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Mondays with Miss Mason–E for (Perfect) Execution

September 19, 2011

Note: this post is part of an ongoing series. For more information on Charlotte Mason and Mondays with Miss Mason, please read the first post.

A Child should Execute Perfectly. No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required from him as a matter of course. For instance, he is set to do a copy of strokes, and is allowed to show a slateful at all sorts of slopes and all sorts of intervals; his moral sense is vitiated, his eye is injured. Set him six strokes to copy; let him, not bring a slateful, but six perfect strokes, at regular distances and at regular slopes. If he produces a faulty pair, get him to point out the fault, and persevere until he has produced his task; if he does not do it to-day, let him go on to-morrow and the next day, and when the six perfect strokes appear, let it be an occasion of triumph. So with the little tasks of painting, drawing, or construction he sets himself––let everything he does be well done. An unsteady house of cards is a thing to be ashamed of. Closely connected with this habit of ‘perfect work’ is that of finishing whatever is taken in hand. The child should rarely be allowed to set his hand to a new undertaking until the last is finished. (from Vol. 1, Part IV)

The Habit of Perfect Execution, like other habits, comes on step-by-step.  While the idea of “perfection” seems extreme, when you look a little more closely it isn’t quite as harsh as it sounds.  It comes down to asking a child to do their very best (within their personal ability) at every attempt.

You wouldn’t ask your child to paint like Michaelangelo or to some other incredibly high standard of “perfection.” However, you can, and should, expect their very best when they step up to the plate. This goes again to the short, purposeful lessons that are critical to a CM education.

Now are there days when this all seems beyond them and you. YES!  But that is why you homeschool to set the pace and adjust the plan to your family’s personal needs.

My son knows my saying when it comes to this: “Do it right or do it twice.”  I say this when I know that he is purposefully not doing his best. Not when he is earnestly struggling with something.  As a teacher, you have to read the student and know their personal limits.

I know this is one of those habits that will pay big dividends later in life even if it is challenging to make in the first place.  Can you imagine if your child always put forth their best effort out of habit?  Wow!

Other inspiration on the topic

From Charlotte Mason Help

From Higher Up and Further In


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