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4. The Three Tools of Learning

Your child is a person -- a full fledged person with his own personality, his own mind. He has a right to as much respect and dignity as anyone else.

What does this have to do with education? Everything! It means there are limits on what's okay, and what's not okay in our attempts to educate him. Obviously it's not okay to beat a child for misspelling a word like teachers used to do in past generations. But, in a lesser sense, it's also not okay to bribe him to learn with candy or money. It's not okay to guilt him into learning to prove his love for you. Punishment, bribery, and guilt tripping are all forms of manipulation, and only seem to work by appealing to the wrong motives.

But what IS okay to use in order to educate him? Three things: his natural environment, habits that make his (and your!) life smoother, and interesting ideas that awaken his mind.

Charlotte Mason called these three tools "an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life," and they are the foundational building blocks of a CM education.

Atmosphere means that your child is learning valuable life lessons just by living in your home, observing what goes on in your town, playing with his friends, going through the routine of his day. Discipline means he is learning good habits that help him regulate and control himself. Life -- ah, life! Our minds are sparked and inspired by all kinds of ideas, and a major source for these ideas that awaken us to real living is books. Books are important in a CM education because they introduce us to such a wealth of diverse ideas.

We'll look at those three educational tools a little more in depth later. This week, see if you can identify some of these in your child's life.

[Today's patio chat comes from Principle 5]

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