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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Hands on Science in a CM Education

Most people who have heard anything about Charlotte Mason and science know that nature study is largely the focus in the early years- and this is definitely true.  Much has been written about this.
But just as narration, while inherently a part of a Charlotte Mason Education,  is not the only way to use books, there is more to the early science studies than birds, bugs, and flowers (although let me stress again that these are absolutely vital to a CM education, indeed, to any well rounded education).  But there is also something more.
In Charlotte Mason’s Home Education, the book she wrote for educating children 9 and under, she presents the work of a village schoolteacher named Mr.Richard Dawes as a good example for science teaching in the younger grades. I’ll quote from that in a moment.
The Right Reverend Dawes was a bit more than a local school schoolmaster. Later he would serve as Dean of Hereford until his death.  His work as a ‘village schoolmaster’ occurred when he served as Rector at King’s Somborne, Hampshire, where he established and taught in the first and only school in the parish.  He developed many educational ideas not commonly  found in schools at the time, and he put into practice his somewhat radical (for the time) views on education and the poor (such as charging his students on a sliding scale, and permitting parents to exempt their children from teaching on the catechism if their own consciences forbade it).

One Mr. Moseley in the minutes of the Committee of Council on Education 1847 described the parish at Kings Somborne as:
 “parish thoroughly demoralized by the operation of the old Poor Law… I have reason to believe that there was no parish in the surrounding district which stood in respect to the character of its inhabitants so low. The wages of a labourer vary from 65 to 9s a week. There is no person resident in the place above the condition of the farmer except the rector.” 
Reverend Dawes’ work at the school gained renown, as he accomplished things nobody thought possible with his rural students in a backwards area.
In the field of sciences, his goal was to teach:
“…what may be called the philosophy of common things of everyday life. They were shown how much there is that is interesting, and which it is advantageous for them to know, in connection with the natural objects with which they are familiar; they had explained to them, and were made acquainted with, the principles of a variety of natural phenomena, as well as the principles and construction of various instruments of a useful
kind. A practical turn was given to everything the uses and fruits of the knowledge they were acquiring were never lost sight of.”
“Some of the properties of air, explaining how its pressure enables them to pump up water, to amuse themselves with squirts and popguns, to suck up water through a straw; explaining also the principles and construction of a barometer, the common pump, the diving-bell, a pair of bellows. That air expands by heat, shown by placing a half-blown bladder near the fire, when the wrinkles disappear. Why the chimney-smoke sometimes rises easily in the air, sometimes not; why there is a draught up the chimney, and under the door, and towards the fire. Air as a vehicle of sound, and why the flash of a distant gun fired is seen before the report is heard; how to calculate the distance of a thunderstorm; the difference in the speeds at which different materials conduct sound. Water and its properties, its solid, fluid, and vaporous state; why water-pipes are burst by frost; why ice forms and floats on the surface of ponds, and not at the bottom; why the kettle-lid jumps up when the water is boiling on the fire; the uses to which the power of steam is applied; the gradual evolution of the steam-engine, shown by models and diagrams; how their clothes are dried, and why they feel cold sitting in damp clothes; why a damp bed is so dangerous; why one body floats in water, and another sinks; the different densities of sea and fresh water; why, on going into the school on a cold morning, they sometimes see a quantity of water on the glass, and why on the inside and not on the outside; why, on a frosty day, their breath is visible as vapour; the substances water holds in solution, and how their drinking water is affected by the kind of soil through which it has passed. Dew, its value, and the conditions necessary for its formation; placing equal portions of dry wool on gravel, glass, and the grass, and weighing them the next morning. Heat and its properties; how it is that the blacksmith can fit iron hoops so firmly on the wheels of carts and barrows; what precautions have to be taken in laying the iron rails of railways and in building iron bridges, etc.; what materials are good, and what bad, conductors of heat; why at the same temperature some feel colder to our touch than others; why a glass sometimes breaks when hot water is poured into it, and whether thick or thin glass would be more liable to crack; why water can be made to boil in a paper kettle or an eggshell without its being burned. The metals, their sources, properties, and uses; mode of separating from the ores. Light and its properties, illustrated by prisms, etc; adaptation of the eye; causes of long and short-sightedness. The mechanical principles of the tools more commonly used, the spade, the plough, the axe, the lever, etc.”
“It may surprise some who read carefully the above list that such subjects should have been taught to the children of a rural elementary school. But it is an undeniable fact that they were taught in Kings Somborne School, and so successfully that the children were both interested and benefited by the teaching. Mr. Dawes, in answer to the objection that such subjects are above the comprehension of the young, said:––
‘The distinguishing mark of Nature’s laws is their extreme simplicity. It may doubtless require intellect of a high order to make the discovery of these laws; yet, once evolved, they are within the capacity of a child,––in short, the principles of natural philosophy are the principles of common sense, and if taught in a simple and common-sense way, they will be speedily understood and eagerly attended to by children; and it will be found that with pupils of even from ten to twelve years of age much may be done towards forming habits of observation and inquiry.’ Such a fact, I think, suggests some valuable practical lessons for those who have the responsibility of deciding what subjects to include in an educational system for children.”
Charlotte Mason acknowledged that in reading about the late Dean Dawes, a parent’s first impression would be an urgent desire to hire somebody just like him to tutor our own children, and of course, that is beyond most of us.  Public schools are sometimes fortunate enough to find such a person to teach their science courses, but just as often fail.
If we can’t hire somebody like Richard Dawes, she encourages us to recognize that there is value first in being aware of the sorts of things they should know.  The list above is helpful as a starting hint, but not so much as a list of things to teach our own kiddies.  The *why* here is important- common things, familiar things, things in every day life, things it useful for them to know.  Some of the things listed above are still applicable, but many of them are no longer common or part of every day life- not many of our children have an open fire in the middle of their homes as the only source for fuel, for heat, for cooking.  There is little call for or opportunity to observe iron hoops on carts or barrows.
Miss Mason had a couple of recommendations- both out of print (one was out of print when she suggested it) and now out of date as well.  However, she does give us another big of guidance which still applies today:
“…nothing should be done without its due experiment. “
While there are many fun little books, websites, and television shows which may explain the sorts of everyday things and how they work, the children need to work things out themselves, in the round, so to speak.  A Charlotte Mason education is largely literature based, but it’s not only literature based. They need to be doing things as well.
I found a little biography of Dean Dawes online, and I think this paragraph describing his aims is very useful (the picture at the top of this post is taken from this statement):
More advanced pupils were initiated in the elementary truths of the physical sciences, especially in such as bore directly on the practical business of life… all illustrated as far as was practicable by simple and impressive experiments. In short, it was the grand object of Mr Dawes to rouse into activity the slumbering faculties of children, to teach them to observe for themselves the objects of common daily life, and to inspire them with an intelligent and thoughtful curiosity.
When my children were younger, this is what we used in the early years to accomplish the same goal:
It was a box of cards, 34 of them, with a few items that you might need to complete some of the activities.  It’s called How Things Work, part of a Adventures in Science collection by Educational Insights.
They do have new versions (I’ve had mine for at least 20 years), but in looking at the catalog, I don’t know that I like them as well. Part of that is a crotchety old “I dislike change” attitude.  But partly that is because some of those changes aren’t an improvement- there seems to be less emphasis on doing and more on reading and writing.  The reading and writing is appropriate in the later years, but for early years, children should be spending a lot of time actually doing things, not just reading about them, or, anathema, watching somebody else do things on an electronic screen.
The thing that impressed me with these simple little cards with their cartoon sketches in black and white is that the focus was on the doing, not the pictures, not the telling. The children thought about them, and later applied what they had done to their free play.
Learning is a powerful thing, and sometimes a little dangerous- it was during the weeks we were going through the cards on force and motion (pendulums, pulleys, levers, block and tackle) that our sixth child convinced our seventh to allow her to hoist him up into a tree using a rope and a branch as an improvised pulley to see it if it really was easier for her to lift him that way.
It was.
It was also easy to drop him that way, since her hands got sweaty and she loosened her hold on the rope to wipe them dry and get a better grip.  In previous experiments with the using the rope over a branch, the things she'd lifted were much lighter and so when she let go, they simply hung in place.  Her brother was heavier and so he fell, much like Winnie the Pooh falling through the bramble bush, only he fell through a lilac.

