Many, many lifetimes ago… before children… I was asked to be a teacher at a brand new Charlotte Mason school. I completed a week-long training at Ambleside Schools International, where I delved more deeply into the writings of Charlotte Mason, a British educator who lived about 100 years ago.
In preparation to teach, I printed all (and read some) of her six volume series on home education. Although I never actually ended up teaching – funding for the school fell through – I held onto those several inches of printed paper all these years. And I just started reading them again.
What follows are my favorite excerpts from Volume 4 of the series: “Ourselves.” So that I may come back and refresh my non-remembering-memory from time to time.
“The power to classify, discriminate, distinguish between thing that differ, is amongst the highest faculties of the human intellect, and no opportunity to cultivate it should be let slip; but a classification got out of books, that the child does not make for himself, cultivates no power but that of verbal memory…”
“For the evil is, that children get their knowledge of natural history, like all their knowledge, at second hand. They are so sated with wonders, that nothing surprises them; and they are so little used to see for themselves, that nothing interests them. The cure for this blasé condition is, to let them alone for a bit, and then begin on new lines.”
Regarding a child’s natural impulse to tear a plant/flower to bits… “Reverence for life, as a wonderful and awful gift, which a ruthless child may destroy but can never restore, is a lesson of first importance to the child.”
“The vice of lying causes: carelessness in ascertaining the truth, carelessness in stating the truth, and a deliberate intention to deceive.”
“Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.”
“True, we must needs have houses for shelter from the weather by day and rest at night; but in proportion as we cease to make our houses ‘comfortable,’ as we regard them as necessary shelters when we cannot be out of doors, shall we enjoy to the full the vigorous vitality possible to us.”
“There is no knowledge so appropriate to the early years of a child as that of the name and look and behavior in situ of every natural object he can get at.”
“Even for tea and breakfast the wise mother does not say, ‘I always give my children’ so and so. They should not have anything ‘always;’ every meal should have some little surprise.”
“To laugh at ugly tempers and let them pass because the child is small, is to sow the wind.”
(to be continued)