Bible Memorization and the Child

            So does random Bible verse memorization fit into a CM Education? I think it does, because the mind food we are feeding them is Living Food. This is not just man’s history, discoveries, and facts born from and relegated to this earth. It comes from a plane above the earthly realm, rising from our Creator. That qualifies it to be put into our minds daily, regularly, and passionately with intention. And that qualifies it to be intentionally and purposefully memorized.

            In my post, Confessions of a CM Educator: I Do Random Bible Verse Memorization, I looked at the idea that a CM Education can and should include memorization of random or single stand-alone Bible verses, not just parable passages. From Charlotte’s words on Bible memorization, her philosophy, and the nature of Scripture, I determined that a CM educator can and should include this random type of Bible verse memory in their learning schedule.

            Now lets look at it from the angle of the child-learner. I have three thoughts to bring some light to this angle. First, Charlotte herself spoke of the child’s need for thorough relations with spiritual things.  Second, we can see through the example of a Bible hero, Timothy, the importance of being steeped in Bible memory. Thirdly, we will briefly look at the nature of children and true learning as seen through the philosophy of a Charlotte Mason Education.

            Charlotte’s first principle is children are born persons. As persons, they are not for us to program, they have their own thoughts and connections. One of the most important relationships to be fostered is to their Creator, God. Charlotte gives children opportunity to have their own relationship with Him. We are to provide the groundwork or food to feed their souls and sow the seed on the fertile, hungry soil.

The Mind of the Child is ‘Good Ground.’—Their keen sensitiveness to spiritual influences is not due to ignorance on the part of the children. It is we, not they, who are in error. The whole tendency of modern biological thought is to confirm the teaching of the Bible: the ideas which quicken come from above; the mind of the little child is an open field, surely ‘good ground,’ where, morning by morning, the sower goes forth to sow, and the seed is the Word. All our teaching of children should be given reverently, with the humble sense that we are invited in this matter to co-operate with the Holy Spirit; but it should be given dutifully and diligently, with the awful sense that our co-operation would appear to be made a condition of the Divine action; that the Saviour of the world pleads with us to ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me,’ as if we had the power to hinder, as we know that we have. – Charlotte Mason Volume 2 p.48

            Secondly, Timothy one of Apostle Paul’s most trusted and faithful friends and teachers, is an example of a man whose childhood education being rich in Scripture memorization, relied on that foundation to benefit the kingdom of God.

            Timothy as a Jewish boy at this time was required to have a thorough knowledge of the Scripture learned under the tutelage of a rabbi. Although Timothy’s father was Greek, his Jewish mother Lois, along with his grandmother Eunice, made sure Timothy had this type of education.  Part of his study and training included a good deal of memorization of law and Jewish sacred writings which we would refer to as the Old Testament. Paul recognizes that Timothy had this rigorous training.  Being himself thoroughly religiously educated, he knew that Timothy was steeped in the Old Testament Scriptures and was able to understand and communicate the deep and important truths of the Christian faith to the fledgling church of the New Testament. Timothy’s thorough immersion in the Scriptures gave Paul the confidence to know that Timothy could be relied upon to teach the fledgling Christian church.

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. – II Timothy 3:15. 

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. – II Timothy 1:5.

            Timothy became one of the important figures of the establishment of the early Christian church. Certainly the Scriptures he knew by heart aided his work and gave him a firm footing to lead others.

            Next, the very nature of children includes the desire to know and learn. Children are by nature ready to learn. Starting in infancy they are inquisitive, curious, and their minds are prepared to take in everything around them. We see this in children and know it intuitively. Charlotte also speaks of it in her Volumes.

An infant comes into the world with a thousand feelers which he at once begins to fix with great energy; and out of everything about him he gets—

            “That calm delight which, if I err not, surely must belong,

            To those first-born affinities that fit

            Our new existence to existing things,

            And in our dawn of being, constitute

            The bond of union between life and joy.”

He gets also when left to himself that real knowledge about each thing he comes across which establishes his relations with that thing. – Charlotte Mason Volume 3 p.218

Immediately before the previous quote, she gives her view of the state of a child and our purpose for education.

We take the child as we find him, a person with many healthy affinities and embryonic attachments, and we try to give him a chance to make the largest possible number of these attachments valid. – Charlotte Mason Volume 3 p.218

            We should be prepared, then, to make sure that the best source of knowledge is available to them. True learning begins first with a knowledge of God and second a knowledge of ourselves. Knowledge of God must come out of Scripture for it is the best revealer of God.  The Bible is also a powerful resource for understanding our own natures and hearts. It has the baseline of foundational truth that we as persons and societies need to live fully in freedom. Our educational goals should hinge then on the thorough mastery of Scripture. One way this will play out is in the memorization of many Bible verses.

…and of all the knowledge which a child should get, the knowledge of God is first in importance, and the knowledge of himself, next. – Charlotte Mason Volume 5 p.363

It is a delightful thing to have the memory stored with beautiful, comforting, and inspiring passages, and we cannot tell when and how this manner of seed may spring up, grow, and bear fruit… – Charlotte Mason Volume 1 p.253

In my post Memorization? Yes! a CM Educator can Embrace It! you can see some of the recommendations Charlotte had for storing words in our hearts.

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