Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Is Plutarch too difficult for children? A few century-old opinions

by Anne White

In 1919, twenty-six schools using the PNEU curriculum (i.e. the correspondence school based on Charlotte Mason’s methods) were surveyed as to their impressions of the books, methods, the success of the curriculum with their students, etc. The results were compiled into an article that was included in a booklet, Impressions of the Ambleside Method.

On the topic of Plutarch, the survey drew mixed responses.

“The study of Plutarch's Lives,” says another [teacher], “seems suitable only for riper minds. If the Lives as a whole were studied the scholar might get an idea of the foundation of the Roman and Grecian Empires.”

“But,” said [the editor] Mr. Household, “he has missed the whole purpose of the study, which is by no means to give them ‘an idea of the foundation of the Roman and Grecian Empires,’ but something very different.” 

Mr. Household quoted the French philosopher Montaigne:

 “He (the teacher) shall by the help of Histories inform himself of the worthiest minds that were in the best ages. It is a frivolous study if a man list, but of invaluable worth to such as can make use of it...What profit shall he not reap touching this point, reading the lives of our Plutarch? Always conditioned the master bethink himself whereto his charge tendeth, and that he imprint not so much in his scholar's mind the date of the ruin of Carthage, as the manners of Hannibal and Scipio, nor so much where Marcellus died, as because he was unworthy of his devoir he died there; that he teach him not so much to know Histories, as to judge of them...” (Of the Institution and Education of Children. Essays, Book I, Chap. xxv)

[One teacher] found that “Narration has greatly improved their English. The children have a larger vocabulary. They have a clearer way of expressing themselves, and are not afraid of speaking in front of the other scholars...Then again there are many subjects for Compositions and the Compositions have certainly improved; they are not as scrappy as they used to be. The subjects of their essays are more interesting.”

“The children very much appreciated the story of Romulus and Remus, ” said [a young teacher], “and seem to have set out with the determination to enjoy the life story of Lycurgus. It is this book--Plutarch's Lives--and the History of Rome which are the subjects of interesting compositions.”

To sum up, another teacher said,

“There is no disguising that the children find Plutarch difficult, but they are meant to find him difficult. The joy comes when the difficulties are mastered, and they are being mastered at [our school]. ”

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Q and A: What Would You Say....


Q. What would you say to a mom who is considering homeschooling but she says the books AO uses are too advanced, too difficult for children that are assigned to read them to understand?


A.  It is true that the books are quite advanced, and seem very challenging.  On the other hand, if we go back and look at classrooms and children's bookshelves in the past, we would see that well over one hundred years ago, the books in the AmblesideOnline curriculum were commonly read, understood, and much loved by average middle-class students of the same ages. (The Lambs wrote their Shakespeare retellings in 1807 and it was an immediate hit).

Charlotte Mason used many of these same books with children whose parents were coal miners and others from the uneducated working classes, and she found them very successful. They were used in India with children for whom English was their second language, and they worked.

 I would like to stop and think about why we believe today's average 7 year old cannot understand what the average 7 year old of 100 years or more ago could enjoy?   And after we have given that some thought, I would like us to further consider that insomuch as it is true that today's 7 year old cannot understand books that were the delight of 7 year old children over a hundred years ago, is this something to be satisfied with, or is it something to deplore and correct for our own children?

I recently learned that in America, public school texts, particularly the language arts and literature textbooks, were significantly simplified (dumbed down) after the Great War (WWI) and then again after WW2 - to the point that what currently passes for Advanced Placement courses for high school is equivalent to work done by average seventh graders before the mass stupification (sorry, it just makes me so mad).  (Source: The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier, a book primarily about helping your students do well on the SAT)- and I believe they have been revised and dumbed down again more than once since then.

So why is public school the standard?    Rather than accepting what was done to us and is being done to our children, fight back. Raise the standard. Children understood and loved these texts before. They can do it again. They are doing it again, as we have seen in hundreds and hundreds of families who are using AO, in our own children, and in a few CM-inspired small cottage schools we hear of here and there, some of which use our curriculum. These books were well within these same target ages appropriate in the 1800s and the 1900s, and (barring significant issues which would be obvious exceptions) there is no reason they cannot be read, understood, and much beloved by school aged children today.

Naturally, we are not all starting at the same point.  For some of us it takes some more work, some more effort, and some more sacrifices (namely, do give up electronic screen time if you are having trouble, and don't skip the glorious outdoor play and romps), but it is *so* worth it.

