Technology and Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

Technology and Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

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So much has changed in the last hundred  years since Charlotte Mason lived,   especially in the area of technology; technologies  have been developed since her day. What is the   place of technology in a Charlotte Mason home  school? Let's discuss that today. [Gentle Music] Welcome to the Simply Charlotte Mason Podcast. I'm  Sonya Shafer. Joining me today for this discussion   is my friend and co-worker, Doug Smith. Doug,  thanks for joining us again—Good to be here.—   We have talked before about technology;—  Yes.— But that was more, is it the big evil,  

or is it something that can be productive and  useful?— Yeah, we did an episode on screen time,   and in that, we talked about more of, what  are the guardrails around our children and   the way we use technology? Are we a consumer or  a creator? Those kind of things. We're not going   to be talking about that this time and they can  reference the other one.— Yeah, we can leave a   link in the description to that other podcast.  That one's more should you use technology? How  

should you use it if you choose to? This one, I  want to talk more about what technology, if any,   is compatible with a Charlotte Mason approach to  uphold her principles of education, and is there   a way to incorporate technology into that wisely,  I guess.— I ran across a really interesting story   in Charlotte's book, School Education, and what  I love about it is that what she espoused there   aligns with a lot of what I believe in how  we approach technology. And she tells this   interesting story about going to visit what was  called the Peace and War Exhibit, or Museum;   it was in Lucerne, Switzerland, and it was a  pretty big deal at the time, and she traveled   there to see it. And she talks about the model  of a torpedo and that there were these elaborate  

diagrams in cross sections, and models, and all  of these things; and that as she viewed those,   she didn't get it. She didn't understand how it  worked. Later at lunch the people she was sitting   with at the table, one of the people there was  knowledgeable on the subject and he pulled out   his glasses case and used that as a very simple  model of a torpedo and explained it very simply   and she understood it right away. And she made  the observation that elaborate models don't make   a very good foundation for our education. They're  too much all at once. They're like a flood and we   need to build our knowledge. Now there's a place  for those things, that more elaborate knowledge,  

but that's not what we start out with, right?  And like so many things in a Charlotte Mason   education, guided discovery is the key, right?  We learn more when we have to discover it and we   retain more when we have to discover it and so a  lot of what we do with children is we guide them   in making those discoveries for themselves.— And  that applies to how we use technology as well.—   Yeah.— That, as you said, we don't want it to be  a flood and, you know, give them everything all at   once: here you need to learn this whole diagram,  but little by little guiding them to discover it.   A lot of times with technology, as you said, it's  not a discovery, it is an information dump. Here,   I've already done the work, now you just learn  this.— Right, right. And I love the way she said…  

I have to get the exact quote here…— Yes, yes.  …because it's so good.— I noticed you're using   technology for this!— I am using technology for  this! But we could just as well open the book,   but I just had to say that!—he said when we  do that, those elaborate models, she said,   “It's stale on the senses and produce a torpor of  thought the moment they are presented.”— Torpor   of thought.”—I didn't know the word, “torpor,”  I had to look it up, and it means “lethargic” or   “without thought.” —Yeah, it's like the eyes  glaze over; it's like the look on the kid's   face when he's watching TV.—Yes, yes. And maybe  torpor is an old word that we need to bring back   because it applies so well to technology, you  know, it's like, Johnny, you’ve got to put the   phone away now, you've got yourself in a torpor  again.— Yeah, because that is a poignant word;  

that is a perfect word for what the look is on his  face, where he’s just spaced out—scrolling; or you   might say to your friend, you know, we've been  friends for a long time and I've enjoyed having   conversations with you, but since you got that new  phone and you keep getting it out over our meals,   our conversations have become “torporous.” —Just  drop that little word in there.—Drop it in there.   People say, “What’s that?” then you can talk  about it. Yes, good, so that's what we don't   want the technology to produce with our kids.  So, what technology do you think… well, okay,  

here's a question: Did Charlotte Mason use  technology?— She did. And in that passage,   she talks about some of the things that she used.  She said the exceptions would be the microscope,   the telescope, and the magic lantern. Okay, so we  know that a microscope is something that allows   us to see things that are very small, that we  couldn't see otherwise.— Right.— A telescope  

allows us to see things that are far away that  we couldn't see otherwise. And most of us haven't   heard of a Magic Lantern. I ran across one at  an antique shop recently. It's a little device,   about this big.— About the size of a sack of  flour, maybe?— Yeah.— A 5-pound sack of flour,  

okay.— It's a little projector, has a light bulb  in it, and then there's kind of like a a film;   the the pictures were about this big, and you  could put them in there and it would project it   up on the wall. So that allowed, in the classroom,  they could do a picture study. They could show   things… — from other countries— other countries;  places that you couldn't visit. —So it's like  

