Using a Living Charlotte Mason Education is a craft. To implement it, we approach learning in our homes as a craftsman would approach his medium.
I’m using the definition of the word craft as in making something, forming something – not the other definitions as crafty being deceitful or a craft as in a boat or vessel. I’m speaking of craft as in an activity, a pursuit, a line of work, an occupation. But these are surface definitions of the craft. There is more to the word craft.
When one thinks of crafting one pictures a loving task, not something forced or mechanical. It has a sense of free flowing creativity relying on a trained foundation. Crafting involves the ability to work with individual pieces molding and shaping to the desired end. It abhors kits and predetermined outcomes, ebbing and flowing with personal touches. Some crafts become so deeply ingrained they become a walk of life. Craftsmanship can grow to be more than a talent, it can become a calling.
Think of a furniture maker, an expert furniture maker, given the task to make a table. He won’t make a table for you, he’ll craft a table for you. Sturdy and solid, it will not only serve its functional purpose, it will be an ornament in a home, a family heirloom. With smooth lines and graceful legs, a surface that shines and a beveled edge curving in minute detail it is a pleasing feature. He will select his wood with care and will spend hours shaping, molding, sanding, staining. It is a custom treasure and has great value.
The way we craft a Charlotte Mason Education is to model the furniture maker, as one who crafts. Knowledge is one of the first things someone needs to become a craftsman. We get that through reading the volumes. Not just one reading, but multiple readings. Each time a page is read, new understanding and new depth comes. This is our blueprint for building the foundation, the foundation that is needed before the free flow of creativity comes. Sometimes it is a painstaking process, sometimes it is a long process. It is a process that is continually refined, the details becoming clearer and clearer, more and more perfect. As in all crafting this step is needed to produce proficiency.
The way to acquire skill and ability is through time tested experience. As the volumes are applied, as children and mother- teacher navigate a Living Education, proficiency grows. Sometimes mistakes are made, but the foundation laid will always provide a guiding hedge. Sometimes it is back to the drawing board. With time and patience comes ability.
Then comes the day when the craftsman has the knowledge and ability to give him confidence and creativity is able to flow. In a Charlotte Mason home, our creativity comes by approaching each child under our care with new eyes. Not a boxed kit, we tailor and change, bend and move with what the child-persons in our home need. Craftsmanship won’t allow for mechanized. A one- size- fits- all approach squelches crafting just like it kills a Living Education.
A Charlotte Mason craftsman selects the best and sacrifices the time it will take to patiently work for the end masterpiece. However, a CM mother-educator does not have an end product like the furniture maker. Just as the table is in our home for years to come, so our children continue in their education for years to come, for their lives. There is no final day when the last coat of varnish is put on, for the learning continues indefinitely. But, possibly if we mothers do have a final work, it is as they move from our watchful care to their own self management, gradually these are our final coats of varnish.
Over time, the craftsman himself takes on in his being the essence of his craft. It defines his walk of life. It is, to borrow from Charlotte, his atmosphere. A Charlotte Mason atmosphere becomes our walk of life. When a craft takes on a higher purpose, when feelings, and emotions and sacrifice for others enter into the picture, crafting adds the dimension of a calling. Anything that demands our attention to focus on an object outside ourselves to a purpose higher than our own, is a calling. Certainly, the instant we become mothers this calling begins. As we gain understanding and skill in our artistry of a CM Education we deepen that calling.
It is a process- becoming a craftsman – a Charlotte Mason craftsman. May we have the patience and persistence so see it through to the end.