This year it was our privilege and honor to welcome Art Middlekauff as our plenary speaker.
One attendee shared of Art’s plenaries,
Loved them all – very informative and easy to follow. Every one of them was both foundational and relevant and I came away having been refreshed by the reminder of what we are seeking to do in our children’s education and why, as well as having learned some new things about the CM method.
I am happy to tell you that much of what we heard* is available through Charlotte Mason Poetry.
Did you miss part of Friday because of the weather? Do you want a quote or a chart? Would you simply like to listen again? Would you like to share what you learned with a spouse or a friend? Were you unable to join us this year? If so, you will find links to each of the plenaries below.
For those who were able to be with us, do you have a favorite take-away from each plenary? When I introduced Art, I said I had something from each plenary that had been life changing for me, but I wasn’t going to tell so as not to give a spoiler. Now the retreat is over, I can freely share.
Preretreat: How to Learn the Charlotte Mason Method
The value of community in reading the Volumes.
In 2016, I joined the Women’s Idyll Challenge, an on-line group committed to reading Mason’s Volumes in two years. I quickly dropped out. During the summer of 2018, I heard Art give this plenary. It was the encouragement I needed to give the Challenge a second try. We are now in our 19th month and in Volume 5.
Plenary I: Charlotte Mason’s Twenty Principles
Contributing to a true atmosphere in my home.
I first heard this talk in the summer of 2017. Here is what I wrote in response.
I will start my own Book of Centuries, adding to it weekly, and I will make an entry in my nature journal daily.
“What would you do with a free weekend?” Art Middlekauff challenged us with this question during his session of the Pre-Retreat Gathering. The goal of the question was to get us to reflect on the atmosphere we as parents produce in our homes knowing that children breathe in the atmosphere emanating from their parents. If we really believe in the good of those things we are asking our children to do as part of their CM education, why would we not be doing those things ourselves? In short, are we as parents contributing to a true or fake atmosphere in our homes?
Almost three years later, how did I do? I did buy myself a Book of Centuries. And then I gave it to a child. I bought another one for myself, and I gave it to a child too. Finally, this past summer (two years after initially hearing the plenary), I purchased a third book of centuries. This fall I made my first entries; I cannot give it away. I will admit I have not yet met my weekly goal. Now is a good time to adjust our schedule to allow me to do this.
As for the nature journal, I do have my own, and I find joy in adding to it. I see now that my goal of a daily entry was a bit zealous, and I will adjust this to weekly as well.
Plenary II: Habits for Life
The habit of classical music.
I listened to this plenary for the first time in preparation for the 2020 CMER. Here is what I wrote.
Art (and team), thank you for sharing the audio and the slides. Simultaneously I was crushed and filled with hope.
I thought of Joel 2:25,
“I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.”
And classical music played during breakfast.
We have continued to play classical music most mornings. I am renewed to continue working on this simple yet life changing habit.
Plenary IV: Mason’s Program for Bible Lessons
The chair of life.
Art shares a picture on his opening slide sketched by Andrea Cunningham. In it are chairs representing all the Forms; added beside them is the chair of life. This, of all the ideas I have heard Art share, has created the biggest splash in my mind and my heart and my soul. It gives me hope every day. Am I doing enough? Are we reading enough? Are we covering enough?
This is the chair of life, but it is also the chair of rest for the weary parent, because the answer to all these questions, even in my darkest moment, is yes.
By choosing a Charlotte Mason Education what I am giving my children above all is a love of learning and a desire to pursue those things which are true, good, and beautiful, and this, to the praise and glory of God, will continue well beyond their time with me.
The question is not,––how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education––but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him? (Mason, School Education)
*Please note that these recordings of Art’s plenaries were not made at the Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat. There are additions and changes to Art’s living presentations such that some of what he shared with us at the CMER will not be in these recordings. If you cannot find a quote or chart, please contact Art.