 That's what I wish I could say to such mothers - with earnest pleading, and a reminder that every one of the Advisory put this together for such a mom as you, and we and our fabulous Auxiliary team and dozens and dozens of other devoted volunteers reaching across the table and grabbing every young mother's hands and promising to help as much as we can on our fb page, on the forum, and via our website.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Plutarch comments on things, words, and learning languages

"But I my selfe that dwell in a poore litle towne, and yet doe remayne there willingly least it should become lesse : whilest I was in Italy, and at Rome, I had no leysure to study and exercise the Latine tongue, as well for the great busines I had then to doe, as also to satisfie them that came to learne Philosophie of me : so that even somewhat too late, and now in my latter time, I began to take my Latine bookes in my hand. And thereby, a straunge thing to tell you, but yet true : I learned not, nor understood matters so much by the words, as I came to understand the words, by common experience and knowledge I had in things. But furthermore, to knowe howe to pronownce the Latin tongue well, or to speake it readily, or to understand the signification, translations, and fine joyning of the simple words one with another, which doe bewtifie and set forth the tongue : surely I judge it to be a marvailous pleasant and sweete thing, but withall it requireth a long and laborsome study, meete for those that have better leysure then I have, and that have young yeares on their backes to follow such pleasure."  ~~ Plutarch, Life of Demosthenes

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What Can Happen When You Sing Hymns


My eldest daughter and her husband have been singing with their kids forever.  Okay, not literally forever, as her kids are not very old- 5, 4, 3, and 1.  However, from the childrens' perspective it is forever, because she was singing hymns to them when they were still in the womb.  I have a vivid memory of her singing to her firstborn while he was being resuscitated after being born gray, limp, and unresponsive. I am positive he stayed with us to hear more of his mother's songs.
   Very recently this busy family has been working specifically on the hymn Trust and Obey. This mainly means they make sure to sing it every day in a more focused, intentional way. I could tell Trust and Obey was their current hymn because while the grandchildren were visiting me recently, they gathered themselves and their baby cousins together on my stairs and sang most of the hymn together, and my grandma heart was warmed to the core. Imagine the joy of hearing your small grandchildren spontaneously singing hymns together just for fun, because they want to.
A couple of days ago, the four year old unfortunately did not obey, and this resulted in an unplanned trip to the emergency room where she had to have a blood draw to determine just how dangerous her disobedience had been.  To be honest, it  was a pretty rough experience for them all, and perhaps especially for our small grand-daughter..
Her brother was born with a medical condition requiring regular blood draws, so she knows more about it than most four year old children.  When she saw the white-coated staff coming toward her, she knew what to expect, and she was upset. Her mama offered to sing to her to help her think about something else, and asked what song she would like Mommy to sing. 
She was still thinking about what song she wanted when the process began. It wasn't their fault- the ER room was swamped, and other patients were waiting.  The staff was as kind as possible, but they were forced to rush.  They began with back to back. simultaneous and brutal sticks- again, not their fault. She is not an easy stick.  It was at the moment this torture began that my grand-daughter  blurted out her answer to her mama's question- she sobbed out "Trust & Obey!" as the hymn she needed her mommy to sing.
Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison, and they were able to do that because they already knew hymns and were used to singing them.  She was able to come up with that hymn when she needed it because she already knew it.  It's a recent part of her family stock of songs. She endured while Mommy sang. But more was yet to come.  They took the finished blood draws and dashed out of the room so they could quickly get it to the lab and move on to other patients.  Not much later a nurse returned, saying, "Bad news. one of them clotted before they could analyze it. I'm afraid we need another draw."

