Registration is now open for the 2020 Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat. Please, visit the CMER 2020 Website to see the speakers, sessions, schedule, and so much more. We hope you are able to join us.
We are thankful for all the questions we have been receiving in regards to the 2020 Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat. We are excited to let you know that work is underway for opening registration for the CMER with Art Middlekauff!
This year, we will be opening registration on Monday, September 16th.
In order to support the work we are doing to prepare, we will be closing the website until then.
Please, come back and see us on September 16th! Also, you may still contact us with any questions.
We invite you to take part in COMMUNITY, MOTIVATION, self-EDUCATION, and REFLECTION and join us at the Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat, 2020.
The CMER Team and the Aspen Grove Educational Community
We are excited to announce the 2020 CMER Plenary speaker. Art has been a speaker at both the Living Education Retreat, the Charlotte Mason Institute Summer Conference, and many other Charlotte Mason retreats throughout the country. He leads the team at Charlotte Mason Poetry and founded the Idyll Challenge, on-line book discussion groups which encourage men and women to read Miss Mason’s Volumes in two years.
Art and his wife Barbara have been home educating their three children for more than a decade. Over this time, he has been studying Charlotte Mason’s writings and applying her living ideas to his family’s homeschool. He tells the story of how his discovery of Charlotte Mason led to a personal transformation and a dangerous adventure.
Art has written several essays about Charlotte Mason’s theology and philosophy which have been published in the two volumes of Essays on the Life and Work of Charlotte Mason, published by Riverbend Press. He has also produced a video about Charlotte Mason’s twenty principles which may be obtained from A Delectable Education. Art walks in Mason’s theological tradition as a member of an Anglican church near Detroit, Michigan. You can reach Art by email.
Friday, February 7, 2020, to Sunday, February 9, 2020
Colorado Spring, CO
Registration for CMER 2020 will open in August. At that time, cost, a schedule, session descriptions, and policies will also be available.
A Gentle Challenge
I have never before set a broad reading goal. For the past five years my goal has simply been to read. For the past two, I have actually kept lists of the books I have read. While I enjoy looking back on the lists and am thankful for all I have read, I think I’m ready for a gentle challenge.
I unintentionally stumbled upon the desire to set a reading goal for the year; it was not a well-thought-out New Year’s resolution. At Christmas my brother left a section of his Financial Times lying around. An enticing picture of a stack of books loomed before me on the front page of the Life & Arts section. How could I resist? Before I knew it, I had read Alice Fishburn’s article, “What I learnt from reading a year of books by only women.” Setting a literary challenge was not new to Fishburn, and the idea appealed to me. With less than a week left of 2018, I was furiously brainstorming and rejecting ideas for my own reading challenge.
At the same time, my mom was eager to share a treasure she had bought for $.50 at a library book sale. “Something I would never have picked up if I hadn’t been going to these Charlotte Mason retreats with you,” she said. It was The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, Fourth Edition. Her anthology lured me in. A quick search revealed there are now eight editions, and the book comes in both a standard edition (with over 152 stories from 130 authors) and a shorter edition (with 73 stories from 69 authors). I settled on the shorter sixth edition, as it was available in like-new condition from Better World Books for less than $4.
My goal is twofold. First, I will read the anthology in a year, my plan being to read roughly six short stories a month. Then, I will choose a novel from one of the authors featured that month. Six short stories and a novel a month–a gentle challenge. I’m looking forward to the reading adventure of this year and meeting many new authors I would otherwise never have known.
Did you know that Plutarch was born, nearly 400 years later, in Chaeronea, the site of a very strategic battle fought by Alexander beside his father, Philip II of Macedon. I like to picture Plutarch as a young boy, re-enacting the battle with his chums, wiping out battalions of elite Theban soldiers over and over again in his imagination. Perhaps this close association is one reason that Alexander was his ‘hero of heroes’ as Edith Hamilton puts it; that Plutarch ‘loved him above all other men.’
Every year, as I prepare for our study of Plutarch, I come back to the opening paragraph of the Life of Alexander the Great; it speaks to Plutarch’s purpose in writing and his choice of material. It helps me to remember to get behind the actions to the man who committed them.
What do you do to prepare for Plutarch’s Lives?
‘Having determined in this volume to write the life of King Alexander, and of Julius Caesar that overcame Pompey, having to speak of many things, I will use none other preface, but only desire the readers not to blame me though I do not declare all things at large, but briefly touch divers, chiefly in those their noblest acts and most worthy of memory. For they must remember that my intent is not to write histories, but only lives. For the noblest deeds do not always show men’s virtues and vices, but oftentimes a light occasion, a word, or some sport makes men’s natural dispositions and manners appear more plain than the famous battles won wherein are slain ten thousand men, or the great armies or cities won by siege or assault. For like as painters or drawers of pictures, which make no account of other parts of the body, do take resemblances of the face and favor of the countenance, in the which consisteth the judgment of their manners and disposition, even so they must give us leave to seek out the signs and tokens of the mind only, and thereby show the life of either of them; referring you unto others to write the wars, battles, and other great things they did.’ (Thomas North)
Or, the same paragraph from Plutarch: Selected Lives and Essays by Louise Ropes Loomis:
‘In writing for this book the lives of Alexander the king, and of Caesar, the conqueror of Pompey, I have before me such an abundance of materials that I shall make no other preface but to beg my readers not to complain of me if I do not relate all their celebrated exploits or even any one in full detail, but in most instances abridge the story. I am writing not histories, but lives, and a man’s most conspicuous achievements do not always reveal best his strength or his weakness. Often a trifling incident, a word or a jest, shows more of his character than the battles where he slays thousands, his grandest mustering of armies, and his sieges of cities. Therefore as portrait painters work to get their likenesses from the face and the look of the eyes, in which the character appears, and pay little attention to other parts of the body, so I must be allowed to dwell especially on things that express the souls of these men, and through them, portray their lives, leaving it to others to describe their mighty deeds and battles.’
