Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Words and Wool

 I'm linking up with Yarn Along over at Small Things Blog—do stroll around Ginny's delightful blog; so much loveliness and inspiration for the Montessori and Waldorf inspired family.

Here's the stuff:
Hat is the Cisco pattern, book is the Restoration of Christian Culture by John Senior, which I'm reading for the third time. The Cisco hat is delicious, and free of course.

John Senior is one of those writers—we all know someone like this (some of us *cough* are married to one)—who express themselves so passionately that your first instinct is to disagree with them; you know, just to tone them down. But then on reflection you realize they're right after all.

I love his vision of Christian culture as a culture of "worship" and "praise" grouped geographically around a Church, a house of prayer.  When we're not praying, we work, that is, physical labour that is worthwhile and makes the world more habitable. Prayer and work, ora et labora. Beautiful.

Here's one of my favourite quotes,

"Woman's place is in the home not because some chauvinist put her there but because there is a law of gravity in human nature as there is in physics by which we seek our happiness at the center."

This time round I'm enjoying Restoration of Christian Culture for the insights on education, specifically reading, as the boys are just learning to read and discover books...

"I have taught Great Books myself for well over thirty years but have found larger and larger numbers—now, the overwhelming majority—of freshmen coming up from the schools who cannot read at any thing like the proper speed, by which I don't mean fast, but at the speed where the mental concentration is on the wit and wisdom and even something of the taste and touch of what you might call standard college-level prose and poetry...What you get instead is a painful decoding of hard sentences as if you were studying Latin." John Senior says we are at the point where students need facing-page translations of standard English literature.

"To cope somewhat with this, I tried to get college students at the age of twenty to fill in children's books they should have read at four, eight, ten and twelve—and discovered deeper still that the problem isn't only books; it isn't only language; it is things: It is experience itself that has been missed."

What to do?

"If the soil of those [children's] minds has not been richly manured by natural experience, you don't get the fecund fruit of literature which is imagination, but infertile fantasy. Children need direct, everyday experience of fileds, forests, streams, lakes, ocean, grass, and ground."

In other words, how can children feel the thrill of Goldilocks if they've never wandered through a forest? Smelled the dead leaves, saw the filtered light of sun through the branches? Felt the momentary panic of being "lost"?

I'm taking this to heart. We're going to spend the rest of September outdoors. Plenty of time to do schoolwork when the snow's on the ground!


  1. I love the hat and your model is so cute!!


  2. I definitely need to read this book. Thanks for the summary.

  3. That hat is so cute! I found you through the link up, I'm sharing toddler leg warmers and my mama scarf this week. Happy knitting!

  4. Hi Mary, I'm glad to see that you are back to blogging! Give all the boys hugs for me :) Love you all.

  5. Time to pull out John Senior, methinks, Miss Mary! We've got both of his books sitting side by side on our shelf in our dining room waiting to be read again. I wish we could spend all of September outdoors...we are sneaking in a little schoolwork in an attempt to develop a rhythm that will promptly be altered once baby has arrived, at least temporarily.

  6. An adorable little boy wearing woolly hats..

  7. Love that book, and you've picked out some of the best parts. See, you don't need to worry about how much they are "learning," toss them outside into the woods and fields; it's all learning!

  8. Wow, those are great quotes. Thoughts to take to heart.

  9. Thank you for sharing! Those words touched something in me. I'll join you in the outdoors for the rest of September. :-)

  10. Wow I am so inspired by the article that you have outlined.

  11. I found your blog via Blogs of Note on Blogger, and your having John Senior quotes on the most recent post drew me in right away. It's been a long time since I read that book, borrowed from a friend, but it was very influential in my life, especially in the homeschooling years. I think it was he who first alerted me to the danger of skepticism, thanks be to God.

    I'll be back!