He was uninjured, other than a few scratches.  But I suspect that both of them have a deeper understanding of pulleys and how they work than most of their peers.

We eventually had to make a rule that those two could do nothing with a rope without checking with a parent first. You may also need to make a couple of rules for safety.  But children learn through trying things out, through making emotional connections, and through trial and error as much as they do through stories.  They really need both approaches.

Give them things to think about.  Ask aloud, "I wonder whether this toy car rolls faster on the floor or the carpet? "  Notice things- "That's interesting.  Have you noticed my church shoes are more slippery to walk in than my tennis shoes?"   "Why does this can make that hissing noise when I use a church-key can opener to open it?  "What would happen if we slid down this hill on a cardboard box?  What if we rubbed a candle on the bottom of the box?  Why?"

and then... do the things.

For further research check out these two websites:

Arvinda Gupta, science teacher in India, and his toys from trash (phenomenal!)
Application of physics in every day life

Books to look for (try the library or an internet library like archive.org, Hoopla, Overdrive, or Libby)

Junk Drawer Physics

Entertaining Science Experiments with Everyday Objects

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$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.  
   
 $5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal,   Feed Your Mind!  This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.

 $3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.

  $3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One!  Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation.   Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.

Picture Study!  Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00

Common Kitchen:  What's for lunch?  Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families?  What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing?  How can I accomplish all those things at once?  We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income.  I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world.  These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids.  Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions.  I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00



Thursday, March 28, 2019

Composition Suggestions from a CM trained Teacher

"Written composition begins to take the place of oral work in Class II."

What did that look like?

Have you ever wished you could hear directly from a teacher trained by Charlotte Mason?  Wouldn't like to hear how the method worked for her, how she implemented the philosophy and how she taught her students? 

We can!

The House of Education was the teaching school Mason established.  Here she shared her methods with young women who wanted to teach. She also had a dayschool where the methods could be put into practice. 


"In 1895, the House of Education Old Students' Association was formed to provide current and "old" students who were scattered abroad, opportunities to keep in touch and provide mutual support. In 1896 they began publishing the magazine, L'Umile Pianta, named after a plant growing near Ambleside, which Charlotte Mason admired for its ability to bend without breaking. " From the CharlotteMason Digital Collection at Archive.org

The students (current and graduated) also held conferences from time to time, and the conference talks often were reprinted in the magazine.  At the 1911 conference, House of Education graduate Miss H. H. Dyke spoke on Composition, Letter Writing, and Copywork. 

