Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What if my child doesn't remember?

by Karen Glass

A lot of times, I hear AmblesideOnline/Charlotte Mason moms lament, “What do I do when my child doesn’t remember?”

Maybe children don’t narrate well at the time, and maybe they don’t recall much about a topic later. We all hear the lovely stories and testimonials about the amazing connections that other children are making. What about the child for whom things don’t seem to stick? Who doesn’t remember?

You probably aren’t going to like the answer, but…that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It took me a while to come to terms with this, too, so I sympathize with your reluctance to accept this idea. Who follows an educational method that expects children to forget? And narration is supposed to help with remembering, so surely the children are expected to remember?

They won’t forget everything, of course, but in a Charlotte Mason education, remembering a lot of specific information is simply not the object.

Our first hint that this is the case is actually found in the principles:
Our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him make valid as many as may be of—‘Those first-born affinities.’ (From principle #12, A Philosophy of Education, p. xxx)
In other words, education is the science of relations, and relationship trumps information in our educational endeavors.

One day, I was happily reading through A Philosophy of Education, when I was arrested by this paragraph:
Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child's inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food. Probably he will reject nine-tenths of the ideas we offer, as he makes use of only a small proportion of his bodily food, rejecting the rest. He is an eclectic; he may choose this or that; our business is to supply him with due abundance and variety and his to take what he needs. (Philosophy of Education, p. 109)
My mind suddenly re-shaped that word-fraction, nine-tenths, into a percentage.

 

90%

 

“Probably he will reject 90% of the ideas we offer,” and if you flip that around, “Probably he will accept and remember (only!) 10% of the ideas we offer.”

Those are some staggering numbers—they’d represent failure on graded tests—and this is what Charlotte Mason is offering us? But passing tests isn’t the point of education in this paradigm—our object is to “sustain a child’s inner life,” and the only way that can happen is if he is offered an abundance and allowed to take what he needs. Charlotte Mason tells us that children hang the facts they remember on the ideas they take in, so if they are only taking in 10% of the ideas, they are also likely to remember only a portion of the associated facts.

If you want to educate your children using Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, the wisest thing you can do is embrace this concept. Your children are learning, but they are learning in a relational way, not a remember-all-the-facts way.
It is a great thing to possess a pageant of history in the background of one’s thoughts. We may not be able to recall this or that circumstance, but, ‘the imagination is warmed’; we know that there is a great deal to be said on both sides of every question and are saved from crudities in opinion and rashness in action. The present becomes enriched for us with the wealth of all that has gone before. (Philosophy of Education, p. 178)
It is very easy to lay hold of the idea that “it is a great thing to possess a pageant of history in the background of one’s thoughts” and gloss over the uncomfortable truth that “we may not be able to recall this or that circumstance.” If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that we would, indeed, like our children to be able to recall “this or that circumstance.” And sometimes, they do. But other times, they do not. In either case, we have laid the foundation of that pageant, warmed their imagination, and enriched them by exposing them to the wealth of all that has gone before. This is true even if they can’t remember a single king from Our Island Story.

Along the same lines, parents often lament that a child doesn’t understand some things, and they feel compelled to explain. This is a fine practice if the child has requested an explanation, but something to forego if he has not.

In a very useful pamphlet shared with a group of PNEU schools (Notes for the Conference on PNEU Methods by H. W Household), quite a severe warning is given about the practice.
There are teachers who are not happy until they have made certain that there is not a line, not a word, that the child does not understand. Of course they are wrong. They are wasting time and hindering the child. The child has many years before [him], and [he] has [his] own times and ways of arriving at understanding. Next year, without our having said one word, [he] will understand much that [he] does not to-day. Let [him] do [his] own work upon the books.
He underscores this point by emphasizing that “it is not expected that the children will grasp everything.”

