion and discussion on ‘Some Habits of Mind’. We will be talking through Home Education Part IV (pp. 135-168). Continued study and learning together is essential to a growing understanding in the Mason paradigm. We will have some time to talk about how local study groups can be set up and ways you can facilitate or just participate. Did you know about the exclusive Mason’s Alveary Study Groups as well as some CMI Study groups open to any CM educator? Hear about CMIs plan for training, supporting, and even providing access to study groups around the world! Everyone is welcome! You do not have to be participating in of one of the current studies to join in, but please read the chapter ahead of time as we study together the vital ideas on Thinking & Imagining from this reading!
The Old Mill-1930
Lesson Planning in a Living Education
It's one thing to choose the subjects and find the books, plan a schedule and gather the children, but then what is the teacher expected to do to bring out the most in the day to day lessons? Is reading and narration really all there is? There are practical principles and specific tips for getting through the lessons with delight and enthusiasm rather than with a haphazard or unprepared approach. This workshop will address the general guidelines as well as many specifics for facing your school day with intention rather than uncertainty.
Book of Books
The subject of Bible was of first importance in Mason’s curriculum. That it is a unique book is undeniable, but how do we present it to our children in an appetizing lesson? How should we teach it with the reverence it is due and in a living way? Liz will describe Bible lessons throughout the school years, its special place in the curriculum, and how to make the most of this lesson daily.
Milk Man of Goshen
Music: Optional or Formative?
“With music, one’s whole future life is brightened. This is such a treasure in life that it helps us over many troubles and difficulties. Music is nourishment, a comforting elixir. Music multiplies all that is beautiful and of value in life.” – Zoltan Kodaly
This workshop focuses on the importance of music within the Charlotte Mason paradigm. The realm of music in her schools included hymns, singing and music lessons. At least one immersion lesson in each of these areas will be demonstrated. We will look at the music covered in the PNEU schedules and how it extended beyond “folk song” and “composer study”. You will be encouraged with resources and strategies to provide consistent music study in daily lessons and daily life. There are many challenges in implementing music within the home and school, however it is worth the effort to overcome these obstacles by learning various ways to give your children this gift of music.
Christmas Morning Breakfast
Erin Daly and Kerri Forney
Throughout Charlotte Mason's writings is the foundational idea that 'knowing is doing.' In Volume 6 she writes, "There is no education but self-education and only as the young student works with his own mind is anything effected." Keeping notebooks is an essential part of self-education. It is important for both the assimilation of ideas and the formation of habits. Together we will explore the ideas presented in Mason's writings, as well as the Parents' Review. We will also review the most common types of notebooks and how they are used.
Study For The Barracks-1945
TPRS/ Spanish Foreign Language
In this session we will explore the connections between Miss Mason’s philosophies for teaching foreign language and the contemporary methods of Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) and Comprehensible Input (CI). There will also be practical advice on how to implement the Alveary’s Spanish curriculum with opportunities to observe Elaine teaching selected lessons and time for Q&A.
The Hoe Cake-1946
Arts Education in a CM Paradigm
We all know that being well-rounded is important. We could all agree that being educated in the arts is part of that well-rounded, full life. We see in God’s Word that we are to sing, play instruments, dance and make beautiful things unto the LORD. The Charlotte Mason philosophy of education includes much of the arts. How did Ms. Mason go about imparting the arts on her students? How did she encourage her teachers to indulge in the full life themselves? In this workshop we will ponder these topics and more such as skill building for learning purposes versus fine art study, and when to take your students deeper into an arts education.
Pastels and Charcoals
Did you know that pastels are considered a painting method? Though they are often combined with charcoal, they have different characteristics, uses and application methods. The use of pastels in a CM education is similar to the use of brush drawing. Come learn how to use both, pastels and charcoal, and why they are an important skill to have and to impart on your students. Please bring your soft pastels, drawing pads and charcoal to this workshop. (There will be a few extras for those that forget.)
This workshop will explain the differences between brush drawing and watercolor. We will delve into the why’s and how’s of brush drawing, build brush drawing skills and learn the characteristics of watercolors and color theory. This workshop will teach you how to teach your students. Please bring your drawing pads, brushes and watercolors with you to class. (There will be some extras for those that forget.)
Art Media and What to Do with It
Does shopping for a sketch book or set of pastels make you tremble? In this workshop we will go over many common tools and the how's and whys of using them. You will have the opportunity to see, touch and learn to use many different art media and to ask all of the questions that you may have.
Roses With Red Chair-1940
Growing Up with Mason
Mason makes many assertions about the outcomes of her methods in a student’s life after school. Join Kathryn Forney, a mason graduate, as she testifies to the trustworthiness of Mason’s philosophy. After looking at the results Mason forecasts, Kathryn will share her own experience of Mason and leave plenty of time for Q&A at the end.
