Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Value of The Perception of Beauty

Our FB Group has reached 10,000 members.  By way of celebration, we'd like to share another article from  volume 19 (1908) of the Parents' Review, which is not yet online.

The PR says this article is 'notes of a lecture by R. Catterson Smith.'  We are not told who took those notes, and the only author given is RCS himself.

R. Catterson Smith was a Victorian era artist who worked with William Morris and Burne-Jones on the Kelmscott Chaucer.  He also worked with Heywood Sumner and his group, and for a while was headmaster of Birmingham School of Arts and Crafts:

The History and Philosophy of Art Education, By Stuart Macdonald, page 292


You can read more of Sumner and his work here.

 Here is the article, or rather the 'notes' of his talk (where this talk was delivered, I do not know).  Keep in mind, because it is 'notes' of Catterson Smith' talks, the syntax and punctuation are irregular:

I SHALL say nothing new—I but echo what has been said by Ruskin and others. If new, it might be questioned. An ideal for our children—good, useful, beautiful. The Moral alone not sufficient. The Useful alone not sufficient. The Beautiful alone not sufficient. We want a full life. Do these three form an impossible ideal ? What could we substitute for them ?-— Respectable ? Rich ? Fashionable ? Do not fear high ideals—distrust the man who says “ Utopian ! ” Ruskin.

The brain, a highly sensitive receptacl - hundredth of a second photographic plate not so quick. The five senses are our means of contact with the world outside us. Small inlets, for light waves, sound waves, they are all touch in a way. Each of the senses supplies what the other four are deficient in. But by the combination of the five we get a broad idea of what things are. The eye supplies most of our information. Two of these have great arts dependent upon them—The ear art,  Music. The art of the eye—the resemblant arts, painting, sculpture, architecture, and all the lesser arts.

These arts have taken a prodigious time to evolve and are closely interwoven with human ideals, and must not be lightly thought of, as for amusement only. Each has played a great part in life. The art dependent on the eye, the greater part. I think music being a more abstract, less definite art, though, perhaps none the less potent, we must not forget the fable of the Trumpeter, who though he did not himself fight,  roused the fighting spirit in others by his music. We give a goal deal of the educational period of a child’s life to learning something of music. It is but a ghostly expression of the emotions-- a shadow of them. In teaching it we only teach accuracy of ear and vague feeling. We do not take children to the sea and draw their attention to the wave sounds, or into the woods to hear the Wind’s voice, and the chorus of birds in Spring.  Or make them listen to the modulations of the human voice from the musical point of view.

Though we know these are some of the sources of inspiration for the composer. We deal with the teaching of that art as if it were purely abstract. If it be purely abstract why have we Pastoral Symphonies Moonlight Sonatas, and Harmonious Blacksmiths ? Might we not gain if we studied the natural sounds definitely Composers teach us the unity of sounds embodying human emotions.

Music is not my subject however—I only introduce it to help in illustrating my subject. What I am anxious about is the training of the eye to see things truthfully. By learning first to see things truthfully we acquire the language which will help us to understand artists who will teach us to see things beautifully. Mediaeval artists painted with very limited eye vision. Turner with the very fullest.

Think of the abundance of beautiful things which nature has laid before us. I have often stood in the street to look at a fine sky, and felt inclined to cry out “ Look!” Can we see them without training? So far as the organ of sight goes, yes! But we do not see them consciously, so as get full pleasure from them. Compare the average person’s attempt to paint a leaf, with the trained person’s attempt. The average person is easily satisfied. Not so the trained person who sees more than he can give.

Considering not only what nature has given us to look at. but also the energy and money man spends in making things look nice, should we not spend a good deal of time in learning to appreciate them ?

If you take the general subjects in school you will see sight training is given a very poor place—reading, spelling, writing,  arithmetic, history, languages, geography, music, science- most of these are a burden of words to children. At the end may come drawing for one hour a week, and very often taught  by a teacher who does not know the value of it—-or who takes the value commonly set upon it, and who teaches it in quite the wrong way. Of course other subjects may be contributory to sight. Take Botany for instance. Drawing and painting are the best ways of getting the knowledge of a thing into the brain, We have done too much word-teaching, and should do more sight-teaching. Children usually like drawing and painting and it can be made a pleasant aid to teaching many subjects. Memory drawing is the best way of teaching children drawing. And it is the way they draw by nature. Know first, and draw after. The ordinary teacher who shows them how by doing, but instead should lead them on by exciting their observation. Aim at first hand observation. Show them how a little. Of course teachers should be able to do.