Viewed correctly, this should take a huge burden from the shoulders of the Charlotte Mason teacher. We should not expect children to grasp (or remember!) everything; we should expect something else, and if we understand the philosophy behind the educational methods we are following, we know what that is. Children are born persons. Education is the science of relations. We’re going to give children every opportunity to form relationships with a wide variety of knowledge. We’re going to ask them to narrate and tell us about the things they read and hear. And then, we’re going to get out of the way and let them go about the business of apprehending that 10% that is going to become a permanent possession for them.

Looking back on my own school days, I cannot remember one thing that I learned in second grade—not one. I do remember that on some days, I was allowed to leave the classroom and be a “helper” in the kindergarten room. That responsibility—I felt so important—I do remember. I don’t remember a single thing I learned in fifth grade, either, but I remember that my teacher read The Hobbit aloud to us, and I loved the story, so I borrowed the book from the library to read for myself…faster. My snippets represent less than 10% of what my teachers must have tried to teach me. Presumably I learned enough to move on the next grade. But the bits that are a possession to me, many decades later, are the things that “warmed my imagination” and caught my heart.

It will be the same for your children. Read the books together. Narrate to each other (it’s a relationship building activity). Take joy in the 10% that your child pockets as a personal treasure, and be willing to accept that the other 90% isn’t what he needed right now. When your child doesn’t remember, the right response is not to go back and retrace the same ground. Instead, go forward, so that your child can find new ideas—the ones that will enrich his soul and sustain his inner life.





Monday, February 26, 2018

Folksong for March, 2018

 Camptown Races
Wade in the Water

I'm going to share two traditional songs to try this month, mainly because as I was working on sharing the one we have scheduled, late at night in the dark of my room, using headphones so as not to disturb my husband next to me, I caught an ear-worm and kept finding myself playing different versions of a very different song and I had to exorcise, er, share it.

Because I know many of our members enjoy hearing some of the little behind the scenes, how things happen details, I want to explain why I was up doing the folksong and hymn for March at 2 a.m.  Besides the fact that I tend to procrastinate a bit- not on purpose, but because I just genuinely don't really experience time passing and so every month the end of the month astonishes me.  I was doing this late at night because my husband and I are sharing a power cord at the moment.  There was a power surge (apparently, according to people who know these things), and my laptop plug made a loud wailing, hissing noise and then there was a noise between a pop and a boom, and the extension cord, which was on the bed, turned black and smelled horrible and scorched my sheets, and my poor power cord- one of the metal prongs actually melted a bit. It all smelled very bad, too.  Happily, my husband and I share the same brand of laptop, so I use his power cord in the evening and at night, so he can take his laptop touse at work in the morning.
Teamwork.

We do plan on getting me a replacement, but we live in the Philippines, so it's not quite that simple.  We may have a lead on one, however, and as soon as we have the time we'll take a cab over to the store that tells us they have one, and we'll see if that is indeed the case (so often, it isn't).

Also, because we live in the Philippines in a recently developed neighborhood, our internet is sometimes unreliable, and we have a finite limit.  It's the end of Febrary, so we're near the end of our monthly allotment, which means I cannot play and replay the youtube videos as often as I would like in order to get it all correct.  I've tried to listen carefully and type fast, but there are typos in the lyrics posted below and I believe a couple of missed or repeated lines, more than I would like.  If anybody else cares to listen and check, leave a comment with your suggested correction and I'll fix the errors you find.

Now about the folksongs.... on the schedule, we have Camptown Races by Stephen Foster (1826-1864). Foster was known as America's songwriter. He essentially created the profession, and struggled to support himself due to weak copyright protections.  If you're interested,you can read more about him and his life and goals for his music here.  However, it's not required. It's fine to just sing the songs.


Here's a version by the 2nd Carolina String Band, Civil War Re-enactors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ynyKZuUSpM 

Another version

Johnny Cash

The setting is the Camptown Racetrack, and the singer is going to watch as many race as he can and hopes to win some money (in some versions he *has*) through betting on the horses- specifically, the 'bob-tailed nag.' 

Lyrics, though there are some variations between performers:


The Camptown ladies sing this song
Doo-dah! Doo-dah!
The Camptown racetrack's five miles long
Oh! doo-dah day!

