Possibly only a Charlotte Mason purist would be interested in the revision details for Charlotte’s 1881 geography text as I transformed it into the Living Geography Book I edition. In this post I let Charlotte convince you that scouring through the details of something has its rewards. In following posts, I’ll chronicle some of the nitty gritty details about the revisions to Charlotte’s 1881 geography book and why I made them.
So, maybe this series of posts only interests the purists. But, there are some gems to be observed and utilized for those who wish to scour through the details,
… much the same as scouring through the details of the volumes turns up clues that lead to an accurate portrayal and implementation of a Living Education, which turns up further gems that lead to an ordered, full, knowledge-bringing, vitalizing life,
…much the same as scouring through the details of … anything…
it leads to the gems of an expertness, thoroughness, accuracy, and love in our minds and hearts, and ultimately leaves its print on our lives,
…and just as scouring through anything leads us to know it, so does scouring through any person,
To know in detail, be an expert on, have an accurate portrayal of any person leads us to ….
what?… that key word in a CM Education…. You know it!…. if you don’t, no worries…. read here! then read on….
Relations- the Science of Relations = a relationship.
And whether with things or people, when we have a relationship we care, and when we care, we truly learn.
Here are some thoughts from Charlotte on habits, applying and using one’s mind to study a subject, and the results of this persistent effort. They apply, of course, to the overall goal we have when educating children. They also apply to the adult, who, from the outlook of a Living Education, is no more than a grown, ‘tall’ student. What applies to the person-applies to the person.
“Such lessons are titillating for the moment, but they give children the minimum of mental labour, and the result is much the same as that left on older persons by the reading of a magazine. We find, on the other hand, that in working through a considerable book, which may take two or three years to master, the interest of boys and girls is well sustained to the end; they develop an intelligent curiosity as to causes and consequences, and are in fact educating themselves.” –Volume 3 p.227
“Allowing the genius to be a law unto himself, we must be on the watch lest the ordinarily clever boy slip the yoke; indeed, as we have seen in Goethe’s case, the genius might well have been seen in Goethe’s case, the genius might well have been the better for the common grind. Pen, anyway, would probably not have run that disastrous course at Oxbridge had he acquired the habit of working under rule and towards an end.” -Volume 5 p.380
“Peril of Sloth.—Perhaps the most common evil is a sort of epidemic of sloth that spreads over the whole country. The scavengers sit with heavy eyes and folded arms, and let refuse and filth accumulate in the streets. The farmers and their labourers say, ‘What’s the good?’ and fail to go out with the plough or to sow the seed. Fruit drops from the trees and rots because no one cares to pick it up.
The ships lie idle in the harbours because nobody wants anything from abroad. The libraries let their books be buried in the dust and devoured by insects, and neglect their duty of gathering more. The pictures grow dim and tattered for want of care; and nobody in the whole country thinks it worth while to do anything at all.
Sometimes the people still care to play; but play without work becomes dull after a time, and soon comes to a stop. And so the people, whatever be their business in Mansoul, sit or lounge about with dull eyes, folded arms, and hanging heads.” – Volume 4 p.5-6
“ In proportion as he is made aware of the laws which rule every relationship, will his life be dutiful and serviceable: as he learns that no relation with persons or with things, animate or inanimate, can be maintained without strenuous effort, will he learn the laws of work and the joys of work. Our part is to remove obstructions and to give stimulus and guidance to the child who is trying to get into touch with the universe of things and thoughts which belongs to him.” –Volume 5 p.187-188
“This Desire of Approbation helps him later to conquer a sum, to climb a hill, to bring home a good report from school; and all the time he is bringing grist to the mill, knowledge to the mind, because the people whose Approbation is worth having care that we should learn and know, conquer our idleness and get habits of steady work, so that our minds may be duly nourished every day as are our bodies.” –Volume 4 p.67
This next quote is taken out of context. Charlotte is not speaking of intellectual learning here, but rather our imagination which may conjure up scenarios that everyone is disagreeable or against us. But, I think it could apply, with imagination, to most anything including the intellectual habit of studying and scouring through the details of something.
