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Monday, May 19, 2014

The Need for Balance. A Craving for Unity.

When it comes to education it's important to keep a balanced view of things. This is true because, all areas of life demand that we keep a balanced view. It's the way it is. Years ago when Charlotte Mason promoted the now well known motto 'Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life', none of these thoughts were 'new'. The emphasis of atmosphere in education wasn't original to her. Neither were these: 'Education is a Life' or 'Education is a Discipline'. These thoughts have all come and gone again and again. Taken individually, none is complete. Alone, each tends to one extreme or another.

As important as each aspect is, for example, atmosphere is not enough. It isn't enough to have a beautiful classroom, the best equipment and the picture perfect teacher with influence and knowledge to boot. If that were ALL there were to education, boredom, laziness, a lack of both curiosity and power of attention would be inevitable. Externals can only take you so far.

On the other hand, 'education as life' would tend to complete exhaustion. It be a literal case of too. much. information. One can only do so much learning without coming back round to the same ennui (n :a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.) Over much internal pressure will cause explosion! The brain reverts to a vegetable state in order to survive.

Similarly unbalanced, education with discipline (habit development) as it's primary focus, teaches the acquisition of character traits like 'subjects' meant to turn out a certain 'product' over-compartmentalizes our complex natures 'producing rather one-sided men'.

Any one of these mottoes taken alone is insufficient for summing up education because by itself each tips the balance to one extreme or another.
“Our nature craves after unity.” (p155)
Which is why Charlotte Mason proclaims, Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, AND a Life. All three.
When it comes to curriculum, it must be wide, varied, and balanced. It must be a feast of living ideas; from the past and present, from first-hand sources, from 'REALLY good books' (I really love that she emphasizes good books with the word 'really'. I really do.).

This is the way things are. As persons fashioned after an infinite God, we are complex beings. We must consider ALL our intricately interwoven parts when we think about educating persons. We can't afford to go to one extreme or the other. Balance. Education must be the Science of Relations:
“A child should be brought up to have relations of force with earth and water, should run and ride, swim and skate, lift and carry; should know texture, and work in material; should know by name, and where and how they live at any rate, the things of the earth about him, its birds and beasts and creeping things, its herbs and trees; should be in touch with the literature, art and thought of the past and the present I do not mean that he should know all these things; but he should feel, when he reads of it in the newspapers, the thrill which stirred the Cretan peasants when the frescoes in the palace of King Minos were disclosed to the labour of their spades. He should feel the thrill, not from mere contiguity, but because he has with the past the relationship of living pulsing thought...”

“He must have a living relationship with the present, its historic movement, its science, literature, art, social needs and aspirations. In fact, he must have a wide outlook, intimate relations all round; and force, virtue, must pass out of him,whether of hand, will, or sympathy, wherever he touches.” (p161-2)


This post is based on my own thoughts about Chapter 14 in Volume 3, School Education by Charlotte Mason. The topic, A Master Thought, is May's topic for the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival 2014 Schedule. If you'd like to read other posts on the subject, be sure to read all the May editions.

If you'd like to share your post with the upcoming carnival, find out how here. Find links to past CMBCarnivals here.


amyinperu said...

absolutely! she encourages the unified life, not going overboard in one direction or another... :)

amyinperu said...

p.s. it's volume 3... the very next chapter, actually! that'll fall within the topic for next month's carnival!

Mrs.K said...

I put Vol. 5 in my comment here too! Silly me! I noticed just this afternoon that I put Vol. 5 on my blog post and had to change that. Thanks for clarifying it here too. :)

Tammy Glaser said...

Thanks for reminding me what is essential in the three mainstays: proper balance. It's like our muscles. If you overwork one group of muscles, they become strain and the other muscles become underused, leading to injury and weakness down the road.

Avivamiento Bíblico said...

Hola hermana. Me llamo Gabriel y soy de Barcelona, España. Llevo unos días intentando encontrar algún tipo de contacto con su marido, Micah, pero no he podido aún encontrar nada, excepto ésto. Agrtadecería mucho si pudiera llegar a contactar con él, pues me gustaría hacerle unas preguntas acerca de su precioso ministerio. Estoy planteandome seriamente ir 3 semanas a Perú en Agosto, pues hay carga desde hace años en mi corazon, y la verdad que no tengo contaactos de ministerios o misiones que tengan como prioridad la fiel predicación del evangelio de la Gracia entre los peruanos. Por eso estoy muy contento de oír de Micah, y me gus taría saber si él pudiese orientarme. Gracias desde ya, y por favor contacte conmigo cuando pueda, ya que los días se acercan y todavía no puedo comprar el billete de avión porque me faltan contactos allá y una orientación básica. Mi contacto es

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