Brain Boosters

What is classical education? Different things to different people. Always helps to define terms.

Emotion is essential to learning, Dr. Immordino-Yang said, and should not be underestimated or misunderstood as a trend, or as merely the “E” in “SEL,” or social-emotional learning. Emotion is where learning begins, or, as is often the case, where it ends. Put simply, “It is literally neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don’t care about,” she said.”

Reminds one of:
Our aim in Education is to give a Full Life.––We begin to see what we want. Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Thou hast set my feet in a large room; should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking––the strain would be too great––but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy. The question is not,––how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education––but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him? I know you may bring a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink. What I complain of is that we do not bring our horse to the water. We give him miserable little text-books, mere compendiums of facts, which he is to learn off and say and produce at an examination; or we give him various knowledge in the form of warm diluents, prepared by his teacher with perhaps some grains of living thought to the gallon. And all the time we have books, books teeming with ideas fresh from the minds of thinkers upon every subject to which we can wish to introduce children.

We undervalue Children.––The fact is, we undervalue children. The notion that an infant is a huge oyster, who by slow degrees, and more and more, develops into that splendid intellectual and moral being, a full-grown man or woman, has been impressed upon us so much of late years that we believe intellectual spoon-meat to be the only food for what we are pleased to call ‘little minds.’ It is nothing to us that William Morris read his first Waverley Novel when he was four and had read the whole series by the time he was seven. He did not die of it, but lived and prospered; unlike that little Richard, son of John Evelyn, who died when he was five years and three days old, a thing not to be wondered at when we read that he had ‘a strong passion for Greek, could turn English into Latin and vice versa with the greatest ease,’ had ‘a wonderful disposition to Mathematics, having by heart divers propositions of Euclid’; but I quote little Richard (nobody could ever have called him Dick) by way of warning and not of example.”

“Shakespeare-and-Wordsworth-boost-the-brain Reading challenging works by the greatest writers in the English language such as Shakespeare’s King Lear and Philip Larkin’s poetry provides a ‘rocket-boost’ to the brain that cannot be matched by more simplistic modern books, research suggests.
The research also found poetry, in particular, increased activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, an area concerned with ‘autobiographical memory’, which helped the reader to reflect on and reappraise their own experiences in light of what they had read. The academics said this meant the classics were more useful than self-help books.
Philip Davis, an English professor who worked on the study with the university’s magnetic resonance centre, said: ‘Serious literature acts like a rocket-booster to the brain.
‘The research shows the power of literature to shift mental pathways, to create new thoughts, shapes and connections in the young and the staid alike.’
Volunteers’ brains were scanned while reading four lines by Wordsworth: “She lived unknown and few could know, when Lucy ceased to be. But she is in her grave and oh, the difference to me.”
Four ‘translated’ lines were also provided, including, ‘She lived a lonely life in the country, and nobody seems to know or care, but now she is dead, and I feel her loss’.
The first version caused a greater degree of brain activity, lighting up not only the left part of the brain concerned with language, but also the right hemisphere that relates to autobiographical memory and emotion.”

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Some Historical Background info on CM, PNEU

A follow up from Monday– For CM wonks, history buffs, and education nerds and geeks:

In 1908, the Journal of Education reported on THE MORAL EDUCATION CONGRESS (Wikipedia link for background), which held its first meeting:
“THE First International Moral Education Congress met Friday, September 25 in the Great Hall of the University of London. The hall was full to overflowing….

“Addressing in French the members of the Latin nations, the PRESIDENT [Sir Michael Ernest Sadler] said: The object of the meeting was to consider how best to make the high principles of morality prevail in the work of our schools. In solving this, the most serious of problems, each nation could take part and contribute its particular share of experience….”

“…In conclusion, he suggested three practical points deserved special consideration; the size of classes, instruction in morals in training colleges and the work of a continuation school.”

