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CM Vol.1 XIII.- Composition

January 16, 2012

Basically Ms. Mason is saying children should not be asked to give original thought about a subject. The young mind, she explains, is to collect ideas. Ideas are brought out when we read living books and have “grand conversations”. Those ideas, and new ones of their own, will come about naturally, later. Forcing the bud of original thought too early will be discouraging, because they know it is too much too soon. The best they can do, if you still demand it of them, is to string together commonplace thoughts. They may become resentful to you, since it will be the teachers fault that their conscience is injured and now have vanity to reconcile.

But maybe we haven’t intentionally done this. Maybe you are uninterested in group performance (this is often where this style of learning is found). You can’t excuse yourself from the rest of this post just yet. Have you been omissive? Us home educators are pretty excited about what we know and are learning. We have to be careful here. We may be giving our ideas unwittingly. And then we see “original thought” in the essay, and are so proud of this thoughtful child. When really they have just parroted what we did. Narrated. But under the guise of original thought. It is true, we are giving a diet of ideas. But we are honest about it. They are others ideas. Not our own. We have to be careful, too, with giving them lead sentences and helping them string the sentences together to give them an original essay.  The child begins to think there is only a right answer to find and give. Perhaps that is what the government school wants, though. Maybe they want group-think children, that come to the same conclusions, with an imagination that is sterile and self conscious.

It all depends on how you define education. Are you trying to indoctrinate? Just know that your fears and rules do not make logical, loving, creative minds. It just makes strong minds, in the way of opinions. Let your child have their own mind. If you are afraid of this, you may not be giving them wonderful things to digest.

Ok, so this is about composition, right? So what are we to do? Narrate. Simple telling back in their own words. This only works when you give them fabulous books and minimal instructional intervention. Give them confidence in themselves by allowing them the mental freedom to notice punctuation patterns when they notice them, as they read.

Just let them at it, mom! They are brilliant, whole persons. Doing otherwise just tells them that you think they can’t handle it. It’s demoralizing over time.

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