Can you imagine how my little grand-daughter must have felt when she heard this?  What do you suppose she was thinking when  someone else came in and chatted gently with her while looking for another vein to jab in this petite morsel of a four year old?  
Would you believe that she was thinking of another hymn to sing and even choosing the order (she is a bit of a control freak at times)?
 While the nurse was searching for her vein, my nervous and fearful grand-daughter asked her Mama, "Can you sing Jesus Loves me & Trust & Obey? Sing Jesus Loves Me until she puts the needle in and then sing Trust and Obey."   She then started chatting with the nurse about this song her family listens to on the computer and then sing together at home, and how it goes... and she sang a good chunk of Trust and Obey on her own to the nurse.  My daughter tells me the nurse listened for a while and then said, "I just think it's so special that you sing with them like this! 
We are all very encouraged and inspired by this story, although the irony is not lost upon us that she had this opportunity to share this 'testimony' with the nurse precisely because she had not obeyed.  She is not a holier than thou, priggish miss who never does anything she shouldn't.  She is much more like the little girl in the Longfellow poem, the one with the curl in the middle of her forehead ('when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid!')
There are many children, and adults, too, who might find deep comfort and sustenance in singing these old hymns in times of trial (or in expressing joy).  But they cannot, because they have never learned these hymns.  Some Christians don't really even see the point in learning hymns. It smacks of rote religion, I suppose, or perhaps it brings a faint whiff of fusty, musty, dead faith. I do not know why- I grew up in a family where a hymnal was a standard part of our 'things to do in the car' on trips and we sang hymns while doing dishes as naturally and easily as we argued over whose turn it was to do the dishes.  It may be something 'not done' any more, but that doesn't mean it's outdated and old fashioned.  It means we are cut off from our roots.
Is any among you happy?  .... merry? .... sing praises.... (James 5:13)
I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. (1 Corinthians 14:15)
...sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19
About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.  Acts 16:25
 Regular singing, both personal and congregational, of Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs has been part of the Christian tradition from the dawn of Christianity. It is the birthright of every child from a believing family. But we, like Esau, have squandered our heritage for a mess of pottage, very much like Esau, in fact. Esau didn't want to bother to prepare or fetch his own food, and we don't think we need to sing our own songs any longer.  In fact, we think we can't because we don't sound like trained musicians and we don't have dub-step at home, so we might, at best, listen to somebody perform these songs once in a while.  Listening to a performance may lift our spirits, but Christianity is not a spectator sport. It's personal. It's intimate. It's relationship.  
We think the hymns that sustained the believers who went before us are  too hard, too old fashioned, out of date, irrelevant, especially to little children.   My grand-daughter is, of course, quite advanced for her years.  She is bright beyond her chronology.  Nevertheless, she is still only four years old.   She was near panic in a very frightening and painful situation, and yet, even in that traumatized state, she was encouraged, strengthened, and comforted by a hymn over 100 years old. In fact, it is the hymn that came to mind first for her.  This happened because she knew the hymn, because her parents did not decide for her that she could not relate to it or understand it.  
In a CM education we build relationships, develop good habits and nurture affinities to complex ideas and practices such as singing hymns, personally engaging in observation for nature study, poetry, art, and great books.  We do these things when the children are young so that these connections are already there for the children to draw on when they need them.   While God can, of course, work miracles, most often, he works with us where we are. Just the right hymn coming to mind when and where we need it is more likely to happen when those hymns are already a natural, integrated, whole part of our lives. 

Please. Sing with your children.

P.S. Grand-daughter's bloodwork all came back fine, and she left the ER saying to her mum, "I guess next time I should.... obey."

Thank-you to my oldest daughter for many things- permission to share this story and edit your words for an AO publication and for being the mother you are to those precious children, and for choosing the good man you did to father those darlings.  A big thank-you to all the mothers of my grandchildren, because you all sing hymns with your children regularly and you all have married good men, so a story like this could have come from any of you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Charlotte Mason and the handicraft of making 'smyrna rugs'

Previously: http://archipelago7.blogspot.com/2016/08/handwork-and-crafts-from-cm-volume-1.html



Basically, I'm thinking latch-hook kit.

Ah- see also here for more info.




Handwork and Crafts from CM, Volume 1

I offer the following information in the spirit of scholarship and understanding, because I totally groove on discovering this stuff.  It really helps me flesh out what Mason meant, what her philosophy looked like in practice, when I find more specific and concrete examples like the information below.  When I see exactly what she did, it helps me come to a better understanding of what we  might do today to further the same goals.

If it might be fun and enriching and delightful to reproduce the same crafts in your home, by all means, please do, and share.  If, however, the reading of this post makes you beat your head against the wall while repeating a tired and harmful mantra about your own worthlessness as a CM mama, please, stop.  I am not sharing this to burden anybody.  Don't beat yourself up.


 In CM's volume one, page 315 on our website, we find:

"Handicrafts and Drills.––It is not possible to do more than mention two more important subjects––the Handicrafts and Drills––which should form a regular part of a child's daily life. For physical training nothing is so good as Ling's Swedish Drill, and a few of the early exercises are the reach of children under nine. Dancing, and the various musical drills, lend themselves to grace of movement, and give more pleasure, if less scientific training, to the little people.
The Handicrafts best fitted for children under nine seem to me to be chair-caning, carton-work, basket-work, Smyrna rugs, Japanese curtains, carving in cork, samplers on coarse canvas showing a variety of stitches, easy needlework, knitting (big needles and wool), etc. The points to be borne in mind in children's handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should
not be allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children's work should be kept well within their compass."

