|Babbacombe Bay, Torquay, UK|
"Spontaneous activity in their studies, a habit of concentration, and versatility of mind that can make a success of any work undertaken, a keen zest and joy of life in all its phases, and a sense of independence and responsibility for their own lives in relation to their family, their school and their country -- these fulfill what has been said to be the purpose of Education which 'should be to lead a child into the fullest, truest, noblest and most fruitful relations of which he is capable, with the world in which he lives.' " http://www.amblesideonline.org/PR/PR31p000LiberalEducation.shtml
I thought I'd sit under this interpretation of the method for a bit and ruminate on it for a while. Won't you join me?
The purpose of education should be to lead a child into the fullest, truest, noblest, and most fruitful relations of which he is capable, with the world in which he lives.
I see this time and again in the classes I teach. When a student can form strong, fruitful relationships with the world in which he lives, he's apt to feel more confident and able as he goes about in the world, and I think that's important. When he can relate to the subject matter, he is more apt to take it in fully, to make it part of him, to feel it tinged with emotion and to experience it with fresh vigor and great understanding.
The Science of Relations means students form strong bonds with the material, with the heroes and characters, both good and evil, in their well-written, living books. And full, true, noble, fruitful relations are only made when the material is noble and magnanimous or at least the stories or tales include a noble hero. This is often missing from our schools today, I think. Where are the heroes? We want someone to root for and we want to see that someone win in the end or help someone else win. We want our students to see self-sacrifice, humility, wisdom, joy, love, depth, courage. The list goes on and on. Here's what we don't want: discouragement, weakness, hate, boredom, lackluster books, unengaged students.
*Spontaneous activity in their studies
*A habit of concentration
*Versatility of mind that can make a success of any work undertaken
*A keen zest and joy of life in all its phases
*A sense of independence and responsibility for their own lives in relation to their family, their school, and their country
These are all such wonderful byproducts of a Charlotte Mason education, aren't they? Versatility of mind and a keen zest and joy of life in all its phases. This life of ours is absolutely magnificent! We wouldn't spend hours studying how to accomplish it and live it out if this method wasn't worthwhile.
Here's how Ms. Lawe says we're to go about making this method work for our students:
"As physical actions constantly repeated become habit, and those actions automatic, so mental activities too become automatic, and those faculties of reason, judgment, imagination and the like are brought into play naturally through the achieved habits of attention, concentration, assimilation and reproduction.
The choice of what a child should learn is not limited. He is to be put in touch with every sort of knowledge to which man is heir. For that reason, the programme of work sent out every term for the members of the Parents Union School covers an enormously wide field of knowledge; Knowledge of God, of Man and of Nature, those three great relations of every human soul."
Have you ever purposefully made a memory? I mean, set out to have a memorable time with your children or students by creating or crafting a learning environment or situation that you thought was going to induce them to grasp a concept more fully than if you had not created such an atmosphere?
That can backfire. The fondest memories I have are those that happened spontaneously. Yes, I laid some groundwork. Not denying that. But you can't force a child to remember something for the rest of his life. It's learning touched with emotion that supplies the motivation for that.
Putting in touch... That's what we're to do. Put the child in touch with every sort of knowledge that man is heir to. But don't force it or craft the perfect lesson to induce him to learn the material. He can see through that! And will, as Miss Mason says, "Mulishly" rebel against learning that particular truth. It's human nature to try to avoid working hard on boring things. But a rich, broad, varied curriculum will make them salivate for more.