Month: August 2010

Artist Study: Makoto Fujimura by Bonnie Buckingham

In January 2011, an Illuminated Edition of the Kings James Bible will be published to celebrate 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible. The artist: Makoto Fujimura, Japanese American artist, Head of the International Arts Movement, a writer and speaker, and a Christian. The Anniversary Edition will print the six –color metallic process for the Four Gospels.  This is what he will be remembered by.  This is a departure from the traditional art within sacred texts:  contemporary.  So how do we introduce an abstract artist to your students? Let’s start with what a Picture Talk is. It is to open the eyes and mind to beauty and this leads to Charlotte’s principle about ideas. A Parent’s Review by Miss Hammond (from the Art Appreciation- Picture study page of Ambleside Online), says: “The greatest picture is that which conveys to the mind the greatest number of the greatest ideas–and an idea is greater in proportion as it is received by a higher faculty of the mind, and as it more fully occupies, exercises and exalts the …

The 21st Century Mason School by Jennifer Spencer

What image comes to your mind when hear the words “21st Century School”? Computers? Every child working on a laptop? SMART Boards? Gadgets and gizmos? Charlotte Mason? One of the tricky things about adhering to a philosophy that peaked a century ago is that it is so tempting to hearken back to a bygone era and get stuck there with a romanticized picture of the governess and her cherub-faced charges frolicking in the meadow. But logic tells us that human children cannot have changed that much in one hundred years. Teaching then was hard work, just as it is now. Finding books to use in the curriculum must have been difficult as well, because Mason and her assistants spent a lot of time reading and evaluating new books, and she sometimes says something about such-and-such a book being the best that was available at the moment, as though she were waiting for someone to write something better. My point here is that Mason adhered to principles as opposed to specific materials. She used what was …

The Book of Centuries Revisited by Laurie Bestvater

If I could go back to the early days of my cm discoveries, I think this would be the quote I would most like someone to have impressed upon me: “…there is no part of a child’s work at school which some philosophic principle does not underlie.” (Home Education, 240)  In which case, one thing is not as good as another.  It took me too long to learn that if Charlotte Mason said it or did it, there was a particular reason.  If I looked closely enough, I wouldn’t see a cobbled together hodgepodge of educational practice and ideas but a cohesive philosophy, unity and elegant practice that supported human learning in the most profound ways.  In passing seemingly unimportant phrases in her works or in reading others about her rather than Mason herself, I have often missed treasures. A case in point: I shared at the recent Charlotte Mason Education Centre’s conference my research on the Book of Centuries.  I had read many times in the programmes  that she desired children* to keep a …

An Authentic Life, A Byproduct of a Charlotte Mason Education By Gladys Schaefer

The philosophy of Charlotte Mason offers more than an excellent method of education for children.  It has proven to lead to a more authentic life, one full of the love of learning, the best of books and a spiritual path to the Creator of the Universe.  Allow me to illustrate this truth. The Love of Learning Last week I taught a short class on drawing to a group of educators.  The amazing thing about that fact is that a year ago, I knew very little about the subject.  Then I took a class, and that changed everything. What made me, as a parent/teacher/wife/church committee leader, desire to learn anything new?  Wasn’t my life busy enough?  Yet, for some reason, I was drawn to a class offering instruction on creating an illustrated journal.  I am a traveler and I was struck by the promise that I might be able to learn how to actually draw the stepping-stones in Ambleside, England next time I was there, instead of just taking a photograph.  Was I skeptical?  Yes.  Was …

Relaxed Alertness: Getting the right balance between a caring environment and high expectations

As far back as 1991 in their book, Making Connections, Renata and Geoffrey Caine were writing about an idea they called relaxed alertness, a term to which I believe we need to give some attention because it will help children become better learners.  I want, first, to define relaxed alertness, and discuss why it is important; and second, to look at two situations that need to address the issue of relaxed alertness, and third show how relaxed-alertness could be designed into a Mason instructional day with narrating.  There are lots of examples that could be used, but I have chosen to use narrating to narrow the focus and length of this blog. The Caines are the first writers that I remember discussing this concept, back before websites and all the technologies of today were available.  Like many of us they now have a website and from that website in the box I have placed their definition of relaxed-alertness. It seems that relaxed alertness is defined as a “state of mind of the learner,” and “it …