In the Journal of Education’s (volume XXX,  Oxford University Press, 1908) report, we have summaries and notes from each of the talks. the conference lasted from Friday thru Tuesday, with no meetings on Sunday. Topics were wide-ranging- the ethics of classroom pets, whether Bible had a place or not (some said yes, some said no, some said something in between), eugenics, playgrounds, co-ed schools, and more. For instance:

“Public Elementary Schools: Mr. HoLE, Vice President of the National Union of Teachers, apologized for the unavoidable absence of Mr. Nicholls, the President whose place he was deputed to fill. He asked the Congress not expect too much from elementary teachers. Their material was drawn from most unpromising homes, they had only twenty seven and a half hours a week for the whole curriculum, and the rest of their pupils time was spent mainly in the streets. He deprecated any fixed and systematic lessons in morals. The boy was a healthy animal and hated being preached at. Their two desiderata were good teachers and small classes. At present 30 per cent of their teachers had no business at all in schools, and instead of classes of thirty as a maximum, classes of sixty to one hundred were common. Elementary teachers were content to take the Bible as a text book and they found in the New Testament a code of morals not second to any that this Congress could hope to develop.
“Japan: M. NAGAYA read a paper contributed by M. Hojo on the moral principles underlying Japanese education. These were loyalty and filial piety, two aspects of the same principle; devotion to the Emperor as the embodiment of the State, and veneration of ancestors as comprehending all the virtues of the private citizen.”
Also: “Miss Amy Locke pleaded for the teaching of anatomy as showing the importance of physical training, and as tending to destroy the influence of inartistic and injurious fashions in dress. This was especially important for girls in elementary schools. She also urged the advantage of good music not only for drill purposes but throughout school life.”

Quite the variety.  Now, Miss Mason was to present a paper here (which you can read here). However, in another, more official report on the congress- the “RECORD OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL MORAL EDUCATION CONGRESS HELD AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON SEPTEMBER 25 29TH 1908, in a summary of the ‘Seventh Session,’ held on Tuesday morning of the September 29th, I found this reference to Miss Mason and the PNEU:

“RELATION OF MORAL EDUCATION TO EDUCATION UNDER OTHER ASPECTS: The Hon. Mrs Franklin, representing the Parents National Education Union in the absence of Miss Charlotte Mason, claimed that their society made a practical effort to bring about co-operation between school and home. If good literature were more used in school, a means of home co-operation was at once provided since parents also could read good books and discuss them with the children. There could be no greater divorce between school and home than that the child should hear at home nothing of the subjects talked of at school, but only discussion of other people’s faults or of the amusements of the hour. Then the development of nature study and hand-work afforded another bond to connect the parent with the teacher. It was good indirect moral education for a parent to share the love and the study of nature with his child. The same applied to picture talks, lessons in music, architecture, etc. The home should also share in direct moral instruction, if the parents knew the children’s books better they could discuss heroes and heroines and their conduct. Miss Yonge’s stories were unsurpassed for this purpose. Miss Mason’s book Ourselves could also be recommended.”

So reads the society’s official record, and I found no reference to Mason herself presenting.  In the Journal of Education, there is no mention of Mrs. Franklin’s pinch hitting for Miss Mason, however, they do report that  in the final sessions, held Tuesday afternoon, Miss Mason herself presented a paper, curiously similar to the one read by Mrs. Franklin in subject matter. Also, in spite of the wide range of unrelated topics squeezed into the conference, the writer considered Masons paper irrelevant!  Here is a report on Mason, as well as those who gave talks before and after her.  I share them because it is unclear to me what could possibly be irrelevant.
cm 1908 ed conference speech

“Tuesday’s Sectional meeting opened with a big program, no less than Biology and Moral Education. Dr. QUERTON of the Historical Institute, Brussels, delivered an address on Les Bases Scientifiques de la Morale, wherein he deplored the neglect of biology in the curriculum of training colleges and strongly emphasized the need for a science of pédotechniques as comprising a résumé of methods employed in education.

