Tuesday, April 21, 2015

From the Parents' Review: on children's collections

(posted by Anne White)

"As for the educational value of juvenile collecting, there are many sorts of collections which are instructive and quite harmless, which depend on contributions gathered by the children themselves, not bought in shops: shells, pebbles, twigs, seeds, mosses, and best of all, paintings of flowers. It is as easy to make a child look out in the map the country whence comes a plant, the flower of which he has painted, as it is to make him look for the town where a stamp was issued. The secretary of the Bayswater Branch of the P.N.E.U., in inviting children to send Natural History collections for the annual exhibition, expressed a wish that shells, seeds, etc., should be sent in boxes not bought, but made by the children."

("The Stamp Traffic As a Factor in Education." Letter to the Parents' Review by Mary Everest Boole, Volume 10, 1899, pg. 214.)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Notes of Lessons from the Parents' Review: Joseph Chamberlain and the Last Crusade

"Churchill later wrote that 'Mr. Chamberlain was incomparably the most live, sparkling, insurgent, compulsive figure in British affairs ... 'Joe' was the one who made the weather. He was the man the masses knew.''" (Wikipedia, Joseph Chamberlain)

Parents' Review, Volume 15, Number 2, pages 144-147. (1904)

Subject: Fiscal Problem, 1846-1903.

Group: History.  Class IV.  Time: 45 minutes.



I. To arouse interest in the Fiscal Policy
II. To connect the present time with the period in English history which the girls have been learning.
III. To show how different ages may have different requirements.


Step I.--Introduce the subject of the lesson by asking the girls what they know of the Fiscal question and its importance. It may be a turning point in our history.

Step II. Ask the girls when Free Trade was established in England--1846. Then draw from them through whose influence it was brought about--Cobden, Bright and Peel. Show portraits of these people and tell the girls a little about each. Then draw from them as much as I can about the Corn Laws, whom they benefitted and whom they harmed. They had existed since 1463 in various forms. There had often been objections raised against them, but from 1840-6 there seems to have been the climax. Draw from the girls how this may accounted for by the condition of the country. Then show how circumstances made Peel change his opinions, and finally bring about the repeal of the Corn Laws.

Ask the girls to read extracts from two of Peel's speeches. (Knight's History.)

Step III.--Ask the girls what we mean by Free Trade, and whether they think the effects of "Free Importation" have been good for England. If they do, why was it good? We, as the greatest manufacturing nation of the world, naturally prospered if we could get our raw materials free of duty. Then if we have so prospered, why is there any thought of abandoning it now? Because we are no longer at the head of the manufacturing world. Cobden thought other countries would be content to continue supplying us with raw material and leave manufacturing to us; but they have not been, and now competition runs us close. It is said our exports are decreasing in proportion as those of other countries are increasing. There is another reason. In Cobden's age it was only necessary to think of England's good, but now we have also to consider our Colonies, and our Empire is so large it has been thought necessary to devise some means of binding it all together. The means advocated by Mr. Chamberlain is a Preferential Tariff. I wish to draw as much of this as I can from the girls.

Step IV.--Draw from the girls a very short sketch of Mr. Chamberlain's career. He was born in Birmingham in 1836. At the age of 40 he entered Parliament. He was under Mr. Gladstone and worked energetically for his interests. But when the Home Rule Bill was brought forward he resigned, saying he did not think it consistent with the integrity of the Empire. This step procured him the ill-will of his party and the distrust of his adversaries. In 1892 Mr Chamberlain was again in Parliament; three years later he became Colonial Secretary. In 1900 he did much to bring about the Australian Commonwealth Act. At the Colonial Conference last year, it was desired to devise some means of drawing the Colonies and the mother country near together. A Preferential Tariff was suggested. Mr. Chamberlain seems to have had the idea in his mind for some time; he announced his views in a speech at Birmingham some time ago. In  September last he resigned, that he might better be able to spread his ideas among the people, and also that his policy should not be treated as a party quetion. He has explained his views in his speeches at Glasgow, Greenock, Newcastle and Liverpool.

