We had an interesting discussion over on the AO Forum recently that has been rumbling around in my mind ever since. One mom shared how she had just had an "aha" moment and realized that when Charlotte Mason talks about 'the science of relations', she's not just talking about the relationships and connections between topics and subject matter, but also the relationship that the student forms internally between himself and the person/event/topic being studied.
When one is just starting out with Charlotte Mason style education, I think it can be hard to see how exactly this is supposed to play out. It can be tempting to try to force those connections to happen artificially (a la unit studies). But as time goes along, the student gains more ideas to form relationships and connections with, and you can start to see little glimpses of the tapestry that is being woven beneath the surface.
Recently, we had an experience in our house that confirmed this. Michelle, currently studying Ambleside Online Year 3, came to me to narrate from Explore His Earth – a book about physical geography and earth science. The section she had just read had described and discussed the continents of North and South America. She was almost giddy with excitement when she came to me: "Mama! I met an old friend in this book!" she said. "Amerigo Vespucci! Do you remember him? He was the explorer who they named America after even though he wasn't the first person to find it." We had read about Amerigo Vespucci several weeks previously in our American history book, This Country of Ours, and the story had rather tickled her fancy. Somewhere inside, she had formed a 'relationship' with the story of Amerigo Vespucci and his explorations. When she met him again in another book on a completely different subject matter, she recognized him as an "old friend". Another thread had been laid in the tapestry.
In her Philosophy of Education, Charlotte Mason says this:
"A small English boy of nine living in Japan remarked, 'Isn't it fun, Mother, learning all these things? Everything seems to fit into something else.' He had not found out the whole secret; everything fitted into something within himself." (p.157)
It is a beautiful thing to begin to see the truth of this brought to life in our home.