The Only Education

“There is no education but self-education.” Charlotte Mason

Again and again, no matter the age of my children, I see this to be undoubtably true. Day by day, month by month, year by year we encourage, direct, train and trach our children’s hand, eye, mind and heart towards great ideas, attitudes, thoughts and beauty. It is however only when they choose to make the connection with their own eyes, heart and mind does the penny really drop. Only then do they reach that “ahh-ha” moment of – this is really real and it can be mine.

As parents and educators we can never choose or expect the moment at which this will take place, we can never plan for it or force it into being. All we can keep on keeping on doing is laying “the feast.” We keep on reading the great books, looking at the beauty, drawing their attention to the raw wonder of it all, listen to their curiosity whilst equipping them with the skills of eye, pen and brush.

Then when you least expect it, sandwiched between lifting them from one activity to the next or whilst tying a shoelace you’ll hear the whispers of education dawning. “I see it Mamma, a sunbird drinking from a flower.”

I look around – “a sunbird, no, there is no sunbird here.”

“In my head, Mamma. The flowers we saw the other day on our walk and the bird we saw on our trip – the one drinking out the flowers, it was a sunbird. I got it all in my head I just need to paint it now.”

The next morning early, I creep into the kitchen to find my little person siting with pictures of birds all around the table, eraser poised and beautiful flowers and a scratched out bird upon her page.

“I found all the books with bird pictures but I can’t draw the wings. Mine are all wrong. I’m done, I need to go, I need to climb…”

And she’s off….. As the day moves the books, pencil and books are packed away. Was that just another whisp of a thought of an idea…. Days later, a much younger child’s library book lies open upon her lap. “Mamma, this picture. I need to draw it. I love this book. Look at the bird. Mamma can we keep this forever.” Day after day she gazes at these pages

A few mornings later morning I come through to find the book with the captivating picture propped up, paints in hand and the most beautiful picture left out to dry.

“There is no education but self-education,” said our wise Charlotte Mason. Indeed, that moment in time when they begin to see the pictures themselves, hunt for the knowledge, link it together and then use the skills we’ve trained… education and beauty is theirs for the taking, creating, making and sharing.

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