A-Ha Moment

We have read much about exposing our children to living books. If you are like me you have probably googled the term "living books" and perused book lists for guidance. If you are like me you may have even had emails or conversations with Charlotte Mason mentors looking for living books.

In our school-house we have been making the transition from traditional school philosphy to one of living ideas like Mason's ideas. There are days when I feel like I have it all under control and then there are days when I am just hanging on for dear life. Both scenerios present great learning opportunities. After all we learn from our mistakes. There are seasons in our school-house when I am uncertain why Mason taught the way she did and it is not until I have one of those a-ha moments that it all comes togther. Last week, I had such an a-ha moment and thought I would share.

For a while now we have been reading living books for history and for literature. We have enjoyed them but I will confess I have wondered how my children were going to make connections or if they were going to make connections. I have seen glimpses of it but I don't think I ever experienced it quite the way I did while with my sisters in Savannah for our FSO Weekend. I dubbed the acronym FSO...Fun Sisters Only.

Mercer House
For a few months we had been planning a little trip to Savannah for my sisters and I and (for the first time) my now 18 year old daughter. My sisters and I decided that we would read the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil prior to the trip. While the book focuses on an alleged murder in the Mercer House, the author spends quite a bit of time allowing you to get acquainted with the people and the history of Savannah. Stories of Sherman's march towards Savannah and the music of Johnny Mercer are just a few of tales he told. I can remember reading one afternoon and feeling like I truly knew the layout of Savannah. He wrote of the beautiful squares and I could envision magnificent trees sprawled throughout the squares. I was craving the slow southern lifestyle of Savannah and began to look forward to our trip. We had chosen a bed and breakfast across the street from the Mercer House. Three sisters from three states were about to converge upon this neighborhood.

We met on Sunday and started our weekend with lunch on the patio. After a brief rest from our road trip we headed out to explore the historic district. Our first stop was the Mercher House and so began my living history moment. I recalled in the book that the owner of the home, an antique dealer, hung a flag over his balcony to annoy a movie crew that was disturbing the peace of his street. As we walked around the outside we tried to determine which balcony this occured from.

We crossed the street and found ourselves wandering through the first square. Again, we recalled a scene from the book and tried to imagine how it played out. We continued walking towards the riverfront not really sure what we wanted to do but enjoying the conversation and the scenery. At one point we saw a horse and carriage and decided this would be a great way to acquaint ourselves with the city and enjoy the atmosphere of old Savannah. We climbed in and began to listen as the guide narrated her way through town. This is where I had my a-ha moment. As she shared the stories of Savannah, I realized that I had heard bits and pieces of them from our book. I listened intently and asked questions and found my mind wandering as we continued. I had built a relationship with this city before I had even seen it. I was acquainted with its history.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. THIS is what Mason spoke of when she said to read living books. THIS is what she referred to when she spoke of building relationships with history. THIS is what education should feel like. I was not labored by the trip or bored as we spent time there. I didn't feel like reading the book or even walking through the historic homes were a chore. I remembered the history of Savannah because I was enjoying the journey. I even came home and voluntarily created two narrations.This being one of the two! My challenge is to take this new understanding and implement it further in our own studies here at home.


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