The Get Away Fox-1939
Abstract to be added
Amish Letter Writer-1940
Rev. Storm Hutchinson
How to Build Healthy Relationship Habits in Students and Teachers
We all long to see students live in respect and compassion with teachers and fellow students. At an even deeper level, we want to see them take ownership of their learning community and work to support and grow it. This session will focus on the practical issues involved with making this vision a reality. It can be accomplished with even the most challenging students turning toward the positive and becoming productive members of a family or school. These principles work one on one or across schools of 1,000 students. And best of all, anyone can learn how to implement them!
The Buffalo Hunt-1933
Plutarch: Prince of Biographers!
Why is Plutarch so important? Why did Mason include his Lives in her curriculum? Why North’s translation? What does imagination have to do with it? In this talk, we will look at the answers to these questions. The difficulties expressed in Mason’s day in regard to Plutarch are the same today. Following the presentation, a full immersion lesson will be demonstrated to allow participants to experience Plutarch firsthand. You will come away with the tools and inspiration to begin teaching, carry on, and “bridge the gaps” with this Charlotte Mason curriculum staple.
The Importance of Peace
“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.” – Goethe
The Charlotte Mason philosophy and method of education has a unique source that encourages shalom in the home. This talk will explore the meaning of peace, how a CM education helps develop peace, and why parents are called to be peacemakers. Nancy will share insights from her own experience as well as some extremely helpful direction from Mason and other solid PNEU teachers on peace in our homes, schools, and lives.
Shakespeare: The How and Why
In this workshop, Nancy will examine how and why Charlotte Mason's PNEU students were immersed in Shakespeare. The results may surprise you! She will be sharing her 20 years' experience in teaching Shakespeare to children, high schoolers, and adults - often all at the same time. The results of her extensive research, personal anecdotes, recommended resources, and audience participation will be part of this session for newcomers and aficionados alike.
Ourselves (Volume 4) and Moral Development: A Third Position
Dissatisfied with teaching morals directly or indirectly, Charlotte Mason developed a unique “third position” which featured the use of her book Ourselves, Our Souls and Bodies. Join Nancy as she shares background information and activities in order to more fully understand the purpose of this unique book which she considers a must-read for all teachers and teenagers interested in a truly relational education. This session will give you the tools to confidently utilize this masterpiece in your school.
Quaker Mother and Child-1944
Images of Delight: Drawing in Principle and Practice
Drawing is an important aspect of the Charlotte Mason curriculum. However, this subject is often relegated to nature journal entries and mothers are uncertain how to cultivate this skill which develops students’ powers of observation and expression. Not surprisingly, Miss Mason had a practical and delightful way of drawing out these powers in children. In this workshop we will be looking at how drawing fits into the curriculum, indeed is interwoven through all the subjects, and helps support and equip the students’ other studies, benefiting the whole person. We will also be exploring practical ways to teach drawing (and brush-drawing) to students of all Forms.
The Great Recognition
The Great Recognition: As we get caught up in the day by day details of home educating our children, it is easy to become discouraged, disheartened, and overwhelmed by the seemingly endless and enormous task before us. Emily Kiser will share Charlotte Mason’s inspiring and reassuring vision of education as described in her Great Recognition. An understanding of this philosophic principle of her method gives peace and joy as we all remember that the Holy Spirit is the true educator of our children.
Bringing Joy and Ease to Nature Study
Does the habit of natural history lessons need nurturing in your homeschool? Learn how to put practices in place to make nature a part of everyday. Using a nature notebook, sources for local nature study in your area and inspiring joyful discovery are some of the topics that will be covered.
Throughout Mason’s volumes, the programmes and the Parents’ Review there is a consistent philosophy of work and integrity through work. The work done by an individual is a direct reflection of who he is as a person. How can we, as parents and teachers, use Mason’s three instruments of education to support Mason’s ideas of work well done and the importance of a person as a worker? The inclusion of handicrafts in the programmes was one of the ways that the importance of work was directly demonstrated. This workshop will discuss the philosophy of work in general and then handicrafts specifically. The last portion of the workshop will be spent on a handicraft.
The Art of Storytelling
“Every mother and father should have a repertoire of stories...beautiful stories, beautifully told...” Formation of Character, pg. 216 Do you have a repertoire of stories? This workshop will discuss the importance of storytelling, how it can affect the imagination of the child, and offer practical instruction on how to engage and delight children through the art of storytelling. Instructions on how to tell a story well come directly from a book praised in the Parents’ Review as being “full of PNEU thought.” Come ready to learn a fairy tale and practice these techniques.