“…except that, while one dreams, one forgets to do, and life is made up altogether of doing and not at all of dreaming.” –Volume 4 p.49
“His life will be dutiful and serviceable if he is made aware of the laws which rule each relationship; he will learn the laws of work and the joys of work as he perceives that no relation with persons or with things can be kept up without effort.” – Volume 3 p.218-219
“Education not Desultory.—But I am not preaching a gospel for the indolent and proclaiming that education is a casual and desultory matter. Many great authors have written at least one book devoted to education; and Waverley seems to me to be Scott’s special contribution to our science.
Edward Waverley, we are told, ‘was permitted to a great measure to learn as he pleased, when he pleased, and what he pleased.’ That he did please to learn and that his powers of apprehension were uncommonly quick, would appear to justify this sort of education. But wavering he was allowed to grow up, and ‘Waverly’ he remained; instability and ineffectiveness marked his course. The manner of his education and its results are thus shortly set forth:—
“Edward would throw himself with spirit upon any classical author of which his preceptor proposed the perusal, make himself master of the style so far as to understand the story, and, if that pleased or interested him, he finished the volume. But it was in vain to attempt fixing his attention on critical distinctions of philology, upon the difference of idiom, the beauty of felicitous expression, or the artificial combinations of syntax. ‘I can read and understand a Latin author,’ said young Edward, with the self-confidence and rash reasoning of fifteen, ‘and Scaliger or Bentley could not do much more.’ Alas! while he was thus permitted to read only for the gratification of his amusement, he foresaw not that he was losing for ever the opportunity of acquiring habits of firm and assiduous application, of gaining the art of controlling, directing, and concentrating the powers of his mind for earnest investigation—an art far more essential than even that intimate acquaintance with classical learning which is the primary object of study.”
Waverly but illustrates, what Mr Ruskin says in plain words; that our youth—whatever we make of it—abides with us to the end:—
“But so stubborn and chemically inalterable the laws of the prescription were, that now, looking back from 1886 to that brook shore of 1837, whence I could see the whole of my youth, I find myself in nothing whatsoever changed. Some of me is dead, more of me is stronger. I have learned a few things, forgotten many. In the total of me, I am but the same youth, disappointed and rheumatic.”
Strenuous Effort and Reverence.—We have seen in Ruskin and Wordsworth the strenuous attention—condition of receptiveness—which made each of them a producer after his kind; and whosoever will play the game, whether it be cricket or portrait painting, must learn the rules with all diligence and get skill by his labour. It is true, ‘the labour we delight in physics pain,’ but it is also true that we cannot catch hold of any one of the affinities that are in waiting for us without strenuous effort and without reverence. A bird-lover, one would say, has chosen for himself an easy joy; but no: your true bird-lover is out of doors by four in the morning to assist at the levée of the birds; nay, is he not in Hyde Park by 2:30 a.m. to see—the kingfisher, no less! He lies in wait in secret places to watch the goings on of the feathered peoples, travels far afield to make a new acquaintance in the bird-world; in fact, gives to the study of birds attention, labour, love, and reverence. He gets joy in return, so is perhaps little conscious of effort; but the effort is made all the same.” –Volume 3 p.209-211
“Servant or Master?—Each of us has in his possession an exceedingly good servant or a very bad master, known as Habit. The heedless, listless person is a servant of habit; the useful, alert person is the master of a valuable habit. The fact is, that the things we do a good many times over leave some sort of impression in the very substance of our brain; and this impression, the more often it is repeated, makes it the easier for us to do the thing the next time. We know this well enough as it applies to skating, hockey, and the like. We say we want practice, or, are out of practice, and must get some practice; but we do not realise that, in all the affairs of our life, the same thing holds good. What we have practice in doing we can do with ease, while we bungle over that in which we have little practice.
The Law of Habit.—This is the law of habit, which holds good as much in doing kindnesses as in playing the piano. Both habits come by practice; and that is why it is so important not to miss a chance of doing the thing we mean to do well. We must not amuse ourselves with the notion that we have done something when we have only formed a good resolution. Power comes by doing and not be resolving, and it is habit that serves us, whether it be the habit of Latin verse or of carving. Also, and this is a delightful thing to remember, every time we do a thing helps to form the habit of doing it; and to do a thing a hundred times without missing a chance, makes the rest easy.” –Volume 4 p.208-209
“Remembering that we have a great gift, let us use it in thinking out great matters; and then, some day, the opportunity to think out some great service for the world will be put in our way. The chance of doing nearly always comes our way when we are ready for it.” -Volume 4 p.64