In the appendices of a 1906 edition of volume 1, page 389, we find this fleshed out a little more:

"Work.
 Six twigs of trees (not done before) in brushwork. For occasional use, Pour Dessiner Simplement, par V. ...

 Attend to garden (Aunt Mai's Annual, 1894).

Carton Work, by G. C. Hewitt (King & Sons, Halifax, 2s.) : make a pillar-box, a match-box, a pen-tray, and a vase.

Smyrna rugs (see Aunt Mai's Annual, 1894). Children make their own designs.

Self-Teaching Needlework Manual (Longmans, is.) : children to be exercised in stitches, pages 1-15. Use coarse canvas and wool ; then, coloured cotton and coarse linen."

Here is the pertinent section from Aunt Mai's Annual, 1894, which I was thrilled to discover online (it's lovely!).

(Keep in mind 1894 British prices are given for supplies.)
WHAT CAN WE MAKE?
JAPANESE CURTAINS.

THE educational advantages of this work are many ; it teaches carefulness, numeration, colour and design. Carefulness, in pushing the string through the bamboo ; numeration, in getting the right number on each string ; colour, in choosing the coloured reeds and beads ; and design, whether the alternate lines should be the same colour, or two and two, or two and three, etc.

The materials required for this work are :
1.  Bamboos or reeds, 2/9 per 100.
2. Beads, 10d. per 500.
3. A ball of string, 6d.
4. A bar of wood for each curtain.

The bamboos are supplied in bundles of 1000 tubes, and can be had in white, red, purple, green, yellow, etc. They are each three and a half inches long, and are hollow, so that the string easily slips through. The round beads are the best for the nursery, and can also be had in many colours.

A little four-year-old is very busy at present making a short curtain for the studio window, of cut green and yellow reeds, and bright yellow beads, and the effect is charming.

The bar of wood can be made by any local joiner for a few pence. This must be three-quarters of an inch broad and thick ; the length must vary according to the width of your windows. Holes must be bored through at regular intervals of half an inch, one from the other, and he had better stain it brown or black before the children begin to work.

The following lengths are those we have found to be most useful ; but each mother can measure and decide for herself whether the curtains must be longer or shorter.

1.  Cut the string into lengths of forty inches.
2. Thread a bead on to each piece of string, hold the bead in the middle, and tie once. This prevents the little fingers pulling the string out of its hole. To vary this, you can again place a bead on each side of the tied one.
3. Push one end of the string through the first hole in the rod, and the other through the second hole, leaving the bead or beads or. the top.
4. Thread four beads on the first string. This makes an effective border.
5. Thread one reed, one bead, one reed and so on, until four reeds are on. Then put a bead on and tie. The first row might be green.
6. Work the second row in the same way, substituting yellow reeds for the green ones.
7. Take another piece of string and thread one end through the third hole, and so on.
     A very effective and simple pattern can be worked in the following way:
After the string has been threaded through the two first holes put—1st row; 1 bead, 1 green reed, bead ; 1 yellow reed, bead ; green reed, bead ; 1 yellow reed

2nd row; 2 beads, the rest in the same order—green, yellow ; green, yellow.
3rd row; 3 beads; &c.
4th row; 4 beads, &c.
5th row; 5 beads, &c.
6th row ; 4 beads, &c.
7th row; 3 beads, and so on, until the child comes again to one bead, when she again begins the next row with two. "

What can we take from this? Breaking this down, it's essentially stringing beads and rods in a pattern, right?  Not just randomly, but for a specific project of some use.   But you could begin with a tin of beads and some string- a shoelace, perhaps.  Our disabled child used to 'string' beads on a pipe cleaner, which I had anchored a bead at the end so she could not pull it off.  A pipe cleaner was easier for her to handle.  When she had a pipecleaner of beads, I would bend it into a shape- a circle, a heart, a star.  one of my favourite Christmas ornaments is a bell shaped from a pipecleaner of beads she worked.  Our beads came from thrift shop finds- they used to be popular in macrame projects.

You could duplicate the window curtain, or make a door curtain as a family project- if you have a place where you could keep the project out for a while, safe from babies, each family member could work on their own string, or everybody could add whatever, as they have time.