Miss CHARLOTTE MASON’s paper on Children’s Books was somewhat irrelevant, but showed a real enthusiasm for her subject, and she reminded her hearers of the value of certain types of books for children, such as those written by the late Miss CM Yonge.

Prof DE VUYST made a gallant attempt to reproduce in English his address on Co operation between School and Home Methods and thereby secured the sympathy of his hearers.

Miss HoskyNs ABRAHALL touched a suggestive theme in The Unfolding of Character from the Biological Point of View and noted the subconscious preparation that goes on in a child’s life for the stage to follow it. This she contended should induce educationists to look ahead in their methods and forestall the child’s development.

Mr WB DRUMMOND of Edinburgh had likewise some suggestive remarks to offer about The Stages of Development in Childhood and Adolescence and submitted data for determining the characteristics of successive periods of development in a child’s life.

Eugenics and Moral Education was the text of Dr J.W. SLAUGHTER, who dilated on the relation of eugenics to moral education and suggested that a more serious facing of responsibilities was the best means of combating the degeneration of the western races, which he regarded as a conclusion based upon undisputed facts.

Her somewhat broken English rather handicapped Miss CHARLOTTE DE GEOCZE’s interesting remarks on Environment and Moral Development. She demanded that society and the State alike should create such institutions as were most calculated to repair the moral damage wrought in the child’s soul by the sins of society while fully admitting the influence of such agents as family and school life on the child as well as social and national tendencies.

Dr. LOUISE APPEL’s observations were a commentary on some of the preceding speaker’s remarks and embodied an eloquent plea for better social conditions, whilst deprecating the exchange of the old moral code and principles for newer but less trustworthy ethical bases.

The psychological note was struck by Miss MARY DAVIES, who emphasized the need of more psychology in our educational ideals, seeing that the child is but a psychological embryo whose matrix is society.”

Now, here is something that struck me- and I have to wonder if this reporter even attended Mason’s section. The congress provided short descriptions of each talk and passed them out to reporters. I imagine they also distributed information on scheduled talks ahead of time. Here’s the
summary given for Mason’s paper:

“Miss Charlotte M. Mason says that children should get their knowledge out of books. The books should be mostly of a sort that could be read with interest at any age. Therefore, they should be such that parents may read them also and discuss them with animation.”

The educaTional Times on The moral educaTion congressAs you see here, others at the time also found the subject matter rather disjointed.

I suspect our reporter skipped out on the last day of talks and made up her report on the proceedings based on guess work and a bit of an ongoing feud the Journals of Education people had with Charlotte Mason and her PNEU.

As for why the Journal of Education editer singled out Miss Mason this way, she seems to have gotten under their skin some time previously:

The Journal of education, Volume 11, Dec. 1890:

“During the last month, there has been a mission week in London. The missioner was Miss Charlotte Mason, of Bradford, and the object of the mission was the casual parent. The Parents National Educational Union is the title of the Society which is to be founded or has been founded. We are doubtful what tense we ought to use, for though we are informed that there are already several flourishing branches, the parent society (with a small p) has yet to be constituted, and we have only a draft proof of the articles of association. It would not be fair to criticize these or the accompanying manifesto, but as at present advised, we fail to see the ration d’etre of the new society, or what it can do that might not be better done by the Teachers Guild, the Teachers Training and Registration Society, and the Froebel Society.

“Oh, those parents!” was the favourite ejaculation of a once famous headmaster, and the same note is repeated by Miss Mason in sorrow, not in anger. But the British parent is not a gregarious animal, and though mothers meetings may flourish by help of tea and prospective flannel petticoats, we doubt whether colleges, associations, classes, lectures for parents or those of an age to become parents, will attract mothers, let alone fathers, though warned by Miss Mason that upon them the responsibility of the world’s future rests.”

Rather condescending, yes?