At Liverpool on 27 October, Chamberlain was escorted to the Conservative Working Men's Association by mounted police amidst wild cheering. Intending to enlist the support of the working class, Chamberlain assured his audience that tariff reform ensured low unemployment. When the Liberal-supporting Daily News used official import prices to demonstrate that a loaf of bread under tariff reform would be smaller than a free trade loaf of bread, Chamberlain arranged for two loaves to be baked based upon free trade and tariff reform prices. On 4 November 1903, Chamberlain spoke at Bingley Hall, Birmingham and put the loaves on display, raising them aloft. "Is it not a sporting question ... as to which is the larger?" he asked the rapturous audience.[12] (Wkipedia)

Step V.--Draw from the girls what I can of Mr. Chamberlain's proposals He wants a Preferential Tariff, that is, he would put a duty on all foreign imports, but allow some Colonial imports in free, in return for preferences from them. The consequences of this would be--

(a) That corn and meat would be dear; tea, sugar, coffee, fruit, wine, etc. would be free of duty. Mr. Chamberlain says that the changes in price would counterbalance each other, even to the advantage of the poor man.

(b) The time for Free Trade has come to an end, for ours is only Free Importation, and we lose doubly by it--we lose home trade and foreign markets.

(c) Our export trade with the foreigner is decreasing, that with the Colonies is increasing, therefore let us set up a Preferential Tariff between us and the Colonies and shut out cheap foreign imports.

(d) This done, there would be enough work for the home market to employ many of the men who now can find nothing to do.

(e) In the time of war, instead of being dependent on foreigners for three-quarters of our supply of food, we should have all we want from our Colonies.

(f) The Empire would be a self-supporting whole.

Step VI.--There are many objectors to Mr. Chamberlain, such as Lord Rosebery, Lord George Hamilton, Lord Goschen and others. Their objections have been partially answered by Mr. Chamberlain in his speeches, but some can only be answered by hypothetical arguments.

(a) They say our exports are not decreasing, and quote figures to prove this, which differ from Mr. Chamberlain's figures. It is hard to know which are right.

(b) Such an arrangement would strain relations with the Colonies; it would be impossible to be just to all alike.

(c) It would rouse the enmity of foreign powers.

(d) We should be dependent on the Colonies; if we wished to change any duty, we should first have to ask their permission and they might very well refuse.

Some people only object to the food tax. In England living is comparatively cheap. It is a question whether the producer or the consumer would pay the duty. Other people object to the whole idea of a Preferential Tariff; in England the wages are higher and the working hours shorter than in any other European country.

We must beware of comparing England with any non-European country, as the conditions would be different.

Also, we must remember there is another view of Protection, protection of home industries; laying a tax on the consumer for the benefit of the producer.

Step VII.--These are the chief points in the new policy. Tell the girls I should like them to read Mr. Chamberlain's last speech, if they have not already done so; and show them how the newspaper is our "present history book."

So what happened? See Tariff Reform, on Wikipedia.

Trivia: Who is Joseph Chamberlain's best-known son?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Parents' Reviews: A Grammar Lesson

Parents' Review, Volume 15, Number 3, pages 228-229. (1904)

Subject: Grammar.

Group: English.  Class II.  Time: 20 minutes.

By H.M.A. Bell.


I.  To increase the children's power of reasoning and attention.
II. to increase their knowledge of English Grammar.
III. To introduce a new part of speech--prepositions.


Step I--Draw from the children the names of the two kinds of verbs and the difference between them, by putting up sentences on the board.  Thus in the sentence "Father slept," "slept" is intransitive, therefore he could not "slept" anything, as "slept" cannot have an object.

Step II.--Put on the board the sentence "Mary went," and ask the children to try and make it more complete by adding an object. "Mary went school" would not be sense, but "Mary went to school" would be. Ask for other phrases saying where Mary went, as: for a walk, in the town, with mother, on her bicycle, by train, etc.

