Now with a basic understanding of the historical background in place to help us begin to responsibly interpret Mason’s writing, let’s take a look at what she had to say about science and science education difficulties. We will start with her first volume, Home Education, intended to be applicable to children under 9. We will move through 5 of her 6 volumes getting a survey of her thoughts on the subject.
Read Home Education pp. 42-95. Narrate in writing by coming up with a way to capture the whole of Mason’s description of the out-of-door life for children. For example, perhaps you want to make an outline of the sections or maybe a diagram or chart showing how all the parts go together or a list of different activities and the reasons for them.
One of Mason’s keywords throughout the text is seeing. It is hard to encourage seeing in children if we as teachers have had little practice in seeing for ourselves. Read this article entitled “In the Laboratory with Agassiz” by Samuel Scudder. How would you have responded to the task set by Professor Agassiz? Jot down some thoughts or questions or fears that come to mind after considering the article. You will have a chance to try the task yourself in a few weeks!
Grab a few friends and try your hand at “sight-seeing” and “picture-painting” as Mason described them in your reading from Home Education. Was it hard? Easy? What did you observe about the activities?
Now read Home Education pp. 264-271. What do we see can be added to the basic observations of the natural world?