Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Charlotte Mason Habit Training and Waldorf Rhythm

There are some similarities between Charlotte Mason education and Rudolf Steiner/ Waldorf education which I can capitalize upon when I am interested in pulling a little more Waldorf into our days. 

By "education is a discipline," we mean the discipline of habits, formed definitely and thoughtfully, whether habits of mind or body. Physiologists tell us of the adaptation of brain structures to habitual lines of thought, i.e., to our habits. CM Vol.6

Today I am thinking about habit. Say- as an example- I need to stop somewhere on my way home. However, instead of paying strict attention to what I am about, I begin thinking on other things that I need to do. Before I know it, I am pulling into my driveway. Oops! I forgot to make that stop. The way to my home is so ingrained in my mind that I have no need to make the choices of which direction to turn. This is habit.

Charlotte Mason puts it this way:
Almost every child is brought up by his parents in certain habits of decency and order without which he would be a social outcast. Think from another point of view how the labour of life would be increased if every act of the bath, toilet, table, every lifting of the fork and use of spoon were a matter of consideration and required an effort of decision! No; habit is like fire, a bad master but an indispensable servant; and probably one reason for the nervous scrupulosity, hesitation, indecision of our day, is that life was not duly eased for us in the first place by those whose business it was to lay down lines of habit upon which our behaviour might run easily. CM Vol.1

She also says:
The formation of habits is education, and Education is the formation of habits. CM Vol.1

Steiner’s rhythms/ Waldorf rhythms of the day, week, season, and year are analogous to Charlotte Mason’s habit training.

This blog post talks about taking baby steps toward rhythm. It talks about establishing four basic activities and building from there. This is an article about Waldorf daily rhythm, but these four things are in line with Charlotte Mason. Think of these things as the first four habits that you will work on.
  1. Eating
  2. Sleeping
  3. Free Play
  4. Fresh Air
Set meal times. This is a post that says that meal time and sleeping schedules are our anchors. It really just talks about meal time. It is a practical post.

Similarly, CM says:
Concerning Meals.––What is the obvious conclusion? That the child must be well fed. Half the people of low vitality we come across are the victims of low-feeding during their childhood; and that more often because their parents were not alive to their duty in this respect, then because they were not in a position to afford their children the diet necessary to their full physical and mental development. Regular meals at, usually, unbroken intervals––dinner, never more than five hours after breakfast; luncheon, unnecessary; animal food, once certainly, in some lighter form, twice a day––are the suggestions of common sense followed out in most well-regulated households. CM Vol.1

I left the whole old-fashion quote, but I think it is safe to say that on the point of mealtime there is no discrepancy between the Charlotte Mason habit and the Waldorf rhythm. I would even say that that blog post gives a practical way to help achieve the CM condition of regular meals.

Similarly, CM discusses the need for rest. She talks about sleeping arrangements and ventilation and even says:
It follows that the hours for lessons should be carefully chosen, after periods of mental rest––sleep or play, for instance––and when there is no excessive activity in any other part of the system. CM Vol.1

Another plea for abundant rest is that one thing at a time, and that done well, appears to be Nature's rule; and his hours of rest and play are the hours of the child's physical growth… CM Vol.2

Moving to Free Play:
CM talks about the passive watchfulness of the parent allowing the child to engage in free play. She talks about how if the parent plans or organizes the details of the activity that it is not free play for the child.
The resourcefulness which will enable a family of children to invent their own games and occupations through the length of a summer's day is worth more in after life than a good deal of knowledge about cubes and hexagons, and this comes, not of continual intervention on the mother's part, but of much masterly inactivity. CM Vol. 1

Finally regarding number 4 CM says:
People who live in the country know the value of fresh air very well, and their children live out of doors, with intervals within for sleeping and eating. CM Vol.1
As we all know, CM speaks extensively about the importance of being outside.

The four things suggested in “Rhythm- Waldorf Style” could be used in a practical way in a CM home.