19 February, 2007

CM comments, Parents' Review Ads

Heard at Book Club tonight: Queen Shenaynay to group: "Remember, Charlotte didn't have Google." to which Javamom quickly added: "Charlotte *was* Google!"
[side note: A lovely, growing group of friends who have joined me in a CM book club, read volume six together over the last two years. This year, we began and plan to complete volume one.]

We were referring to all the references Charlotte sprinkles into the pages of her writings. Much can be picked up in reading Charlotte's own words. She was incredibly well-educated. A product of her time? Well, sure...but not all people living in that time were so educated.

Her 'campaign' if I may call it that, was that she wanted all children (and I might say even their mothers!) to be able to have a liberal (well-rounded) education as well, not just the children of the
privileged, wealthy class. Her writings provide *and* inspire quite an education.

One of the most important thing to consider when delving into reading CM is that one will take in far more from her writings if one looks up all the little references Charlotte makes that are often (though not always) in Italics, or in indented quotes. Then one is truly able to dig into the meat; the deeper meaning of her thoughts, examples, and her principals, as she shares quotes or paints word pictures with references...most of which might not be caught, "partly because of our own defective education" (CM vol. one page 67).

(click to enlarge)

I've been meaning to share some pictures, maybe even a few quotes, from an old copy of The Parents' Review that I purchased several years ago. I was urged on before CM BookClub tonight by QS at the Beehive to post this at once to share with our Charlotte Mason friends via the blogworld. This comes from the advertisement section of the June, 1933 issue, Elsie Kitching, editor. Charlotte died in 1923) Just in case you can't read it, it says "Notice to Members of the P.N.E.U. Peter Robinson, Ltd. are the official suppliers of the Parents' Union School Uniform. The new badge is registered and copyright and therefore obtainable only from the appointed outfitters or P.N.E.U. office. Enquiries should be made to, and price lists obtained from...etc., etc."

The second ad in the first picture is hopefully easier to read. These were photographic prints one could order for Picture Study., in the recommended 10 in. by 8 in. format, or lantern slides made to order.

The many advertisements
(not shown in this post) for various CM schools all over England fill the ad sections of the PR Magazine. They provide for us some of tiny missing pieces of what some CM schools / homeschools were like, many of them with photos of the building(s) or partial grounds.
Many of them were lead by Head Mistresses who were Ambleside or HOE graduates, themselves.

The section we read and studied in book club tonight was pages 42-69, much of which discusses just what it was about nature study that Charlotte thought was so important: "Training the children's powers of observation and expression, increasing their vocabulary and their range of ideas...she is training them in truthful habits, by making them careful to see the fact and to state it exactly, without omission or exaggeration." (Vol. one pages 46-47)

Throughout this section, she very specifically lays out how mother can lead her children through this, both by example and with minimal interference. She does give instruction, but it is leading instruction, with examples of things she remembers from her own memory (of a painting or a landscape) and with phrases that encourage the children to look and observe on their own, and very discriminatingly.

Some people get hung up on Charlotte Mason because in a blanket judgment, they say something like, "CM is just all about nature study and not much else," which is so discouraging...not to me personally, but that such false representations exist and run rampant within the homeschooling community!

Nature study is but one of a multitude of aspects of a Charlotte Mason education. It is not a separate or even the primary subject. In fact, I'll share a quote by Monk Gibbon from the Parents' Review magazine that I've shown you today, which puts my thoughts on this matter into a nutshell.

He says, "Literature is not a 'subject.' Music is not a 'subject.' Drawing is not a 'subject.' Religion is not a 'subject.' Rather, are they all activities of the spirit, valid in themselves. And yet, they become 'subjects in the hands of the pedants."

pedant - a person who pays more attention to formal rules and book learning than they merit.

1. One who pays undue attention to book learning and formal rules.
2. One who exhibits one's learning or scholarship ostentatiously.
3. Obsolete A schoolmaster.

Ouch! (for some). Sorry about that. Well, not really. My whole point of home educating (and guiding our children to self-educate) was to get off the track of "standardized education" and allow them the time to truly learn; to form relationships with great minds and with real things, FIRST hand, to seek wisdom, be led by the Holy Spirit, and to value learning. I'll stop there for now, or I may become preachy.

Instead, I'll close with one of my favorite finds (actually a friend found it for me) that hangs in our family / dining room. It is a map of the state birds and flowers of the US. It is surrounded by some of the fascinating things we've collected on nature walks that reflect God's highly specialized and creative genius in nature, such as a sample of wild-grasses (on the left) that have a three-sided (triangular-shaped) stem. Who knew such a plant existed? Why should we care? One reason is that it is evidence of God's order in nature.




Mother Auma said...

Well done!!

I, too, have been bothered by the misrepresentation of CM method within the homeschooling community. I have been asked to give short answers to questions like, "What is Charlotte Mason?" "Is it like unschooling?" "It's just for young children, right?"

Where do I start? I think I would need to write a pages-long report to answer those questions. How to put it succinctly, give a snapshot of CM that is not misleading?

With this post, I think you have begun to do that. Thanks, Javamom! More, please.

Also, regarding pedants? I resemble that remark. Grr. That's part of the reason it is so hard for me to define for other homeschoolers what a CM education is. I do not embody it. But I'm working on it. ;o)

Tracy said...

Great post! I really love that quote from Monk Gibbon.

Keri said...

I admire Charlotte Mason.
You speak for me here:

"Her 'campaign' if I may call it that, was that she wanted all children (and I might say even their mothers!) to be able to have a liberal (well-rounded) education as well,"

I am finally getting the best education of my life, while teaching my children!

lindafay said...

Well said. Love the picture of the bird map and decor!

Javamom said...

Thanks for stopping by, ladies!