Children ought not to be encouraged in cleverness, so as to shine. Children are very fond of conventions, or clever tricks. These should be discouraged, as they hinder accurate observation. If a child is clever in a showy sense, that cleverness will not forsake it, should it later on become commercially valuable. But restraint is better than cleverness. Truth is what should be sought. It is the grownups who divert the child’s vision from the truth to untruth—or prejudiced vision. People like convention as a rule, often because they don’t know what truth is.

I have been speaking up to this of the getting of the knowledge of the appearance of things. While children are learning that, they may also be coming in contact with Art— i.e., learning to see things beautifully. But it should not be too advanced for them. What does learning to see things beautifully mean? The perception of unity and perfect types. The subject or story of a picture may not mean much—the unity or harmony of it is of greater value-Abraham and Isaac may teach unquestioning obedience to a higher power, but the value of such a picture by a great painter will depend on its unity more than upon its moral.

Looking at these unities continually. Unity enters into the habit of our thought, and we have the key to all the arts, and to the greatest of all arts, the art of life, the blending of all the complexities into one great unity. A hatred of muddle, a desire to have beautiful homes, and beautiful cities, a dislike to change and fashion, a liking for modest and beautiful clothing. The beautiful art of embroidery has been almost killed by the changes of fashion.

I SHALL say nothing new—I but echo what has been said by Ruskin and others. If new it might be questioned. An ideal for our children—good, useful, beautiful. The Moral alone not sufficient. The Useful alone not sufficient. The Beautiful alone not sufficient. We want a full life. Do these three form an impossible ideal ? What could we substitute for them ?-— Respectable ? Rich ? Fashionable ? Do not fear high ideals—distrust the man who says “ Utopian ! ” Ruskin.

The brain, a highly sensitive receptaclemhundredth of a second photographic plate not so quick. The five senses are our means of contact with the world outside us. Small inlets. for light waves, sound waves, they are all touch in a way. Each of the senses supplies what the other four are deficient in. But by the combination of the five we get a broad idea of uhaf things are. The eye supplies most of our information. Two of these have great arts dependent upon them—The ear art. Music. The art of the eye—the resemblant arts, painting, sculpture, architecture, and all the lesser arts.

These arts have taken a prodigious time to evolve. and are closely interwoven with human ideals, and must not be lightly thought of, as for amusement only. Each has played a great pait'in' life'.‘ The art dependent on the eye, the greater part. I think : music being a more abstract, less definite art, though, perhaps none the less potent, we must not forget the table of the Trumpeter, who though he did not himself tight. roused

the fighting spirit in others by his music. We give a goal deal of the educational period of a child’s life to learning something of music. It is but a ghostly expression of the emotions-- 3- Shadow of them. In teaching it we only teach accuracy of ear and vague feeling. We do not take children to the sea and

W -.. We- , WM draw their attention to the wave sounds, or into the woods?)

hear the Wind’s voice, and the chorus of birds in Spring, Or make them listen to the modulations of the human voice from the musical point of view. Though we know these are some 0, the sources of inspiration for the composer. We deal with the teaching of that art as if it were purely abstract. [i it be purely abstract why have we Pastoral Symphonies Moonlight Sonatas, and Harmonious Blacksmiths ? Might' We not gain if we studied the natural sounds definitely Composers teach us the unity of‘sounds embodying humgn emotions. A ,

Music is not my subject however—I only introduce it to help in illustrating my subject. What I am anxious aboutis the training of the eye to see things truthfully—~fully. By learning first to see things truthfully we acquire the language which will help us to understand artists who will teach us to see things beautifully. Mediaeval artists painted with very limited eye vision.» Turner with the very fullest.

Think of the abundance of beautiful things which nature has laid before 115,, I have often stood in the street to look at a fine sky, and felt inclined to cry out “ Look l.” Can we see them without training,p So far as the organ 'of sight goes, yes! But we do not see them consciously, so as get full pleasure from them. Compare the average person’s attempt to paint a leaf, with the trained person’s attempt. The average person is easily satisfied. Not so the trained person who sees more than he can give.

Considering not only what nature has given us to look at. but also the energy and money man spends in making things . look nice, should we not spend a good deal of time in learning * to appreciate them ?