Goin' to run all night
Goin' to run all day
I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the bay

I come down there with my hat caved in
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I go back home with a pocket full of tin
Oh! doo-dah day!

Goin' to run all night
Goin' to run all day
I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the bay

The long tail filly and the big black hoss
Doo-dah! Doo-dah!
They fly the track and they both cut across
Oh! doo-dah day!

Goin' to run all night
Goin' to run all day
I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the bay

The blind hoss sticken in a big mud hole
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Can't touch bottom with a ten foot pole
Oh! doo-dah day!

Goin' to run all night
Goin' to run all day
I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the bay

Old muley cow come on to the track
Doo-dah! Doo-dah!
The bob-tail fling her over his back
Oh! doo-dah day!

Goin' to run all night
Goin' to run all day
I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the bay

Then fly along like a rail-road car
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Runnin' a race with a shootin' star
Oh! doo-dah day!

Goin' to run all night
Goin' to run all day
I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the bay

See them flyin' on a ten mile heat
Doo-dah! Doo-dah!
Round the race track, then repeat
Oh! doo-dah day!

Goin' to run all night
Goin' to run all day
I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the bay

I win my money on the bob-tail nag
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I keep my money in an old tow-bag
Oh! doo-dah day!

Goin' to run all night
Goin' to run all day
I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the bay
Lyrics taken from this page

Johnny Cash sings 'bound to run all night...'   In an attempt to duplicate the southern black dialect, Foster originally wrote 'going to' as 'gwine to' which is an approximation of 'goin', though not a particularly happy or successful one, IMO.

If you are old enough to remember Foghorn Leghorn cartoons, you know he hummed this song all the time.  Here's a compilation of many of those moments.

Bob-tailed is a horse with its tail cut short. Nag is a synonym for horse. Originallyit referred to a smaller horse for riding.Eventually it came to mean any older, run-down horse. Perhaps our singer doesn't have enough money to bet on a better horse?  A bay is a reddish brown horse with black main, lower legs, and ear edges. It's a very common colouring.
The singer goes to the races with his hat caved in-  symbol of povety, and returns with a pocket full of tin, or money.

It's a fun, humorous song with a catchy refrain and tune, not meant to be taken seriously.  It's easy to catch on to the chorus and sing along pretty quickly. It's a good song for expressing exhuberant feelings and happiness over some unexpected turn of good luck.  It's not social commentary.

Foster's ideas and practices evolved and grew over time, but one thing that never changed is that he asked his performers not to mock slavery or slaves, and he never allowed crude characatures on his published sheet music. His attempts to accurately depict a southern black dialect never were very successful and he eventually dropped them altogether.  Keep in mind that in the days before radio or television, the accented speech divisions between the south and north were even stronger than they are now- one of the most common complaints among soldiers in WW1 is that the northerners and southerners couldn't even understand each other.  Foster was from Pennsylvania, not the south.  For more information, see this page.


Somehow in the domino effect that happens when chasing down information on the internet I ended up clicking a link to Wade in the Water, a favourite of mine since childhood days.

There are a lot of variations to this one, both to the lyrics and the tune, although the basic heart of the song is always:
Wade in the water.
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water.
God's gonna trouble the water.

According to Wikipedia, ""Wade in the Water" (Roud 5439) is the name of a Negro spiritual first published in New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers (1901) by John Wesley Work II and his brother, Frederick J. Work (see Fisk Jubilee Singers). It is associated with the songs of the Underground Railroad."
(The Fisk Jubilee Singers are an African-American a cappella ensemble, consisting of students at Fisk University. The first group was organized in 1871 to tour and raise funds for college. Their early repertoire consisted mostly of traditional spirituals, but included some Stephen Foster songs. The original group toured along the Underground Railroad path in the United States, as well as performing in England and Europe. Later 19th-century groups also toured in Europe.)