A response, From January, 1890:


To the Editor of the Journal of Education

Sir:  In your notice of last month you have hardly done justice to Miss Charlotte Mason and her Mission. Her work is quite distinct from that of the Teachers Guild,  as her object is to bring parents fully to realize the extent of their opportunities as regards the early training of their children and to help them to help themselves in laying the foundations wisely and well of their children’s characters. This is even more important, I venture to think, than any work yet attempted by the Guild, as it goes to the root of all education, and every teacher knows that the most serious drawback he has to contend with is the neglect or misdirectiou of early training in his pupils. I do not object to the term mission as applied by you to Miss Mason’s London meetings, for she is strongly possessed with the importance of her subject, and whatever she says is full of light and leading to all who care for their children and for education. Moreover, Miss Mason is a lady of literary ability who can convey her ideas in an attractive form and she will not fail to make herself heard. That she was not very favourably received by the London representatives of the Teachers Guild is a reflection upon the Guild rather than upon Miss Mason, and I can only hope that a more generous feeling will prevail in the recognition of a movement which Miss Mason has had the insight to inaugurate, and which she is seeking to spread at a great personal sacrifice of time and money.  It is true that she resides in Bradford, but this is not the first time that Bradford has made its mark in the development of English education.

I am Sir, yours faithfully,

W.H. KEELING, Headmaster of the Bradford Grammar School

And here we have the Journal’s rather testy response to Keeling:

“Mr. Keeling has formed a wholly erroneous notion as to the attitude of the Teachers Guild to the Parents National Educational Union. At the first meeting of the Parents Union, a member of the Guild Council took the chair; the second meeting was held at Miss Buss’s schools, also a member of the Guild Council, and of the five speakers who pleaded the cause of the Union, four were prominent members of the Teachers Guild.

The plain truth is that the movement failed in London not from any opposition on the part of the Guild, nor from any jealousy of the provinces, but from the indefiniteness of the draft scheme and the unbusiness-like order of proceedings. It was proposed to form branches before the parent Society had been constituted. To the first and only meeting of the General Council, the general public were invited and no attempt was made to formulate a constitution or to elect officers.

Let us make our own attitude towards the Parents Union perfectly clear. To arouse parents to their responsibilities, to instruct them in their duties, and to make them fellow workers with the professed teachers of their children, is indeed, as Mr. Keeling says, a more important work than any yet attempted by the Teachers Guild.  But we hold that this work is distinctly included within the objects of the Guild as defined by its Articles of Association, the first two of which are, briefly, “to provide the public with the means of forming sound judgments on educational matters” and to circulate information regarding educational methods.  Societates non sunt multiplicandae praeter necessitatem* and we see no reason why Miss Mason’s work should not be merged in that of the Guild, just as that of the old Education Society has been. Miss Mason’s provisional Council is largely recruited from that of the Guild. What just cause or impediment is there why it should not form itself into a Parents’ Committee of the Guild?”

*IMHO, a loose paraphrase of the Latin here would be ‘we speak Latin, so neener, neener.’

It seems they have a bone or two with which to pick, and from my perch it come across as they want to be the boss and be seen as the recognized authorities, and they don’t like upstarts who aren’t professional, degreed, educators  getting too big for their  britches and going off and doing their own thing without oversight from the the Teachers Guild.  Mason was a teacher, but her credentials were about as slim as they could be.