I think this will resonate with many frustrated parents:

 "In teaching in the Parents' Union School, the chief difficulty is lack of time. ... half an hour once a week (for composition) is surely very inadequate. There is no opportunity for the definite instruction which I strongly feel is desirable, nor for the criticism of essays already written, and the essay is of course necessarily written straight into the exercise book, instead of being read through and re-copied as I should like. The girls no doubt pick up expressions from their text books, and peculiarities of style but they do not make the progress they might, and their work nearly always bears the sign of haste. As this is one of the accusations commonly brought against the Parents' Union scheme, I very much hope that this point may afterwards be discussed. "more time, then, seems to me to be not only desirable, but absolutely necessary, and then I think a great deal of help could be given."

Her idea was that composition should be twice a week rather than once.  She doesn't want to lengthen the time period, she is keeping to moderately short lessons (they are shorter for lower grades, but gradually lengthen).

 She  further writes that upon leaving the training school:
 "we set out, perhaps, to teach Composition in the happy belief that no great art or skill was needed, but that, given interesting subjects and with good literature as their model, the children would acquire a good style without our help."

" I wonder whether any of you became conscious of being mistaken. Was it your experience, as I candidly confess it was mine, that though the children's vocabulary was enlarged by the use of books, yet they did not learn by nature the elementary rules of Composition?"

 This was not largely my experience. In proportion as I used Mason's methods and did not rely overmuch on audio books and did do copywork and dictation and required written narrations, those children developed a pretty good style without extra help. Those for whom I failed to use Mason's methods as thoroughly (we went through a very difficult patch of life while I was in the throes of untreated and overlooked PTSD), did not do as well.  But my family is not the only sample to consider.  We tend to be pretty verbal already.  So it's probably encouraging to know, if you feel like your kids needed a bit more instruction, there's an expert who agrees with you!

She says she believes there is room for a great deal of help to be given students learning composition. So what are her suggestions?  Perhaps she has some ideas that will work for you.

   Helping children keep a sense of proportion in their compositions: For example, in her observation,  the Class II students often lack a sense of proportion.  That is, they emphasize unimportant things and omit vital things.   Perhaps they spend a page on minutiae and irrelevant anecdotes and never remember to mention that the person they are writing about was the emperor of most of the known western world, or developed the airplane, or was a famous artist.

How can we fix that lack of proportion?  Dyke suggests giving them an outline of a simple story and letting them fill it in. Here I think it also works to let them write their own basic outline of a simple folk tale or news article of interest to them, or a fable from Aesop's, and then a few days later, have them use that outline to rewrite the story.  This is an old method that has helped many a writer build their skills.  Matt Whitling's Imitation in Writing series scripts this for you.  I wouldn't use the entire series, but if you're struggling you could try it for one term, or use it as a template or springboard for your own version.

She also suggests that they think of a general theme for the direction of their written narration (or composition) and instructing them to omit any anecdotes that have nothing to do with the overall idea.

Organizing their ideas:  Miss Dyke says it's most important to have the children write down a definite scheme before they begin- 'write down in the form of headings all that occurs to them on the subject, and then arrange these headings in their logical sequence.'  Have the students look over their headings with their general theme in mind and omit any that don't fit their theme.   She suggests only spending five minutes doing this since only 30  minutes is allotted to composition in a week.

 My personal suggestion is that you need not limit yourself so severely to something even Miss Mason's own trained teachers found onerous. You don't want to drag lessons out. You do want to quit while the students are still fresh.  But you might follow her suggestion and have two composition sessions in a week instead of one.

Here is another idea for helping students organize their ideas. This is not from Miss Dyke, another homeschooling mother shared this with me years ago.   Have your student write everything he wants to write on a topic in about 15 or 20 minutes- except the student must start each sentence on a new line, or better yet, double space the sentences, so each sentence is separated from the previous one by a blank line.   At the end of the alloted time, actually cut apart the sentences.  Now have the student rearrange the sentences so that like things go together- all the sentences about this topic or time period go together.  I sometimes told my children to think of the different ideas or topics as different types of fruit and they were sorting all the apples together, all the bananas together, etc.    Then try rewriting it by taping the sentence strips to another piece of paper, but in a better order.  If you run out of time, you can put the sentence strips in an envelope and do the reorganizing and taping a day or two later. 

Please do not overdo this.  I suspect if you try this two or three times over half a school year, your scholar will start to think about organizing his ideas before he writes, and he will have some notion of how to do this.   If you want to take it further, a few days after the cutting apart and rearranging, the student can make a freshly written copy, making improvements as they occur.  It's also a useful method for teaching students the concept of first drafts and rough drafts and that most writers (all good writers) rewrite.

   Other helps Miss Dyke suggests: '...some kind of introduction should be made heading up the theme itself; then the different facts are marshalled in order, a clear sequence of thought and a suitable proportion between the different parts of the essay being observed, and lastly a conclusion is drawn- e.g., the leading thought of the essay is given. The essay should if possible begin and end with an effective sentence. Use Bacon's essays for examples."
You can do this as your reading other things, too.  Keep your eyes open for good, striking opening and closing sentences, and occasionally comment on them when you see them.  Ask your student to watch for them, too.  You could make them a theme for copywork selections for a while, or commonplace books if your student has graduated to those.

 She also says, "Another valuable exercise is to read a speech from the newspaper, or to take any other suitable extract from literature- e.g. a complete and short episode from any classic, or one of Bacon's or Lamb's essays- and ask the children to extract the plan, writing down the chief points in the form of headings. They will very quickly learn to discriminate between a good and a bad speech, distinguishing one that is logical and forcible from another which, thought calculated to appeal to the uneducated will not prove to be sound logic if analysed."

