We'll come back to the rightly used and rightly taught part later. For now let's just look at just three subjects and how they work with imagination to enlarge the sympathies, to expand that compassion outward away from self and towards others- and remember, these are just some highlights. I'm not relying only on the Parish article, I've looked at other articles in the PR and L'Umile Pianta as well, in addition, of course, to the volumes. But I believe there is far more to be mined in the six volumes and periodicals than I have yet discovered.
Geography: Here we have a clue to one of the keys to Mason's approach. In volume 6 (and also in her pamphlet The Basis of National Strength), she says that all of a child's instruction should come through the best books available, that geography and history books "should be written with the lucidity, concentration, personal conviction, directness, and admirable simplicity which characterizes a work of literary calibre."
And then she says this, "We trust much to pictures, lantern slides, cinematograph displays (this is movies, they had them, and good ones in her day); but without labour there is no profit, and probably the pictures which remain with us are those which we have first conceived through the medium of words; pictures may help us to correct our notions, but the imagination does not work upon a visual presentation; we lay the phrases of a description on our palette and make our own pictures."
I think this use of imagination is not just true for geography, but for other subjects as well, 'without labour there is not profit,' and the pictures that really take hold of us are those we created in our own mind's eye based on excellent descriptions. We can then use pictures to help improve our mental images, but we need to first do the work of imagining, of picturing in the mind's eye.
You can read the article on imagination in history and geography here. I will advise you that some of the article is dated in description and terms, but it is my opinion that what the author is really talking about here, even in some of his most uncomfortable generalizations or stereotypes, is learning about the culture of of other people in other lands- and sometimes in our own lands as well. Sarah Lanier's Foreign to Familiar and David Livermore's Great Courses presentation on Cultural Intelligence are invaluable for this study, and lend themselves well to an increased sympathetic imagination and understanding of other people.
Here's a paraphrase of what is said about teaching Geography. You can’t bring the mountains, islands, seas, and countries directly to your classroom, and it’s not always practical to take the children there- so you work to help your students build pictures in their minds. You start with what they know and using metaphor and analogy to expand what they know to what they don't know- a stool perhaps a foot tall, now imagine a stack of 3,000 of them and we have a tower, an obelisk- so make it as wide as the town and as tall as all those stools and you have a mountain. In your descriptions, in the books you choose, be sure to include other details as well, particularly the sights, smells, the accent, customs, and skills of the people, the flowers and birds- build pictures. Those pictures are not abstract. They are as real as you can make them, giving the children many connections- and relationships to make, because the essence of a CM education is relationships, with people near and far, with creation, with the Creator.
The study of geography is not for the purpose of making a living, being good at a job, passing tests. That is materialism. The study of geography is about the world and people God made and where and how His people live. Never lose sight of this wider richer purpose of education. As CM said, " if we let the people sink into the mire of a material education our doom is sealed."
Education is building a house of the mind, and imagination is the door through which we communicate with the world.
$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.
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. The snack ideas are whole foods, nourishing, and simple to prepare, based on what I have observed children in other cultures eating for snacks. I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00