Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chapter 3: Education is a Life

Education "is not a narrow compartmentalizing of facts into one area and life into another, but a rich interweaving of ideas, experiences, and knowledge that leads ultimately to the way in which we all, as individuals, live our lives (p. 100)." Education as a life is a life all of one piece, learning always, never broken down into bits. This concept is such a deep breath, especially in comparison to how subjects are traditionally taught in schools. I remember feeling that the subjects I was learning were so disjointed from one another, and especially being frustrated by history and literature being covered at different times and at different paces, when I could sense they were connected and could make such sense together. Miss Mason would have deplored such efforts.

This section on education as life has some wonderful principles to ponder, and gives, I think, a very clear idea about what CM education really is, in a practical way. It is resting on the sure foundation of God, asserting that all education is divine, and there is no true education which isn't from Him. Ideas are the fruit of this strong tree, and we are made in His image to love ideas, to crave them to want to connect them, to create in an effort to express them.

The quality and quantity of knowledge has pride of place in a CM education. "Books of the highest literary quality are appropriately chosen to introduce mind to mind (p.104)." There is a wonderful list here of the feast of subjects Miss Mason's students studied: the Bible, literature, Shakespeare and poetry, science and nature study, music composers, picture study, citizenship, history and geography, and the practice of English grammar and English composition, mathematics, music theory and singing, dictation and repetition, handwriting, drawing and handcrafts, reading, foreign language and Latin, physical education, and real work. That is an amazing list of subjects!

How did teachers prepare for and teach such a wide variety of lessons? They were carefully planned and teachers thought in advance about questions they could ask which would lead students to new and fruitful connections of their own. Nothing was ever predigested or "broken down" but rather left whole for the students to work on and consider. There was always the underlying principle that students are whole people, capable of the mind-work they were being called to. In listening to a story being read aloud, for example, students were responsible for careful attention, so that at the conclusion of the reading they could tell back, in detail, what they heard, and answer thoughtful questions about the ideas the reading brought up. This is such a different mode of learning than "read the section, answer the discussion questions."

The width and depth of this kind of learning is so exciting, isn't it?

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