Beautiful Staged Window Scenes: Inspiration to Inadequacy

I have noticed on social media it can get very hard to not get caught up in the beauty of those tiny staged window scenes. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones that are meant to inspire and probably do most of the time, but then it doesn't take much for inspiration to turn into feelings of inadequacy.

We all want that beauty, the perfect pictures. We want the acceptance & sometimes maybe even a little envy?

Charlotte says, “Their relation to their children is not an accident, but is a real office which they have been appointed to fill” (Mason, 1989e, p. 199).

And while I understand the need for those photographs, I've found myself caught in that web feeling discouraged because I can't achieve that "ideal". I've found myself wondering if other people are better suited to educate my children, they might be more consistent, more inspiring, more patient, more something.

I can only speak for myself & my experience, but sometimes I get caught up in that Education is an Atmosphere, thinking my children need this beautiful staged scene to optimize their learning experience. But when she speaks of "atmosphere" I don't think she's talking about magazine worthy photographic rooms filled with curiosities and beautiful art adorning the walls. I don't think she considered the perfectly curated furniture, bookshelves with brightly colored books & toys, etc. I believe she was talking about in some respect the attitude we have towards children in regards to education. They don't need the fanciest, the newest, the most beautifully inspiring scene. In fact, they learn the best in the most natural of their own environments.

"Seeing that we are limited
by the respect due to the personality of children
we can allow ourselves but three educational instruments —
 the atmosphere of environment,
the discipline of habit
and the presentation living ideas."
— Charlotte Mason [Vol. 6, p. 94]

In volume six she talks about this Education is an Atmosphere in more detail... it says,

"Peter's nursery was a perfect dream in which to hatch the soul of a little boy. Its walls were done in warm, cream-coloured paint and upon them Peter's father had put the most lovely patterns of trotting and jumping horses and dancing cats and dogs and leaping lambs, a carnival of beasts . . . there was a big brass fire-guard in Peter's nursery . . . and all the tables had smoothly rounded corners against the days when Peter would run about. The floor was of cork carpet on which Peter would put his toys and there was a crimson hearthrug on which Peter was destined to crawl . . . there were scales in Peter's nursery to weigh Peter every week and tables to show how much he ought to weigh and when one should begin to feel anxious. There was nothing casual about the early years of Peter."

So, Mr. [H.G.] Wells, in that inconclusive educational treatise of his, Joan and Peter. It is an accurate picture of the preparation for 'high-souled' little persons all over the world."

And later she goes on to say, " We certainly may use atmosphere as an instrument of education, but there are prohibitions, for ourselves rather than for children. Perhaps the chief of these is, that no artificial element be introduced, no sprinkling with rose-water, softening with cushions. Children must face life as it is; if their parents are anxious and perturbed children feel it in the air. "Mummie, Mummie, you aren't going to cry this time, are you?" and a child's hug tries to take away the trouble. By these things children live and we may not keep them in glass cases; if we do, they develop in succulence and softness and will not become plants of renown."

I think sometimes we focus so much on creating a perfect "space" for education to take place. They need life as it is. The extent we sometimes go to create these perfect atmospheres, she likened it to a plant under glass, "A plant carefully protected under glass from outside shocks looks sleek and flourishing but its higher nervous function is then found to be atrophied."

I believe this is also another reason she emphasized the need to spend so much of their time out doors vs in doors. The classroom is best as natural as it can be, full of oxygen and room to discover God in his element.

Now, there is nothing wrong with having a beautiful home and/or school room, especially if it is a representation of your children's interests and fascinations. I just want to encourage you that you don't need that to give your children the best education. You don't need to spend money & time, especially if you haven't got it, to try achieving those picture perfect spaces. God has chosen you and has given you everything you need to answer His call.

God Bless,

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