Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Contemplating an Archipelago Blog Post, The Value of the Perception of Beauty...

I was reading The Value of the Perception of Beauty over at Archipelago and had some thoughts I wanted to share for possible discussion.  If you'd like to participate, first go here and read the post.  Then come back and read the rest of this.  We can talk in the comments section....
An ideal for our children—good, useful, beautiful. The Moral alone not sufficient. The Useful alone not sufficient. The Beautiful alone not sufficient. We want a full life. Do these three form an impossible ideal? (1st paragraph)
This sounds so much like the truth, beauty and goodness of a classical education.  I had not thought about one not being sufficient without the other.  And, do these three form an impossible ideal?
The brain, a highly sensitive receptacle hundredth of a second photographic plate not so quick. The five senses are our means of contact with the world outside us. Small inlets. for light waves, sound waves, they are all touch in a way. Each of the senses supplies what the other four are deficient in. But by the combination of the five we get a broad idea of what things are. The eye supplies most of our information. Two of these have great arts dependent upon them—The ear art. Music. The art of the eye—the resemblant arts, painting, sculpture, architecture, and all the lesser arts. (2nd paragraph)
Oh, how I loved this idea of the five senses coming together as individual parts creating the whole.  It reminded me of that parable about the blind men and the elephant where each feels a different part of the elephant and then compares the experience only to find complete disagreement about what the elephant must look like.
...In teaching it [music] we only teach accuracy of ear and vague feeling. We do not take children to the sea and draw their attention to the wave sounds, or into the woods to hear the Wind’s voice, and the chorus of birds in Spring. Or make them listen to the modulations of the human voice from the musical point of view.
Though we know these are some of the sources of inspiration for the composer. We deal with the teaching of that art as if it were purely abstract. If it be purely abstract why have we Pastoral Symphonies, Moonlight Sonatas, and Harmonious Blacksmiths? Might we not gain if we studied the natural sounds definitely Composers teach us the unity of sounds embodying human emotions. (3rd and 4th paragraphs)
Again, I had not thought of this!  But, really, it makes perfect sense.  I wonder if this was part of Charlotte's plan with nature study, not only to see and learn about science, but to feel with all the senses, so as to gain appreciation and recognize rhythms and patterns.  Charlotte does write extensively about the effects of nature, particularly on young children, in Part II, Out-of-Door Life for the Children, of Volume 1 Home Education...
Nature's Teaching. - Watch a child standing at gaze at some sight new to him - a plough at work, occupied as is a babe at the breast; he is, in fact, taking in the intellectual food which the working faculty of his brain at this period requires.  In his early years the child is all eyes; he observes, or, more truly, he perceives, calling sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing to his aid, that he may learn all that is discoverable by him about every new thing that comes under his notice....that the ideas of form and solidity are not obtained by sight at all, but are the judgments of experience....but Nature teaches so gently, so gradually, so persistently, that he is never overdone, but goes on gathering little stores of knowledge about whatever comes before him. (pg. 65-66)
In the next paragraph, she gives an example...
The child who has been made to observe how high in the heavens the sun is at noon on a summer's day, how low at noon on a day in mid-winter, is able to conceive of the great heat of the tropics under a vertical sun, and to understand that the climate of a place depends greatly upon the mean height the sun reaches above the horizon. (pg. 66)
On page 68, Charlotte wrote a section titled, The Sense of Beauty comes from Early Contact with Nature, which I believe is exactly what the notetaker was referring to.  In the first sentence of paragraph 6, the notes say,
Think of the abundance of beautiful things which nature has laid before us.
It seems to be a re-wording or very closely aligned with Charlotte's title/heading.

Lastly, I found a great deal of wisdom in paragraphs 8-11.  I actually have been thinking about drawing and nature study in regard to our homeschool.  These are things my children love and yet, I lack to allow for. It really started to register after observing the Classical Conversations Challenge A program.  In talking over our observations, RileyAnn told me that she would love to be allowed more time for drawing in her studies across the curriculum.  I'm brainstorming on how to make this possible.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!  Please feel free to comment below...


  1. Hi Melissa. This is my first time commenting though I have been reading your blog archives now for a few weeks. I found you while reading reviews of various Beautiful Feet users and that search led me to you.

    Anyway, thanks for drawing our attention to the Archipelago post. What really stood out for me was the emphasis on unity, and in particular this passage, "Think of the abundance of beautiful things which nature has laid before us. I have often stood in the street to look at a fine sky, and felt inclined to cry out “ Look!” Can we see them without training? So far as the organ of sight goes, yes! But we do not see them consciously, so as get full pleasure from them."

    To me, it seems like the talk emphasizes a type of mindfulness, a certain attitude, that draws our attention to the object of study. Sort of like applying the saying "stop and smell the roses" as it applies to our academic efforts. How would helping our children cultivate the habit of attentiveness help them achieve unity? The speaker straight out says, they'd be artists who could see more than they could draw. I guess I really love the idea that we'd be more aware people. People who live fully present.

  2. Welcome Bev,

    "Mindfulness", "attentiveness", and "unity", those are great words you used to express your thought. When I think of the habit of attention, I tend to think more behaviorally, but I love the point you bring up of awareness. It brings a different perspective and new meaning for me to the habit of attention. ...which in turn, brings the word intuitive to mind. If we are raising our children to be "people who live fully present", not only in their natural surroundings, but to human nature, I wonder if it would bring about more compassion and thoughtfulness....hence, leading to more Christ like beings.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Great ideas in this post and comments