Step III.--Tell the children that these little words on, in, by, for, with, etc., belong to a class of little words which are very much used with intransitive verbs, and though they have not much meaning when used alone, yet in a sentence they cannot stand without an object.  You cannot say "Mary went in" without saying what she went in.

Step IV.--Introduce the word "preposition" giving its derivation.  Because these little words always take objects after them and because their place is before the object, they are called prepositions, "pre" being the Latin word for "before," and "position" another word for "place."

Step V.--Write on the board the definition:-- "A preposition always has an object after it."

Step VI.--Let the children work through the following exercises:--

(1.) Put three objects after each of the following prepositions:--in, on, over, by, with and from.

(2.) Put three prepositions and their objects after the following:--Mary plays, Mother sits, John runs.

(3.) Supply three prepositions in each of the following sentences:--The book is ____ the table.  The chair is ____ the door.  I stood ____ the window.

(4.) Supply three subjects and verbs to each of the following prepositions and objects: ______ in the garden, ___ ___ on the floor, and ___ ___ by the fire.

(5.) Make three sentences about each of the following, each sentence to contain an intransitive verb, preposition and object:--The white pony, my little brother, that pretty flower.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A thought about Plutarch

by Anne White

The decision to include Plutarch's Lives--or not--or in what translation--becomes a kind of touchpoint for how we view (or do) a Charlotte Mason education. Shakespeare is easy; everyone knows Shakespeare, recognizes Shakespeare. Nobody argues with teaching Shakespeare. But Plutarch belongs much more unmistakably to Charlotte Mason; if homeschooling was the world and CM was Australia, Plutarch would be a Vegemite sandwich. 

(Australians, what do you think?)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Another early reading lesson (Parents' Reviews)

(posted by Anne White)

From The Parents' Review, Volume 15, Number 4 (1904)

Subject: Reading.

Group: English. Class: 1a.  Time: 15 minutes.

By D. Brownell


I. To improve E--'s reading.
II. To enlarge his vocabulary.
III. To make him think.
IV. To develop the habit of attention

Step I.--Tell E- a little about the piece of poetry- "A Friend in the Garden," by Mrs. Ewing--that he is going to read, so as to arouse his interest.

Step II.--Take the first line, "He is not John the gardener," and let E-- read the word "gardener," using the powers of the letters, and not their names. Write it up on the blackboard, in order to impress it appearance on his mind. Then take [teach] the word "John," and then [teach the word] "not," and from this last [i.e. only from not] make a column of words on the blackboard, by simply changing the initial letter, letting E-- furnish the words. Then let the line be read straight through.

Step III.-- Take the next line-- "And yet the whole day long," beginning again with the most difficult words, "whole" and "long," and from "and" and "long" write columns of words on the board.

Step IV.--Take the third line--"Employs himself most usefully," in the same way, beginning with "employs" and "usefully."

Step V.--Take the fourth line-- "The flower-beds among," in the same way.

Step VI.--Let E-- read the verse straight through.

Step VII.-- Read the other verses of the poems to him, and show him a picture of a "friendly toad."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

From the Parents' Review: An early reading lesson

(posted by Anne White)

From "Notes of Lessons," in The Parents' Review, Volume 17, Number 6.


Subject: Reading.

Group: English. Class Ia.  Time: 10 minutes.

By N. Dixon.


I.--To help the children to gain power in visualising words.
II.--To interest them in reading.
III.--To cultivate the habits of attention and accuracy.
IV.--To give practice in clear and distinct enunciation.


Step I.--Interest the boys in the picture belonging to the lesson to arouse the wish to read about it.

Step II.--Print on the blackboard the words from the lesson which present any new difficulty : cabin, lives, turrets, hammock, instead. Children to sound and read them, and then write them in the air with their eyes shut.

Step III.--Let them find them in the reading book, then make the words with their letters from dictation.

Step IV.--Children to read the first three lines of the lesson, from the book.