1922 Time Table
I would like to introduce a “new” time table to the community. You can find it here. I made it in the style of the transcribed 1908 Time Table for easy comparison. I do not share this table as something for us to copy in detail in our homes but simply as a tool to help us. While studying this table has helped me to make decisions in my home, our actual tables are quite different.
I think this time table is significant for two reasons. First, if my assumptions are correct, it is the last time table we know of from Charlotte Mason’s life. She died in January 1923, and I believe this time table corresponds to Programme 94 which was used in British schools from September to December 1922. Second, it provides a lot of information that is not as easily discerned in the 1908 Time Table.
The Discovery of the Time Table
For a workshop I gave at the 2018 Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat, I chose to closely examine Programme 94. I chose Programme 94 not only because it was the last programme used in its entirety during Miss Mason’s life, but also because it is the only complete programme* I have found from her lifetime. By complete, I mean that we have every programme and every exam for all forms. But there was no corresponding time table, and I was trying to work with the 1908 Time Table. However, the limited information provided there did not satisfy me, and I went in search of more time tables.
A friend directed me to a document called A Liberal Education for All. The PNEU published the document in 1928, but because of how closely I was studying Programme 94, I made a startling discovery. Near the end of the document is an undated time table and unnamed programme. As I began to look at the programme, I realized it was Programme 94.
Here is where I made an assumption. I assumed that if the PNEU was providing a sample of a time table and a programme, they would have provided a matching set. And indeed, there are no discrepancies between this time table and Programme 94. The best thing to look at is the upper form sciences, which often changed names. The science names on the time table match the names on the programme. This is why I believe this time table dates to 1922.
Information From the Time Table
It is clear on the 1922 Time Table that Form I lessons were no longer than 20 minutes. The 1908 table includes one daily 30-minute lesson for this form. Considering this difference I thought that perhaps after more experience, the PNEU made the decision to shorten the lesson. Or perhaps, it is possible that two lessons were actually buried in the 30 minute slot, and this was simply made clearer on later time tables.
In Form II, on both time tables, lessons were a maximum of 30 minutes.
Forms III and IV introduced one 45-minute lesson on the 1922 table. In 1908 there were two or even three lessons of about this length. The day for Forms III and IV was also 15 minutes shorter, ending at 12:45 PM instead of 1:00 PM.
Forms V and VI had several lessons 40 minutes or longer which were identical to the 1908 schedule.
I have often heard the question asked of the Form I, 1908 Time Table, “When did the students have history and literature?” The answer has always been that it occurred during the reading time. I believe this is true, but I like that the PNEU expressly added the subjects of history and tales to the 1922 table.
Overall, while content remains essentially the same–in fact there is only one difference between the 1908 and 1922 Forms V and VI tables–I like that the 1922 table adds detail. It differentiates in places between levels A and B in the same form. We learn that by 1922 students only studied three languages (Latin, French, and German or Italian) instead of four languages (Latin, French, German and Italian).
This is my favorite part. Below the time tables for Forms I-IV, the PNEU gave us additional information for narrations. Narrations occurred at the end of each lesson.
Written narrations were introduced in Form Ia (3rd grade) with “an occasional written narration.”
Form IIb (4th grade) was completing one written narration a day, and Form IIa (5th and 6th grade) was completing two.
Forms III-IV (7th to 9th grade) were completing at least two written narrations a day.
The PNEU did not give us this information for Forms V and VI, but I would assume the students certainly didn’t do fewer.
While the 1922 Time Table sheds a lot of light on what might have been happening in PNEU schools, there are questions I still have. What was “Week’s Work” on the Form I table? I have seen guesses but nothing more. Why do the programmes specifically list Composition for Forms II and III on Thursday yet it shows up on the time table on Friday? Is it a transcription error or something more? What did Form IIB do where Plutarch’s Lives is listed on the time table? Why do the titles on the time table not always match the programme? For example, in the Form III programme, French History is listed. However, only General History is on the time table.
The programmes and time tables were fluid and changing from term to term and year to year. There are even hand written changes on the 1922 Time Table. Was this the PNEU making changes for future time tables? Or was it someone making adjustments for his own school or home?
I hope you enjoy this time table as much as I do. I look forward to the Charlotte Mason community continuing to grow and answering the questions together. Above all, I hope this helps you to continue to work out a Charlotte Mason education in your own home.
- Transcribed programmes on AmblesideOnline. This is where I began my search. This source gave me a transcribed copy of Programme 94 for all forms.
- Programmes and Exams for Forms I-IV. I wanted to find original programmes if I could, and I found these on Archive. This source gave me original programmes and exams for Forms I-IV.
- Programmes for Forms I-VI. A friend directed me to this copy of Programme 94 as I was trying to find the source of AmblesideOnline’s transcribed programmes for Forms V and VI. This added programmes for Forms V and VI.
- Programmes and Exams for Forms I-VI. Another friend shared this pamphlet with me. This was the last piece of the puzzle. The exams for Forms V and VI are included here as well as the rest of the programmes and exams. The PNEU published this copy in 1928, and I have found minor, though what I consider insignificant, differences between this copy and the actual programme published in 1922. Most of the differences reflect that this needed to be a stand-alone sample programme.