The Idyll Challenge

The Idyll Challenge

An idyll is defined as “a simple descriptive work in poetry or prose that deals with rustic life or pastoral scenes or suggests a mood of peace and contentment.” In Charlotte Mason’s 1912 article entitled “Three Educational Idylls,” she includes a footnote in which she recommends that educators implementing her method should read her volumes every two years.

I think this recommendation is relevant to fathers of homeschooling families using Mason’s methods. Therefore, I am launching “The Idyll Challenge,” which is an invitation for men to intentionally join me in a plan to read Mason’s entire six-volume set in 24 months beginning on August 1. The Idyll Challenge has several unique features:

  1. It is for men only.
  2. It is expected that most participants will never have read Mason’s volumes.
  3. The order in which we will read the volumes is customized based on the way I think men would like to learn Charlotte Mason’s method.
  4. The approach is designed to minimize the time requirement while maximizing accountability.
  5. We will read approximately 90 pages per month. You can do the reading whenever you want. For example, You can read 3 pages per day, or you can read all 90 pages in a single sitting.
  6. We will meet online once per month for exactly 60 minutes for a live discussion. We will never go beyond the 60 minute allotted time. The only preparation required is that you do the reading and come with three things: one question you had about the reading, one thing you disagree with in the reading, and one thing you would like to do based on the reading.
  7. No books with pink covers are allowed. If your edition of the volumes has a pink cover, you are strongly encouraged to re-cover the book. Tips on how to do so are available on request.

The Idyll Challenge begins on August 1. If you would like to join, please email me or reply with a comment to this post.

52 Replies to “The Idyll Challenge”

  1. I am considering joining, but our season of home schooling has long past and we are now empty nesters. Therefore, I am concerned this journey might turn out for me to be one I do not care to continue giving time to. Honesty… The word “covenant” was used in this challenge’s presentation and I take these very seriously. Quandary… May I begin the journey, dip my toes in the water, and later have permission to leave the beach if indeed this turns out for me to be my situation? I do not wish to be seen as failing the covenant pact with you men.

    1. Jeff,

      Thank you for the reply and for considering the challenge. The challenge is for men who are intentional about completing the 24 month plan. I would ask you to hold off on committing until you are sure you want to continue till the end. You still have until August 1 to decide!


  2. Count me in! Do I simply affix brown contact paper over my “pink” volumes? Liz bought me my own set years ago but they have rested on my shelf, with the exception of Vol. 1. Most of my CM knowledge, I confess has been learned vicariously and I am eager to get on with it myself!

    1. Thank you Scott – you’re on the list!

      Wow, you have your own set? That’s nice. Options to comply with rule #7 include:

      1. Make removable covers out of brown paper bags (think back to your school days). This option preserves the original covers to maintain resale value.
      2. Use adhesive (contact paper) to make permanent coverings over the originals.
      3. [More ambitious and more pricey] Have a binder rebind the books with new covers. The main benefit here is that it turns your paperbacks into hardcovers. I did this with one of my books and it is now one of the nicer books in my collection.

  3. Art! I would like to join you in this challenge! I have read sections of the books and even endeavored to read through the volumes, but haven’t made it past a few days of reading. I will need your instructions on how to hide the pink cover, though. =)

      1. I considered that as well. I think Ambleside hosts the texts on their website, too. Not as user friendly as an eBook, but free and accessible, and no pink.

  4. Hey Art – I’m in, too! I have son #2 currently working to “un-pink” our volumes and I’m looking forward to joining you all.

    1. I am glad you will be joining us! I knew I needed to take up the challenge myself, and it will be a lot more meaningful for me to share the journey with my brothers in Christ.

  5. Art, so glad to join you in this challenge. I have already started reading. Shauna and I figured you would start with vol.6, is this the case? Also, I just got the Logos app with the Mason poetry links within all set up. Thank you very much. Shout out to all my 2016 LER fathers!

  6. Admittedly, this is Kathy posting for my husband, as I talked with him about it after returning from LER and he is interested and ‘in’, but I keep forgetting to send him the link! As he is busily sermon writing today I am signing him up before we both forget and Aug 1 passes us by ;). Thank you, Art, for this wonderful idea!

    1. Welcome aboard Jeremy! I will send you the welcome email and the survey link. Please check your email this afternoon, because I will close the schedule survey at 8 PM ET tonight!

  7. I appreciated your session today, despite your voice. I would like to join the challenge and pick up when you start Volume 1.

  8. Will you be starting another round of the Idyll Challenge when this one finishes up this summer? I’m pretty sure my husband would love to participate, but I doubt you’re accepting new people at this point, since it’s so far along!

    1. Todd,

      Thank you for your interest! We are planning to start a new Idyll Challenge on August 1. I will be sending out invitations in July. I will add you to my email list. I hope to see you at our first meeting in August!


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