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Twaddle, anyone?

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My apologies to anyone who responded to my previous post on this topic. I decided a poll would work better.

I also welcome any comments on the topic you'd like to leave.

This information is prep for a blog post.

Thank you.
#1 - June 24, 2012, 08:13 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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I'll come back and explain after I get a good number of responses on the poll. So far, my assumption is correct ... that people outside
of homeschooling aren't familiar with the terms.

#2 - June 24, 2012, 09:02 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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I know about Charlotte Mason, but twaddle, to me, is something Nero Wolfe always says when somebody's talking nonsense.  :)
#3 - June 24, 2012, 09:32 AM

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Well according to some die hard Charlotte Mason fans, what most of us write is twaddle. :) 

And I don't know who Nero Wolfe is. :)
#4 - June 24, 2012, 10:13 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

Twaddle as a simple word for nonsense is something I'd think most people would know, even though it's antiquated and probably more familiar in the UK.

Twaddle in the specific Charlotte Mason sense is something I hadn't heard of before I started reading about the Charlotte Mason method, and I found it one of the least attractive aspects of that particular school of thought, largely because I think the things that were written for children were much more likely to BE "twaddle"--fanciful nonsense--back in Charlotte Mason's time, and not so much now.  I feel like, by and large, the days of thinking children are daft enough to want a steady diet of pointless drivel are long gone.  Anyway, it bothered me that there would be a parental discussion about which (current) books were Twaddle and which ones were not.  Nearly all books have *some* value, IMO.
#5 - June 24, 2012, 10:50 AM

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I know "twaddle" in the sense that Jaina does, and am surprised it has acquired a secondary meaning--and more surprised to learn it was given that meaning by someone I've never heard of, but who has some standing in homeschooling circles...

Not that I know much about homeschooling but I do follow educational issues and trends generally.
#6 - June 24, 2012, 12:54 PM
Harold Underdown

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Lill, I voted that I wasn't familiar with any of the three terms and that I'm not involved in homeschooling. I have heard the word "twaddle" before but didn't know if it had a different meaning in your context. Hence, the "no" vote.

Laurel
#7 - June 24, 2012, 01:03 PM

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I've studied the CM method a lot... and totally get why the "twaddle" tag would be offensive. I don't follow CM methods for the most part, but appreciate much of her ideals. The "twaddle" issue, though, is one that bothers me, too. I have looked into much of the CM books and suggested readings and honestly... a lot of it bores me.

Maybe I'm just too full of twaddle myself. :)
#8 - June 24, 2012, 01:05 PM
Being Frank (Flashlight Press)
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Charlotte Mason was a British educator from over a century ago. Her teaching methods are popular among
homeschoolers. I have seen her methods used by homeschoolers of various faiths and creeds.

Here are sources to explain the basics.

This video explains the Charlotte Mason Method of Education http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6dPq42hEL8&feature=related

This video explains what "twaddle" is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2SM4PE9TFM

And here is an article defining "twaddle":http://simplycharlottemason.com/2009/09/02/what-is-twaddle/
#9 - June 24, 2012, 01:50 PM
« Last Edit: June 24, 2012, 01:56 PM by Lill »
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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Methinks our friend in the video is trying to sell something...

I homeschooled my kids for 8 years, and I was familiar with two terms: Charlotte Mason and living books. I may have heard her concept of twaddle, but didn't pay attention to it. I even had a homeschool book company with supplemental books, and it didn't lodge in my brain.

The concept of living books, as I and my homeschooling friends understood it, was a bit different from what the video said. It was more that you use regular books to teach the love of reading rather than using graded textbooks which may have only excerpts or poorly written stories. In other words, instead of using a 3rd grade reading textbook, you read through the Little House on the Prairie series and tie in history and science with it. Or you let your child read The Call of the Wild, if they want to, or anything that gets them reading.