However she and her society persevered, and sixteen years later we find this:


Aug. 1906;

To the Editor of The Journal of Education
We ask you to allow us to draw attention through your columns to a valuable educational experiment which has been going on long enough now to establish a definite result, and which we venture to think is deserving of attention from all those who are interested in the advance of education in this country.
About fifteen years ago Miss Mason, of the House of Education, Ambleside, began to organize the teaching given in private schoolrooms with a view to raising the standard of the work done to that accomplished in the best schools. The machinery by which she has achieved her purpose has been very simple/ She has trained a certain number of governesses at Ambleside on her own lines, but she has not confined her work to their schoolrooms. A suitable time-table and scheme of work in four grades may be had by any member of the Parents National Educational Union under certain conditions; and the five hundred schoolrooms odd that have adopted her scheme form what is known as the Parents Union School. The experiment to which we allude has been carried out in this school for fifteen years, and its success has led Miss Mason to submit her results to the profession with a view to their wider adoption. We are among those whom she was good enough to invite to a conference held at the House of Education at Whitsuntide, and we desire to record our sense of the value of her experiment as regards the literary side of a child’s education.

The curriculum of the Parents Union School is very wide. and includes all the subjects ordinarily taught in schools, besides handwork, physical exercises &c. The originality lies in the methods of work prescribed by Miss Mason with regard to English subjects. Miss Mason bases all humanistic work on a study of history, and from the earliest age devotes much time to it, demanding from the first independent study on the part of the child. The books he is to use are selected with the greatest care; mere text-books and readers are discarded, and those of living interest chosen. Miss Mason allots a certain portion for the study of each class each term; the child reads part of this daily in lesson hours, and the teacher’s function is confined to directing the work, inspiring interest, and setting some test that demands reflection, eg calling on the child from time to time to narrate something of what he has read. During the term a great deal of ground is covered, and towards the end a few test questions sent by Miss Mason are answered, children who are too young to write dictating their answers to others.
Some hundreds of these answers were submitted to us for inspection and we are of opinion that they bear out Miss Mason’s belief that her system has succeeded; 1) in forming habits of concentration and of independent study at an early age; 2) in overcoming to a large extent the difficulties of English composition and spelling; 3) in imparting a considerable amount of knowledge of various kinds. We watched a small school at work on Miss Mason’s system and discussed freely with her various questions that were raised. Her testimony was supported by those present, who as parents or teachers had personal knowledge of the work, and in particular by the head-masters of two preparatory schools who have adopted the Parents Union scheme for their lower classes. Detailed information may be obtained from the Hon Secretary Mrs Franklin, 50 Porchester Terrace, London W.

Signed WC CoMPTON, Head Master Dover College
B FIELD HALL Principal High Cliff School Scarborough
MARGARET I GARDINER Head Mistress St Felix School Southwold
ETHEL GAv IN Head Mistress Notting Hill High School London
WCH GIBBs Principal Sloane Street Preparatory School
SW CECIL GRANT Head Master Keswick School
BERTRAM HAWKER Member of Education Committee South Australian Government F HAwkesworth
The Vicarage Ambleside LionEL HELBERT Principal West Downs Preparatory School Winchester
S HERON Head Mistress Wyggeston Girls High School Leicester
JULIA F Huxley Principal Prior’s Field Godalming
L KJELLBERG Principal Fridhem King’s Lynn
C LowRY Head Master Sedbergh School
ER MURRAY Lecturer Maria Grey Training College
MARY WOLSELEY LEWIS Head Mistress Church England High School Eaton Square SWE WoodHouse Head Mistress Clapham High School London
SWJ WYNNE EDwARDs Head Master Leeds Grammar School July 4 1906

Vol. 12, 1890;


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Newly (re)discovered Charlotte Mason paper

mental vacuity quoteHere is a paper Mason presented in 1908 to the first meeting of: THE MORAL EDUCATION CONGRESS (Wikipedia link for background).  I will be sharing more about how and why I stumbled across it in another post. Meanwhile, CM Geeks, and most especially, I believe, those with connections to CM schools, cottage or private, or charter, I think you will enjoy:


Children should get their knowledge where for the most part we get our own — out of books. We receive a certain degree of mental titillation and interest, no doubt, from lectures, but, for the clear and definite understanding of a subject, we go to the best book to be had on that subject, and children should do the same. They are the true encyclopaedists, demanding knowledge of many subjects; and for each subject they should have a whole book, or several books, the best books (in so far as these are of a literary character) and complete books, to be read all through chapter by chapter, each chapter (or part of a chapter) to be known at a single reading.