Charlotte Mason called Sunday School a “necessary evil.” The evil being that many parents “are so hard pressed that they are unable for their first duty.” Sadly, this is still the case today. How can Charlotte Mason’s methods be used in Sunday school to share not only the Bible, but ideas of Christian living, culture and history? If Sunday school is the only place for some children to learn about God and His church, how can we present a more whole picture of what it is to live out our faith in just one morning a week? This workshop will focus on ideas that can be used in Sunday School lessons, including a two year schedule through the major stories and truths in the Bible with resource lists. The focus will be on children preschool age through 5th grade with a non-denominational Protestant perspective.
CMI 2018 Considering Anxiety Disorder
Occasional worry and stress is normal, especially when we ask our children to do something difficult or outside of their comfort zone. However, anxiety disorder is a neurological condition which requires special consideration. Danielle will review symptoms and contributing causes of the disorder, as well as its educational impact in general and within the Mason paradigm.
Portrait of Christian Brinton-1940
Immersion Bible lesson with The Saviour of the World
Charlotte Mason wrote, “Poetry is, perhaps, the most searching and intimate of our teachers… As we ‘inwardly digest,’ reverence comes to us unawares…” Mason believed that poetry plays a crucial role in the spiritual formation of Christ’s disciples, so much so that she wrote six volumes of poems for use in school lessons. In this session, we will experience an actual Bible lesson, illuminated by poetry, according to the method laid down by Mason herself.
Mason’s program for Bible lessons
Charlotte Mason wrote, “Now our objective in this most important part of education is to give the children the knowledge of God.” Mason did not approach this “most important part of education” in a haphazard fashion; rather, she developed a progressive program of study for children from ages 6 to 18 that is breathtaking in its simplicity, elegance, and efficacy. In this session, we will review the content, sequence, and structure that Mason developed for Bible lessons for Forms I through VI. With the understanding that education is the science of relations, we will explore her approach to facilitate the most important relationship of all.
Charlotte Mason as Seen through Her Poetry
Many people are aware that Charlotte Mason wrote six volumes of poetry entitled The Saviour of the World. But fewer people know that Mason wrote a variety of additional poems that have never been published. Mason wrote The Saviour of the World with the hope that “the Son of Man, lifted up, would draw all men unto Himself.” While her writings focus on Christ, her words also reveal much about herself. In this session, we will explore examples of Charlotte Mason’s poetry that may help us look at her educational volumes in a fresh and enhanced way.
Two Pink Roses-1940
Laying a Feast For Art
A discussion of blackboard drawing, brush drawing, and clay-modeling in Charlotte Mason Education.
In this workshop we will talk about how to lay a feast for art education. Just exactly what are blackboard drawing, brush drawing, and clay-modeling, and how do they work together in a CM education?
To further our understanding, we will work with chalk and watercolor paints. This will be a gentle introduction--without pressure to create a masterpiece--practicing different types of strokes. Clay-modeling will be offered as a separate practice session by Louise St. Amour.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the goals of training observation and “mastery over materials.” Our object is not to make artists, but to work to sharpen perceptions and to know the world better.
The Squirrel Hunter-1940
Building a Solid Math Foundation with RightStart Math
CM and the Dyslexic Child
One in five of us have trouble learning to read. This astounding statistic is from The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. How does Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education address this issue? Current scientific research continues to confirm the teachings of Mason.
This session combines experiences from homeschooling, private practice and classroom instruction, and gives a twenty-first century approach to reaching our students with learning differences. Dyslexia often coexists with dysgraphia (difficulty with writing) and dyscalculia (difficulty with math) as well as ADHD.
Family Supper - 1946
Understanding Executive Functioning
“The man who can make himself do what he wills has the world before him, and it rests on parents to give their children this self-compelling power as a mere matter of habit” (School Education, italics mine). Habits of attention and self-governance can seem elusive for some people who seem to constantly struggle with distractibility, restlessness, and impulsivity. They find themselves constantly derailed because ways of doing things that work for others don’t typically work for them. ADD/ADHD research in the past several decades has given insight into how and why some people with certain neurochemistry struggle with such habit formation: their impaired executive functions (EF). Executive functions are those cognitive processes that serve as “air traffic controllers” so one can effectively organize, plan, self regulate, initiate and sustain attention. The kids with EF deficits--always forgetful, running late, losing things--often have structured parents who unwittingly become their kids’ “ surrogate executive function.” In this content heavy workshop, I will give an insight into how the EF impaired brain works with its deficits and functional consequences, and suggest some principles and strategies to compensate for these deficits for kids and adults. While there isn’t time to answer every personal question, participants will be directed to resources for more specifics.
