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.




Posted in crafts | 2 Responses

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

Posted in government | 2 Responses

Keep your books, records, DVDs and CDs.

“For about ten years, I’ve been warning people, “hang onto your media. One day, you won’t buy a movie. You’ll buy the right to watch a movie, and that movie will be served to you. If the companies serving the movie don’t want you to see it, or they want to change something, they will have the power to do so. They can alter history, and they can make you keep paying for things that you formerly could have bought. Information will be a utility rather than a possession. Even information that you yourself have created will require unending, recurring payments just to access.” ”

Read more.

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Let’s Revolt

Here is a great example of one of the things wrong with our legal and political climate.
Government controls the purse strings, so entities who really only wish to protect their financial bailiwick and act as gatekeepers get government to agree to tax, register, licence and fine anybody who enters ‘their’ field without their permission- in this case, forcing entrepreneurs who merely wash and then braid hair to spend money going to a specialized school to study areas which have nothing to do with washing or braiding hair, in order to get a licence (which must then be kept up to date) to do something totally unrelated to washing and braiding hair.

In this case, a woman is suing the state of Tennessee, and I hope she wins. Her sister, who’s writing her testimony is linked above, had a salon exclusively for washing and braiding hair, and she chose to close shop and move across the state line to avoid the onerous and totally unreasonable regulatory burden the state placed on her.

Our forefathers threw tea in the harbor over less.

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