If you take the general subjects in school you will see sight training is given a very poor place—reading, spelling, writing- arithmetic, history, languages, geography, music, sciencea most of these are a burden of‘words to children. At the end may come drawing for one hour a week, and very often taught I by a teacher who does not know the value of it—-or who takes the value commonly set upon it, and who teaches it in quite the wrong way. Of course other subjects may be contributory

to sight. Take Botany for instance. Drawing and painting

are the best ways of getting the knowledge of a thing into the brain, We have done too much word-teaching, and should do more sight-teaching. Children usually like drawing and painting and it can be made a pleasant aid to teaching many subjects. Memory drawing is the best way of teaching children drawing. And it is the way they draw by nature. Know first, and draw after. The ordinary teacher who shows them how by doing, but instead should lead them on by exciting their observation. Aim at first hand observation. Show them how a little. Of course teachers should be able to do.

Children ought not to be encouraged in cleverness, so as to shine. Children are very fond of conventions, or clever tricks. These should be discouraged, as they hinder accurate observa- tion. If a child is clever in a showy sense, that cleverness will not forsake it, should it later on become commercially valuable. But restraint is better than cleverness Truth is what should be sought. It is the grown’ups who divert the child’s vision from the truth to untruth—or prejudiced vision. People like convention as a rule, often because they don’t know what truth is.

I have been speaking up to this of the getting of the knowledge of the appearance of things. While children are learning that, they may also be coming in contact with Art— 110., learning to see things beautifully. But it should not be too advanced for them. What does learning to see things beautifully mean P The perception of unity and perfect types. The subject or story of a picture may not mean much—the unity or harmony of it is of_ greater value-Abraham and Isaac may teach unquestioning obedience to a higher power, but the value of such a picture by a great painter will depend on its unity more than upon its moral.

Looking at these unities continually. Unity enters into the habit of our thought, and we have the key to all the arts, and to the greatest of all arts, the art of life, the blending of all the complexities into one great unity. A hatred of muddle, a desire to have beautiful homes, and beautiful cities, 21 dislike to change and fashion, a liking for modest and beautiful clothing. The beautiful art of embroidery has been almost killed by the changes of fashion.

Without a love and understanding of art, ‘we shall never have beautiful life. Much effort as all know is now being made to improve the look of things, but it is not a general effort. Now to get this understanding time must be given, if you don’t insist upon it you will not get it, for science of some sort, or some other subject will be pushed in front of your children, with the idea of making them more practical citizens.

It may be thought science should hold a high place compared with art. But few of us can indulge in science. While every one of us have eyes and cannot help seeing. But we want instructed seeing.

-------------

I find it delightful that Miss Mason included somebody's notes on a lecture, much as we have highlighted various blogs about our recent conference.  But I find it a bit maddening that she does not say whose notes. I'm inclined to think they are hers, but I am not sure that holds water.

I really appreciate his point at the end- not every child, not every human being is cut out for a career in the sciences, or to 'do science' day to day at home.  Art study is far more accessible to everybody, yet strangely, we tend to considerate it somewhat of an elite subject. Few studies could be less 'elite.'

Edited to add: I don't mean science isn't valuable or important for every child.  I just find it ironic that a subject available to every child who can make a mark on a surface, who can see, or can touch a tree, a stone, a carved bit of wood is considered 'elite.'  Likewise, art and music are deeply human practices.  Every human culture known to us from the dawn of time has engaged in them in some form or other. In our day, the fact that so many consider them dispensable is rather a tragedy.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Old is new: on literature and Plutarch

by Anne White

from "The Teaching of English," by E.A. Abbott, 1868

The home-work should teach boys what is literature, the school-work what is thought. A beginning might be made with "Robinson Crusoe" and Byron's "Sennacherib," or some other short, intelligible, and powerful poem; then "Ivanhoe" and the "Armada"; then Plutarch's "Coriolanus"and the "Horatius Codes," Plutarch's "Julius Caesar" and Gray's "Ruin seize thee"; Plutarch's "Agis and Cleomenes" and the "Battle of Ivry"; then "Marmion"; then the "Allegro" and " Penseroso," or "Comus";  then (in the class in which those boys leave who are intended for commercial pursuits) Pope's "Iliad"; then part of the "Paradise Lost;" then part of the "Fairy Queen"; then Chaucer's "Knight's Tale" or Dante's "Inferno" (in English), or the "In  Memoriam," or some of the poems of Dryden, Pope, or Johnson...   A play of Shakespeare might be read during another term throughout almost every class in the school. Shakespeare and Plutarch's "Lives" are very devulgarizing books, and I should like every boy who leaves a middle-class school for business at the age of fifteen, suppose, or sixteen, to have read three or four plays of Shakespeare, three or four noble poems, and three or four nobly-written lives of noble Greeks and Romans. I should therefore like to see Plutarch's " Lives " in the hands of every English schoolboy; or, if it were necessary to make a selection, those biographies which best illustrate one's "duty toward one's country." 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