We used textbooks, too. And we had tons of picture books that had limited text. And I agree with Jaina - most books have some value. They don't all have to be educational, they can just be fun.
#10 - June 24, 2012, 02:11 PM

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Right. I think that's what CM originally met. But I've seen "twaddle" bandied around in various places.
I chose that particular video just as an easy way to explain it. And yes, she is from Simply Charlotte Mason
which does sell things, but her definition of "twaddle" is very much like what I see on other sites.

Usually people refer to Junie B. Jones and Wimpy Kid as "twaddle," most early readers and chapter book series also
get lumped into that category. I am seeing the term broaden to pretty much encompass most children's literature produced
after 1960 or so. Another reason, I chose that video as an "explanation" was that it wasn't accompanied by a lot of inflammatory comments like some online articles are. There are some pretty harsh words out there for today's children book writers. Don't say I didn't warn you if you decide to go googling about.

In my circles at least, I see a strong adherence to classics and a general distrust of any contemporary Children's literature. Methinks they might be going off the deep end with CM's original intentions or that .. as Jaina touched upon .. ideas about late 19th/early 20th century children's literature do not translate to children's literature as we know it today.

I mentioned "twaddle" on my facebook wall .. and one of my hs friends was also aghast that "twaddle" was being used to describe popular series and not "dry textbooks" as I think was originally meant.

#11 - June 24, 2012, 02:25 PM
« Last Edit: June 24, 2012, 02:44 PM by Lill »
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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And yes, all books have value is the main point of the post I'm writing.

My homeschool peers also define twaddle as "junk food" for the brain ... "candy," "fluff."

I find it a very derogatory term, and I know a lot of us here have our own opinions about books tied into t.v. shows, movies, or toys.

#12 - June 24, 2012, 02:28 PM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

jeffman

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Since we're really off the topic now, let me weigh in. This is in no way a judgment of Charlotte Mason's program, which I know next to nothing about, but a response to other comments.

As some of you know, I teach community-college English for a living, and have done so, gasp, for 20 years. I've also studied research on literacy and so on. There are a couple of constants that emerge quite clearly. The first is a huge correlation between writing ability and reading skills. If you want kids to write well (and thus to do well in school and in life) they must be able to read well. The second is a huge correlation between reading ability and a love of reading. My best students are avid readers. My worst can't stand reading. It's really that simple.

Obviously, different kids grow to love reading in different ways. The important thing is that it happen in the first place. If "twaddle" plays a role in there somewhere (perhaps part of a mixed diet?) I don't see how it can matter.
#13 - June 24, 2012, 02:34 PM

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Thanks, Jeff. And no you're not off topic at all. I don't think anybody is .. I think everything is adhering to the Charlotte
Mason Method, and the concept of living books vs. twaddle -- both of these are terms that Charlotte Mason uses in
her writings.

I think other parents have the same concerns about what their kids read; they just don't call it by the same names.
I was really curious as to how many people outside of the home school realm were familiar with the concepts.

#14 - June 24, 2012, 02:41 PM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

jeffman

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FWIW, I live in a rural community where a LOT of people home school their kids. There are many reasons they do this, but three stand out.

One, we have a lot of "arty" types who moved out here to get off the grid. The moms tend to be very involved with their kids, and a lot of the dads are maybe more involved than typical dads. I imagine they are very good teachers.

Two, there are those who want to keep their kids away from evolution and novels that might upset their values.

Three, there really are small groups of fundamentalist Mormons in rural Utah who practice polygamy. (They are not affiliated with mainstream (ie, Mitt Romney's) Mormons, I'm quick to add.) The ones I've met are nothing like the cute family on TV. Rather, they want to live in some version of the 19th century and have little to do with modern education, etc. I'm seriously talking about women and kids who look like they stepped out of Little House on the Prairie.

I can't speak for the artists, but the religiously conservative types use some other organization's home-schooling materials. I forget the name, but I don't think quality is their first criterion. Mostly, they need to show the Board of Ed that they're not just making stuff up. What they really do is anyone's guess.

