Sunday, July 25, 2010

Philosophy of Education vol. 6 ch. 6 pt. 3

“Education is a life”
Food is to the body what gas is to a car, the source of energy. The mind works as it is fed education. The mind is only nourished on ideas. If we only feed our minds a diet of information as in dry facts, Charlotte likens this to a meal of sawdust.
So what is an idea? It is “a living thing of the mind” according to the greatest thinkers from the days of Plato to the present.
An idea is something that “strikes us” or “catches hold of”, “impresses” and if the idea is big enough, “possesses us”. Charlotte says “in a word, it behaves like an entity”. Everyone has said “I have an idea” when a grand thought rises in the mind. Charlotte believed that ideas were present everywhere but in the sphere of education. She gives the example of textbooks that were nothing more than dry facts.
Charlotte Mason includes several passages from Coleridge describing how many men, such as Columbus, were “given the ideas to explore or discover. And those ideas, Coleridge says, were “presented to chosen minds by God, a Higher Power than Nature itself”.
Indefinite ideas express themselves like an appetite and should draw the children towards things that are honest and of good report, and should not just be offered at a scheduled time but should surround them like the air they breathe.
Definite ideas are conveyed as “meat “to the mind rather than simply inhaled like air. Definite ideas are Spiritual in origin and God created us to convey them to one another either in word, writing, Scripture, or music and we must feed a child’s inner life like we feed his body. Charlotte points out that a child will probably reject about 9/10th of all the ideas we give just like the body only keeps what it needs and rejects the rest. Our business is to supply abundance and variety and his to take what he needs from this vast buffet. Just like in the natural, children hate to be forced fed and they despise pre-digested food. Her example of how to avoid teaching this way is found in the way Jesus taught. He used parables. They were unforgettable stories and yet the reader takes the lesson in and applies it without a trace of force. Our downfall in educating is that we tend to offer opinions rather than ideas in our teaching. Instead of just teaching math or geometry, we should put them in touch with Pythagoras through use of a great biographical story. They will then see where the idea for these concepts originated making the subject more alive.
To sum up this section, Charlotte says she wants to enforce the fact that human thoughts expressed through great reading and Art should not be considered a luxury to be given in bits and pieces but rather the “bread of life” for children and therefore they should have a broad and liberal curriculum offered to them daily.

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