T.S. Eliot Talk Source Notes: Anne White

by Anne White

A bibliography of sorts for the Deep in the Heart of AO talk "Ends and Beginnings: What I Learned From T.S. Eliot."

BOOKS



ARTICLES

"Somerset: Why Tom Loved the Last Word" (Telegraph article by Anthony Gardner)




FILMS

Muscle Shoals (2013) (conversation with Gregg Allman)

Seymour: An Introduction (2014)

ONLINE VIDEOS

Thursday, April 28, 2016

On the boyhood reading of Plutarch

(posted by Anne White)

From the footnotes to Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on Plutarch, written by the editor, Emerson's son, Dr.Edward Waldo Emerson. (Photograph of father, son and baby grandson here.)
"Mr. Emerson as a boy read Plutarch, and never tired of this early friend. When I was fourteen years old, he put Plutarch’s Lives into my hand and bade me read two pages every week-day and ten every holiday. It seemed at first an irksome task, but my mother asked me to read them aloud to her, and this made it easier. Lycurgus’s training of the Spartan boys, Archimedes’s amazing military engineering in the defence of Syracuse, Hannibal’s passage of the Alps, Scipio’s magnanimity and Cæsar’s courage and genius won their own way, as my father knew they would with a boy, and, what is by no means common with authors, the personality of the writer also, as, for instance, where he drops the narrative to hotly censure the meanness of Cato the Elder in selling his slaves when they were past service. The style of Plutarch could commend itself even to a boy."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

They Do Shakespeare Here?


Several years ago one of my daughters and I attended a Charlotte Mason seminar. There was a group of teens and young people there, some of whom were her special friends, met online via the Advisory and AO. They had some loosely planned activities to do together, planned mainly by Advisory son Tim Laurio and his soon to be bride Hannah Hoyt (I believe they are the main planners).

 My girl told me a story about one of the other teens there. She knew nobody before she came, not even as online friends. She clearly felt a bit out of place and awkward- something I think most of us can sympathize with. She wasn't sure she fit in. But then one of the young people explained they were meeting at such and such a time under such and such a tree on the grounds to read Shakespeare together in character, and those who were interested could join them, but nobody was required to be there. Hold your breath a moment in preparation for what happened next.

The girl feeling like a square peg in a round hole shivered and adjusted her perspective, looking, wide-eyed, her countenance brightening perceptibly as she turned to somebody near her and said eagerly, "They do Shakespeare here?"  I wasn't there, so maybe I am wrong, but I always think of this story as one of those Holy Ground moments, when the kalaidescope shifts and something beautiful is revealed- and what is more beautiful than an awkward child feeling miserably alone and out of the group suddenly realizes she is not alone?

Why yes, yes they did 'do Shakespeare' there, and she found her 'tribe' as she looked around at the other young people who suddenly appeared to be square pegs as well, and she realized she was in a place with plenty of square spaces in which to fit comfortably.

 My girl told me this young lady came right out of her shell over Shakespeare readings and seemed to have a lovely time henceforth. And I suspect that is why, when I was talking about this Conference with this daughter, now grown up, married, and with a baby, she said, "Oh, I could do Shakespeare with any interested teens who come!

 And so she is. The teens who wish to will be reading Midsummer Nights' Dream together in character. We purchased a version edited for homeschoolers by Joyce McPherson, so no worries about any of the sometimes bawdy bits Shakespeare includes.

 Those who want to join may, nobody is required to. Parents are still responsible for their own teens- this isn't babysitting or childcare. And because so far of those teens who are coming, most are coming to help with a younger sibling, and my girl is coming with a nursing baby, the times and locations will have to be flexible. They will work out details of where on the grounds and when amongst themselves. They will choose their parts, and read aloud in character, sharing books if necessary, breaking for the little ones amongst them as needed. It will be very flexible, very informal, and I am sure very, very delightful. Because we, too, do Shakespeare here, and so do most of you.
It's still not too late to register for the conference.  It is too late to ask for special dietary needs, but you may pack your own food and eat on the grounds or in your room (their rules- no outside food in their dining room).  Hope you can join us!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

NEW GIVEAWAY!! CONSIDER THIS, by Karen Glass!!

