Saturday, April 12, 2014

Blueprint for a Charlotte Mason term

by Anne White

This is a "composite term" that I distilled from a number of Parents' Union School term programmes for Form III (grades 7-8).  I chose Form III partly because it is the level my own daughter is using this term, but also because it's not too far off from the programmes for Form II (grades 4-6) and Form IV (grade 9). Form II is organized slightly differently and has fewer books; Form IV adds a few new subjects.   It is not prescriptive in the sense that every single person and family who following Charlotte Mason's methods should organize their work in exactly this way; certainly if we've learned anything, it's that even in Charlotte Mason's own descriptions of schoolwork there could be variations.  

It is also not identical to the Ambleside Online yearly booklists, although AO is based largely on programmes like this one.

What it is, is what the Parents' Union School asked their parent/teachers to do each term, between about the years 1922-1930.  And they did basically the same thing, year after year.  So I feel fairly safe in saying that this is a generic but accurate Charlotte Mason-style, liberal arts, classically-inspired term.  Use it as you will. (Where specific books are named, they appeared on almost every term programme.)

Bible Lessons.
Resources for formal, consecutive Bible study, including Old Testament history, the Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles. Supporting resources such as a Bible atlas.
Resources for personal daily reading (separate from schooltime work).
Books(church history, missionary or other inspirational biographies) andappropriate activities for Sundays.

Choose a model or method for handwriting, and practice or review as needed. Choose and transcribe passages (in beautiful writing) from poetry, plays, or other books. (Calligraphy kits may be useful.)

Dictation (also in best handwriting)
Two or three pages or a passage to be prepared first from a newspaper, or, from the prose and poetry set for reading; a paragraph to be then dictated.

Refer to a textbook or online source for lessons in meter.
Read on Tuesdays some subject in "Literature," or on the news of the week, or, on some historical or allegorical subject, etc. Write on Thursdays an essay on the subject.  Write narrative poems that must scan on events that have struck you. Write letters to friends on general news (or similar descriptive writing assignments).

English Grammar.
Choose a grammar book and continue to work through it. Parse and analyse from books read.

Literature (including holiday and evening reading).
The History of English Literature for Boys and Girls, by H. E. Marshall, pages appropriate to the history being studied. One Shakespeare play, can be chosen to correspond with history or Plutarch, (or one of the comedies). One worthwhile novel, usually related to history. Possibly a second book, essays or another novel. Poetry: know the poems of six poets.

Reading. (including holiday and evening reading).
Books set under Literature, History, Geography, Recitations, should afford exercise in careful reading and in composition. Poetry should be read daily. Chapters from Bulfinch's Age of Fable.

Learn two Bible passages of about 20 verses each. Two hymns, two Psalms. Two modern poems, or a scene from  Shakespeare, or two ballads.

English History.
Chapters from main history book, and possibly a secondary source. Make a Century Chart of the time being studied. Read the daily news and keep a calendar or notebook of events.

French and General History.
Corresponding pages from a book of French history. Study of ancient cultures and artifacts, using The British Museum for Children. Keep a Book of Centuries, putting in illustrations from all history studied.  Possibly add another book of general history or about another culture. (Van Loon's Story of Mankind was included here.)

Ourselves (Book I), by Charlotte Mason; about 25 pages/term. Plutarch's Lives: usually one life per term, North's translation preferred. Reference materials such as a classical dictionary (for Plutarch and mythology). Books on government, economics, or other aspects of citizenship.

Books describing the student's own country and other countries, both physical geography and other points such as economic and social life. (Map questions to be answered from map and names put into blank map (from memory) before each lesson.) Books describing historical aspects of geography such as famous sea battles. Books or essays on travel. (Usually drawing on three different books per term.)
Know something about foreign places coming into notice in the current newspapers. Map drills on the student's own country.
Include the practical, "outdoor" type of geography (such as finding direction by the sun or stars), e.g by completing Scout/Guide badges. 

Natural History and Botany.
1. Main book about plant life (ongoing)
2. A second book relating to natural history.
Keep a Nature Note-Book, with flower and bird lists, and make daily notes.  For out-of-door work choose some special seasonal study.

General Science.
1. First book on some area of science such as astronomy

2. Second book, usually on a different topic. (Architecture counted as science.)
3. (In the ninth grade they added human physiology.)

Certain subjects that were covered by textbooks or by literature to be read and narrated: Arithmetic, Geometry, Languages (French, German, Italian, Latin)

Drawing and Picture Study.
Books or other materials for drawing instruction (if there is no teacher available). One special topic for the term such as animal studies. Illustrations of scenes from Literature. Study, describe (and draw from memory details of) six reproductions of pictures by one (sometimes two) artists.

Musical Appreciation.
Follow the work of the term's composer, including biographical and other helpful material.

Folk songs in English and in any other languages being studied. Technical work (sight singing).

Drill, etc.
Physical activities and games.

Home economics skills (including gardening, cooking, clothing design and sewing, laundry, mending), and general handicrafts. "Take the (Girl Guide) First Aid and Housecraft Tests."

(Adapted from Parents' Union School programmes posted on the Ambleside Online website (the corresponding exams are helpful too), and retrieved from the Charlotte Mason Digital Archives at Redeemer University.)

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