Embracing the Way of the Will Chart

Well, today we worked on our Way of the Will (WOW) chart again. I was encouraged once more. My youngest this time wanted to fill out his page himself.  The first time I did it for him, per his request. They would have continued working on their WOW charts all morning, and I again had to bring the time to a close.   We do aim for short lessons after all, even when they are fabulous.  This time I did suggest they could add to their charts at any time through the week and share them with us next week.

I wish I would have started this after first hearing about it…. but since I did not, I will waste no more time on regrets and instead look forward.  So what have I learned about this process so far?

I need my own WOW chart! Today, I felt myself missing something and guess what – I was.  I discovered I want my own WOW chart.  My kids are not the only ones learning to embrace the fullness of life that comes with a Charlotte Mason education; I am too.  This may be what touches me most personally and intimately about schooling with Charlotte Mason.  And what a wonderful thing I am discovering it to be!  Not only do I need to have my own WOW chart for my benefit, but my kids will benefit from seeing me model the behavior. Modeling is huge in so many ways, but that is another post.  So here is my very own WOW chart ready to go for next time.

My very own WOW ready for next week.

My very own WOW ready for next week.

He learns to distribute the characters he comes across in his reading on either side of a line, those who are wilful and those who are governed by will; and this line by no means separates between the bad and the good. It does divide, however, between the impulsive, self-pleasing, self-seeking, and the persons who have an aim beyond and outside of themselves, even though it be an aim appalling as that of Milton’s Satan. It follows for him that he must not only will, but will with a view to an object outside himself.  Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6, p. 132.

When first explaining the WOW to my kiddos there was only one rule – they are not allowed to share examples of their siblings being willful.  I cannot tell you how glad I am we have this rule.  It truly helps keep the peace.  They can give examples of being governed by will for their siblings but not the other way around. Of course, they can give examples about themselves.

So who does go on our WOW charts?  Well, the options are almost limitless.  We have used examples from books read both past and present, from movies and from real life.  At our house we have done Plutarch, Shakespeare, the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress, and more.  You should have seen their delight when they realized they could use examples from The Lord of the Rings.  The examples came fast and furious, and there was almost no stopping them.  They are also learning patience while waiting for their turn to share the next possible entry.


It seems to have been most helpful to focus on individual choices, not individual people. Let’s face it, each of us can be both willful and governed by will even within the space of an hour. Yikes!  And we have ended up examining the motives behind the decision.  Sometimes this is hard to know and we make our best guess, but it effects whether or not the decision is deemed worthy or unworthy.

We will learn more as we continue in this process and will very likely change things as we go along…we always do.  For now, I am thrilled that we have a tangible way to get us thinking deeper about the will, our choices, and what we ought vs. what we want as we work to develop character.

But the one achievement possible and necessary for every man is character; and character is as finely wrought metal beaten into shape and beauty by the repeated and accustomed action of will. We who teach should make it clear to ourselves that our aim in education is less conduct than character; conduct may be arrived at, as we have seen, by indirect routes, but it is of value to the world only as it has its source in character.  Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6, p. 129.

It is wonderful to hear a discussion about choices, that is almost completely child driven.  And they are loving it.  In addition, they are starting to examine behavior and choices outside of these WOW lessons….to what they are reading or choices being  made through the day.   Words and phrases such as willfull, governed by will, I ought, I want, I will, character, and virtue vs. vice are becoming a part of our vocabulary, our friends in an odd sort of way.  Will we always keep a WOW chart?  I don’t know, probably not, but for now it is increasing our awareness that our thoughts are important, our will can and should be strengthened, our reason is oh so fallible, and our character matters.

If keeping a WOW is new to you, I suggest reading the sections in Charlotte Mason’s Vol. 6 about the Way of the Will and the Way of Reason.  I have particularly appreciated Nancy Kelly’s blog post and Christy Hissong’s explanation on the AO forum.  Honestly, wrapping my head around the two categories of Willful vs. Governed by Will took me a little bit.  Looking forward to beginning my very own WOW chart next week.

Here are a few more pictures for your viewing pleasure…especially since I finally figured out how to include them in a post. Yeah!

Legoman's WOW chart

Legoman’s WOW chart

The Beauty's WOW

The Beauty’s WOW

The Shrimp's WOW

The Shrimp’s WOW