In the habit of reading we get that bridge which should connect school and home. A boy should collect between 200 and 300 volumes, which he has read and knows, during his school career. Hardly any of these, not even the books he had as a little fellow of seven, should be of a sort that he would not turn over with interest at any time of his life. [Reminds one of C. S. Lewis, ‘No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.’]  Therefore they are such as his parents may read with interest and discuss with animation.
Here we at once get co-operation, resting on a sound intellectual basis, between home and school. Such co-operation would be more immediate in the day, than in the boarding-school; but in the latter case, too, the gradual growth of the young scholar’s library would be watched by his parents with very great interest. It is commonly supposed that parents will not buy books, but, from perhaps unusually wide experience in this matter, I can say that it very seldom happens that a parent is unwilling to buy a desirable book. He does not care to buy books that are of no earthly use or interest to anybody outside the school-room, but these need be but a negligible quantity.
Having made out his curriculum for each class, allowing a score or two of books for each boy, according to class, which he requires the parents to buy in the holidays that they may have an opportunity of looking them over in advance, it seems to me that the teacher of the day-school might yet do something more to secure intellectual co-operation between school and home.
For instance, the parents of children of seven would like to see reproductions of the half-dozen pictures by Titian, or Corot, or Rembrandt, which their child is to study that term ; to be reminded of the ” Pilgrim’s Progress,” and to hear a stirring page from the ” Heroes of Asgard.” Mrs. Frewen Lord’s “Tales from St. Paul’s” would be as interesting to the parents as to their boys and girls, and so, too, would a slight summary of the work to be done in the term. An illustrative passage, read here and there from the children’s look would, I believe, be found of very great interest to parents; while, as for the “pacing,” painting, singing, clay-modelling, drill and so on, these things are usually interesting.
The interest of the parents in the school-work should naturally increase as the children get older. Thus, for children of nine or ten, a passage from Plutarch’s ” Alexander ” might be read with a little resume of the whole ; from Shakespeare’s Richard III. ; from Lytton’s ” The Last of the Barons ” ; telling passages from their histories of England and of France ; from Buckley’s ” Life and Her Children ; ” from a description of Herefordshire, and so on, with in each case a slight résumés of the term’s work ; and a few words on the handicrafts, pictures to be studied, drawing, singing, to be accomplished in the term, would be likely to interest parents.
Now we come to what might be called the middle school (boys and girls ranging from about twelve to fifteen), where the books increase in interest. Morals are definitely studied, and a passage from “Ourselves,” or any text-book in use, might be read. Also, passages from Macaulay’s “Essay on Olive,” from their books on French and English history, from ” Kedgauntlet,”[sic, Redgauntlet, by Sir Walter Scott] from” Paul et Virginie ” (with an outline of the story), etc.
Class IV., the upper school (from fifteen to eighteen), affords, besides work in classics, modern languages and mathematics, much delightful reading ; for example, Maurice’s ” Prophets and Kings,” Ethics (Aristotle), Trench’s ” Past and Present,” ” Emma,” The School for Scandal, Coleridge, ” The Life of Queen Louisa of Prussia,” ” The Household of the Lafayettes ” — according to the period in Green’s ” Shorter History,” in the history of Modern Europe, and in De Tocqueville’s ” L’Ancien Regime,” which they may be studying.

A short account of that part set for the term in some half-dozen such books, with illustrative readings, would be found stimulating and interesting.
I have not tried evenings of the kind with parents, but believe the idea would commend itself to teachers. The books mentioned are from the curriculum for one term in a school which is now doing its fifty-first term’s work on the lines I have indicated with cordial co-operation on the part of parents.
The terminal examination-answers which are sent home to the parents uncorrected, but reported upon, also tend to happy co-operation. I know of one large preparatory day-school where nearly half the little boys are too young to write steadily for a week long together, though they delight in their examinations. The master has hit upon the happy device of asking mothers, schoolboy brothers, governesses, etc., to come and write at the little fellows’ dictation. Aond —
Still the wonder grew
How one small head could carry all he knew!