With older students, this was sometimes what I requested for a narration- to write down the main points of a few of the paragraphs.

 She says to tell beginning students to use short sentences and to make their beginnings as varied as possible.

 Looking at a page of work from any good author and comparing the ways the sentences begin will show 'in what varied ways it is possible to start a sentence and the children will quickly notice how pleasing variety is to the ear."

 Paragraphs can be taught by using the 'headings' the children have used with outlines and writing plans. Show them that everything that they say that falls under one heading belongs in one paragraph, and when they start the next heading, everything they have to say should flow from that.

 Punctuation is best taught by 'careful observation when reading,' and the dictation lessons also give practice in this.

 Note that this implies the necessity of the students doing their own reading from actual pages which show punctuation. Too much reliance on audiobooks can cause problems in spelling and punctuation. Sometimes it cannot be helped, but it's important to be aware that Mason's method is based on seeing thousands of printed pages of proper punctuation demonstrated, so if you need audiobooks, you will also need a more direct approach to teaching punctuation.

Words fitly spoken:  Next she suggests teaching children the value of using the right words. "clearness is to be sought after before all things." One exercise to help develop clearness is, again,  to take a well written essay and require your student to write a one sentence summary of a paragraph.

Teach them the value of using the best word for the occasion. Once in a while have your student or class come up with a list of synonyms, then use them in the same sentence to see that words with similar meanings cannot necessarily be used precisely the same way.

 Teach them not to use long words unless they are the right words. Unless you are trying for comedy, 'The mayor was proceeding to his residence on his bicycle when he was precipitated from his machine, and sustained a fractured leg' is not better than 'while riding home, the Mayor fell from his bicycle and broke his leg.'

These helps for composition teaching should be used sparingly- don't throw all of them at a student at one time.  Focus on one of these tools for a few weeks, keeping the lessons to 30 minutes, give or take a couple minutes (but not much stretching beyond that).  It's better to have three 20 minutes lessons than one hour long session.  Spread them out, sometimes pointing things out naturally as they arise- copywork and dictation are opportunities to point out punctuation, dictation is helpful for paragraphs.  When you are struck by a particularly rich sentence, it's okay to say so.  Keep your own commonplace book and let your student see you sometimes stopping to write something down because you are so impressed by the power of the writing.  A little goes a long way, especially when spread over time, with regular, focused times of attention to the topic.

 Miss Dyke has other things to say.  "Blank Verse" she says, 'used to be included in the Programme as an occasional exercise for Class III and IV" she says the result is most unsatisfactory to both teacher and children if they have any literary feeling at all and she hopes it's completely removed from the programme because a children with any poetic talent will versify without encouragement, and for the rest- perhaps the amount of bad poetry (if it can be dignified by that name) produced nowadays should be a sufficient deterrent from encouraging everyone to think he is a poet. At any rate, I do not think  the time spent on this exercise is justified by the results, and I should reserve the writing of poetry until the power to write prose was greater."  I laughed aloud, although in the subsequent discussion it seems the consensus of her audience was disagreement, they liked blank verse assignments and wanted to continue them.

Nobody, however, seems to have accused her of being divisive, of not measuring up to Miss Mason's standards, of failing at CM.  They simply disagreed.


Footnotes:
H. H. Dyke, Ambleside Conference 1911, speaking on composition, narration and letterwriting L'Umile Pianta : For the Children's Sake. 1911, June. p. 1-76.

In the September, 1912 issue of L'umile Pianta, a letter from Helen Dyke is published. She writes of the Christian mission where she is working in India, in the town of Barisal, 200 miles from Calcutta.

She writes again in the May, 1914 issue, where she was then working with a new mission in Joharpar,  India, which she says is reached only by boat, because rice fields surround the place.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.  
   
 $5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal,   Feed Your Mind!  This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.



 $3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.


  $3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One!  Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation.   Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.

Picture Study!  Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00

Common Kitchen:  What's for lunch?  Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families?  What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing?  How can I accomplish all those things at once?  We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income.  I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world.  These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids.  Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions.  I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Choosing Your Own Artists for Picture Study

Following somebody else's selections for artists for picture study fashioned after Charlotte Mason has the advantage of saving you leg work, not limiting your children to the artists you know and /or like, and of saving you the fatigue of choosing.  But sometimes we like to make our own selections for various reasons, and that's fine, too.

I liked to choose an artist, if at all possible, by first looking at the artists who worked during the time period you were studying for history. You may prefer another basis-artists from a particular country or culture, artists who used a particular style, artists whose work will be on display at a museum you will be visiting later in the year. Of course, their work should be good, something worth seeing on its own merits.  

 Once you have a list of artists to choose from, apply these principles to the artworks and narrow your selection to about six works by a single artist.  You could do 7 or 9, or you could do 3-5, but six is a good number.  You do not want six works by six different artists just because all six artists are from the country you like.  This is because the purpose of picture study, among other things, is to expose the children to several works by the same artist so they become familiar with the style of a single artist.  They will later start to notice similarities and differences with other artists- this is the beginning of later art appreciation.  Six works by six different Ukrainian or Filipino artists can be a beautiful basis for choosing the prints to hang on your living room wall, but it's not a suitable collection for picture study.