I know all this because my wife teaches high school and (for various reasons) eventually runs into a lot of home-schooled kids.
#15 - June 24, 2012, 04:38 PM

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Just popping back in to say that Nero Wolfe is the detective in a delightful (vintage) series of detective novels by Rex Stout.

By amusing (to me) coincidence, Nero Wolfe is an avid reader whose opinion of any book he's reading is soon formed, and may be gleaned by the way he marks his place in it: an A-rated book merits a thin strip of pure gold for a marker; B's are marked with paper; and a lower rank is marked by dog-earing the page. (I don't recall Wolfe describing any book as *twaddle,* but I wouldn't be surprised if he did, somewhere along the way.)
#16 - June 24, 2012, 04:58 PM

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A little more side tracking: Homeschooling is a subject that pops up in every conversation for us...b/c we have been homeschooling for 8 years now. It is interesting that even in the homeschooling community, the different approaches to teaching can cause much division. We are not the "stay-at-home-all-day-and-wear-matching-skirts-while-tending-to-our-own-bee-hives" type of family. There is NOTHING wrong with that type of family. But my bees would die and my skirts would no longer match b/c I would wash them with the red underwear and they'd be all, ya know, tie-dyed.

Matter of fact, we are the only homeschooling family at our church. The rest are private or public schooled kids. And that is just fine with us. My kids have other homeschooling friends, but most of them are not.

I use alot of text books, computer-based curriculum with tidbits of CM thrown in. So I am sometimes seen as less of a good teacher b/c I base a lot of what we do on the public school system and what it takes to keep my kids on the "college track". I just want to keep their options open so they CAN go to college or whatever it is they want to do after graduation. That, however, doesn't sit well with some other homeschoolers. They don't come right out and say it...but the implication in the conversations is still there.

And when I started studying CM a bit, I was sure I was the only one who thought the term "twaddle" and the way it was being used (to condemn some of the newer works and raise the older works to a higher pedestal) could be too narrow of a teaching style for my own kids. And yes, as a writer, a bit on the judgmental side.

All that is to say this - I want to find the best books for my kids that help them love reading. My oldest loves the NEED series (fairies and such) and CArrie Ryan's trilogy. She reads tons of stuff that would NOT be on the CM list or really on a lot of my fellow homeschooler's reading lists. There are things that we don't read that others do. Ya know?

My oldest DD loves anything that has werewolves, spy stuff or a combination of the two. :) I am SURE that would be considered twaddle. And you know what? I'm okay with that.

The point is... she reads. And she is writing her own novels. And she attends a writing conference every year and comes away even more excited than before.

Like I said... totally going down a rabbit trail. But your original post really struck a nerve with me (in a good way) because the term "twaddle" has bothered me for a long time - and I thought I was the only one!

#17 - June 24, 2012, 05:08 PM
Being Frank (Flashlight Press)
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Ahhh. Yes, the term "twaddle" botherates me quite a bit too. I've only become active in homeschool groups in the last two years.
My eyes have been opened. My jaw has dropped.

Around here -- the majority of people homeschool for religious reasons -- and there can be great variance in that.
Also, Texas is one of the easiest states to homeschool in, so it's a very attractive option. No reporting, no testing.
A home school is considered a private school. Someone recently asked me what you had to do to get in the
"homeschool program," and I said .. pull your kid out of public school and take 100% responsibility for his education.
We homeschool for health and academic reasons.

A lot of people here are fed up with state testing, overcrowded schools, and lack of special ed support. In my city, the only
private schools available are religious based .. and extremely expensive.

For the record, Charlotte Mason Method is more a philosophy than any one packaged curriculum. There is Ambleside Online,
which is a "free" curriculum based on CM. There are books and lists and blogs that teach the CM method.


Susan, I think I like Nero Wolfe. I'm going to have to check that out.
#18 - June 24, 2012, 05:21 PM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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For the record, Charlotte Mason Method is more a philosophy than any one packaged curriculum. There is Ambleside Online,
which is a "free" curriculum based on CM. There are books and lists and blogs that teach the CM method.


