Volume 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education – LWC Book Club Discussion

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  • missceegee

    Our book club group, Learning with Charlotte, in Jacksonville, FL will begin meeting again in October. This year, we will read through Volume 6. While we will have local meetings and discussion, we are opting to use the SCM to continue our discussion online. I invite all of you to read along and join us either in person or here on the forum. 

    You can see our reading schedule here – http://learningwithcharlotte.weebly.com

    Fall 2012 Schedule

    Mon. Oct. 22      Vol. 6, Book 1, p. 1-45 
    (Introduction, Preface, Ch. 1 Self-Education, and Ch. 2 Children are Born Persons)
    Mon. Nov. 12     Vol. 6, Book 1, p. 46-79 
    (Ch. 3 The Good and Evil Nature of Children and Ch. 4 Authority and Docility)

    Mon. Dec. 3       Vol. 6, Book 1, p. 1-45 
    (Ch. 5 The Sacredness of Personality and Ch. 6 Three Instruments of Education)                                                                                     

    Spring 2013 Schedule

    Mon. Jan. 7       Vol. 6, Book 1, p. 112-138 
    (Ch. 7 How We Make Use of Our Mind and Ch. 8 The Way of the Will)
    Mon. Feb. 4       Vol. 6., p. 139-168

    (Ch. 9 The Way of Reason, Ch. 10 The Curriculum, and Ch. 10 Section 1 The Knowledge of God)

    Mon. Mar. 18       Vol. 6, Book 1, p. 169-189 
    (Ch. 10 Section 2 The Knowledge of Man: History, Literature, Morals and Economics)                            

    Mon. Apr. 22       Vol. 6, Book 1, p. 190-234
    (Ch. 10 Section 2 The Knowledge of Man: Composition, Languages, Art; Ch. 10 Section 3 The Knowledge of the Universe: Science and Geography, Mathematics, Physical Development and Handicrafts)                                                                       

    Summer 2013 Schedule

    I know many will travel and have other commitments during the summer months, however, in an effort to keep going with our learning, I will post a schedule for reading and will do my best to meet with any who are available for discussion.

    Mon. June. 17      Vol. 6, Book 2, p. 235-299 
    (Ch. 1 A Liberal Education in Elementary Schools and Ch. 2 A Liberal Education in Secondary Schools)
    Mon. July. 12     Vol. 6, Book 2, p. 300 – 348 
    (Ch. 3 Scope of Continuation Schools, Ch. 4 The Basis of National Strength, and Supplementary: Too Wide a Mesh)                                                                          

    I look forward to learning along with all those interested. While I will be reading the original CM series, feel free to read what you’re ready for. Many versions are avaiable on Ambleside Online’s site for free. 



    Has there been any on-line discussion, or am I just not seeing it?


    Not yet. I went out of town right after the first meeting. Please add any thoughts here. I will try to do so, soon.



    My favorite quotes and thoughts on the Introduction…

    • “We rejoiced in the fortitude, valour and devotion shown by our men in the War and recognize that these things are due to the Schools as well as to the fact that England still breeds ‘very valiant creatures.’ It is good to know that the whole army was illustrious. … But what about the abysmal ignorance shown in the wrong thinking of many of the men who stayed at home? Are we to blame? I suppose most of us feel that we are: for these men are educated as we choose to understand education, that is, they can read and write, think perversely, and follow an argument, though they are unable to detect a fallacy.” p. 1-2 – an interesting contrast

    • “A century ago when Prussia was shipwrecked in the Napoleonic wars it was discovered that not Napoleon but Ignorance was the formidable national enemy; a few philosophers took the matter in hand, and history, poetry, philosphy proved the salvation of a ruined nation, because such studies make for the development of personality, public spirit, initiative, the qualities of which the State was in need, and which most advance individual happiness and success. On the other hand, the period when Germany made her school curriculum utilitarian marks the beginning of her moral downfall. History repeats itself.” p. 5-6

    (a) The children, not the teachers, are the responsible persons; they do the work by self-effort.

    (b) The teachers give sympathy and occasionally elucidate, sum up or enlarge, but the actual work is done by the scholars.

