Month: May 2010

Nature Study: An Integration of Disciplines by Deborah and HollyAnne Dobbins

“A love of Nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humour.” (Charlotte Mason; Home Education, vol.1, 71.) At our Beauty of Nature Workshop last June we asked, “What disciplines are involved in Nature Study?”  Many people think Nature Study is science while others may think that Nature Study is primarily art. We have discovered that Nature Study integrates much more. Here are a few of the topics that attendees mentioned during our brainstorming session: Bible Scripture verses offer the ancient history of certain specimens. “[Solomon] described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish.” (1Kings 4:33) More significantly, Scripture glorifies the Creator for His creation. It points directly to the primary purpose of Nature Study, God’s glory. Habits During observation we give students one minute to focus on their specimen. During this time they keep their …

Education in England Today: Where Are You, Charlotte Mason? by Dr. John Thorley

We do have a change worth celebrating this year in primary education in England – not a big change, but at least a change in the right direction. Our National Curriculum, from September 2010, is to be taught in six ‘Areas of Learning’ instead of in the water-tight subject compartments of previous years. The six areas are (to shorten their titles a little) English, Mathematics, Science, Arts, History/Geography, and Physical Development, and teachers are now to be given greater freedom on methods, and are encouraged to develop cross-curricular approaches in the six areas. The whole thing is far less prescriptive than previously. Our politicians have agreed to this change only very grudgingly, and have insisted on retaining the SATs at the age of 11 in English and Mathematics. The result will be that the final year of primary education will still be devoted largely to English and Mathematics, because that is what the SATs will test, and the ‘League Tables’ of schools are based on these. Still, teachers are grateful for the new freedoms they …

Lifelong Perks for CM Educators by Jeannette Tulis

Most of us who teach using Charlotte Mason style methods are probably first-generation Charlotte Mason educators. It most likely is NOT the way we were educated — not even close! Perhaps this can be a bit daunting to those getting started who are reading about the curriculum used by Charlotte. It would be easy to think that to be a successful CM teacher, one must be an accomplished artist, musician, handicrafter, naturalist and an expert in literature. Not to mention being somewhat competent to teach the three R’s to our younger students. No wonder some shy away from exploring it further. It is so much easier just to use textbooks, worksheets and lesson plans. My attraction to Charlotte Mason when I first read about it in Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake, was the emphasis on living books and the arts all suffused with instilling that sense of wonder and delight. I was a bookworm as a child and read everything I could get my hands on. I especially loved history, particularly biographies. I …

Musings of a Masonite by Dr. Donna Johnson

What exactly are we?  Are we followers of Charlotte Mason?  Supporters, devotees, or disciples? Or maybe adherents or enthusiasts? Is it sensible to be guided by a 100-year-old educational philosophy?  Should we be embarrassed to recommend a pedagogical methodology that most in today’s elite educational circles have not even heard about?  A methodology promulgated by someone whose name barely surfaces during a search of prestigious educational journals? Someone whose methods have not been properly researched and validated?  Someone whom homeschoolers – of all people! – emulate and promote? During my busy days teaching students with special needs in a public middle school, I rarely have occasion to mention the name of Charlotte Mason. Still, she is with me every day.  Some days I need all the help I can get, and Charlotte’s help is more helpful than anyone else’s I know. She helps me in ways that may be barely discernible to my teaching colleagues but are becoming steadily more apparent to me. When I am part of a team meeting to discuss the abilities …