Geography: Mapping Small Places with Children under Nine
Too often we think of geography as the boring study to learn some geographical data like capitols and rivers or skills of graphicacy to interpret scale or topography. But for Mason, the study of geography was designed for the child to have a life long source of nourishment that furnished the mind with pictures and ideas. What were her principles and methods to accomplish this? One of these she specified in the preface to her first geography reader, Elementary Geography: “Geography should be learned chiefly from maps and the child should begin the study by learning ‘the meaning of map,’ and how to use it.” Maps reduce spatial relationships in the concrete, three dimensional world to a more abstract two dimensional representation and often we as adults don’t grasp how abstract a map can be for a child. We will look at how Mason prepared children to use maps and consider the challenge of work of David Sobel to match map work to the developmental needs of children. This will help us achieve an “inside-out, go there” model of teaching geography for children under 9.
Man On A Bench-1946
Dr. Carroll Smith
Narration Part I
In this session we will discuss the history of and research behind the practice of narration. Is narration a viable option for learning today? We will look at both what current research and Mason have to say about this. This session will ground you in the importance of narration so that you can go home and use it thoroughly and with purpose. (Note: this session is a pre-requisite to Narration Part II.)
Narration Part II
Based on what we learned in Part I, we will observe and study the narrations of children at various ages. Next, we will practice and discuss how to introduce narration to young children or to those who are new to narration. Finally, we will practice the art of narration.
Amy Snell will also be providing workshop sessions in the new CMI CM Beginner Track. Check CM Beginner Track page for more information.
The Ladder and Scaffolding of Good Writing
According to Mason, you don’t need a separate writing curriculum to achieve good writing and real learning. In fact, she believed “composition lessons” should be avoided; at the same time, she had definite ideas about how students should learn to write. This workshop with Amy Snell will walk you, Form by Form, up the ladder of good communication. This workshop will also cover the elements of strong writing specified by the PNEU and how they can become a natural and enjoyable part of your child’s life.
Dr. Jennifer Spencer
Examinations and Reflective Practice
During this workshop, Dr. Jennifer Spencer will take attendees through an analysis of Mason's exams and how students generally progress over several years of taking exams. She will also discuss the importance of using those exams to inform teacher practice, student accountability, and curriculum development.
John Brown Reading His Bible-1942
Dr. Austin Spruill
A Prescription for Family Wellness
When you hear the word “prescription”, what comes to mind? It could mean a remedy for a problem like a medication for an infection. Or it might be a recommendation that is preventative like diet or exercise recommendations. Or, perhaps, it is advice or counsel for an emotional or spiritual issue. In this workshop I offer a “prescription for family wellness” that takes into consideration all three aspects of our being: body, soul, and spirit. When thinking about one’s health and wellness, we must consider our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Our goal is to live healthy, balanced lives and to live healthier longer. Hopefully, the “prescription” I offer helps you and your family in achieving this goal!
Victorian Interior II - 1945
John Ruskin tells us that an artist is one who uses the material at hand and transforms it into something both useful and beautiful. Being made in the image of our creator God, we are called to be creative as well. Charlotte Mason included handicrafts in the curriculum because she understood the value of equipping a child to use their own hands to create something of value. The work of one's hands, completed over time has great value for today’s students, perhaps even more so in our highly technical and virtual age. Join Jeannette as she explores Charlotte’s own words on the study of handicrafts and shares favorite resources and ideas for young and older students.
Keys to Living a Full Life
Charlotte Mason said, "Our aim in education is to give a full life. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking - the strain would be too great -- but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest."
As parents and educators we want to provide a full life to our children and students. Yet in our own lives, are we living a full life or are we merely passing time?
If we are not living a full life, can we model what it means to live a full life?
This workshop will discuss some of the keys to living a full and balanced life that can be modeled to those around us. Life can be fast paced and stressful, resulting in our lives falling out of balance and leading to a frustrated existence. To live a full life we need to have balance in our finances, spiritual life, physical health, nutrition, sleep, exposure to nature and communication with those around us. We will also discuss the need for a cheerful heart, which is good medicine as well as the need for us to have resiliency and remain strong and steadfast in adversity.
Birmingham Meeting House III -1941
Dr. David Wiggins
Who is this Person living in my house: The Teenager - Abstract to be Added
Shell Holes and Observation Balloon-Champagne Sector-1931
Recitation: The Children's Art
Charlotte Mason said, “There is hardly any ‘subject’ so educative and so elevating as that which Mr. Burrell has happily described as ‘The Children’s Art.'” In this session, you will learn what recitation is, why it is so valuable, and how it differs from memorization. We will then explore its practice from the first reading lessons through adulthood.