Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Some more thoughts on education, from Charlotte Mason

As I approach the last chapters of “Parents and Children”, I must say that Charlotte Mason’s works are not light reading. I was initially very put off by her expressing a lot of negative ideas about Jews, but eventually I decided to glean what I could. Luckily there are a lot of sub-headlines so it is easy to navigate through the book and find relevant ideas.

Teaching must be fresh and living. … we shall perceive that whatever is stale and flat and dull to us must needs be stale and flat and dull to him, and also that there is no subject which has not a fresh and living way of approach.

Books must be living. We take the child to the living sources of history… without any diluting and with little explanation.

No Neat System is of use. It is the very nature of a system to grow stale in the using; every subject, every division of a subject, every lesson, in fact, must be brought up for examination before it is offered to the child as to whether it is living, vital, of a nature to invite the living Intellect of the Universe.

Children must have the best books. Children must have books, living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough.  

Here we can all happily say that today, wonderful books can be obtained for virtually no cost from the local library, and we also have the internet, which is a great resource.

We need not say one word about the necessity for living thought in the teacher; it is only so far as he is intellectually alive that he can be effective in the wonderful process which we glibly call “education”.

Here of course we must all ask ourselves: are we constantly learning? Are our minds open to new ideas, or have we got into the habit of intellectual laziness? My belief is that in a family where both parents love to learn, the children will probably love to learn as well, with hardly any conscious training. 

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