Is Charlotte Mason’s 1881 Geography relevant for today?
1881! It’s soooooo OLD! Outdated! Surely there is a better book by now!
How could a book that old possibly have any value for our modern, fast paced, at-your-finger-tips world of Siri ‘tell me where it is, and where to go, and what to do’ (ah… I digress).
The answer is, this old book is absolutely relevant for today!
The most obvious, no-brainer answers are that our world still has the same physical features– oceans, rivers, mountains and it is still spinning in space, still tilted on its axis… so the lessons on our world and seasons are relevant. As a side note, should you use the Teacher’s Notes for older students that accompany Living Geography Book I, they will be thinking through reasoning and how it relates to geography via the concept of the flat earth theory. I inserted these thought lessons and essay writing assignments into my notes many years ago thinking I’d picked a super random topic that might never be really relevant. However, I have noticed recently that the flat earth concept is popping up. Maybe not so irrelevant.
Back to the original topic—does CM’s 1881 geography work for us now?
Again, yes it does.
For, if your students ever decide to go into real estate, they will find the section on legal descriptions for real property are going to be a piece of cake. Legal descriptions used today on the deed, for example, of your home use the government rectangular survey for land description. This method dates back to 1787. It uses a measurement system which Charlotte presents multiple times through out the lessons in her book. In the edition I revised, the original explanations are all there. In the Teacher’s Notes we practice using the concepts. What might this concept be?
None other than — meridians and latitude lines!!
So there it is – a student’s understanding of these earth measurement tools will give your eventual realtor a head start on their realtors exam… not to mention many other professions…. attorneys dealing with property rights, or surveyors, or county assessors and registers, anyone in mortgage or escrow accounts, or appraisers….. They’ll breeze through this concept with confidence and ease, because it harkens back to their old friends studied in elementary or high school in Charlotte Mason’s geography! As a bonus, any teachers and parents going through this curriculum who own property, might benefit from a refresher in earth measurement, so, with few more working details, they could quickly assess and understand the the legal description of their own property. A comfort level working with latitude and longitude never hurts.
As to the outdated part of the argument– my new edition is updated, historically and expanded. But the old version does the job too. Just explain that we have already FOUND the north pole!
Another side note, since there are many in this post…. a while back I was working on the draft of CM’s geography book at church (yes, those books traveled with me everywhere and I worked on them e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e) a friend and small business owner thumbed through the pages and said, “Boy, if the guys that work for me could go through a practical geography course like this, life would be easier. They can’t find their way around town. And Omaha is laid out in a grid form, squares all based off the river. It is not complicated, but they get lost a lot even with their phones. If their phones don’t work, it is hopeless for them to get themselves to the job site.” So there it is again – practical relevant geography! Students in CM’s geography will be introduced to a grid form of measurement. Working through the Teacher’s Notes will help solidify it visually, in a hands on way.
and…. because I love maps and think this is cool….. the physical features shown on this map of a Township (also part of realtor’s licensing) are practiced in the Teacher’s Notes corresponding with Living Geography Book I.