In selecting our pictures, we should keep these things in mind (these are either direct quotes or paraphrases of Charlotte Mason's works):

1. The pictures should have a refining, elevating influence.

2. They should express great ideas, and this is more important than the technique.

3. The great ideas our art prints express might include "the great human relationships, relationships of love and service, of authority and obedience, of reverence and pity and neighbourly kindness; relationships to kin and friend and neighbour, to 'cause' and country and kind, to the past and the present."

4. Our art prints ought to put "our children in touch with the great thoughts by which the world has been educated in the past, and to keep . . . them in the right attitude towards the great ideas of the present" -- And bring us into the "world of beauty created for us by those whose Beauty Sense enables them not only to see and take joy in all the Beauty there is, but whose souls become so filled with the Beauty they gather through eye and ear that they produce for us new forms of Beauty."

Do our choices expose the children to those works of art which seek to "interpret to us some of the meanings of life?"
" . . . Fra Angelico will tell us of the beauty of holiness, that Giotto will confide his interpretation of the meaning of life, that Millet will tell us of the simplicity and dignity that belong to labour on the soil, that Rembrandt will show us the sweetness of humanity in many a commonplace countenance.
I can suggest a couple Japanese artists you might start with- just look for them at your library, and perhaps the library will have something else in the same area:
Hirochoge
Hiroshi 
Amazon has a History of Far Eastern Art by Sherman Lee that looks interesting. So does another History of Asian Art book by Dorinda Neave and Lara C.W. Blanchard


The artist -- " Reaching, that heaven might so replenish him, Above and through his art ," -- has indispensable lessons to give us . . . the outward and visible sign is of less moment than the inward and spiritual grace." Technique, no matter how brilliant, is not a substitute for expression of beauty, or one of those 'meanings of life' interpretations.

Let us choose pictures using this as a guideline: "Nothing can be a work of art which is not useful, that is to say, which does not minister to the body when well under the command of the mind, or which does not amuse, soothe, or elevate the mind in a healthy state." -- CM quoting William Morris

The works of art we choose should represent 'master ideas,' which the painter "works out, not in a single piece, but here a little and there a little, in a series of studies." The artist is "a teacher, who is to have a refining, elevating effect upon our coarser nature."

Our prints can also be chosen to help the children develop a love for the commonplace beauty of every day things -- "For it is true as Browning told us, -- For, don't you mark, we're made so that we love First when we see them painted, things we have passed Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see . . . . we learn to see things when we see them painted."

Our art prints should help our children develop an affinity for, an attraction to, the beautiful, the lovely, the pure, the refining -- because "education is concerned to teach him what pictures to delight in."

Use these principles to choose your other artists, always keeping in mind you want to have your children use picture study time to look at several works by the same artist over a period of several weeks. 



Additional information, references, and suggestions:

Most of the time people interested in pursuing their own artists for picture study are looking for diversity, multiculturalism, or representation since their family is multicultural.


I'm sure you will not be surprised to know that I have some suggestions.  However, while I have lived in two different Asian countries for a total of seven years, I have worked with a number of Asians from a third country for two years, and have a deep and crazy love for Asian culture and people, it's really not that easy for westerners with more academic interest than an actual real, long time, deep connection with a culture to choose the best it has to offer. Look for people steeped in the culture you are interested in for guidance.  My suggestions are just a starting place.

Do you have an art museum nearby? Spend a day visiting their African and Eastern exhibits,taking notes, absorbing styles and colours, and then look in the museum gift shop to see what they have by way of post cards and reference books you could use. If possible, you might ask if you can meet with the curator and ask for recommendations. 

Artists to consider: Hokusai  (note: he did magnificent nature paintings, and also erotic art, so you might not want to look him up, or any artist, with the kids over your shoulder)Hiroshige
Hiroshi

Remember what I said about needing a cultural connection with the culture for best results? I learned about Hokusai when I was in my twenties and we lived in Japan.  I could have and should have learned about him here in the U.S., because he is not obscure and unknown in the west , but if I was ever exposed to his works before we lived in Japan, and it's almost impossible that I wouldn't have,  I simply did not notice.  Incidentally, if you are using AO and reading George Washington's World, he is mentioned there.

History of Asian Art looks interesting.

Van Loon's The Arts has some eastern artists and information on architecture in eastern countries (no modern examples, of course, since it's an older book)

The Smithsonian says their Sackler gallery is the largest collection of Asian art in the U.S. https://www.freersackler.si.edu/

China: A History in Art by Bradley Smith and Wan-go Weng.

The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art (it's expensive, but maybe your library would carry it)

YOu can also put any artist you choose (including artists from AO's picture study line-up) into the search bar here: medievalpoc.tumblr.com to see if they have any works depicting non-Caucasians.

Many youngsters might like Ezra Tucker's work, especially the historical paintings of buffalo soldiers: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Ezra_Tucker
http://ezratucker.com/

I am fond of Young Man with a Bow by Hyacinthe Rigaud: http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com/image/173996616b058I also like the modern works of Kadir Nelson. 
You can see his work here: http://www.kadirnelson.com/gallery
We can't use them in AO's picture study because they are not public domain, but you could use them using the posted screen pictures.

I also like the work of the Dillons (he's from Trinidad)- mostly book illustrators but I really love their illustrations. 
They have a very charming interview here: http://www.locusmag.com/2000/Issues/04/Dillons.html
Some examples of their work here: http://linesandcolors.com/2009/05/13/leo-and-diane-dillon/


Fernando Amorsolo is a Filipino artist whose work I admire (what I like and know is not THE standard, but I can't share what I don't know that's why I encourage people to ask around and visit museums and talk to curators and see what your libraries have)

 Miguel Pou Becerra is a Puerto Rican artist a Puerto Rican AO mom shared on our fb group.