Listen and Learn:

Wade in the Water by the Jeeemeys, the alter-ego of musician and teacher Jimmy Rossi
https://youtu.be/HeLur5K_Hwo

Mr. Rossi put the lyrics in his video so it's easy to follow along. This version is also fairly simple and easy to follow as it lacks the wonderful improvisation that often accompanies Wade in the Water.

Wade in the Water by Ella Fitzgerald and the Goodwill Spiritual Choire

https://youtu.be/vg_8L96E3eU (Wade in the water) (Wade in the water) Wade in the water Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water, God is gonna trouble these waters See that band all dressed in white God is gonna trouble these waters It look like a band of the Israelite God is gonna trouble these waters

Wade in the water Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water, God is gonna trouble these waters

See that band all dressed in red God is gonna trouble these waters Look like a band that Moses led God is gonna trouble these waters

Wade in the water Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water, God is gonna trouble these waters
My Lord delivered Danuel, Danuel, Danuel Didn't my Lord deliver Danuel Then why not every man? Now didn't my Lord deliver Danuel, Danuel, Danuel Didn't my Lord deliver Danuel Then why not every man? Man went down to the river Man went down to the river, Lord Man went down to the river Went down there for to pray Man went down to the river Man went down to the river, Lord Man went down to the river To wash his sins all away Washed all day, washed all night Washed till his hands were sore Washed all day, washed all night Till he couldn't wash a-no more (Hey) Man went down to the river Man went down to the river, Lord Man went down to the river Went down there for to pray Man went down to the river Man went down to the river, Lord Man went down to the river Washed his sins all away Wade in the water Wade in the water, children Wade in the water God is gonna trouble these waters Wade in the water Wade in the water, children Wade in the water God is gonna trouble these waters God is gonna trouble these waters God is gonna trouble these waters


 Here's a version by the Blind Boys of Alabama
 Wade in the water
 come on and wade in the water, children
wade in the water
My Lord, my God's gonna trouble the water

 Come on and Wade in the Water
Come on and Wade in the Water , children
Wade in the water
My God's gonna trouble the water

 If you hear tell of me dyin'
 I don't want nobody to cry
All I want you to do for me
and that's to close my eyes.

 Well, Come On and wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water.
My Lord, my God's gonna trouble the water.

 Well in my dying hour
 I don't want nobody to mourn
All I want you to do for me
 and that's to give that (bell at dawn?)

Well,  Come On and wade in the water
Wade in the water, children!
Wade in the water.
 My God's gonna trouble the water.

 When I get in Glory
I'm gonna shake my brother's hand, Oh, yes
I'm gonna tell all about my troubles while traveling through this land.

 Come On and wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water.
My God's gonna trouble the water.

 Come on and wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water.
My Lord, my God's gonna trouble the water.

 Wade in the Water by the Staples Singers:
 Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
He's gonna trouble the water
He's gonna trouble the water

 Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water,
He's gonna trouble the water
He's gonna trouble the water

 See that host all dressed in red?
He's gonna trouble the water.
Must be the host that Moses led.
He's gonna trouble the water.

 You don't believe I've been redeemed
He's gonna trouble the water
Well, follow me down by the Jordan stream
He's gonna trouble the water.

 Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
 He's gonna trouble the water
He's gonna trouble the water

 Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
 He's gonna trouble the water
He's gonna trouble the water

 See that host all dressed in white
He's gonna trouble the water.
 It looks like the children of the Israelites
He's gonna trouble the water.
I looked over yonder and what did I see?
 He's gonna trouble the water.
 A band of angels coming for me
He's gonna trouble the water

 Well, why don't you Wade in the water?
Wade in the water, children
 Wade in the water
 He's gonna trouble the water
He's gonna trouble the water




 
St James Missionary Baptist church in Canton, 1978
Turn it up

Oh, I've got my ticket in my right hand
And I'm on my way to the promised land.

You can talk about me just as you please
And the more you talk, I'm gonna bend my knees...

You know you don't believe I've been redeemed
Follow me down to the Jordan Stream

Ohhh, who is that yonder dressed in red?
oooh, just like the children that Moses led.

