The “act of knowing”

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“As we have already urged, there is but one right way, that is, children must do the work for themselves. They must read the given pages and tell what they have read, they must perform, that is, what we may call the ‘act of knowing’. We are all aware, alas, what a monstrous quantity of printed matter has gone into the dustbin of our memories, because we have failed to perform that quite natural and spontaneous ‘act of knowing,’ as easy to a child as breathing and, if we would believe it, comparatively easy to ourselves. The reward is two-fold: no intellectual habit is so valuable as that of attention; it is a mere habit but it is also the hallmark of an educated person.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6, p. 99)

Education is a life

A Charlotte Mason Moment: 

Education is a life; that life is sustained on ideas; ideas are of spiritual origin, and that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another. The duty of parents is to sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 2, p. 39)

Principles guide how students see ideas

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“Therefore, children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching, that the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas. To help them in this choice we give them principles of conduct, and a wide range of the knowledge fitted to them. These principles should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6; Preface to the ‘Home Education’ Series)

Strengthen narration by self-questioning what was just read!

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“Long ago, I was in the habit of hearing this axiom quoted by a philosophical old friend: – ‘The mind can know nothing save what it can produce in the form of an answer to a question put to the mind by itself.’

I have failed to trace the saying to its source, but a conviction of its importance has been growing upon me during the last forty years. It tacitly prohibits questions from without; (this does not, of course, affect the Socratic use of questioning for purposes of moral conviction); and it is necessary to intellectual certainty, to the act of knowing. For example, to secure a conversation of an incident, we ‘go over it in our minds’; that is, the mind puts itself through the process of self-questioning which I have indicated. This is what happens in the narrating of a passage read: each new consecutive incident or statement arrives because the mind asks itself, – “What next?”

For this reason it is important that only one reading should be allowed; efforts to memorize weaken the power of attention, the proper activity of the mind; if it is desirable to ask questions in order to emphasize certain points, these should be asked after and not before, or during, the act of narration.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6 pp. 16-17)

Reflection, the ruminating power which is so strongly developed in children

A Charlotte Mason Moment: 

“Reflection, the ruminating power which is so strongly developed in children and is somehow lost with much besides of the precious cargo they bring with them into the world. There is nothing sadder than the way we allow intellectual impressions to pass over the surface of our minds, without any effort to retain or assimilate.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 3, p. 120)