For those of you who are getting tired of all the homeschooling chitchat, I'm sorry, as things settle out I'm sure I'll be able to think about many other things. Its just been on my mind for the last few weeks to comment on the strange juxtaposition or intersection (its Monday morning, I don't know what word I'm casting about for) between something like the Trivium and something like Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
Catechesis is essentially Montessori based. Sophia Cavaletti, is inventor and founder, was friends with Maria Montessori and set out to fill out and provide the spiritual/religious element that Montessori herself never had time to. In other words, its all about 'Experience' and 'Prepared Environment' (I'm not being snarky with the scare quotes). The environment is key to the experience of the child as they meet God. The underlying most basic assumption of Catechsis is that the child already has an understanding of God, that God has already revealed himself to the child in creation, in love, in care. And that the child, especially at age 3 to 6, responds naturally and openly to God in prayer, thanksgiving and worship. Obviously, many things can happen before the age of three to interrupt or destroy a child's vision and experience of God, not least of them not being brought to church.
The prepared environment, or Atrium (entry way into full life in the church), sets the stage for the child to experience God and begin to gain vocabulary and meat and potatoes knowledge around that information. This is where it's so interesting, for me. There's no memorizing. There's no coloring of worksheets. There's no 'teaching' per say. The Catechists tells the stories of scripture (all carefully chosen) and uses various handmade materials to tell and retell the story and talk about, particularly 'wonder' about what God is doing, how the people in the story feel etc. The repetition naturally produces real knowledge of the scripture, and the use of the materials makes the connection between hands, heart, mind, and body. There's nothing more restful than watching a child speaking quietly to herself, moving little wooden sheep in and out of a green pasture, moving the Good Shepherd, opening and closing the gate.
Then I flip over to Classical Education, where I am not at all concerned (well, not too concerned) about the Religious Potential of the Child or their Experience of anything, my Main Concern is knowledge. So we are memorizing Everything-the Catechism, the times tables, the systems of the body, the Time Line, history dates and facts, Latin, language arts. They Are like Sponges. In three days of minimal repetition, they basically have the first week down.
About a year ago I mentioned to someone that we were thinking about Classical Education. The person I was talking to was a Montessori teacher, in a Montessori school. She was appalled, practically sick to her stomach. 'How can you do that? What about the Child? You're going to wreck the three year cycle!'
Well, we are on the three year cycle, the CC three year cycle.