Patience, Wonder, Ignorance, and Joy in a Classical, Charlotte Mason education (with Karen Glass)

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What an absolute delight and privilege to chat with Karen Glass in this episode of Homeschool Conversations! I so appreciate her emphasis on humility, wonder, joy, and patience in a classical, Charlotte Mason approach to education. You will not want to miss her analogy between feeding our children good food and nourishing them on good ideas, while waiting patiently for them to grow at their own pace. There were too many good things to type up fully in the show notes, so I encourage you to take the time to listen to the full podcast episode or watch the video!

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Who is Karen Glass?

Karen Glass has been homeschooling her children for 25 years, and she’d not quite finished yet. She is one of the founders of the AmblesideOnline curriculum project and has delved deeply into Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education, and has been reading and studying about classical education since 1998. She has lived in Poland, where her husband ministers, for over twenty years. In the last few years, she has begun writing books to share some of the things she has learned along the way. 

Karen Glass Charlotte Mason Classical Education homeschool interview

Watch my conversation with Karen Glass

Show Notes {with video time stamps}

Introduction to Homeschooling

The Glass family had planned to participate in overseas ministry, so they rather assumed they would need to homeschool. For a time, Karen’s husband worked for Abeka video school, back when the lessons were on VHS! They just assumed that’s what they would use.

Then Karen went to her first homeschool convention just to see what it was all about. She had always loved to read, so she was drawn to the corner filled with all the real books (not the textbooks). The man running the booth handed her a copy of For the Children’s Sake. “It did a complete turn-around in my mind about education,” Karen said.

Karen ordered Charlotte Mason’s 6 volumes and never looked back.

Humility classical education Karen Glass homeschool conversations

Charlotte Mason Education {3:50}

Those original 6 volumes of Charlotte Mason were basically all Karen had to read and study at the time. The internet was all extremely new. Karen went looking for other homeschoolers in that venue, and found other people who wanted to read those Charlotte Mason books together.

Karen noted that to truly understand Charlotte Mason’s volumes, you have to read them multiple times. “They’re so dense.”

As Karen read and re-read Charlotte Mason, she continually refined her understanding of education.

Listen to the full interview to hear how that affected specific things like slow reading!

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Humility, Ignorance, and Wonder {10:00}

“The ability to see something and just realize you’re in the presence of … something amazing you don’t fully understand…That place of not fully understanding is humility in a way. You have a sense of your own ignorance, your own lack. Out of that should be born a desire to know, to learn, something new.”

Karen spoke about ignorance. It’s a strong word, and perhaps an uncomfortable one. But it is so important. You won’t want to miss this part of the discussion!

“The more you learn, the bigger your ignorance is going to grow. The more you learn and know, among all the other things that you learn and know is the fact that there are more things you don’t know… You have to admit to yourself you’re never going to be able to fill in all those gaps. What is left except humility to be able to accept that?

Even Socrates realized that if he couldn’t convince people they were ignorant, they would not be able to learn anything!

Karen warned about the dangers of arrogance in classical education. “It’s a real risk.”

“Humility is very closely tied to wonder,” Karen said.

Charlotte Mason Dawn Garrett

Advice for the new Charlotte Mason homeschooling mamas {18:10}

“The one thing the new homeschooler needs … is to have patience with herself. Homeschooling is a long job. You’ve got years and years and years, and every single year is going to be different.”

Homeschooling is such a long game, and Karen encouraged new homeschool moms not to put so much pressure on themselves to figure it all out at once.

“It doesn’t all have to be done this year…There is no behind, because you’re not racing anybody else. You’re just educating your own children.”

I loved Karen’s analogy. What if we stressed ourselves out because our child’s feet were not growing at the rate we had determined arbitrarily they should grow?! We would instead just keep feeding them, and would trust that their feet would grow in their own time.

And learning is the same. Some kids learn quickly, and some kids need a little more time. So we keep feeding them on wonderful ideas.

The growth will happen when they’re ready,” Karen encouraged.

Karen Glass humility charlotte mason classical education homeschool interview

Is it ever “too late” to begin a Charlotte Mason education? {28:10}

Karen shared the history of how Charlotte Mason encouraged the education of older students who hadn’t previously had a consistent education. Teens are born persons, too, after all!

“There’s nothing wrong with starting at that point,” Karen encouraged, and she gave some specific encouragement and tips for making it work.

She also said, “For that age, you really need the child to be on your side. They really need to understand why they’re doing something like narration.”

Questions for each Homeschool Conversations Guest {35:00}

What are you reading lately?

Like many of us, Karen has been enjoying a bunch of escapist reading in 2020… rereading old favorites, YA dystopian, Georgette Heyer, and the occasional Stephen King!

She’s also been doing a lot of reading about language, linguistics, and logic.

What is one thing you would say to a new homeschool parent?

“You want to have patience with yourself.”

“Enjoy the ride. Yes, sometimes it’s a little tedious…but in reality, you’re engaged in what is one of the most fascinating jobs on the planet: helping a human being develop! Enjoy it! Take the time to notice their own delight in figuring out something new or doing a hard math problem or reading a whole page for the first time. It’s a real blessing. You may not even realize it until it’s in the past. But try…to enjoy this amazing thing we get to enjoy as homeschool moms.”

Find Karen Glass Online

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

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2 thoughts on “Patience, Wonder, Ignorance, and Joy in a Classical, Charlotte Mason education (with Karen Glass)”

    1. Thank you! Yes, I so appreciated her reminder to enjoy this adventure. It can be too easy to get weighed down in the details of the day to day and to forget what a joy it is to have this opportunity to be homeschool moms and watch our children grow and learn!

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