Step V.--Print on the board any words they still find difficulty in recognising, and let them make them with letters and find them in the book.

Ben is a cabin boy. He lives on a big ship with turrets and guns on the deck. Ben has a hammock in the ship, instead of a bed.

Note: the book is unnamed, but it might be The Happy Reader, by E.L. Young.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Synthetic Thinking and Math

by Karen Glass

Education is the science of relations. That’s the principle that underlies what I call synthetic thinking (explained more fully in Consider This). The principle applies even to arithmetic, which is, although we don’t usually fathom the reason, one of the liberal arts. An art is not made up merely of information to master--it is meant to used. Arts are “practiced.” We want to foster a relationship between students and the world of mathematics, and that is most readily accomplished when we treat mathematics as an art to be practiced.

There is going to come a time, in math, when a child is going to have to sit down and work through some complicated equations. That is either going to be a challenge met with confidence and a lift of the chin-- “I can do this!”--or with boredom and despair. We often speak of wanting children to love reading, love literature, love books, maybe even love history or science. We rarely speak of wanting to them to love numbers, and this is probably a reflection of the reality that few of us formed that relationship in our early years of education. Whether or not that relationship is formed will determine the response a child--and even an adult--brings to those complicated problems.
The chief value of arithmetic, like that of the higher mathematics, lies in the training it affords the reasoning powers, and in the habits of insight, readiness, accuracy, intellectual truthfulness it engenders. There is no one subject in which good teaching effects more, as there is none in which slovenly teaching has more mischievous results. Multiplication does not produce the 'right answer,' so the boy tries division; that again fails, but subtraction may get him out of the bog. There is no must be to him; he does not see that one process, and one process only, can give the required result. Now, a child who does not know what rule to apply to a simple problem within his grasp, has been ill taught from the first, although he may produce slatefuls of quite right sums in multiplication or long division. (Home Education, p. 254)
We often speak of a "Charlotte Mason education" being a paradigm shift, and nowhere is that shift greater than in the area of math. Charlotte Mason knew that math was about much more than getting the “right answer.” There is a relationship between math and the natural life of men, and it was this relationship that she wanted to foster first.
How is this insight, this exercise of the reasoning powers, to be secured? Engage the child upon little problems within his comprehension from the first, rather than upon set sums. (Home Education, p. 254)
In practice, this means that children should begin with what we call “word problems,” and those problems should be based upon real-life experiences that the child might expect to occur. For the smallest children, these math problems occur easily in course of living.

Home life is full of easy little arithmetic problems that bring the importance of numbers, as well as concepts such as quantity, equality, and one-to-one correspondence within the grasp of even quite young children. A family of four is joining us for dinner. How many chairs to do we need to add to the table? I can only find three clean spoons--how many will we need to wash so that we have enough? There are six cookies left in the box. How many can each child have?

Older children can figure how much five cans of corn will cost, or whether there is enough money for everyone to get double-scoop ice-cream cones, or if singles will have to do this time.

Older children may be given more complex, multi-step problems, such as “Joe gathered 87 walnuts and Tim gathered 28. They plan to share the nuts with three friends. How many will each of the five boys receive?” Charlotte Mason says that a child will perceive exactly what must be done in order to solve the problem, although “Care must be taken to give the child such problems as he can work, but yet which are difficult enough to cause him some little mental effort.” (Home Education, p. 255)

The more occasions a child has to use math in real life--and that might include playing games in which counting, adding (or subtracting) points, or other arithmetic plays a part--the more likely he is to develop an interest in and a relationship with math.

Math is needed for cooking, for science, for travel, for planning and purchasing, and the more integrated a child’s exposure to math is, the greater will be his appreciation for it. Once that appreciation is established, the extra effort needed to memorize math facts or unravel complex equations will be entered into more willingly. The child has no need to whine, “why do I have to learn this?” If he has developed a synthetic understanding of math, he already knows the answer to that question, and will likely also work out the answer to the arithmetic problem at hand.