Who is that yonder dresed in blue?
It look like the ones that made it through (I think, can somebody double check?)




 Topher Keene teaches an audience how to sing it in 3 part harmony, a very good teaching/learning recording for those who want extra help (could be fun with an AO/CM co-op): https://youtu.be/4xeDemvhekc

What does it mean?  Depends on who you ask, and also on who is singing.

Some of the reference are obvious:

For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had., John 5:4

Moses led the Israelites out of slavery.

Under the surface: it's probably a spiritual celebrating freedom and encouraging it as well, literally.   Harriet Tubman was the Moses of her people.  The Ohio River had to be crossed to reach freedom, and often references to the Jordan River were coded references to The Ohio River.  It's giving hints on how to get to freedom- wade in the water to keep the blood hounds off your trail, follow our Moses, cross the Ohio river, make it to the other side.  

When God troubles the water... is that a reference to conditions being right to make a run for freedom?  


The background is meaningful and important- but if you only have time for one thing, make it be singing the song (s)

Sing!

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Hymn for March, 2018

Lyrics (written by the joyful Isaac Watts): When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God! * All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood. See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown? (This next verse is often omitted) His dying crimson, like a robe, Spreads o’er His body on the tree; Then I am dead to all the globe, And all the globe is dead to me. Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all. You can listen here to pick up the tune, but please don't stop at listening. The hymns are meant to be sung. It's not as scary as it may seem. Just try to sing along once a day for a week or two, every day, and before you know it, you'll be singing while rocking the baby, peeling the potatoes, on long drives, while washing dishes, and more. This is a precious legacy to give your children. Please don't measure it out with a cramped, stinting hand. Be strong, be bold, banish fear and doubt, and SING! https://youtu.be/2ps2DBrJHEk This is a simple congregational singing recording, easy to hear the parts, especially tenor and melody. The dying crimson verse is omitted. I believe this is the easiest one to learn the hymn from. Here: https://youtu.be/Tkx8WAycYAc Fernando Ortega- he sings the first verse alone and acapella. The second verse adds a chorus and some simple background music. The third verse returns to Ortega singing solo, until the final two lines, with more complex background music. The 'dying crimson verse is omitted, there's a musical interlude before the next verse ('were the whole realm...') Here: https://youtu.be/X-LilSiunWA The Breath of Life Quartet- they omit the final verse above, and also the verse about dying crimson. Their voices are powerful and strong, and this rendition is gorgeous. They step up the tune at the second verse and seem to omit the melody and highlight the harmonizing parts. They do take a few liberties with the tune, but not many. *some versions say 'Christ my Lord.'

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Riddle Song, Folksong for February, 2018

Here are the lyrics to the Doc Watson version on this youtube video:
 I gave my love a cherry that has no stone.
I gave my love a chicken that had no bone.
 I gave my love a baby with no cryin',
And told my love a story that had no end.

 How can there be a cherry that has no stone?
How can there be a chicken that has no bone?
 How can there be a baby with no cryin'?
How can you tell a story that has no end?

 A cherry when it's blooming, it has no stone.
And a chicken when it's pippin', there is no bone.
A baby when it's sleeping, there's no cryin'.
And when I say I love you, it has no end.

 Repeat first verse.

 Riddles and riddle songs are probably as old as human-kind. This particular song is over five hundred years old- the oldest version being a manuscript dated 1430, housed in a British museum.

 Although some of the riddles have changed over time, the cherry and the chicken have been there from the oldest version we know of. In some versions, the baby with no crying is a baby in the making. Folk songs are often ribald, but this has not historically been one of them. However, there have been several anachronistic attempts to make this one more earthy than it ever was.

 'Pippin', or pipping, is a chicken still in the egg, but just starting to peck it's way out, the idea that while still in the egg the bones have not yet developed or hardened.

 Some versions include a book that can't be read (it's still in the press), and similar notions, all of which, to me, charmingly communicate the notion that ideas are the seeds from which real things grow.