Teacher@Home, YOU WON! Please email us with your address. And to everybody else, my abject apologies for the delay in getting a name drawn. I really have no excuse except conference business putting this task right out of my head. I am ashamed. Karen will have one free copy of her book mailed to the lucky winner of our next drawing! Our drawing for her book works the same way as our previous giveaway (except I'll be using a random number generator to choose our lucky winner)- share the conference!

  http://amblesideonline.org/2016Conference/Conference2016.html

To present your name for consideration for our give-away, please share the above link to our conference page on social media- FB, Twitter, Instagram, your blog, a homeschooling group you're in, Tumbler- whatever and wherever is out there that you are comfortable sharing our conference link. Then come back here and tell us about it in the comments, leaving a link to your share in the comments if possible. EACH time you share is one entry in a drawing.   So share on twitter, tell us about it, and that's one entry.  Share on FB, tell us about it, and that's another entry.

I will draw the name of the winner of our giveaway when we have fifty comments, or on Friday if we get fifty entries before then.

And congratulations to Amy Boesl, who won our giveaway of a mug and totebag, which we will mail right after the conference!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Your chance for an AO MUG!!

Amy Boesl is our winner!! Amy, email us your mailing address and we'll send your mug and bag when our conference is over (we'll be sending in one order for our conference, so we will receive your mug and bag w/our conference order). Amblesideonline, using gmail is our email addy. thanks to all for participating! Watch this space, because we are having another giveaway very, very soon! http://amblesideonline.org/2016Conference/Conference2016.html
Above is the link to the AO Conference we're having in May- our 3rd conference in ten years, and the last conference we plan to have for at least three more years, maybe more. We're hip-deep in the planning bounce house excitedly and energetically working out details right now, and as exhausting as it all is, we are getting excited, too.

We have so many ideas for what we want to share with you all, and so little time.We are trying to offer a good mix of philosophy as well as practical hand-holding, sharing the why as well as the what, and speaking from our hearts about why we do what we do, and how you can implement CM's principles in your homeschool (or private school- we know we have teachers in private schools coming).

 One of the perks of being able to come to a conference, or just have a friend at a conference, is that up until now,  this has been the only way to get one of our special AO coffee mugs or totebags. These are so pretty- many people have wished they'd ordered two, or have asked us to consider shipping them out so people who can't come to the conference can also have them. They really are lovely, and while we wish everybody who wants one could own one,  we really can't redirect our time and energy from curriculum development and conference planning to shipping out coffee mugs.

However,  we have come up with an opportunity for one special reader to win a free mug and totebag and we promise to ship them out to you at our expense (but not until after the conference).
We're having a giveaway!
To present your name for consideration for our give-away, please share the above link to our conference page on social media- FB, Twitter, Instagram, your blog, a homeschooling group you're in, Tumbler- whatever and wherever is out there that you are comfortable sharing our conference link. Then come back here and tell us about it in the comments, leaving a link to your share in the comments.
 EACH time you share is one entry in a drawing for a free mug/totebag combo, shipping included. So if you share the conference link on Twitter, FB, and Instagram, you'd leave 3 comments, saying basically, "I shared the conference on Twitter!  (link here)."  Leave another comment for a fB share, and so forth.

The winner will be selected on Friday, or when we reach 100 shares, whichever comes first.  Should we reach 100 shares really quickly (like, by the end of today), we'll probably give away TWO mugs and TWO totes!

On Friday or when this post has 100 comments, I will select the lucky recipient of this week's giveaway by the randomly scientific process of printing out the comments, cutting them apart, tossing them in a bowl and having one of my deliciously adorable small grandchildren pull out one of the slips.

To Recap:

 Share the above link or this one on social media : http://preview.tinyurl.com/AOConferenceHeartofAO

Each social media platform mention is a separate chance to be picked for the giveaway- so copy and paste the link where you shared in the comments below, one per social media share.

Cross your fingers and hope we draw your name, and keep an eye on this space for the next pre-conference giveaway!!

P.S.  Yes, OF COURSE you can enter even if you can't come to the conference.