Month: January 2011

Sursum Corda in Natural Law by Nancy Kelly

What I desire to set before the reader is a method of education based upon natural law. (Mason, 1955, p. 3) Last year at the CLUSA conference during a lecture on education models, the speaker mentioned that Mason’s curriculum is based on natural law.  The woman next to me leaned over and whispered, “So, what exactly is natural law?”  I quickly whispered back something about natural law being the set of laws not necessarily written down anywhere, but that people everywhere would acknowledge.  She looked at me quizzically.  I resolved to look into it. Mason writes about natural law in the physical and the moral/mental sense.  In the physical sense, she speaks of the importance of good health, nutrition and atmosphere.  Everyone would acknowledge that these things are important whether they adhere to them or not.  Mason (1955) states, “In the first place, we have considered some of the conditions to be observed with a view to keep the brain in healthy working order; for it is upon the possession of an active, duly nourished …

A Mid-Year Reflection in Middle School Field Biology and Natural History by Beth Pinckney

Half of the school year has passed.   We’ve had our Christmas break and, barring a snow storm this week, we’ll get back to our co-op classes.  I am in the middle of a year of teaching field biology and natural history to a group of 6th-8th graders.  In an earlier post written back in July, I talked about preparing for this year of teaching biology.   Prompted by my blog post deadline this month, I want to look back at the last few months of learning with this group of students and examine our progress.  Am I teaching science as Miss Mason might have done it?  Are my students developing relationships with the objects of their study and do they care more widely and deeply now for the natural world around them than they did at the beginning of our study together? Our journey, thus far, has been delightful and challenging.  We began the year studying the trees and woodland habitat around us.  We went for walks, gathered leaves and did bark rubbings.  We learned to …

Laocoon: Entering the Great Conversation “Mind to Mind” by Lori Lawing

Why did Charlotte Mason urge us to “treat children in this reasonable way, mind to mind; not so much the mind of the teacher to that of the child…but the minds of a score of thinkers who meet the children, mind to mind, in their several books, the teacher performing the graceful office of presenting the one enthusiastic mind to the other.”? (vol. 6, pg. 261)  Why did she want students to meet the great thinkers of all history mind to mind?  Did she want them to engage in an ongoing conversation with the great thinkers of the past? I agree with Leslie Laurio in her October 11, 2010 blog entry “Echoes of CM in Adler’s Great Books Syntopicon.”  It seems Charlotte Mason and Mortimer Adler had the same prospects for children to enter the “great conversation.” Adler states, “the phrase ‘the great conversation’[i] conveys in a striking manner what all of us have in mind when we imagine the history of thought as a magnificent debate.… a cultural heritage which liberal education tries to …

The Development of Children…NCLB and Other Stories by Dr. Jack Beckman

Early advocates of No Child Left Behind (2001) are beginning to wonder now what they have gotten America’s children into.  Diane Ravitch and Linda Darling-Hammond both strong proponents of what NCLB could have been are now coming forward with serious reservations about the effects of the law of the land upon children, teaching and learning.  Ravitch (2010) in her book The death and life of the great American school system: How testing and choice are undermining education, describes how NCLB has not met its goals of heightened reading, writing, and mathematics learning in our children – replaced with the ‘one size fits all’ testing mentality which rewards and punishes schools based upon scores on objective tests.   Unfortunately this system does not take into account school differences such as location, socioeconomic status, resources, antecedents of student environment and home, etc.  The ‘equality’ of the law – that it applies to all American schools – actually encourages inequity.  The very schools in need of the vast resources of the Department of Education are indeed left behind.  This …