 This song has often been sung as a lullabye, and versions have been recorded by Burl Ives, Carly Simon, and the Meters (a funk band from New Orleans). It traveled from England to the American Appalachians, and probably back again. It is slower and not as immediately appealing to many children as some of our more lively suggestions, but I hope you don't skip it. Let it grow on you.

 You might consider engaging their interest by first introducing only the first verse. Ask them what they think the answers to the riddles are. Speculate a bit. Have fun with it. Have a bit of time wondering about or guessing the answers, learn the next verse. You could wait a few moments or a few days to introduce the answers in the next verse, just give the children some time to think about and speculate with you over the possible the answers before going on to the second verse.

 To borrow and paraphrase from Canadian storyteller Alice Kane, This song we are singing is five hundred years old. None of us will ever be five hundred years old.

 Here is a possibly related version, performed here by Pete Castle):
 I had four brothers, over the sea, Perry Merry Dixie Domini,
They each sent a present unto me,
 Perry Merry Dixie Domini,
Petrum, partrum, paradisi tempore,
Perry Merry Dixie Domini,

 The first sent a cherry without any stone,
 Perry Merry Dixie Domini,
The second sent a chicken which had no bone,
Perry Merry Dixie Domini,
The third sent a blanket without any thread,
Perry Merry Dixie Domini,
The fourth sent a book which no man had read.

Perry Merry Dixie Domini,
Pitrum, partrum, paradisi tempore,
Perry Merry Dixie Domini

How can there be a cherry without any stone?
Perry Merry Dixie Domini,
How Can there be a chicken without any bone?
Perry Merry Dixie Domini
How can there be a blanket without any thread?
Perry Merry Dixie Domini
How can there be a book no man has read?
Perry Merry Dixie Domini
Pitrum, partrum, paradisi tempore,
Perry Merry Dixie Domini

The cherry when it's blooming, it has no stone,
Perry Merry Dixie Domini,
The chicken when it's in the egg it has no bone
Perry Merry Dixie Domini,
Petrum, partrum, paradisi tempori
Perry merry dixie domini

 The blanket on the sheep's back it has no thread
Perry Merry Dixie Domini,
The book when it's in the press, no man has read
Perry Merry Dixie Domini,
Pitrum, partrum, paradisi tempore,
Perry Merry Dixie Domini.

 There are some slight variations between the above lyrics and the Pete Castle version. Can I say, with much warm and friendly affection and encouragement, please get over that. It realio, trulio doesn't matter. Your lyrics do not need to match up perfectly to the youtube video or other recordings. It's totally unimportant. You need to listen to the recorded version only enough to get the gist of the tune and rhythm. Then turn it of and sing and play for yourselves. Folksongs change over time and through regions, and between singers. Change them up yourselves, if you like. Don't be frustrated and unable to sing because your lyrics say blanket and the song says wool. It's totally irrelevant. Just sing.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Nature Study: Seeing the World in a Grain of Sand