Yep - and I think much of her original philosphy and methodology has been misinterpreted and taken to the extreme by many. The "twaddle" issue being one of them...
#19 - June 24, 2012, 05:43 PM
Being Frank (Flashlight Press)
http://flashlightpress.com/

Just in case anyone wants it, here's a link to a Secular Charlotte Mason site I enjoyed when we were first looking into homeschooling.  For one thing, the author is very down-to-earth about the differences between CM's time and ours.

http://www.secularcm.com/newtocharlottemason.htm
#20 - June 24, 2012, 05:54 PM

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Good stuff, Jaina. Thanks for the link!
#21 - June 24, 2012, 06:00 PM
Being Frank (Flashlight Press)
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Thanks, Jaina. I'll look at that.

I nearly came unglued when I read a comment on a CM message board saying something like, "Children's authors today
just aren't very skilled or talented."

And when I'm in my hs groups .. whenever anybody wants to do story time or Book Club ... the first thing somebody says
is Oh, just pick something out of Five In a Row or Honey For A Child's Heart.

Lists, lists, lists, lists ... they won't read it unless it's on somebody's list and someone else has told them
that it won't turn their child into a mushroom or something. !!!!!!! 

I've read another comment along the lines of  .... "I've been told to beware of twaddle. Can someone give me a twaddle
list? How do I know what's twaddle?"

It's as if they think twaddle has teeth or a stinger or it's toxic waste or something.
#22 - June 24, 2012, 06:16 PM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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 :gaah and  :faint

Seriously. That's all I've got.  :groan
#23 - June 24, 2012, 06:41 PM
Being Frank (Flashlight Press)
http://flashlightpress.com/

One branch of our local library keeps a section of children's books printed in the 50s (Heidi, Dick and Jane, etc.) or earlier because those are the only books some homeschoolers will check out. I have no idea what percentage of the home school folks that would include.
#24 - June 24, 2012, 07:26 PM

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Well, this certainly explains a lot about some of the flak I caught when I was teaching (a one-room school, and many of my students had been previously home-schooled)...I'm a firm believer in kids reading what excites them, and although I didn't allow 'fluff' to count for academic stuff, I had my students reading current lit for their reading and literature curriculum.

I guess I'm definitely not the type of person who would go for CM's philosophy ;)
#25 - June 24, 2012, 08:10 PM
Robin
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Robin, I don't think it's so much CM's philosophy as how it's been interpreted. 

I think it would upset me less if people said ... I prefer that my children read classics or stories with obvious morals ..
instead of dismissing pretty much all of modern children's lit with a very derisive term.

There seems to be a focus on the art too ... preferring very realistic detailed art.

I checked out Jaina's link. Very good!
#26 - June 24, 2012, 10:14 PM
« Last Edit: June 24, 2012, 10:22 PM by Lill »
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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:gaah and  :faint

Seriously. That's all I've got.  :groan
Ditto
#27 - June 25, 2012, 07:27 AM

I homeschool and I've run across this term before and I have the same feelings as you all.
Just because a book is old, does not make it good. I've tried reading some of those books on those "lists" and one of the problems I've run into is that some of the old books, especially the history books, often have racist language or antiquated ideas that I would not want my children to pick up. This is not usually addressed by those who advocate against "twaddle," but it bothers me a lot. (I stay away from those books.)
Interesting discussion, Lill.
#28 - June 25, 2012, 07:41 AM
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Here's the link to my blog post. I linked to a NY Times op ed with an opposing view in the comments section. Had I seen that article
in time, I might have referenced it in my post.

http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/2012/06/thinking-list/

Thanks, Jeff for your excellent comments!
#29 - June 29, 2012, 06:34 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

Regarding the article in the Times, I like the fact that she has non-fiction on her list. I think non-fic for teens is an overlooked area in any season of the year.
#30 - June 29, 2012, 07:39 AM

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