I received this e-mail not long ago from another African-American homeschooler considering using a Charlotte Mason approach to learning:
…in perusing ambleside.org and others I found that most if not all of the art, poetry, music involved is from a European perspective. I want to find a way to integrate our African-American heritage into this approach. How do I do this? Can this be done?
First of all, let me say that I don’t think the absence of materials that lift people of color, any color, is intentional; most people think and write from their own experience. Even though the numbers are changing rapidly, today the face of the average homeschooler is one of European ancestry. Now, can a different ancestry be taught using the same approach? Absolutely! As African-Americans, we have a rich heritage of quality literature, music, poetry and prose. From Philis Wheatley’s first published works to the rich visual and performing arts of the Harlem Renaissance to the rich poetry of Maya Angelou, our task is not to ponder whether we can find living books, but to differentiate a living book from other resources that might crush the learning process before it begins.
From Sally Clarkson’s Educating the Wholehearted Child
Characteristics of a Textbook:
· Written by various authors or contributors
· Impersonal in tone and feel, touching only the intellect
· Non-literary expression of collected facts and information
· Facts are presented without creativity in a way that deadens the imagination
Characteristics of a Living Book:
· Written by a single author
· Literary expression of the author’s ideas and love of the subject
· Personal in tone and feel, touching the heart, the emotions, and the intellect
· Ideas are presented creatively in a way that stimulates the imagination
(Clarkson, pg. 80)
I dare you to get out there and find some living books to awaken your children’s minds, hearts, and spirits. God bless.