More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment
Keeping a Charlotte Mason-Inspired “Common Place Book” in Heart of Dakota
Charlotte Mason kept a Common Place Book herself, and she encouraged her students to do so too. Notable literary figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Charles Dickens, Thomas Jefferson, and Shakespeare enjoyed keeping their own “Common Place Books” by carefully copying passages from classic literature. According to Ms. Mason, if accomplished literary figures such as this would keep “Common Place Books,” why wouldn’t we do so too? While “Common placing” is first and foremost considered a Charlotte Mason teaching method, it has its roots in simply being a personal habit that intelligent people have enjoyed for hundreds of years. At Heart of Dakota, we help children develop their own personal habit of creating a Charlotte Mason-inspired Common Place Book. In fact, we hope to inspire them to do so for life!
The Benefits of Keeping Common Place Book
A Common Place Book is unique because it is a special notebook for collecting and recording quotes, Scriptures, thoughts, and phrases that have deeper meaning and personally speak to you. Selecting inspirational quotes and thoughts from living books helps children slow down their reading pace to be more thoughtful and intentional. It encourages their minds to act upon the material, rather than to race through it thoughtlessly. When children choose and write inspirational quotes or thoughts in a Common Place Book, they connect more deeply with what has been read. They remember it better, and it becomes special to them because they have recorded it in their special book. Often times, children return to their Common Place Book just to enjoy reading past entries.
Charlotte Mason’s Thoughts on Keeping a Common Place Book
It is very helpful to read with a commonplace book or reading-diary, in which to put down any striking thought in your author, or your own impression of the work, or of any part of it; but not summaries of facts. Such a diary, carefully kept through life, should be exceedingly interesting as containing the intellectual history of the writer; besides, we never forget the book that we have made extracts from, and of which we have taken the trouble to write a short review. -Charlotte Mason (Volume 5, p. 260)
How Heart of Dakota Helps Children Learn to Keep a Common Place Book
Heart of Dakota helps children learn to keep a Common Place Book starting in Preparing Hearts. We begin by describing the Common Place Book in the “Introduction” of each of our guides. Students also need a Common Place Book for their copywork. A Common Place Book is often a bound composition book with lined pages. It provides a common place to copy anything that is timeless, memorable, or worthy of rereading. It is for copying text and not for original writing. Bible verses, classic poetry, and passages from excellent literature with beautiful or vivid wording are often included. Students will add to the Common Place Book throughout the year.
The Progression of Keeping a Common Place Book in Heart of Dakota
In Heart of Dakota, a Common Place Book is typically a bound composition book. Students use this book to keep (in a “common place”) quotes, excerpts from literature, Scripture verses, poetry, etc. that are worthy of being recorded and reread over time. While we do have in mind the traditional Charlotte Mason definition of a “Common Place Book,” to begin with in Preparing Hearts, we “help” children get an idea of things that are enduring and worthy of being copied in the book by assigning entries for them to make in their books throughout the year. Then, in the guides that follow Preparing, they gain the task of selecting their own entries to make in their Common Place Book.
Keeping a Common Place Book in High School
In high school, students continue keeping a Common Place Book, selecting quotes or passages that are meaningful to them from their classic literature for inclusion in their book. Charlotte Mason advocated this practice throughout high school, and we agree it is an excellent use of students’ time as they watch for notable quotes or passages as they read, select from among them, and accurately copy them into their book for later reference. By the time students finish Heart of Dakota, they will have created their own special Common Place Books as keepsakes of what most inspired them, piqued their interest, or struck them as worthy enough to grace the pages of their own personal book. Heart of Dakota makes keeping a Common Place Book easy, as it is a part of our daily plans. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have!