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Fleece. Dyeing. Carding. Spinning. A year ago I recognized those words and could define them accurately. But in the past several months my oldest daughter has taken up dyeing and spinning as a hobby. Now when I hear someone mention one of those words, I don’t have just a nodding acquaintance with them, I can relate to them.
Those words have settled into a new position inside me. They are no longer just words; they are a part of me because I have shared in the joys, frustrations, puzzlements, and successes connected with them.
Perhaps you have a hobby, a special diet, an historical person, or a personal responsibility that has taken on new meaning to you lately. It has moved from the “I think I’ve heard of that” to the “Oh, yes, I can relate” position inside you.
Charlotte Mason taught that “Education is the science of relations.” Education is not just recognizing or knowing about an idea. True education is forming an “I can relate” connection.
We can relate to ideas that have touched us personally in our emotions and our minds. Ideas that have triggered sympathy within us or have caused us to ponder. Ideas that have shaped our opinions and our actions. Those ideas have had a lasting impact on us. They are the ideas that we really know.
Charlotte defined knowledge as “information touched with emotion: feeling must be stirred, imagination must picture, reason must consider, nay, conscience must pronounce on the information we offer before it becomes mind-stuff” (The Story of Charlotte Mason, p. 175).
So how do we help our children form those relations? How do we give them a real education? Charlotte believed the answer lay in using two tools: living books and things.
Over the next few weeks we’ll look more closely at those two tools — living books and things — and how we can use them to help our children form relations that are vital to a real education.