A collection of quotes I am pondering as we study Principles 9-11 as we continue on our way through Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles…
Towards a Philosophy of Education (Volume 6), Charlotte Mason“That children like feeble and tedious oral lessons, feeble and tedious story books, does not at all prove that these are wholesome food; they like lollipops but cannot live upon them; yet there is a serious attempt in certain schools to supply the intellectual, moral, and religious needs of children by appropriate 'sweetmeats.'As I have said elsewhere, the ideas required for the sustenance of children are to be found mainly in books of literary quality…” (p.117)
“But we must keep to the academic ideal: all preparation for specialised industries should be taboo. Special teaching towards engineering, cotton-spinning, and the rest, is quite unnecessary for every manufacturer knows that given a 'likely' lad he will soon be turned into a good workman in the works themselves….Denmark and Scandinavia have tried this generous policy of educating young people, not according to the requirements of their trade but according to their natural capacity to know and their natural desire for knowledge, that desire to know history, poetry, science, art, which is natural to every man; and the success of the experiment now a century old is an object lesson for the rest of the world.” (p.123-124)
“Time for a Story” from Dewey’s Treehouse
“See Charlotte Mason.Charlotte Mason says, "I do not like your story. Minds cannot eat sponges.
Minds are like hungry hippos.
Minds need a daily special hot beef sandwich with fries and gravy.
Minds need books full of ideas.
Minds need literary language.
Minds need to munch.
Munch, minds, munch."
But the teachers keep throwing sponges.
Some are different sizes.
Some are different colours.
See how interesting all the different sponges are!
"Still sponges," says Charlotte Mason. "Minds need to munch."
“On Herbartian Unit Studies” from Afterthoughts
“First, I get concerned because this is not the way a good reader approaches a book…What I'm saying is that these are not natural questions to ask of the text, nor are they the most important questions to ask of the text. If this is how children are reared to view books, as objects to dissect the life out of, they will never learn great ideas from books--a sort of being too distracted by the trees to actually see the forest sort of situation. In other words, they will never be great readers…Second, and I already alluded to it, this is not the way to comprehension of a book's greatest ideas…A million rich conversations could pour forth from thinking the noble thoughts of the book, but unit studies tend to dwell on the minutia. All books have their interesting details, but the great thoughts--the Permanent Things--presented, transcend those details. In fact, many don't make the cut and aren't worthy of being preserved for generations because the author was too locked in the details of his own time; he failed to transcend and speak about the Permanent Things.”
“Clearly, Charlotte felt that delivering predigested lessons with external flash and drama, a la Herbart, is not only unnecessary but stunting. She had witnessed that children truly learn when they get at the books themselves, when their minds are allowed the potent spark of communing with great authors' minds. Narration is proof--it not only teaches a child to analyze, organize, compose and express great thoughts in the buoyant wake of literary masters, but also reveals how a child makes his own connections, and how forcefully and directly his personality interacts with ideas, particularly those, as Charlotte said, "clothed in literary language." But in order to teach a child this way, we must be willing to roll out the red carpet, so to speak, and then step aside. Give them the best books, and get out of the way. We must decrease, that they might increase. We must be servants, not masters, to their brains and spirits. This requires a certain restraint... wisdom... humility... and trust in the wiring that God gave them.”