Last week we talked about the methods that remain consistent through high school when approached the Charlotte Mason way: a wide variety of subjects, living books, and narration. This week let’s take a closer look at specific subjects.
It appears from our research that Charlotte outlined the following subjects for the high school years: math, science, English grammar, composition, spelling, personal development/citizenship, foreign language, history, geography, Bible, literature, poetry, nature study, art, music, Shakespeare.
Do those subjects sound familiar? Most are simply a continuation of earlier studies. In a Charlotte Mason high school, you continue building upon what you have done in the younger grades, using the same methods but going more in-depth.
Charlotte’s Expectations for High School Subjects
What do we mean by “going more in-depth”? Here are some examples of what Charlotte planned for her high school-age students.
Their history readings were more closely connected with their literature selections, and time-period architecture, paintings, etc. were also included to help illustrate the eras that were studied.
“The history studies of Forms V and VI (ages 15 to 18) are more advanced and more copious and depend for illustration upon readings in the literature of the period” (Vol. 6, p. 176).
“But any sketch of the history teaching in Forms V and VI in a given period depends upon a notice of the ‘literature’ set; for plays, novels, essays, ‘lives,’ poems, are all pressed into service and where it is possible, the architecture, painting, etc., which the period produced” (Vol. 6, pp. 177, 178).
As mentioned last week, students still used living books, but those books were of a more difficult reading level.
“The reading for Forms V and VI (ages 15 to 18) is more comprehensive and more difficult” (Vol. 6, p. 184).
High School students were expected to apply their knowledge of geography that they had assimilated over the years. They were expected to demonstrate an understanding of the places and regions that were mentioned in current news items and in their history readings, and to make good use of an Atlas without guidance from the teacher.
“Forms V and VI are expected to keep up with the newspapers and know something about places and regions coming most into note in the current term. Also, in connection with the history studied, Seeley’s Expansion of England, The Peoples and Problems of India, Geikie’s Elementary Lessons in Physical Geography, Mort’s Practical Geography, and Kipling’s Letters of Travel are included in the reading of one term. In these Forms the young students are expected to apply their knowledge to Geography, both practical and theoretical, and to make much use of a good Atlas without the map questions which have guided the map work of the lower Forms” (Vol. 6, p. 230).
Science studies continued to provide connections in many fields of science.
“Forms V and VI again cover a wide field as the following questions on a term’s work sufficiently indicate . . . ” (Vol. 6, p. 221).
The questions that are listed cover aspects of geology, biology, botany, and astronomy.
These are the years that Charlotte advocated giving definite composition instruction, but not too much. She firmly believed that the students’ exposure to so much good literary writing over the years would work in their favor and help them learn to write well themselves.
“Forms V and VI. In these Forms some definite teaching in the art of composition is advisable, but not too much, lest the young scholars be saddled with a stilted style which may encumber them for life” (Vol. 6, p. 193).
High School students would have already studied French for several years. In these upper grades, Charlotte required them to read and write in that foreign language, as well as translate into and out of that language.
“Forms V and VI are required to ‘Write a résume’ of Le Misanthrope or L’Avare,’ ‘Translate into French, Modern Verse, page 50, “Leisure”‘” (Vol. 6, p. 212).
Students were asked to describe particular works of art from their picture studies. They were not asked to duplicate those works.
“Forms V and VI are asked to,—’Describe, with study in sepia, Corot’s “Evening.”‘ Beyond this of a rough study from memory of a given picture or of any section of it, these picture studies do not afford much material for actual drawing; they are never copied lest an attempt to copy should lessen a child’s reverence for great work” (Vol. 6, p. 216).
If you were thinking that everything changed in high school, these guidelines and examples should reassure you. The methods do not change. Charlotte Mason methods are continued through graduation in all the subjects, just with increasing expectations and more difficult living books.
Next week we will discuss grades and transcripts.
Thanks to the moms who contributed such helpful comments on last week’s post. (Be sure to read them, everybody. You’ll be glad you did!) Here are the questions for this week. Those of you with CM high school experience, leave a comment below and let us know:
What are some ways that you have adjusted your focus in a particular subject during the high school years? Have you made any changes from previous years?
Catherine Levison’s book More Charlotte Mason Education contains a wonderful, detailed chapter on high school. In it she discusses her goals for those years, the background of textbooks (quite interesting!), which CM methods carry over to high school, fear of teaching at that level, what Charlotte’s students studied in those grades, starting CM with older children, and whether the CM method prepares students for college. As always, Catherine is extremely practical and speaks from personal experience. You will learn much from this great resource.