    (c) These read in a term one, or two, or three thousand pages, according to their age, school and Form, in a large number of set books. The quantity set for each lesson allows of only a single reading; but the reading is tested by narration, or by writing on a test passage. When the terminal examination is at hand so much ground has been covered that revision is out of the question; what the children have read they know, and write on any part of it with ease and fluency, in vigorous English; they usually spell well.

    Much is said from time to time to show that ‘mere book-learning’ is rather contemptible, and that “Things are in the saddle and ride mankind.” May I point out that whatever discredit is due to the use of books does not apply to this method, which so far as I can discover has not hitherto been employed. Has an attempt been made before on a wide scale to secure that scholars should know their books, many pages in many books, at a single reading, in such a way that months later they can write freely and accurately on any part of the term’s reading?

    (d) There is no selection of studies, or of passages or of episodes, on the ground of interest. The best available book is chosen and is read through perhaps in the course of two or three years.

    (e) The children study many books on many subjects, but exhibit no confusion of thought, and ‘howlers’ are almost unknown.

    (f) They find that, in Bacon’s phrase, “Studies serve for delight”; this delight being not in the lessons or the personality of the teacher, but purely in their ‘lovely books,’ ‘glorious books.’

    (g) The books used are, whenever possible, literary in style.

    (h) Marks, prizes, places, rewards, punishments, praise, blame, or other inducements are not necessary to secure attention, which is voluntary, immediate and surprisingly perfect.

    (i) The success of the scholars in what may be called disciplinary subjects, such as Mathematics and Grammar, depends largely on the power of the teacher, though the pupils’ habit of attention is of use in these too.

    (j) No stray lessons are given on interesting subjects; the knowledge the children get is consecutive.

    p. 7-8

    I find point j interesting. Many homeschoolers love that they can follow rabbit trails, but Charlotte is encouraging us to stay focused on the subject at hand. That habit of attention at work. 

    Here is a complete chain of the educational philosophy I have endeavoured to work out, which has, at least, the merit that it is successful in practice. Some few hints I have, as I have said, adopted and applied, but I hope I have succeeded in methodising the whole and making education what it should be, a system of applied philosophy; I have, however, carefully abstained from the use of philosophical terms.

    This is, briefly, how it works:––

    A child is a Person with the spiritual requirements and capabilities of a person.

    Knowledge ‘nourishes’ the mind as food nourishes the body.

    A child requires knowledge as much as he requires food.

    He is furnished with the desire for Knowledge, i.e., Curiosity; with the power to apprehend Knowledge, that is, attention; with powers of mind to deal with Knowledge without aid from without––such as imagination, reflection, judgment; with innate interest in all Knowledge that he needs as a human being; with power to retain and communicate such Knowledge; and to assimilate all that is necessary to him.

    He requires that in most cases Knowledge be communicated to him in literary form; and reproduces such Knowledge touched by his own personality; thus his reproduction becomes original.

    The natural provision for the appropriation and assimilation of Knowledge is adequate and no stimulus is required; but some moral control is necessary to secure the act of attention;

    a child receives this in the certainty that he will be required to recount what he has read. Children have a right to the best we possess; therefore their lesson books should be, as far as possible, our best books.

    They weary of talk, and questions bore them, so that they should be allowed to use their books for themselves; they will ask for such help as they wish for.

    They require a great variety of knowledge,––about religion, the humanities, science, art; therefore, they should have a wide curriculum, with a definite amount of reading set for each short period of study.

    The teacher affords direction, sympathy in studies, a vivifying word here and there, help in the making of experiments, etc., as well as the usual teaching in languages, experimental science and mathematics.

    Pursued under these conditions, “Studies serve for delight,” and the consciousness of daily progress is exhilarating to both teacher and children.

    The reader will say with truth,––”I knew all this before and have always acted more or less on these principles”; and I can only point to the unusual results we obtain through adhering not ‘more or less,’ but strictly to the principles and practices I have indicated. I suppose the difficulties are of the sort that Lister had to contend with; every surgeon knew that his instruments and appurtenances should be kept clean, but the saving of millions of lives has resulted from the adoption of the great surgeon’s antiseptic treatment; that is from the substitution of exact principles scrupulously applied for the rather casual ‘more or less’ methods of earlier days.

    p. 18-19 (emphasis mine)

    We should not expect to see the results that Charlotte experienced with her students, if we do not adhere to her principles. It cannot be a fault of the method. For is it fair to blame the method when we only more or less adhere to it?


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