Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Intellectual Nourishment

"... all children, even the mentally challenged, know what they need and are desperately eager to get the (intellectual) nourishment they need. " (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6 - Modern English translation available here)

I've been thinking about this quote for the last several days, pondering it deeply. I'm getting into the heaviest part of my half-marathon training which affords me blocks of time during the week where I've got time to myself to think! ;)

Right now, I'm trying to decide if I actually believe it. Later on in the same paragraph, Charlotte adds, "This statement is not some idealistic opinion. It has been well proved in thousands of children." I am assuming she means from the PNEU schools she ran.

I'm not saying that Austin or Reece are mentally challenged, but they do have challenges when it comes to their learning that hinder their progress. Whether these challenges are due solely to the autism (or epilepsy or a combination, in Austin's case) I do not know. What I do know is that Riley seems to be the poster-child for the efficacy of Charlotte's methods. While she hasn't only been taught with CM's methods, she has spent the majority of her formal schooling years being taught at least partially with these methods. I say partially because I have had such a hard time sticking to only CM's methods especially in the area of language arts. Yet, Riley's narrations are incredible, and she has made the transition to written narration very naturally. She is working on formal grammar this year and is grasping the material with so much more ease than Austin did when he used the same program.

So then I come back to the other children, and their continued struggle with narration, grammar, spelling. I try not to compare because I know that it's different territory, but it's hard not to notice the differences. Same mom, much of the same material - vast differences.

The questions I ask myself with respect to the quote is:

"If I trust the children to take what he/she needs from the material, how do I know he/she (especially HE since HE has only 5 academic years with me after this one LOL) will be prepared for the future - independence, etc?"

"Can a child who doesn't have a strong sense of self, like with autism, truly KNOW what he/she needs from the material?"

"If not, is this something you can develop in a child with autism? How?"

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