[Oliver Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village)]

I have confined myself in the above short paper to the means of securing intellectual co-operation between home and school; and, I believe, the whole question turns on the use of hooks, many living, delightful books. One more point I should like to urge. A wider curriculum, based on books, affords in itself a sound and broad moral training, not only because most of the books read are profitable “for example of life and instruction in manners,” [as Jerome said about the apocryphal books]  but also because mental vacuity is a fertile source of wrong-thinking and wrong- doing. [Emphasis added.]
May I repeat that the kind of education I suggest (which is, of course, followed to some extent in all good schools) rarely fails to meet with a sympathetic response from parents. They find their children such interesting companions, and many of the school studies are of a sort in which they can themselves participate. The books supply a channel for intellectual interests between the school and the home. (and nothing is really learned without interest!)
I may add that to read many books takes less time than does the writing required by the curricula of most schools. There need be no home-work and the afternoon should be devoted to field-work and handicrafts, so that only the morning school-hours are spent in study. I have made no mention of studies except such as, because they are literary, may induce the co-operation of parents.”

Note: While Mason’s words here are in the public domain, if you’re going to quote the above, please do give proper credit as to where you found it. It took me some effort to unearth it and clean it up.- and annotate.
Posted in Charlotte Mason, Uncategorized | 1 Response

Cow Frieze

cow frieze


Click to enlarge. Colour as desired.  Match with other barn animal friezes here on teh blog.




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The Elephant In The Room Might Need To Leave

vote-1190034_1280Permit me to go all historian nerd here for a brief bit. Many conservative voters act as if the Republican Party has been around since, well, God. Or at least George Washington. The fact is that the GOP was founded in 1854… and not with some fancy hoopla and roll-out. Nope. Thirty men were angry with the Whigs (a party that had itself only formed in the 1830’s) and gathered to discuss starting something different.

Why were they angry? Because the Whigs were going soft on slavery. Because the Whigs were compromising where the anti-slavery (ie, pro-liberty) members held inviolate principles of freedom and justice toward humankind.

They ran a presidential candidate in 1856, two years after forming. He lost. A democrat, Buchanan, won… and he was rather a sorry president for a sorry time in American history.
Four years later, Lincoln won the presidency as the first Republican president. I do not want to sidetrack this discussion into the merits of his approach to slavery, to the South, to the Civil War, or to Reconstruction. That is a very long bunny-trail that has no place here and now.

What does have a place? The reminder that it only took a few men to begin something that so fundamentally changed the country. Knowing that these men were angry enough about what the government was doing that they worked on a different track, despite being in the minority.

Throughout time, the Republican party has worked hard to be on the side of civil rights. That is worth celebrating. But at no point in time does any member of a political party owe the party anything. A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. The party exists for the citizen, not the citizen for the party (yes, I stole that from a reference to a kingdom much more important).

Is the Republican party representing its base? Really? Or is their sales tactic simply, “Keep Hillary out of office?” If it is, they’re failing us. Hillary is scary. I know this… but so is sacrificing more liberty as a stopgap measure. How many sacrifices must we make before we’re no different than the her? Why can’t we cry “Freedom!” and fight for something else? Those 30 men in 1854 did… and I somehow think we’d be honoring their labors more by refusing to just accept the party’s call than by letting the party drag on as it is now.

I think Austin Petersen is doing a great job crying “Freedom!,” btw… but he’s not the only candidate out there making that call, and I think we owe it to ourselves, to those early Republicans, and to our children to find them.

Links for Further Reading:
The Birth of the Republican Party

YouTube Video, 1856 Election

Republican Party Founded

The Whig Party

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