Henry Ossawa Tanner is an AFrican American artist worth considering.

Kahinde Wiley painted former President Obama's picture and Amy Sharrald painted the first Lady's. Both are contemporary black artists, so we can't use them for official picture study as the works are not public domain.  Kahinde is known for painting sperm into his works, so be forewarned. 

You might consider textile arts, such as the Story Cloths of the Hmong refugees.  Dia's Story Cloth is a picture book introduction.

I have chosen and shared several South American painters from the 17th century here.

For more on Charlotte Mason's philosophy when it comes to picture study and art, you should go to the source.  In other words,  please see Charlotte Mason's own books, in particular these sections:

Vol 1 pg 308-311
Vol 2, page 262
Vol 3 pg 77page 209page 239page 353ff
Vol. 4, pages 2-3, page 42page 4448-49
Vol 5 pg 231-236
Vol. 5 p 312-315
Vol. 6, pages 213-217
Vol. 6, page 275
Vol. 6 328-329
Picture Talk, Parents Review, Vol 17, 1906
Picture Talk, Parents Review, Vol. 12, 1901
Impressions of Conference Work with Class II (scroll down for two paragraphs about a specific picture talk given) A similar explanation and example is offered here.
Art and Literature in the Parents' Union School (the art/picture study section is midway down the page


For more helps, see: https://www.amblesideonline.org/ArtSch.shtml

 Remember, too, that you don't have to squeeze in everything that is worthwhile in the 12 years of formal schooling most of us have.  By introducing your children to these topics graciously, slowly, joyfully, giving them time to savour and contemplate, you are also opening the door to the world of art to them.   They will go on later and find other artists you never heard of that they enjoy. One of the richest blessings I have received as a retired homeschool mom is when my teens and adult children introduce me to an artist or composer they have discovered.  Don't panic about not being able to fit in every artist worth learning about.  Education is for life.

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$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.  
   
 $5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal,   Feed Your Mind!  This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.



 $3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.


  $3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One!  Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation.   Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.

Picture Study!  Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00

Common Kitchen:  What's for lunch?  Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families?  What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing?  How can I accomplish all those things at once?  We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income.  I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world.  These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids.  Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions.  I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Shakespeare before form four?

From time to time we are asked why we do Shakespeare via Lamb's before form 4.  Often we will hear a firm declaration that Mason never did Shakespeare until form 4.  Sometimes we'll be told that she didn't use Lamb's, or that none of the programmes include Lamb's.

So why does AO do Lamb's in the earlier years since Miss Mason did not?

First of all, I don't really agree that we can speak authoritatively about this based only on the programmes.
I don't think we have all the programmes.
 Remember, too, that she changed up the programmes year by year or even term by term. So having a programme for form one for two full years is not showing us everything she did every year, because the programmes were not necessarily duplicated.  We'd need to see the programmes for form I, II, and III- the full programmes for each of three terms for at least 20 years. We don't have this.

The programmes we do have are also not always reliable.  The first programme she made for year 1 shows about six things, and only two books are listed by title.
 Some of the programmes we do have aren't perfect- they show errors. I forget which one, but I vaguely remember one for form four that doesn't include Plutarch and sometimes other subjects are missing that we know were included.

Programme 98, form II, 1924, has the children choosing their favourite passages from King Lear for copywork and using Lear for recitation. In other programmes we see that when specific plays are mentioned, the children are also doing that play for literature.  So we could assume that the children in form II read King Lear that term, but that programme seems to be missing the reading and literature assignments.  If we were to reason that if something is not on the programme that means Mason didn't do it and we need to duplicate her work precisely, then we'd skip literature and reading for one term of form II.  It's far more reasonable to assume that this is an accident, and these students did King Lear that term, and probably other literature as well.  

As we learned in school, 'An absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.'



 Let's consider what it means to our students if Mason disapproves of using Lamb's or any other Shakespeare before form IV (ignoring the programmes where we see it in form 2).  That would mean many of today's children (and mothers and fathers!) come to Shakespeare cold when they start reading the plays in year 4. That seems a bit extreme.  We don't think there is good evidence that children came to Shakespeare without having already heard about some of his plays before  year 4.  There is solid evidence to the contrary, in fact.



We can assume the children had some familiarity with Shakespeare through recitation, and we have seen in several examples from programmes for higher forms that the recitation suggestions come from the plays the children read that term.
 The programmes we have for year 1 recommend some specific poetry books for the families to own, and every one of them I have been able to find includes several excerpts from Shakespeare's plays.
For example, in programme 127 for form I, the children are instructed to choose poems for recitation from one of several possible poetry books, and excerpts from Shakespeare are included in each of those book.  Since the choices are up to each student, we cannot say they definitely would have done Shakespeare, but we also cannot say they wouldn't, since excerpts from his works are included in the following poetry books  PNEU recommended poetry books:

In the Golden Staircase, we find excerpts from the following Shakespeare plays:
Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, King Henry VIII, The Tempest, TwoGentlement of VErona, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Love's Labour's Lost
You can find the book on Internet archive, and you can see some of the gorgeous illustration here.
Another poetry option offered was A First Book of Poetry by M.A. Woods.  I can't find such a title, but I did find A First School Poetry Book by the same author.  Mason not infrequently made such errors, if this is one. I can't say definitively.  Woods doesn't tell us which of the plays her selections are from, but she includes about 8 selections from 'Shakspeare,' mostly songs that are included in the plays.

