Month: October 2012

The Life of Education: Reintroducing Charlotte Mason to Elementary Students at Covenant College by Dr. Jack Beckman

Sometimes it takes a catalyst to get a good thing going.  Having shelved the EDU 350 course entitled “The Educational Thought and Practice of Charlotte Mason” many years ago; it took one student spearheading a movement to resurrect Charlotte at Covenant College – that student being HollyAnne Dobbins.  Originally designed by Dr. Steve Kauffman, the course languished after being taught only once about ten years ago.  However after numerous conversations and meetings, HollyAnne became convinced she could gather a group of interested and likeminded students to make the course a go – again.  I challenged her to deluge the Education Department Chair with requests.  Several weeks later he came by my office and asked for me to stop having students bother him, and that the course would be in the next catalog framed for Spring 2013. Thus, ten or so students will begin a journey into the life and work of Charlotte Mason for college credit – a first, I think in this current age. The original syllabus was lost long ago, and even though …

This I Know by Gladys Schaefer

Charlotte Mason has become a sweet presence in my life, much like a spiritual mother.  Her wisdom has nourished me and has influenced how I’ve raised my children and taught my students. Her desire to follow God and learn from Him is so evident in her writings, both in the six volume set that our generation knows as “The Original Home Schooling Series” and in the six volume set of her meditations on scripture, “The Savior of the World.”  In volume 5 of her meditations, “The Savior of the World, The Great Controversy” on pages 193 – 196, she quotes John Ruskin as he discusses the fresco he calls the “Vaulted Book” that she saw in Florence, Italy. “The descent of the Holy Ghost is on the left hand (of the roof) as you enter. The Madonna and Disciples are gathered in an upper chamber.” He goes on to describe the fresco in detail.  She concludes with these words, “ The Florentines of the Middle Ages believed, not only that the seven Liberal Arts were …

Science and the Burning Bush by Jennifer Larnder Gagnon

“All the thought we offer to our children shall be living thought; no mere dry summaries of facts will do.” The very first word in this quote from Mason is “all”, not some, not in special cases, and not all but when dealing with science. “All” means “the whole of; every; entire; full; all of a particular thing, amount, group, or area is involved or affected.”2 There are many sites that have recommended living science books for the early years. The stumbling block is those middle and high school grades.   We go the way of the public system and default to the text book. Mason states that “books dealing with science (as in history, say) should be of a literary character, and we should probably be more scientific as a people if we scrapped all the textbooks which swell publishers’ lists.”3 Did you notice which textbooks Mason was referring to?  All the textbooks. Not some or to use just when dealing with science, but all textbooks.  If we, students and teachers, want to become more …

Fairy Lore: A Screen and a Shelter by Lori Lawing

Wouldn’t it be something if we lived not in a fallen world?  If we didn’t have the realities of sickness and suffering?  If children weren’t faced with heartache and pain?   Don’t we long for the courts of heaven where “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying”? Truth is we live, for now, in a marred world, and Charlotte Mason recognized our temptation to shelter children from this reality.   In School Education she suggests: We temper Life too much for Children.––I am not sure that we let life and its circumstances have free play about children. We temper the wind too much to the lambs; pain and sin, want and suffering, disease and death––we shield them from the knowledge of these at all hazards. I do not say that we should wantonly expose the tender souls to distress, but that we should recognise that life has a ministry for them also; and that Nature provides them with a subtle screen… (Vol. 3 pgs. …

The Place of Illustrations in a Mason Context by Dr. Carroll Smith

Let’s juxtapose two of Mason’s ideas:  a) Don’t use books with illustrations, and b) children must labour with their own minds.  She (1954) says, Great confidence is placed in diagrammatic and pictorial representation, and it is true that children enjoy diagrams and understand them as they enjoy and understand puzzles; but there is apt to be in their minds a great gulf between the diagram and the fact it illustrates.  We trust much to pictures, lantern slides, cinematograph displays; but without labour there is no profit, and probably the pictures which remain with us are those which we have first conceived through the medium of words; pictures may help us to correct our notions (emphasis mine), but the imagination does not work upon a visual presentation; we lay the phrases of a description on our palette and make our own picture; (works of art belong to another category) (p. 340).  There seems to be a contradiction here.  Children love pictorial representations, and yet they don’t need them to labour with the mind.  As we have …