Thursday, December 3, 2015

Imparting Knowledge, Part 3, Including the Sciences....

Continuing on from Imparting Knowledge, Part 1 and Imparting Knowledge, Part 2, Including the Arts, where we are studying...

Principle 13: 

In devising a syllabus for a normal child, of whatever social class, three points must be considered: -
     (a) He requires much knowledge, for the mind needs sufficient food as much as does the body.
     (b) The knowledge should be various, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite (i.e. curiosity).
     (c) Knowledge should be communicated in well-chosen language, because his attention responds naturally to what is conveyed in literary form.

The Knowledge of the Universe

Books dealing with science as with history, say, should be of a literary character, and we should probably be more scientific as a people if we scrapped all the text-books which swell publishers' lists and nearly all the chalk expended so freely on our blackboards.  (Vol. 6, p. 218)
They are expected to do a great deal of out-of-door work in which they are assisted by The Changing Year, admirable month by month studies of what is to be seen out-of-doors.  They keep records and drawings in the Nature Note Book and make special studies of their own for the particular season with drawings and notes.  (Vol. 6, p. 219)
The only sound method of teaching science is to afford a due combination of field or laboratory work, with such literary comments and amplifications as the subject affords. ....Certainly these note books do a good deal to bring science within the range of common thought and experience; we are anxious not to make science a utilitarian subject. (Vol. 6, p. 223) 
Charlotte was a huge advocate for children playing outside.  She felt in this, they would become acquainted with God's world. Nature study was a part of every PNEU student's life.  Charlotte suggested visiting the same places in various seasons so the children could make connections and see what happened to nature in the changing scenes.  Children were allowed to collect specimens in order to later draw them in their notebooks.   Charlotte said we should avoid nature lectures, instead use living books and continue with narration.  However, please note this is a subject, in which, Charlotte did use some textbooks at the high school level.

There are two rational ways of teaching Geography. The first is the inferential method, a good deal in vogue at the present time; by it the pupil learns certain geographical principles which he is expected to apply universally. This method seems to me defective for two reasons. It is apt to be misleading as in every particular case the general principle is open to modifications; also, local colour and personal and historical interests are wanting and the scholar does not form an intellectual and imaginative conception of the region he is learning about. The second which might be called the panoramic method unrolls the landscape of the world, region by region, before the eyes of the scholar with in every region its own conditions of climate, its productions, its people, their industries and their history. This way of teaching the most delightful of all subjects has the effect of giving to a map of a country or region the brilliancy of colour and the wealth of detail which a panorama might afford, together with a sense of proportion and a knowledge of general principles. I believe that pictures are not of very great use in this study. We all know that the pictures which abide with us are those which the imagination constructs from written descriptions. (Vol. 6, p. 227-228)
Here Charlotte is referring to the use of living books so the child could see the region, its people, their industries and their history for themselves.  She also believed geography began with first hand knowledge of the world around the child, right out their own front door.  This could be connected with nature study in that you're out walking the surrounding hills/mountains or playing in the local streams/rivers, seeing and feeling the lay of the land.

Charlotte, herself, wrote geography books.  She also thought highly of map work in the geography study.
Great attention is paid to map work; that is, before reading a lesson children have found the places mentioned in that lesson on a map and know where they are, relatively to other places, to given parallels, meridians. (Vol. 6, p. 224
Something of literary character is preserved in the Geography lessons. The new feature in these is the study of maps which should be very thorough.  For the rest of the single reading and narration as described in connection with other work is sufficient in this subject also.  (Vol. 6, p. 227)
...vivid descriptions, geographical  principles, historical associations and industrial details, are afforded which should make, as we say, an impression, should secure that the region traversed becomes an imaginative possession as well as affording data for reasonable judgments.  (Vol. 6, p. 228)
When studying geography, it's important to keep it in context as it relates to other subjects, studying people and places as you read a variety of books.  Charlotte did relate geography to current events as well with older students.


I find Charlotte's beginning paragraph on Mathematics poetic.  I've read it over and over again.  This whole section is very philosophical in nature.  There is very little practical application here.
In a word our point is that Mathematics are to be studied for their own sake and not as they make for general intelligence and grasp of mind.  (Vol. 6, p. 232)
Mathematics is one area of the Charlotte Mason method that frustrates me.  Maybe because it's a subject I feel inadequate to teach, not because I'm a math failure, but because no matter which approach I take, it's a subject in which our children struggle.  It's a subject that gives me anxiety, not because my children struggle, but because I lack the patience to wait upon maturity. I want Charlotte to tell me exactly what to do!  It should be black and white.  The rest of her method seems very clear to me, but math is so vague.

I will get off my soapbox now...(ahem!).  Maybe one of you will enlighten me in the comments section.  For now, here are some quotes I found intriguing and pulled from the reading....
Once again, though we do not live on gymnastics, the mind like the body, is invigorated by regular spells of hard exercise.  
But education should be a science of proportion, and any one subject that assumes undue importance does so at the expense of other subjects which a child's mind should deal with. Arithmetic, Mathematics, are exceedingly easy to examine upon and so long as education is regulated by examinations so long shall we have teaching, directed not to awaken a sense of awe in contemplating a self-existing science, but father to secure exactness and ingenuity in the treatment of problems.  (Vol. 6, p. 231)
Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the text-book and few subjects are worse taught; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas, what Coleridge calls, the 'Captain' ideas, which should quicken imagination.  
To sum up, Mathematics are a necessary part of every man's education; they must be taught by those who know; but they may not engross the time and attention of the scholar in such wise as to shut out any of the score of 'subjects,' a knowledge of which is his natural right.  (Vol. 6, p. 233)
Here are notes I've made regarding math based on Charlotte's writings and For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay....

     - Continue to focus on a broad and liberal education, keeping math in its place among a variety of other subjects
     - Study Mathematics for its own sake
     - Short lessons
     - Study in the beginning of the day - first subject
     - Explain the concept having the child tell back (narration)
     - Student needs practice to gain confidence
     - Begin with concrete teaching before abstract
     - Use manipulatives

Physical Development, Handicrafts
It is unnecessary, too, to say anything about games, dancing, physical exercises, needlework and other handicrafts as the methods employed in these are not exceptional.  (Vol. 6, p. 233-234)
And with this, Charlotte closes Chapter X.  I do hope you will read Charlotte's actual writings in addition to these posts so as to make your own connections regarding her method.  Do not let this series be a substitution, but a stepping stone.     

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