Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Enrichment - Charlotte Mason Style Electives: Studying Plutarch

In Form II, Citizenship becomes a definite subject rather from the point of view of what may be called the inspiration of citizenship than from that of the knowledge proper to a citizen, though the latter is by no means neglected.  We find Plutarch's Lives exceedingly inspiring.  These are read aloud by the teacher (with suitable omissions) and narrated with great spirit by the children.  (Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, p. 185)
We started last school year with the best of intentions.  I really wanted to study and love Plutarch with Riley.  We began with Timoleon and proceeded for about three weeks.  Unfortunately, Riley was less than thrilled with Plutarch and life took over.  I am sad to say, we did not finish.  In hind site, I think I introduced her to too many new subjects at one time (i.e. Shakespeare, Latin, Plutarch, etc.) and she just wasn't ready. 

However, this fall, as we begin anew, I intend to try again!  We will pick up with Timoleon, more than likely, reviewing a bit, then starting where we left off.  I intend to study one life each term, much the way Ambleside Online recommends here.   We did use Anne White's study guide last year and I plan to use it again.  

Regarding translation, Ambleside recommends North's Plutarch.  However, after purchasing it, I realized that Timoleon was not included in my copy.  Therefore, I ended up buying the Dryden Translation as well, which appears more complete.  You do not need the actual book if you're using White's study guides. Plutarch's Lives is also FREE online.  I personally prefer a hard copy to hold in my hands.  

In Charlotte's schools, Plutarch's Lives was studied as citizenship rather than history.  Although, I see a definite benefit for history as well.  Further on in A Philosophy of Education, Charlotte says this...
Now Plutarch is like the Bible in this, that he does not label the actions of his people as good or bad but leaves the conscience and judgment of his readers to make the classifications. What to avoid and how to avoid it, is knowledge as important to the citizen whether of the City of God or of his own immediate city, as to know is good and how to perform the same.  Children recognise with incipient weariness the doctored tale as soon as it is begun to be told, but the human story with its evil and its good never flags in interest....The boy, or girl, aged from ten to twelve, who is intimate that they influence his thought and conduct, has learned to put his country first and to see individuals only as they serve or dis-serve the State.  Thus he gets his first lesson in the science of proportion.  Children familiar with the great idea of a State in the sense, not of a government but of the people, learn readily enough about the laws, customs and government of their country; learn, too, with great interest something about themselves, mind and body, heart and soul, because they feel it is well to know what they have it in them to give to their country.  
I'd love to hear more about your study of Plutarch.  Please feel free to comment below...

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