Tuesday, July 18, 2017

School Education Chapter 6: Some Educational Theories Examined

This blog post is part of an on-going daily series this month as I read (very quickly) through School Education by Charlotte Mason. Join me! Pick up your book and read a chapter, or find it free online at Ambleside Online.


Charlotte Mason continues to evaluate different educational psychologies current in her day using the criteria she set out in the previous chapter. In this chapter, she examines educational theories of Pestalozzi and Froebel, as well as Herbart. Finding both wanting, she turns to the philosophy she herself has been working out in the PNEU and elaborates on how it meets each requirement. 
Adequate - it is broad enough to encompass any advance in science or philosophy.
Necessary - she cannot judge whether there is not or ever will be an equally good philosophy of education, but she is satisfied that any such philosophy will, like hers, take into account the child as a whole person and also the results of scientific research.
In Touch with the Spirit of the Age
The Sacredness of the Person - She saw children as whole persons, body and soul together. 
The Evolution of the Individual - She believed in the "science of relations," and that teachers should foster those relationships by presenting ideas, by forming habits, and by getting out of the way.
The Solidarity of the Race - She put students "in living touch" with thinkers of different historical periods using literature, poetry, and other subjects. 


"It is just possible that bringing unbiassed minds and a few guiding principles to the task, we have, not joined the parts of the puzzle, but perceived dimly how an outline here and an outline there indicate, not so many separate psychologies, but shadowings forth of a coherent, living, educational principle destined to assume more and more clearness and fulness until it is revealed to us at last as the educational gospel, the discovery of which may be the destined reward and triumph of our age. Let me try to set forth, though with diffidence, what we have done, knowing that no man and no society can say of educational truth, 'This is mine and that is thine,' for all is common, and none of us can know how much he gives and how much he takes." (p. 62)

"For years we have worked definitely and consistently upon a psychology which appears to me fairly adequate, necessary, and in touch with the thought of our age. Children brought up on this theory of education, wherever we come across them, have certain qualities in common. They are curiously vitalised; not bored, not all alive in the playing-field and dull and inert in the schoolroom...There is unity in their lives;...there is continuity in their education. ...there is no transition stage, but simple, natural, living progress." (p. 63)

"What do we understand by a person? We believe the thinking, invisible soul and acting, visible body to be one in so intimate a union that--'Nor soul helps flesh more now than flesh helps soul.'" (p. 63)

"For the rest, we believe that the person wills and thinks and feels; is always present, though not always aware of himself; is without parts or faculties; whatever he does, he does, all of him, whether he take a walk or write a book. It is so much the habit to think of the person as a dual being, flesh and spirit, when he is, in truth, one, that it is necessary to clear our minds on this subject. The person is one and not several, and he is no more compact of ideas on the one hand than he is of nervous and muscular tissues on the other." (p. 64)

"...quick and living thought is as necessary for the full and happy development of the body as it is for that of the soul." (p. 65)

"...we believe that our educational doctrine is adequate, because, while following the progress of biological psychology with avidity, and making use of every gain that presents itself, and while following with equal care the advance of philosophic thought, we recognise that each of these sees the chameleon in a different light, and that the person includes both and is more than both;..." (p. 65)

"We cannot say that our doctrine is necessary, but we do say that some educational theory which shall include the whole nature of man and the results of scientific research, in the same or a greater degree, is necessary." (p. 65)

"The person of the child is sacred to us; we do not swamp his individuality in his intelligence, in his conscience, or even in his soul; perhaps one should add to-day, or even in his physical development." (p. 65)

"...education considers what relations are proper to a human being, and in what ways these several relations can best be established; that a human being comes into the world with capacity for many relations; and...we, for our part, have two chief concerns--first, to put him in the way of forming these relations by presenting the right idea at the right time, and by forming the right habit upon the right idea, and, secondly, by not getting in the way and so preventing the establishment of the very relations we seek to form." (p. 66)

"We study in many ways the art of standing aside." (p. 66)

"...we do not endeavour to give children outlines of ancient history, but to put them in living touch with a thinker who lived in those ancient days. We are not content that they should learn the history of their own country alone; some living idea of contemporaneous European history, anyway, we try to get in; that the history we teach may be the more living, we work in, pari passu, some of the literature of the period and some of the best historical novels and poems that treat of the period; and so on with other subjects." (p. 67)


Reading the last two chapters, I think that as good students of Charlotte Mason, we should not only be reaching into the past and studying her ideas.  We should also be paying attention to the educational theories of our own day, evaluating their soundness, extracting what is good, learning what we can from them. I don't really know where to start with this! For now, it's just something I'm open to.


The Education of the Whole Person
A True Education is a Relational Education from Snowfall Academy
(Let me know if you or anyone else you know has blogged through Vol. 3 and I'll include the link!)