The programmes for this term of form I also suggest Tom Tiddler's Ground, a 1931 anthology edited by Walter De La Mare as a poetry option for students to use to choose a poem to work on for recitation. He includes several Shakespeare excerpts (Ophelia's song and the one about golden lads and lasses must like chimney sweepers come to dust among others).  There is also a recommendation of Lamb's Tales and a short biography of Lamb.  It's a lovely little poetry book.

It is true that this particular programme is from a couple of years after Mason's death.  However, it is also true that the same people who authoritatively insist that it is wrong to include any Shakespeare because Miss Mason didn't, have no qualms about using later programmes to back up other 'authoritative' claims.  In some cases, for some of the upper years, we have only programmes from after Mason's death thus far. 




 There are other reasons to be sure that children were not expected to come to Shakespeare cold, beginning in year 4, with no previous familiarity with the tales.  In Shakespeare's time (and for centuries afterward) people came to Shakespeare already familiar with the backstories of the plays. They were usually based on well known histories or stories that people already knew. We want our children to have the same advantage.

 In Charlotte Mason's time, Shakespeare was part of the common culture, especially with the middle and upper classes that made up most of the members and promoters of the P.N.E.U. We see no reason to deny our families the same privilege.

 While we often quote Mason's 'For the children's sake,' we also believe that some things are important for 'the parents' sake.'  We at AO care deeply about the families homeschooling, especially the mothers and fathers struggling against great disadvantages, many of whom come to Charlotte Mason without any of the shared literary background Mason expected of the average middle to upper class parent.  So we also want our parents to have that advantage.

 In another PR article we read this: "So all are to read Scott--"every word of him"--and Shakespeare and Dante. Such reading, as Emerson says, "brings us out of our egg-shell existence into the great dome, we see the zenith over and the nadir under us. Instead of the tanks and buckets of knowledge to which we are daily confined, we come down to the shore of the sea and dip our hands in its miraculous waves.""  Education is for all, including the parents of the children.  They are encompassed in this 'all are to read... Shakespeare' to bring us together to the great sea of knowledge.  Taking this on in small bites, such as Lamb's, Nesbit's, Colville's, or Garfield (or others) is a kind and gentle introduction for both parents and their children. 

All adults and most of the children in CM's time would have been familiar with Shakespeare. Most of them would have seen a few plays performed live. They would have heard it in school. They would have heard comments in conversation, on the street, in the community.   They would have seen allusions in their newspapers and stories. But we don't have that advantage today, so it is beneficial for both parents and children to learn the stories first before jumping into the plays.  It makes Shakespeare less intimidating.




Here is some additional information on the introduction of Shakespeare and the use of Lamb's in the PNEU schools:

 1. In The Parents' Review. [1905] Vol. 16, No. 06 p. 401-480 there is one of the articles with "Notes On Lessons," and it is a sample 25 minute lesson spent in Form III which included readings from and familiarity with Henry V and King John.

2. A Parents Review article by the Hon. Mrs. E.L. Franklin, who worked closely with Miss Mason, says that Class IB had reading lessons taken from Lamb's Tales of Shakespeare, which would mean the children were reading from Lamb's and it was scheduled, at least the year that she wrote the article.  (Again, Programmes did change from time to time):

Class IB.—Children averaging from seven and a half, to nine. Here the same time-table is used, but the reading lessons are less frequent, and are taken out of such books as Old Tales from British History, Tales from Westminster Abbey & Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, The Heroes of Asgard.

The Home Training of Children
by the Hon. Mrs. E. L. Franklin,
Hon. Organizing Secretary of the Parents' National Educational Union.
Volume 20, 1909, pgs. 20-24

[Reprinted from Vol. VI. Of "Special Reports on Educational Subjects," issued by the Board of Education. Reprints of this article can be had, price 3d., from the P.N.E.U. Office, 26, Victoria Street, S.W.]

(Continued from Vol. XIX., No. 12, page 899.)


https://www.amblesideonline.org/.../PR19p890HomeTraining 
Can I point out that that nitpicking by saying a reading lesson somehow proves Lamb's wasn't used in form I is rather silly, as the point is, the children could not have a reading lesson from a book they were not even reading, so it would be most logical to assume they were reading from Lamb's Tales of Shakespeare during school.   Whether they called that session 'reading' or 'Shakespeare' is the sort of pettifogging, nitpicking, getting wrapped up in esoteric details rather than principles that has no place in a Charlotte Mason education. It is the opposite of generous or magnanimous.  One might as well argue about whether students read page 8 or page 21, or whether it was on Tuesday mornings or Thursday afternoons.  While these kinds of details do have their place in some scholarly discussions, they have no place at all in making firm, authoritative commands for homeschooling parents to follow or risk being told they are 'failing' to do CM correctly.

In fact, it is quite likely that rather than *waiting* to do any Shakespeare wit children until form IV, it is more likely Mason expected children to know Lamb's and the basic stories of a few Shakespeare plays before they even started school!




 Lamb's is frequently mentioned in the PR as suitable for the family library, to be read to children or for children to read, so the children would have been familiar with it before form 1 even if it was not used in school. 

