Thursday, April 3, 2014

Commonplace Entry - John Ruskin

With affection and regard,

Photo and editing creds to Katie.  Book selection - me.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Composition Advice from a Science Book - Language as the Clothing of Thought

Are ideas wanting in your homeschool?  If so, you will find composition challenging. Composition starts with oral narration, copy work, recitation, and then dictation from the best writing available.  These things continue throughout their schooling, adding new layers every year.  Grammar is important, yes, but read what the beloved Fabre has to say about it in relation to writing.

Grammar cannot teach one to write.  It teaches us to make a verb agree with its subject, an adjective with a substantive, and other things of that kind.  It is very useful, I admit, for nothing is more displeasing than to violate the rules of language; but that does not impart the gift of writing.  There are people whose memories are crammed with rules of grammar, who, like you, stop short at the first word.

Language is in some sort the clothing of thought.  We cannot clothe what does not exist; we cannot speak or write what we do not find in our minds.  Thought dictates and the pen writes.  When the head is furnished with ideas, and usage, still more than grammar, has taught us the rules of language, we have all that is necessary to write excellent things correctly.  But, again, if ideas are wanting, if there is nothing in the head, what can you write?  How are these ideas to be acquired?  By study, reading, and conversation with people better instructed than we.

-Jean Henri Fabre, The Story Book of Science, "The Book"

I am reading this to my 10dd and we are enjoying it so much.  This particular, outdated chapter was about how paper was made from cloth rags years ago.  "But isn't paper made from trees?"she asked.  Which led her down a most interesting rabbit trail of her own.  When it came time to narrate the above passage, she didn't skip a beat and spoke as someone who knew how true it was.  She has only written a few narrations on her own, but she is not lacking for ideas!

Here is a little more about composition from an older post, Scintillations From Their Own Genius.

With affection and regard,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

First Day of Spring is March 20th!

From The Friendly Year by Henry Van Dyke
Isn't that the truth?  We were able to enter "saw our first robin" in our Book of Firsts on Tuesday, March 18th.



Monday, March 10, 2014

Women as Persons (Mothers' Education Course Part II)

 Vilma Reading a Book by T.F. Simon,  1912
Charlotte Mason was one of the first to recognize the importance of women and their role in educating the next generation, whether in the classroom or in the home.  Here again I find she was ahead of her time and I'm so grateful.  As a homeschooling parent, I find so much of the materials out there to be over-simplified, as if I couldn't figure the out the most simple of instructions and needed to be told in monosyllabic words.  This, in turn, results in dry, lifeless materials.  Not so with Mason.  She respected the intelligence of women and their capacity to learn and live.  She treated mothers as persons and this shines through in her Mothers' Education Course.

I started thinking more about this after writing this post .  The Mothers' Education Course (M.E.C.) was also known as the P.N.E.U. Reading Course (For Mothers and Girls over 18).  It continued for about 23 years, from 1891 to 1915, ending with the crisis of WWI.  Participants were expected to read 120 pages a week for 10 months with examinations twice a year.  The price was membership in the P.N.E.U. and postage.

The pamphlet states that the course offers:

       1. Help towards such teaching as should confirm children in the Christian Religion.
2. Some knowledge of the principles of Education and the methods based on those principles.
3. Knowledge necessary for the care and development of children in sickness and health, together with some help in matters of Home-Craft.
4. Some knowledge of Nature lore and Elementary Science.
Here is the examination sheet which shows the 4 areas of study included in the course:  Divinity, Physiology and Health, Mental & Moral Science and Education, Nature Lore and the Elements of Science. Note the Scale of Marks across the bottom!
Image used by permission from the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection, Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada

The materials used in the course were those worthy of a college course for sure.  I will share some of those in a later post.  I am thankful that Ms. Mason looked at women as persons - spiritual, emotional, and intellectual image bearers.  I hope to pass this whole-person identity on to my own children through what we do day-in and day-out.

With affection and regard,

You might enjoy reading the first in this series - Comprehensive Questions? (Mothers' Education Course Part I)