Month: January 2013

A Reflection From the Hive by Nancy Kelly

“You cannot learn to love art, unless you first love what art mirrors.” – John Ruskin   The paintings of local artist David Strom are a familiar sight in our small town.  So familiar are his works to our family that years ago, when we were viewing Monet’s haystacks at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, my son informed the docent that they reminded him of David Strom’s grain bins.  I’m not sure what the docent thought. When a young lady in our Charlotte Mason community for high schoolers, The Hive, asked about the huge paintings by David that hang over our meeting table, I thought it might be a good thing to have him come and speak to the students.  The Hive meets at a local coffee shop in the back room.  We get together twice a month with the students doing most of the work at home.  When we come together, we have a grand conversation about what we have read, written, and thought. We finished an inspiring morning of discussion, noticing the connectivity …

Talking Among Ourselves on the Path of Nature Study by Jeannette Tulis

In loosely following the Ambleside high school years with my 16-year-old son, I have been reading aloud with him Volume 4 of the Series, Ourselves. According to the AO website, Ourselves is Charlotte’s character curriculum written to children to teach morals and self-control. Book 1 is for children up to 12, Book 2 is for high school students. I must admit there was some resistance when I started to read this aloud to the aforementioned son.  It starts out with an allegory that my son objected to on the grounds that it was too juvenile and whimsical. I had to find substitute words to replace some of the rather fanciful ones used by dear Charlotte. However, our perseverance has yielded many worthy lessons in much more than just character and morals. In Ourselves, Mason includes her rationale for the importance of many of the lessons in her curriculum such as art, music, poetry, Shakespeare and the subject of this post— nature study.  Although sometimes viewed as “extras,” these lessons should not be given short shrift. …

Textbook Fatigue and the Literary Form by Carroll Smith

For many years I have belonged to an educational organization called Association for Curriculum & Development (ASCD) that deals with relevant topics in education (and often those which are not easy).  It produces a journal, Educational Leadership, and also sends out a few books during the year to its members.  I just opened my recent ASCD book and saw the title Textbook Fatigue:  21st Century Tools to Revitalize Teaching and Learning.  I’ve not had time to read the book yet, but was so struck by the title, and it got me to thinking about Mason’s insistence on living books, the literary form.  I pondered that from my experience textbook fatigue is not an issue in her educational paradigm because she insisted that children must not have dry, desiccated texts but living books.  While there are other interrelated components to her model that help children avoid fatigue (access to a broad and wide curriculum, shorter lessons that fit the student’s attention, narration, the habit of attention, etc.), I want to just mention some things about Mason’s …

Where Sin Is Not at Home by Art Middlekauff

Several months ago I talked to the Deacon of my Anglican church about the theology of Charlotte Mason. I told him that Charlotte Mason said that children “are not born either good or bad, but with possibilities for good and for evil.” He instantly replied that Mason was wrong and that her statement was untrue. Children are born bad. St. Paul said as much: “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” Over the years many people have searched Mason’s writings to find qualifications and explanations that might help us to reconcile her famous statement with the orthodox teaching of the Church. But few have extended their search to Mason’s massive six-volume meditation on the Gospels entitled The Saviour of the    World. And so few have found where Mason directly deals with the truth that St. Paul revealed to the Romans. In Volume 4 of The Saviour of the World, Charlotte Mason writes the following: The Fall (The disciple) …