an original slide projector.—Yes, yes. And then  later on, we know that she used the phonograph or,   she called it the gramophone, that's what they  called it.— Oh yes, for music study.— She  called it a gramophone. Could you imagine  what that opened up? Because that came about in   her lifetime. We don't think about how readily  music is available to us at an instant. We can   stream it from anywhere, listen to anything  we want. But to do music study in her day,  

before that, you had to go to a performance. And  now this has opened up a whole world. After after   her death, in her schools, they continued to  have the phonograph with a lending library that   you could check out records and were shared all  over the place. So she did embrace those things.   The commonality is that they were purposeful.  It wasn't technology for technology’s sake. It   was technology that brought things to us that we  couldn't otherwise experience but that were also   useful.— I think that's a key point. The purpose  was to help the child discover; just put before   them and let them discover for themselves from  these items or experiences that they would not   otherwise have been able to experience.—Yes.—And  I think it's the same thing for us today; what we  

don't want to do is use these “appliances,” as  she called them, or technology, to stifle our   children's imagination. And there's a fine line  there. She talked at one point about when they   read about a place they need to be able to picture  it in their mind's eye. The habit of imagination   was important to her. She did not want them to  not be able to read a passage and picture it;   but she also is wise enough to know that you  can't picture something if it is so far removed   from what you have experienced that you have no  starting point to even imagine it. And so, I think  

that's when the appliances, the technology, was  helpful, just to bridge that gap.— Yeah, and when   we look at the internet, there's a dumpster load  of garbage there….— Oh, that's very true.— But,   the potential for bringing things to us; and  the twaddle rule applies here, right? —Oh yeah,   absolutely.— The quality of what we allow children  to consume, or ourselves, and its educational  

value, varies greatly on the quality of the  content.— Yes, yes. So we don't want to stifle   their imagination. We don't want to stifle their  habit of attention. A lot of technology today;   maybe you can talk to this, I don't know, maybe  you've done some research on it; a lot of the   technology switches camera angles, boom boom boom  boom boom boom boom, and thus, it wires our brains   to only pay attention for that split second and  and be ready for something to change rather than   giving it your full undivided attention.  We don't want to use technology that will   stifle imagination, stifle attention span, stifle  curiosity.—Yeah. There's also a temptation because  

there's so much there in this “fire hose,” to take  on too much and not take the time to, as Charlotte   Mason said, to ruminate on what we're learning;  sometimes we have to learn a little “shut off   that spigot.”— Yes. —And take some time and let  it settle in for a little while before we go back,   rather than just consume, consume, consume. —  We've got to process it, otherwise we are just   a consumer.— Yeah. Recently a friend posted on  social media asking about her child who wanted   a cell phone. And she asked for advice. These  things are expensive, the plans are expensive,  

I'm not sure if I want him to have one, and so  on. And it was interesting that the majority of   the responses were about how to get a good-priced  cell phone plan. —Really.— Yeah –Nobody talked   about the purpose of it and whether he should have  it? —Just a little bit. Just a little bit. And my   mind immediately, with the question, went to: has  this child proved in social situations that they   could use a device and not isolate themselves?  Has this child proven the mastery of of devices,   that they're not consuming him? Those kinds of  things that we often don't think about. Does this   device enrich his life or drag him down? What are  the purposes, what are the goals for it? Do you   have any? Or is it just, I want something shiny  because everybody else has one? —Yes, those are   such crucial questions to think through.— Yeah.—  And Charlotte was nothing if not intentional with  

her choices. It behooves us to do the same.  Alright, so…—Let's talk about some tech that   we have today and how it might align or not align  with some of those things.—Yes please.— One that   I thought of is e-books and e-book readers. They  allow us access, ready access, a library on the   go; that can be valuable.— Now, for those of our  audience who don't know what an e-book reader is,   is that one that reads it aloud to you?— No, I'm  talking about, those are available of course,   but I'm talking about a device that lets you have  a library that you can read like a book.— Okay,   all right, so the device itself that you can  see the the words of the book.— Yeah. —Okay,  

gotcha.— Of course, so many pieces of our  technology allow us to communicate, and so,   if we can be in touch with one another, if we can  develop relationships, foster communication, those   are good things.— Yes, right, yes. That reminds  me of when our kids were growing up,— Yes.— and we   lived, you know, a thousand miles apart, but they  were constantly in touch with each other, creating   movies together, —writing books— writing scripts,  writing books, —correcting each other's grammar,   you know all those kind of things.— Yeah, so  they were using it in a productive way, not just  

to idle away the time because they had nothing  else to do. And when we when you had mentioned   about the Magic Lantern and seeing pictures of  people who live away from you, same thing now,   you can communicate with those people. My husband  talks about how he has a group of friends who are   from all these other different countries, and it  never ceases to amaze us how, just at the drop   of a hat, he can be talking with people in all  these other countries instantly. That's common,   I guess, for the kids growing up today, but for  us it still is a wonder.— Yeah.— But the art   of communication itself needs to take precedence  over the technology.— Yes, yeah. In the same way,  

