Thursday, June 21, 2012

How do you do picture study?

“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child's sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture.” Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 p.309

God is the author of beauty and beauty is a reflection of God's character.  As the crowning glory of God's creation, made in the image of God, mankind has been given the ability to recognize it.  But what happens when children are confined to the four walls of a classroom and then spend hours in front of an electronic screen when at home?  Do you think this could stifle their ability to recognize it?  I think if you look at the direction the contemporary art world has gone the answer would be  yes.  Paint splash on a canvas or a urinal on display in an art museum is far from beautiful and some would say true art.  In contrast, take a walk through a meadow in the spring with its abundance of wildflowers bursting through the soil and growing under the warm rays of sunshine and you will see God's standard of beauty.  Charlotte Mason tells us that education is the "Science of Relations."  Picture study allows the child to form a personal relationship with the artist of the picture they are studying as they connect with his or her work.  If they have been given ample outdoor time studying God's creation they will be able to also make connections with our creator as well.  Mason's method of picture study is very simple.  Study the best artists throughout history and it will provide wonderful ideas in which the mind can grow and thrive on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Good Samaritan

If you wanted to come to the seminar to learn how to implement a Charlotte Mason education using the free Curriculum Ambleside Online, but funds are very tight, a good Samaritan has paid for your attendance.  There is only one so it is for the first person to email me at

Rebecca Miller

Getting Started Implementing Ambleside Online Curriculum
Rebecca Miller, Homewood Member
15 years teaching in public, private and homeschool
Founded and runs Mason Approach to Children’s Education Co-op
Member of North Houston Charlotte Mason Group

Room 109
South County Community Center
2235 Lake Robbins Dr, The Woodlands, TX, 77380

June 28

What Time:

Cost (Materials Included):
Early bird mail in discount: $10 per person
At the door if space is available:  $15 per person
Space is limited.  First come, first serve.  Reserve you’re seat by mailing a check to Rebecca Miller by June 15th.  Please include the names of those attending and an email address.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Charlotte Mason Education Successfully Prepares Students For College

"Rebecca, your blog site is lovely and reflects the beauty of a CM education. Our family educated our three oldest daughters using the CM method and not only created wonderful memories but they were all well-prepared for college. I wish you and your services had been around when our girls were young; I read and outlined all of CM's books and figured it all out on my own- an arduous task. I hope that many parents will benefit from your services and come to know how delightful and successful the CM method of education can be."- sheila Herreid, 20+ yr homeschool vet

It is reassuring to hear from those that have gone before us. I hear again and again from homeschool moms with college age or adult children who have grow up with a Charlotte Mason based education who when they enter college are head and shoulders above their peers. Another friend's daughter told her mother that college was much easier than her Charlotte Mason homeschool.

Universities are spending more each year to remediate high school graduates because they do not possess the knowledge and skills to successfully complete a degree program.  It is not needed in the case of Charlotte Mason educated students.

I think the reason why students educated with a Mason approach are so successful in college is summarized quite well in this quote from Charlotte Mason.

"Therefore, children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching, that the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas.  To help them in this choice we give them principles of conduct, and a wide range of knowledge fitted to them.  These principles should save children from some of the loosing thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need." vol. 6

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Shouldn’t a child’s education include lots of science experiments?

“No-eyes come home bored; he has seen nothing, been interested in nothing: while Eyes is all agog to discuss a hundred things that have interested him. As I have already tried to point out, to get this sort of instruction for himself is simply the nature of a child: the business of the parent is to afford him abundant and varied opportunities, and to direct his observations, so that, knowing little of the principles of scientific classification, he is, unconsciously, furnishing himself with the materials for such classification. It is needless to repeat what has already been said on this subject; but, indeed, the future of the man or woman depends very largely on the store of real knowledge gathered, and the habits of intelligent observation acquired, by the child. ” Charlotte Mason vol 1 pg 265

I loved my high school chemistry class with all of its experiments and chemical formulas.  I knew this was the career path I wanted to take.  I entered my university with the intention of getting a degree in Chemistry.  What I found out midway through was that I loved teaching more.  I graduated with a Bachelors of Science and a teaching degree with a science major and math minor.  I did lots of experiments with my students…or so I thought.

All of us were taught the scientific method whether we remember it or not.

Scientific Method

Did you notice where the scientific method begins?  It starts with observation and research of the natural world, nature study!  It is the foundation.  This is the missing link in traditional education.  The rest of the method flows from that.  You cannot have a scientific method if you do not have its starting point.  In my previous post “Is nature study enough in the younger years?” I explained that nature study is the starting point of all real science.  If you haven’t read it, please do.

You probably have at least one experiment book on your shelf.  You can thumb through it to pick out an experiment for your study of sound or motion.  The experiment would then provide the hypothesis, the steps for the experiment and then it will draw the conclusion for you or tell the student why it works.  This is somebody else using the scientific method to create an experiment.  Somebody else has already drawn the conclusions for the child. The student is just copying somebody else’s preprocessed information, very much like following a recipe.  This is not a science experiment.  What your child has learned to do is follow directions but there is very little real science in this, it is instead another form of dispensing knowledge.

Wouldn’t it be better for the child to actually do the scientific investigation himself?  How does this look?  Let’s look at example of a child directed experiment that took place in my home.

Observation and Research
Caleb noticed a potato in the pantry had sprouted eyes and he wanted to know what they were and why they were there.  I explained what the eyes of the potato were and that if you cut them off with some of the potato they would grow.

“I am going to plant it in the pot,” he said.
“If you plant one in the garden as well, which one do you think would grow better?” I asked.

“I think the one in the garden will because it has more space for the roots and better soil to grow in,” he predicted.  

He planted potato eyes in both places.  He kept his potatoes well watered and watched them grow.

He found that the potted potato, although it grew faster, did not get very big. The potatoes from this plant were small.  His garden plant took longer to grow and yielded a much bigger plant with bigger potatoes.

Nothing was written down and no display board was made.  It was very natural and informal, but each step in the method was there.  Not all of his investigations include every step in the scientific method and that is acceptable.  We have also done experiments out of one of our experiment books in the past.  Do you think he remembers them?  No, because there was nothing for him to connect to the information.  A fun experiment copied from a book is not enough for a child to connect to the ideas and concepts.  In contrast, he will always remember his potato experiment.  Later, when he learns about plant adaptations, he will have an experiential understanding to the concept.

God has created a beautiful world for us to live in.  He has also created us in His image, special in His creation.  He has given us a desire to know Him.  The study and investigation of His creation gives us a peak into the nature and character of our Creator.  A child’s education should include scientific investigation but not in the way we have been conditioned to think of science experiments.  Let his investigations be an expression of the child’s own observations of nature and his natural curiosity.  Then he will be furnished with a storehouse of real knowledge gathered, and the habits of intelligent observation acquired.
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