The power of appreciating art

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“We recognize that the power of appreciating art and of producing to some extent an interpretation of what one sees is as universal as intelligence, imagination, nay, speech, the power of producing words. But there must be knowledge and, in the first place, not the technical knowledge of how to produce, but some reverent knowledge of what has been produced; that is, children should learn pictures, line by line, group by group, by reading, not books, but pictures themselves.

A friendly picture-dealer supplies us with half a dozen beautiful little reproductions of the work of some single artist, term by term. After a short story of the artist’s life and a few sympathetic words about his trees or his skies, his river-paths or his figures, the little pictures are studied one at a time; that is, children learn, not merely to see a picture but to look at it, taking in every detail.

Then the picture is turned over and the children tell what they have seen, – a dog driving a flock of sheep along a road but nobody with the dog. Ah, there is a boy lying down by the stream drinking. It is morning as you can see by the light so the sheep are being driven to pasture, and so on; nothing is left out, the discarded plough, the crooked birch, the clouds beautiful in form and threatening in rain, there is enough for half an hour’s talk and memory in this little reproduction of a great picture and the children will know it wherever they see it, whether a signed proof, a copy in oils, or the original itself in one of our galleries.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6, p. 214)

The importance of reverent attitudes

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“The importance of reverent attitudes is a little apt to be overlooked in these days. We are, before all things, sincere, and are afraid to insist upon ‘mere forms’, feeling it best to leave the child to the natural expression of his own emotions. Here perhaps we are wrong, as it is just as true to say that the form gives birth to the feeling as that the feeling should give birth to the form.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 3, p. 141)

Children must read widely…for the nourishment of their complex nature

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

This education of the feelings, moral education, is too delicate and personal a matter for a teacher to undertake trusting to his own resources. Children are not to be fed morally like young pigeons with predigested food. They must pick and eat for themselves and they do so from the conduct of others which they hear of or perceive. But they want a great quantity of the sort of food whose issue is conduct, and that is why poetry, history, romance, geography, travel, biography, science and sums must all be pressed into service. No one can tell what particular morsel a child will select for his sustenance. One small boy of eight may come down late because – “I was meditating upon Plato and couldn’t fasten my buttons,” and another may find his meat in ‘Peter Pan’! But all children must read widely, and know what they have read, for the nourishment of their complex nature.

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6, p. 59)

An education which ignores the things of the spirit

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

[Editor’s note: This was written in 1924, 15 years before the outbreak of World War II]

“Germany has pursued a different ideal. Her efforts, too, have been great, unified by the idea of utility; and, if we will only remember the lesson, the war [World War I] has shown us how futile is an education which affords no moral or intellectual uplift, no motive higher than the learner’s peculiar advantage and that of the State. Germany became morally bankrupt (for a season only, let us hope) not solely because of the war but as the result of an education which ignored the things of the spirit or gave these a nominal place and a poor rendering in a utilitarian syllabus.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6, p.123)

History is the pivot on which our curriculum turns

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“Next in order to religious knowledge, history is the pivot upon which our curriculum turns. History is the rich pasture of the mind – which increases upon the knowledge of men and and events and, more than all, upon the sense of nationhood, the proper corrective of the intolerable individualism of modern education . . .

Hence, the great value of the Old Testament, – history and poetry, the law and the prophets; and perhaps no one was more sensible of this educative value of the Scriptures than Goethe, though he was little sensible of their more spiritual worth. We endeavor to bring records contemporary with the Bible before children, using the contents of certain Rooms of the British Museum as a basis. Episodes of Greek and Roman history come in, partly for their historical, partly for their distinctly ethical value.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6, p. 273-274)