 Here's just one example from a PR article called  Our Children's Play Books and Toys: "I think amongst many others not put down here, all children before they are, say, sixteen should have read the following: Robinson Crusoe, Kingsley's Heroes, Water-Babies, Westward Ho!, Hereward the Wake, Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, Tanglewood Tales, Anderson's Fairy Tales, Stories of Greece by Morris, and some of Professor Church's historical and classical books, Charlotte Yonge's novels, and many of Sir Walter Scott's..." https://www.amblesideonline.org/PR/PR17p366ToysBooks.shtml

 In the second volume of the Parents' Reviews a prize was offered for the submission of the best list of books for a family library. The winning prize included Lamb's Shakespeare: https://www.amblesideonline.org/PR/PR02p792Books.shtml

 "This may be thought a digression. But my purpose is to show that in choosing literature for the young, our object should be to draw out this latent critical faculty by always presenting a high standard proportionate to their stage of development. It will be remembered that one of the aims we set out with was to form the habit of methodical, not desultory reading. If you read two books on the same subject from different stand-points, the impression left is more than double what remains after reading one only. The habit of concentration may be stimulated by encouraging the association of reading with some other pursuit, or with the child's regular lessons, though it will probably be best not to let it appear too openly that that is your object. Thus if children are learning some English History, it will not be difficult to find stories by Miss Young or Mr. Henty, and above all--if the children are not too young--by Sir Walter himself, which will excite their intensest interest in the period they are reading about; or if the children love as they should their pencils and paint brushes, and are as eagerly on the outlook for subjects as a hungry journalist for "copy," you can take down Kingsley's Heroes or Professor Church's lovely stories from Homer, or some one of the many excellent children's version of the Arthurian legends, or the Nibelungenlied, and tell them to read a story and then paint an illustration of it. Or again, perhaps you have lately been to the Lyceum (a theatre). You tell them about the play you have seen and excite their interest. This will serve as an introduction to Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare or even to the plays themselves." 

Note that the presumption is more likely that Lamb's will be the first book introduction to Shakespeare, with a parent retelling the plays from time to time beforehand, and it seems obvious to me, anyway, that reading Lamb in form one is not contrary to the spirit of CM. 

source: https://www.amblesideonline.org/PR/PR09p561Literature.shtml 

She did include tales in form 1, and while we know for certain those tales were fairy tales and myths and legends, we also feel that for current students, Lamb's tales also suit the purpose of tales. Some may disagree, and that's okay, but that doesn't make the practice anti-CM




 Some people think children cannot understand Shakespeare. I took my children to see a play of Midsummer Night's Dream after reading Lamb's. At the intermission my just 3 y.o. old turned to the couple behind us and told them her favourite part was coming, the fairy queen was going to turn Bottom's head into a donkey's head.She was giggling with delight at letting them in on this spoiler. They were enchanted. 

 Children are perfectly capable of grasping the larger outlines of Shakespeare, although of course, they grasp even more as they mature. I, too, get more out of things I read at 15, 25, or 55 than my 14, 22, 50 or child-self did. But they were still worth reading at 10 or 7. 

So we read Lamb's in year 1 because Lamb's is fun and fairly easy to understand with just a bit of handholding (read slowly, act out the story with home-made finger puppets or beanie babies or legos). We read Lamb's in year 1 because that is actually coming to Shakespeare a bit late, and children and their parents deserve to know Shakespeare sooner rather than later. We read Lamb's because we have seen it work with thousands of children, including our own. 


  

I realize there is a school of thought in the CM world which has pushed the notion that somehow you're doing CM wrong if you include Lamb's, or do any Shakespeare before year 4 or so (and sometimes even gets particular about exactly which plays may be done to be authentically CM) 

 I have several objections to that particular school of thought in general and my objections and disagreements are largely based on what I see as the rigidity and inflexibility that comes when confusing practices for principles  and then treats a philosophy of education as thought it were a list of laws as of the Medes and the Persians.

 I don't want to dwell on this and I don't want get into details of personalities, but I don't find that approach accurate, helpful, or encouraging. The original source for that particular claim wrenches things out of context, sometimes quoting things so as to mean the opposite of what they do mean, and overlooks material which does not support its hypotheses.

Even if it were true that Mason never let Lamb's Shakespeare Tales darken the doors of her schools or her home schools (and this is not true)- that alone is not a good enough reason not to include Lamb's in your school, because *practices* are not principles.  There are thousands and thousands of books she might have included but didn't.  That alone is not proof that she opposed the use of every single one of those books.

Please.  Don't let this rigidity spoil a beautiful thing for your children. It's based on an mistaken notion of Mason altogether. She herself said that her philosophy was to be taken and mixed with brains when applied. 

 Do Shakespeare with your kids. If the real thing works, then use that. If you can see the real thing, do that. If animated tales helps, do that. Use toys and stick figures as needed to help narrations. Regarding advice not to do Shakespeare because kids cannot handle it, ponder the reality that Lamb's has been a favourite of children ever since it was published, and that children have been taken to see Shakespeare plays for hundreds of years. 100 years ago children read and loved Lamb's. If we cannot do that today, consider that our educational institutions did this to us and decide not to be defrauded that way.

 Fight back. Be happy warriors, but fight your own battle in the culture wars for your family's sake.  And if you're fighting back by reading Lamb's or the original plays, you're in store for a treat.  


---------------
Addendum: Programme 100 for form II has the children copying their favourite passage from Shakespeare's As You Like It, and I submit they could hardly have a favourite passage without knowing something of the play.

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$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.  
   
 $5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal,   Feed Your Mind!  This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.



 $3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.


  $3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One!  Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation.   Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.

Picture Study!  Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00


Common Kitchen:  What's for lunch?  Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families?  What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing?  How can I accomplish all those things at once?  We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income.  I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world.  These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids.  Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions.  I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00