Charlotte Mason Digital Collection
Now that we have a solid grasp on what Mason thought about science in regard to education, let’s dive into her programmes and see what it actually looked like in practice. Examine a few of Mason’s programmes from the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection.
Click “Go to World Cat” and enter your search. You should begin each search with “cmdc”. For example, you could search “cmdc programmes” for a general search of the programmes available or you might search “cmdc programme 90” to look for a specific holding. Examine the natural history and general science sections of at least 4 different programmes, including different forms and different terms.
Narrate: Compare and contrast what you noticed with the natural history and general science programmes across different forms. Compare and contrast what you noticed across different terms. What challenges did you have in your search?
We made quite a large spreadsheet with programmes 90-113 (not shown here) in which we organized all of the subcategories, book selections, and special instructions. We also tracked down a number of the books, to evaluate their table of contents and how they were written. We summarized what we noticed in the comparison/contrast in this table:
|Wild flowers, fruits, twigs, birds, animals
|The Changing Year
|The Changing Year
|In Our World
|Special studies, esp. ecology
|The Changing Year
|Context of History
|Special studies/Outdoor work
|The Changing Year?
|Current Events and Culture
* Inquiry can include a variety of methods that encourage students to ask questions and seek the answers based on evidence.
- Mason had the entire school community doing nature immersion throughout their schooling.
- They were introduced to and encouraged (but not required) to do inquiry using their nature notebook throughout their schooling, beginning with things that are easy to find, progressing to making personal selections, and finally to studying finer details and more complex relationships in nature.
- This is somewhat of a guess because the programmes for forms 5 and 6 are so incomplete, but it appears that when Mason was living, the entire school was encouraged to draw inspiration from the same seasonal reader. Sometime after Mason’s death, it appears that this changed for forms 5 and 6.
- We theorize from all of this that Mason intended for nature study to provide a common culture for the community.
- Another idea that we noticed, was that the form 1 students began with a firm rooting in the natural world around them. The form 2 students expanded out a bit more to learn about general science and what science was doing out in their world. Based both on their books and on what Mason had to say, we noticed that the form 3 and 4 students took this broadening in the temporal direction, learning more about science as a study that has changed and developed within and throughout history. And then finally, the students in high school began studying the scientific disciplines of their day in earnest and she really wanted them to understand their relevance to culture and citizenship.
Over the next couple of sessions, we’ll evaluate some of what these PNEU students had assigned to them and get a feel for what their coursework might have been like. Throughout all of this, we must hold in mind Mason’s thesis that education is the science of relations and that she intended this to have both intellectual and spiritual significance. Theologically, we form relations by knowing and loving another. This week, read chapters 1 and 2 from C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves: 1. Introduction and 2. Likings and Loves. Jot down some thoughts in your notebook.