Friday, July 29, 2016

A double deal this weekend: third audio file and a free e-book

Our third audio file is available now: "Ends and Beginnings: What I Learned From T.S. Eliot," by Anne White. It was the closing talk athe conference, but we've uploaded it next so that you can order it along with a free e-copy of Anne's book Minds More Awake: The Vision of Charlotte Mason. Both deals are good for Friday and Saturday, June 29th and 30th (North American times); then the audio file and the book will go back to regular prices.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Second Audio File From Deep in the Heart of AO conference!

Our second audio file is available now.  It's the second plenary  we had athe conference, Wendi's speaking on "The Riches" ! Again, as we celebrate AO's birthday month, the price will be 99 cents during the first 24 hours, and then it will go up, so get it now!

Monday, July 18, 2016

First Official Audiofile from our Deep in the Heart Conference!!

Friends, it's been 15 years this month since AO was reborn as AO.

This past May, we were honored and excited to gather in a humble patch of Texas prairie. For months, we planned and prayed over every hour of that time together. Our deep-in-the-heart desire was for that conference to bless the boots off of our attendees. God met us, and we had three golden days of AO goodness, under the big Texas sky.  

And now - it's your turn! We want to share that Deep in the Heart of AO conference with you. From the very beginning, AmblesideOnline has been about growing and learning together in community. All of this began with a handful of newfound online friends wading into the unknown deeps of Charlotte Mason's six astonishing, all-but-forgotten books. As her timeless ideas came to life in our midst, they brought purpose, delight, clarity, ease, and beauty into our family learning endeavors. So we decided to recreate Mason's rich PNEU school curriculum for our children.

The AO Advisory never dreamed that this thing we did for the love of our own children would grow up to become a non-profit educational foundation. Today, the AO community numbers far into the thousands, and circles the globe. It's always AO time somewhere!

So join us - we will be releasing audio files from the conference, one at a time, so you can savor the riches and the fellowship. Our first one is the opening plenary by Advisory member Donna-Jean Breckenridge, on "Renewing the Mind: Homeschooling in Hard Times."


We're delighted to be able to share this with you!


Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Birthday, AO!



THIS is an occasion that calls for a party! We are dedicating the month of July to celebrating AmblesideOnline's 15th birthday. Please do come along! Bake a cake, light sparklers, sing a song, write a brilliant Broadway play in poetic meter and call it Ambleton... okay, so maybe not. But do come along and party with us!

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