Quite some time ago ;) we began to take a look at the principles of education compiled by Charlotte Mason and listed in each of the six volumes of TOHSS.
1. Children are born persons. I think this principle is equally as meaningful now as when CM developed it 100 years ago. Individuals with extensive knowledge of the Victorian era have explained for us the low estate of children during that period of history. Let's leave history behind for the moment and examine how the principle might be significant today. Children are *born* persons--they don't need to do or learn anything to *become* a person, and they should be afforded the respect of their personhood that it deserves. This idea is foundational to CMs philosophy of education--I guess that's why she listed it first!
(Please don't read anything into these principles that isn't there. CM is not suggesting anything unorthodox about the spiritual nature of mankind, but is echoing the words and action of Jesus Christ. It is recorded in the gospels that He welcomed little children, and advised men to become like them, if they would see the kingdom of God.)
Principle 2 clarifies the idea of principle 1. It is as though she says "children are born persons" BUT development of their character is still in question. The exact text is "2) They are not born either good or bad, but with possibilities for good and evil." Once again, it is vital not to spiritualize CMs words. It's clear from reading her work that she is speaking of *behavior*, not man's spiritual condition. Here's a paraphrase. "Children are born persons, but you cannot determine their behavior by examining their pedigree." She encourages parents to take seriously their role in educating their children--not only educating the child's mind, but also his character.
The third principle begins to explain how we may educate.
3. The principles of authority on the one hand and
obedience on the other, are natural, necessary and
(seems a funny place to stop - she completes the sentence with principle 4.)
Are you in agreement with CM on this? I've spent time recently conversing with some individuals (Christian, BTW) that have adopted non-coercive parenting ideology, so I am aware that not everyone agrees with CM on this. However, it isn't the object of this exercise to explore all the opinions out there--just CMs! When CM began developing her philosophy, fresh in the minds of Europe was the recent experiment with Rationalism. Men (and women and children :)) were encouraged to behave as their own reason directed them best. She soundly rejects this idea. To CMs mind, deny the natural existence of authority among men is born of the desire to rid man of his ultimate Authority--the Creator God. She explains that someone in authority is someone who has been "authorized." What sort of mandate is that for parents? What are we "authorized" to do? What duties have we been commissioned to fulfill with regard to our children? What responsibilities do we have to Almighty God in the realm of our children's physical welfare; their education of mind and body, their character development? CM had certain ideas in mind about what responsibilities parents and teachers owe to the children in their charge. I'd be interested to hear what some of you think about this question!! CM wrote within the framework of Victorian England, and we may well hold different convictions.
If authority is necessary and natural, then so is obedience to that authority. Our children see us acting in obedience to God and recognize our authority as an extension of His. In CMs opinion, the truly happy child is one in submission to the authority of his parents. Obedience under proper authority is characterized by "quiet rest and gaiety of heart." (V. 2, p. 24) Commands are viewed as opportunities for service rather than unpleasant infringements on personal freedom. My home, unfortunately, does not reflect these ideals. Do you think they are realistic? Perhaps I should re-evaluate my position of authority and the duties it requires...?
There's more on authority and obedience in principle 4--until then!
cathy in pa
Some Thoughts on Architecture
I've always been disinterested in American architecture. It seems we often sacrifice artistic freedom to functionality and cost. I never knew that there is a lot to learn and study in American architecture and that simply by virtue of being practical the architecture says something about us. Mulling that over, I've come to realize that some architecture is definitely art and some is definitely not, but that both types reflect on their culture and should be studied.
_Architecture as Art_
In college, I delved into art classes, thinking deeply about art and what it means to the spirit of man--that the humanities are a large part of what being human is all about. Charlotte Mason knew this. She celebrated the humanities. She celebrated the beautiful things manmade and in nature. Many architects are artists at heart and their work can be studied as we would study a famous artist such as Van Gogh.
Some cultures emphasize the beauty of architecture more than others. While you might ask yourself whether such laviousness is vain, it's impressive to see the possibilites that a building can take on.
I once took a course on Vienna's History. To my delight, I was able to visit Vienna after I moved to Germany and saw many of the things I had read about close-up. Vienna, is the most architectually-impressive city I have ever seen. Every building is beautiful there. Art has been a part of architecture for many centuries and it shows in the buildings. One glorious display after another. The people of Vienna (Wieners) know what art is all about and many sought to bring art into their everyday lives as much as possible.
My husband and I wearily marched across the whole city to see a building with a modern-art slant. The man who built it liked to mimic nature in quirky ways, having non-flat floors, (arguing that flat earth doesn't occur in nature), throwing convention to the wind and giving creativity at its height. I loved this apartment building he designed. When you think about buildings being primarily to house people, I think this man, named Hundredwasser would disagree, even though he accomplished the practical purpose. I delighted in the creativity of this architectural masterpiece.
Along the same lines, the castle of Neuschwanstein (southern Germany) mimics a theatre set design which caught the fancy of King Ludwig II. It was designed primarily for beauty, and the architect's task was to make this cartoon of a castle be functional--not easy when working with laws of physics. Eventually the interior was left incomplete, but the exterior of this spectacular castle floating on top of the mountains was the inspiration for the Cinderella castle at Disney world.
