Learning to Let Go

At supper tonight I realised why we homeschool and that for our family this is the perfect fit! Today I couldn’t find the younger 2 (aged 5 and 7) to do reading. They had already taken their books outside so that they could watch a sunbird build its nest.

During the afternoon they also discovered blue egg shells in a garden and a peach egg in a nest. At supper they had out a bird book discussing camouflage and predictors and were lookin through the bird app with my 18 yr old naming every bird we have in the garden and excitedly talking about all their behaviours, eggs and which ones were nesting where.

My 12 and 14 yr olds were then filling us in on the difference between fantasy and fairy tales and why Narnia is not an allegory as Aslan is not representing something unreal. Amongst the discussions as to whether Lord of the Rings is in fact a fairytale – much to Kadin’s horror – and not fantasy as it is set in a magical land. One of the twins (12 yr old) – not sure which conversation they were referring to by this point … says -“That doesn’t make sense…. it’s what we did in maths – the reductio ad absurdum – I want to do a debate using that!”

Like swords out flash the arguments as to how rain means clouds in the sky but do clouds therefore equate to rain. Why a film is a movie but a movie is not a film… The next and next absurdity was thrown from across the table. Maths books were pulled out and geometry figures and theorems were discussed – using reductio ad absurdum – at length.

“Aaaah.” says Kadin (18) I wish I had done this book for maths. Next year I’ll do that with my music. Oh, I so love and miss doing maths! “

Will you do you cambridge then?” I venture.

“No – I don’t want to do anything like that. It’s just for fun.”

Which book you ask? First Steps in Euclid. Yup it was written over 100yrs ago and is based on an ancient Greek mathematician who lived in 300BC. But this book has my girls in love with their maths lessons!

This year has had many strange twists and turns… one seeing all our things left in storage for a whole year – including the twins grade 7 maths curriculum, that we’ve used for all our children. We know and trust it so…now what? I found another great Cambridge based one online that Nate – a year older – is loving and has completed almost 2 grades of it in a year. But not the twins. They hated it. They slogged, worked hours everyday, cried and yet seemed to learn nothing.

Then it happened – that voice, I know so well… “Will you just let go?”

“Oh no…. not maths!!!! I’ve done it with so much, trusted using such unorthodox methods for teaching reading, spelling – I mean who teaches spelling using drawing lessons?! I have listened and obeyed but not maths! Maths needs a curriculum!!! It needs structure, layer upon layer.” For days I struggled and fought whilst reading and researching. Challenged by my own convictions. If I truly believe in a Charlotte Mason education- and believe her methods were inspired by God why will I not let go with the maths? After days of battle I realised we could not keep on with the program we were on as my girls had lost all joy in maths. They knew the tricks and how to do them but they had no understanding and could not narrate or tell back the why. So I took the plunge and looked up what Charlotte Mason presented their age children with in maths. I then found the books she recommended in the public domain – A first step in Euclid. Euclid lived in 300BC……

What was I doing?

So with a prayer and a abandoned trust in this method of education we have embraced I ditched the standardised curriculum and left within my 12 yr old’s hands the thoughts of an ancient Greek mathematician. A term later and once again I can shout it from the mountain tops Charlotte Mason is a “Captain Idea!” It worked. My girls are often found huddling over their maths books in deep discussion – sitting beside Euclid as he shows them how he made his geometrical discoveries -I see them pointing and saying out loud – “oh wow” or “look at that” or laughing in delight at a discovery they have made. How often they bring their maths books to dinner excitedly sharing their discoveries.

Charlotte Mason says, “Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the text-book and few subjects are worse taught; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas, what Coleridge calls, the ‘Captain’ ideas, which should quicken imagination. How living would Geometry become in the light of the discoveries of Euclid as he made them!”
I am busy with teaching 5 different grades whilst running a business and the home – I didn’t have the time – or the desire – to inspire them in maths or give them captain ideas! However Charlotte Mason does also say that through literature we are able to connect the mind of our children with those of the past.

This is a grade 9-12 maths book. Charlotte Mason recommends it for Algebra. What a find!

No I don’t know how this fits in a matric or cambridge but I do know that my 12 yr olds know about reductio ad absurdum (yup I had to google it) and have a deeper love for maths than they ever did before.

So once again I have had to learn to simply, let go and “Trust and Obey” as when we do this the Holy Spirit will take the reigns and direct your child’s education for you. Tonight at supper we had a feast of thoughts, ideas, discoveries and joy laid before us that we were only able to enjoy because we took time to stop, listen and chose what we knew in our hearts was the right path for our family – the challenge going forward is to keep on and not let fear of the unknown steal from us the joy laid before.

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