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

And Eternity in an hour

William Blake's Auguries of Innocence
"Let us consider for a moment what unequalled training the child naturalist is getting for any study or calling-the powers of attention and concentration, of discrimination and patient pursuit, and growing parallel with his growth, what will they not fit him for? Besides life is so full of interest for him, that he has no time for the faults of temper which generally have their source in lack of occupation for body or mind.
The sense of Beauty comes from early contact with Nature. "The aesthetic sense of the beautiful," say Dr. Carpenter, "of the sublime, of the harmonious, seems in its more elementary form to connect itself immediately with the perceptions which arise out of the contact of our minds with external Nature"; while he quotes Dr. Morell, who says still more forcibly that "All those who have shewn a remarkable appreciation of form and beauty, date their first impressions from a period lying far behind the existence of definite ideas or verbal instruction." There is no end to the store of common information, got in such a way that it will never be forgotten, with which an intelligent child may furnish himself before he begins his second career.
A child should be made familiar with natural objects, that is the observant child should be put in the way of things worth observation, and the unobservant child encouraged to notice and be on the look out for things. Generally speaking, this is not difficult, because every natural object is a member of a series. Take up any natural object-it does not matter what-and you are studying one of a group, a member of a series; and whatever knowledge you get about it is so much towards the science which includes all of its kind. Break off an elder twig in spring; you notice a ring of wood round a centre of pith, and there at a glance you have a distinguishing character of a great division of the vegetable world. You pick up a pebble. Its edges are round and smooth. It is water-worn and weather-worn and that little pebble brings you face to face with disintegration, the force to which, more than any other, we owe the aspects of the world we call picturesque-glen, ravine, valley and hill. It is not necessary to tell the child anything about dicotyledonous plants or disintegration, only that he should observe the pith within the twig and the rounded edges of the pebble. By and by he will learn the bearing of the facts with which he is already familiar-a very different matter from learning the reason why of facts which hitherto have never come under his notice. The power to classify, discriminate, and distinguish between things that differ is amongst the highest faculties of human intellect, and no opportunity to cultivate it should be allowed to pass. For this reason children should be encouraged to make such rough classifications as they can with their slight knowledge of both plant and animal forms of life. A classification taken from books, that the child does not make out for himself, cultivates no power but that of verbal memory."

Read the rest here.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Meditation

Charlotte Mason published the following poem, titled Education, in the volume 4 (1893/4) edition of the Parents' Review.
Several years later she republished it in volume XVI (1905), in the opening pages of the New Year, retitled now as "New Year's Meditation."

I thought it fitting to repost it here for our own New Year's Meditation and personal reflection:

Master, Thou will'st me poor--
Haughty and rich am I;
In self-dependence rich,
Presuming, hard, and high:
Faith, looking on the coming years, doth see
Dark faults, sore failures, let to humble me.
Thy will be done!

A mourner must I be:
And holy messengers
Oft have Thy presence left,
To bring me blessed tears:
Too soon they fail, and sin's hot breath sweeps by:
Then wilt Thou take the spot and show it me,
Till, weeping, fain I turn to hide in Thee:
Thy will be done!

Meek wouldst Thou have Thy child:
How little can I bear!
How seldom wait for Thee,
Quiet, within Thy care!
Though through provokings, teach me to endure,
Bid errors make me of myself less sure:
Thy will be done!

A hung'ring, thirsting one
Must Thy disciple be;
And I so full! grown fat
On Thy gifts, leaving Thee!
But Thou wilt teach me want, or take away
All lesser food till Thou my only stay:
Thy will be done!

Merciful as Thou art:
Oh, how hard judgments rise!
Oh, this censorious tongue,
Evil-discerning eyes!
Yet His sweet mercy will my King impart,
If by no other way, e'en through the smart
Of pity withheld in my extremities:
Thy will be done!

Pure, e'en in Thy pure eyes:
Single and free from guile;
Oh, when shall these vain thoughts
Pure rising, meet Thy smile?
E'en this through Thee is mine: though it should be
That, first, through purging fires, Thou go with me:
Thy will be done!

Ruled by the Prince of Peace:
How far from this my state--
Oft striving for my own,
Exacting, harsh, irate.
No peace is found in me; but Thou wilt come
And make this chafing bosom Thy sweet home:
Thy will be done!

Thus I abide His time;
For hath the King not sworn
That all these shall be mine,
And will not He perform?
If tender ways shall serve, such wilt Thou use;
But smite, if need be; I would not refuse:
Thy will be done!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Why Don't You Write Me a Letter

(Obscure and meaningless cultural reference in title. It's the title of an old Pop song from back in my day)

Handwritten notes and cards are rarer than ever these days, but this is a good time to bring back the charming form of personal connection.  Take some time over the next month to write some thank-you notes with your children.  Thank people for gifts. Thank people for being part of your lives. Thank the mail carrier for delivering mail.  Thank somebody at church for being there.

"you can seldom write one letter too many, but you may easily write one too few, and be sorry for it all the days of your life."


From a Parent's Review article in 1890.