My last experience with a city of architecture is Rome. Rome's architecture is the oldest I've seen. The fact that many building are still standing is impressive. Rome is built on 7 hills, and on the hill called Palatino you can see the remains of an enormous governmental palace, which grew more enormous with each year and each Ceasar. The word "palace" was coined from the name of this hill.
The forum is another part of Rome which can say a lot about its culture. People were so poor that they attended the government-sponsored events such as chariot races and later the ghastly displays of combat held in the coloseum. It was like PBS, only live. Not only that, but they were given food and drink if they attended.
The city also has countless statues. In the Vatican City alone, the statues could fill a stadium (okay, I didn't try it). Statues were part of the ornaments used to embellish buildings, and many building had statues built into the design.
The artistry of many architects is looked over and the credit of a building is often given to the owner. For example, King Louis XIV of France is most often the person accredited to France's palace Versailles, not the architects who designed it. It would be interesting to study the works of an architect to compare the works of one with other architects of a time period, and to compare earlier works with later ones. Architecture may capture the fancy of a child whose interest in artists isn't blossoming as it should.
_Architecture as cultural study_
Rob Shearer encourages us to make architecture a part of our studies about a time period. I couldn't agree more. Why are we studying history? To learn about the people and how they lived! The buildings say a lot about them. What were there homes like? What was the government's buildings like or royalty's? Was the King living extravagantly while the peasants were in pitiful huts? All these things say something about a time period and can help the learner get a better feel for the people.
American's have been a practical people from the time they came over. They took pride in respectful, but small homes, that mimicked their upbringing, their home country. I think we still keep some of the practicality in our architectural designs. What they lack in design, they can show where our priorities are. I think the 70s was the peak of ugly homes, but I'm pretty inexperienced with this and anybody can shoot down this idea, with their own.
Along the same lines, our opinion of an "average-sized" home has certainly enlarged, even from the fifties. What does that say about our culture? What can a child learn from driving around the city...? Are there a grouping of smaller homes built in the fifties? What is the oldest building in the city? Try finding an historical society which can guide you to special buildings and learn about their history. People didn't rent apartments as much back then. How did that affect the times? (age of marriage, for example; boy waits to save for a house). There is a lot to teach children about their parents' and grandparents' generations just from the buildings.
I think Rob's article covered a lot of the different civilizations and their types of buildings.
We can learn from the smallest hut to the largest palace and get a greater picture of the people we study. We can also get inspiration from other architects to learn what makes a building a work of art!
I do want to add that I'm writing this from an American perspective, mainly because I'm an American. In all my studies of other countries, I find Americans tend to need the most "opening up" to other cultures. It would be too presumptious to assume things about cultures other than my own, so I limit this to my viewpoint. I don't mean to be egocentric.
Why Study Architecture? (adapted from Rob Shearer's essay)
1. Because children are naturally interested in it.
2. There are many possibilities for hands-on projects.
3. It can enhance the study of a specific time period. It tells us much about what the people considered beautiful and what principles they valued.
4. It expands our understanding of other cultures.
5. It's a form of art.
1. Different types of buildings.
Igloo, pyramid, Roman temple, Gothic cathedral, skyscraper, castle, house on stakes (in flood areas), mud house, teepee.
2. Different architects. Study one architect over time or just many of the buildings he or she created.
3. Different styles. Roman, Gothic, rococo--what characteristics make these styles?
4. Time periods. What did all the houses of a certain time period look like? What were the great palaces of the same time period?
How to study architecture?
1. Tour It!
Visit the historical buildings in your city and others where you visit. Find out about the people and the history that makes a building special. Call the historical society and see what's available in your area. Even look at the types of buildings built in the last 50 years and see the difference in styles from the 50's, 70's and 90's.
2. Watch it!
If you can't visit, you can watch a video to actually see and learn about the
buildings. America's Castles (on PBS) celebrates some beautiful American
homes. There are lots of special documentaries and dramas of time periods.
Check out your library's video section. Discuss the architecture when viewing
3. Build it!
Dowels, small rope & straw can be used to build a great house on stilts. Legos, duplo, blocks, Lincoln logs, even tinker toys, can all be used to build houses. Pebbles or model bricks could be used. Commercially you can buy the kits (like the ones from Greenleaf press). They can be Styrofoam or paper. Pop-ups, etc. You can also buy model kits or wood kits. What about Puzz-3-D? There are some incredible buildings available. Even 2-D puzzles would be great.
4. Eat it!
Gingerbread with chocolate frosting make a great mud house, sugar cubes or even marshmallows and toothpicks could make an igloo, pretzel sticks could be logs or sticks. Cookies, crackers, etc. Bake a cake and shape it like a castle using upside-down ice cream cones as spires. Make bread dough and bake in a loaf pan for a rectangular structure (carve out center), or use the dough to create soft sculpture. With food as medium, you can often eat the finished product. (don't forget to take pictures).