with communication, the internet can give  us access to experts, or skills, or courses,   or someone who speaks another language that we  are learning. Those learning opportunities are   plentiful. —So again, it comes back to what you  were saying: what we cannot access for ourselves   in our own sphere, we have opportunities to  connect with those and form relations with   those things more easily now.— Yeah, we can have  access to historical documents, historical media,   that we wouldn't have access to otherwise. I  recently ran across; I collect some old records,   and I recently ran across this old Edison record  from the 1920s and it was from the time of World   War I, and it was a a song about that experience  and that launched me off into a whole study of   the time period because of that. And I was able to  go online and find other materials from that time   period: music, and documents, and things that  helped me understand the mindset and develop a   relationship with those ideas and times. —Yes,  so it's a supplement to your thought process,  

not a replacement for thinking for yourself.—  Yeah. —Nice. —I'll put a question mark on one,   which is virtual reality headsets. —Hm, okay.—The  question mark comes because, if I put this on my   face, I can't see you, right? —Right, right.— But,  at the same time, I can look at something in a way   that looks very real. I could walk through the  Great Pyramids. I could take a tour of a museum  

in a far away city as if I'm there and walking  through it and it looks very realistic. But again,   I'm isolated when I do that. There's a solution  to that, and it comes from our childhood. Did you   have, when you grew up, a View-Master?— Yes,  I did.— Okay, and we put the little reels in,   and we could look at things 3D.— Click, click— And  those were very, there was a lot of educational   content for those.—Yes. But only one person could  look at it at a time.— Yeah, but you know what our   solution was?— What?— Hey! You look at this!— Oh  yeah, that's true! We did, we did, yeah, pass it   back and forth.— But we have to be intentional  about the use of those kinds of things.— True.—  

And you can pass that back and forth, you can  find ways to use that.— That reminds me of what   you said earlier about guided discovery. It's  not just discovery.— Yeah.— It is guided by a   wise older person. —There are also some technology  that falls into tools that we can use in our study   and our discovery. One I was thinking of was  for nature study: trail cams. —Okay, describe   that to me.—I think I need to describe that,  because some people might not be aware of it;   they’re a camera with a motion detector, usually  on a stake that you would plop down somewhere;   like if you have access to a wooded area or  something, you can put the camera there. And on  

a trail where you see, you know, an animal trail.  Then you can come back in a week and download the   pictures, and you would see what animals are in  the area. Now, here's where we need to be careful:   the purpose isn't just to check off, I've seen  those.— There, I did nature study! —I did nature   study! It's to say, oh, now I'm aware that there  are coyotes in this area. Now I want to study   those further. In the same way, I saw a project  that someone did taking a little tiny computer  

board and a microphone and hung it outside  and made it so that it could recognize bird   calls and it would give them an alert when there  were new birds in the area. Again, this is not,   I'm checking off the birds.— Right.— I'm done with  that one, I'm done with that one; —I know this   one's in my backyard.—Now I can go out and make an  observation; try to see it, try to learn further   from that. But you use that as a tool for further  study. —Further study using your own mental powers   to do the further study. It's not a substitute for  putting forth the mental effort yourself.—Right,   exactly. —Nice. — And then a couple of final  ones.— Okay.— Tools that develop skills that could  

turn into careers. So, learning computer coding  or design; so much of graphic design happens using   technology now. Or even 3D printing; developing  models that might turn into a product or learning   those skills even just for having exposure to  3D spatial concepts and skills and measurement   and things like that. Those can be valuable for  developing career skills.— And you could start,   again, laying the foundation first, before you get  there if you're doing paper sloyd, learning how   the 3D stuff, and then it will step up so that you  can use the technology as a tool rather than as a   replacement for your own effort.— Yeah, and again,  we don't give that elaborate model, that flood,   first thing off, we give basics and then you build  those skills. Charlotte related into that passage  

to what came before where she was talking about  oral lessons, right.— yes— and that the blah blah   blah blah blah blah is like starting a child out  on crutches.— Right.— And she said appliances,   technology, for us, is the same way.— Yeah, so  they are very chary of which appliances they use   and how they use them. I think there's another  word we could resurface along with terper, no,   torpor!— Torpor!— I'm going to have to practice  that before I can resurface that one, yeah,   torpor and chary; those are good words to use or  at least the principles behind them are good to   guide us in our using technology in a Charlotte  Mason home school. Thanks for all those ideas,  

Doug. If you enjoyed this podcast be sure to  subscribe. I'll see you next time. [Music]

2024-04-09 15:02

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