5. Use Fine art.
Draw buildings during art time. Have them copy original pictures or beautiful buildings nearby. Use rulers to get straight lines. I did this in college and it took me a very long time to get a perfect building (with plants and all!) You could also use plaster of paris or other art materials to create a building. Paint or pastels--make a beautiful picture of a beautiful building.
6. Go full-scale!
Create a castle in your living room with refrigerator boxes. In your backyard, try making a mud house with the proper materials you learn about. Build a wooden house and try mimicking the style of the early settlers or of Southern plantation houses. Robin Poppy's two youngest children built their own thatched roof hut after reading books about the Pacific Islands. The buildings need not be temporary. You could have the child participate in the family's new house plans or in the plans for a permanent tree house. Did you say you needed a storage shed?
7. Create a scene!
Try adding in people, and items that occur during the time period that the architectural item was created. Was it war time? Where can you find a set of cival war soldiers to display with your plantation? Find some miniature trees, and add in a river & mountain.
8. Study pictures.
Find an architect and study it the way Charlotte Mason studies artists. With several photos and over the period of several months. You could also use architectural styles as a study. Magazines are great resources for pictures, especially architectural magazines.
9. Study floor plans.
Let children discover the symbols used for stairs, toilets, sinks, ceiling fans, fireplace, windows, doors, etc. Home magazines often have floor plans available.
10. Read Living Books.
Find a living book about an architect or about a specific building. Also listen for building descriptions in historical books and look up the type of building it might be, or find the exact building and show the child that this famous building "actually existed." Lynda suggested a wonderful children's book on architecture by Frank Llloyd Wright with activities in it.
11. Imagine it!
Have a child create a chez-d'oeuvre from his architecture studies. This can be
a carefully graphed building from the child's detailed blueprint studies, or a
zany imaginary building--or maybe an artistically beautiful building. What
kind of interesting features does your dream house have? Mine has secret
passageways, a secret garden, a secret room and a waterfall. Okay, so they
won't be secret anymore now that I've told you! Whether it's written in a
story form or actually created or drawn, the imagination has few limits!
Penny Gardner saw a creative design from a magazine--a computer rendering of a building designed for Longaberger basket company, which looked just like a giant picnic basket, complete with two handles! The windows were hidden in the cranny where the weave folds under. She suggests letting the child use his imagination and art supplies to create a bizarre building.
12. Make an Architecture notebook.
For architecture enthusiasts! Collect architecture pictures from magazines. Sort by style or theme or even just in order discovered. Put in sketches and other architecture art. Add photographs of places you visit, historical information, and essays about a building and what was learned from studying it.
13. Study Bad Architecture.
What makes for ugly buildings? On your city tour, take photos of ugly buildings or poor architecture. Often landscaping or surface touch up (painting) makes a big difference. Put the photos in your notebook and talk about what could make a building look better. Possibly, have the child write ways to improve this look, or why this building isn't artistic or beautiful.
What have you done to increase architectural awareness in your studies?
What have you learned from studying architecture?
Do you have more examples to add to these lists?
Do you have more reasons for studying, or things to be studying about architecture?
What are some of your favorite resources for studying architecture (which living books, which kits or projects)?
Have you tried any of these and had good or bad experiences?
Thanks to everyone whose ideas are a part of this!
Just what is Narration, and how does it work? What is the difference between a 6 telling a Bible story, and a highschooler giving an analysis of the principle character's motivation? What are some narration methods that have worked at your house? How do you develop that delighted child into that thoughtful teen?
The study, and many interesting links, may now be found HERE on the Popcorn and Peanuts Science page.
Synchronicity happened today. (look it up). I was looking through the list of articles we have available for discussion, and stopped to read the hilarious "How to Exegete a Stop Sign" again.
Now, what does that have to do with Shakespeare? Quite a bit, actually. As I read I was reminded of the furor over whether Shakespeare actually wrote the works attributed to his name; the discussion on this list of suitable versions for the children to read; and what age is suitable; whether a production needs to contain every word in the text; which copy of a script is the real, original, final copy... In other words, the exegesis of Shakespeare.
Review by Sandy Fairchild
_The Parents' Review_ is a magazine that was published by Karen Andreola (author of _A Charlotte Mason Companion/Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning_) four times a year from 1991 through 1996. She stopped publishing the mag. in 1997 in order to have time to write her book and spend more time with her family. She may start again next year. Anyway, you can still buy all the back issues, and since they are timeless and classic, don't worry about anything being out of date. In Karen's TPR, she includes articles from the original "Parents' Review" (CM's mag), as well as cultural articles on composers, artists, authors, etc., and very practical articles on how to teach any subject via CM's methods; also articles on child training, mother culture, book reviews, etc.
To see if you would like it, send $5.00 for a sample copy to Karen Andreola, and ask her to send you a back issue order form. You don't have to buy them all at once, but can buy a few or one at a time.
(address being updated - check the website)
Also, Karen has a website which you can visit and read about the magazines. There is also an order form there: Charlotte Mason Supply Company .