You could make jewelry, elastic string and beads are fairly inexpensive (when we orphan-hosted, we made our four boys bracelets with our phone numbers on them using number beads, interspersed by coloured beads).  Youtube videos explaining how to tie these off abound.   You could make key chains or Christmas ornaments or cell phone charms or something to hang from a car rear view mirror.

Mainly, you want a project involving stringing beads in a simple pattern of the child's design, the more useful the better, keeping in mind that a beaded window curtain is our standard for useful here.  IOW, don't overthink the useful aspect.

Supplies are far more readily available to us than they were to mothers in CM's time, and not much more expensive in terms of real dollars.

Amazon has wooden cylinder beads, dark or light , round and oval beads of coloured wood, holes large and small (so does ebay, in an impossible variety of colours, shapes, sizes, in wood, plastic, glass and stone or clay).
You could use hemp cord or cotton embroidery thread.

You could even resort to macaroni.  Dye it by shaking in a bag with a few drops of rubbing alcohol and food coloring, spreading to dry on waxed paper.  I prefer more permanent supplies, and don't recommend macaroni jewelry.  But for early practice in stringing colored beads in a pattern, this may be an economical alternative.  I have a cupboard over my bathroom sink which is missing a door.  I am thinking a beading project to hang over a shelf or small cupboard indoors might be a useful way to display a child's beading craft while improving the appearance of a messy shelf or a bathroom cupboard missing a door.

Up next, the smyrna rug.

More here as well.




Friday, August 19, 2016

Final plenary from the Deep in the Heart of AO Conference

Our final plenary talk is available for download now, and it's called (fittingly) "The Heart of AO," by Lynn Bruce.
"What makes one curriculum work for so many people, in diverse circumstances, all around the world? In her soul-stirring keynote address, Advisory member Lynn Bruce shares illuminating observations and testimony from fifteen years in the heart of AO. Spoiler: There is a hidden treasure inside AO, and some day it just might save your life."
The audio file is 99 cents (U.S.) today (Friday) and Saturday; then it will be U.S.$5.

Here is the link to order your download. The other four plenary talks are available at that link as well.

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

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 C├Žsar’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.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The modern place for older books

Why do we use old books?  We live in the 21st century after all!

In general, well written older books use richer vocabulary, more  complex sentence structure, and contain more ideas per page than  modern books. Recently written books, by contrast, use watered down language, weaker, less complex, sentence structures and if they have any meaningful ideas, they either sandwich them  between pages and pages of fluff, or they club the reader over the head with the message.

C. S. Lewis, in his introduction to Athanasius, advised that moderns needed to read more old books and fewer new books.  He explained:
Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook—even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it. … To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.

We can see the blind spots of previous generations, but it is harder to know our own.  Older books that we use have stood the test of time. They have  been read for generations and will be read for generations more.  It's too early to tell which of our currently published, modern crops of books will  still be communicating to readers outside of the culture and time  that produced them a hundred years from now.  Those who are contemporaries of the authors are the worst judges of that timeless quality, because we cannot step outside our own time, culture, and assumptions to see which are merely passing whims and which are timeless, not with any certainty, anyway.

The marginalizing of old books as though truth and beauty have expiration dates reflects modernity's disconnect with the past, something David McCullough addressed, pointing out:
Learning about history is an antidote to the hubris of the present, the idea that everything in our lives is the ultimate.Former President Harry S. Truman once remarked that the history we don’t know is the only new thing in the world. Picking up on a related theme, the late Daniel Boorstin, an eminent historian, Librarian of Congress, and friend of mine, wrote that planning for the future without a sense of the past is similar to planting cut flowers and hoping for the best. Today, the new generation of young Americans are like a field of cut flowers, by-and-large historically illiterate. This does not bode well for our future.
A sense of the past is not just a matter of knowing dates and events and being able to put them in order.  It's about coming into contact with some of the best minds of the previous centuries, not mere decades. It's about reading their ideas and stories in their words, getting a feel for   Truth, justice, mercy, faith, friendship, charity, loyalty, courage, these are ideas and traits that are timeless. 

While Mason did use some books which were newly published in her day, she relied more heavily on great books of the past.  In volume VI, she explains that the children read literature which was published in the same historical time period they are studying.  She mentions Milton, Pope, Sir Walter Scott, Goldsmith- and of course, they were not 'modern' in her day, either.

She explains:

 The object of children's literary studies is not to give them precise information as to who wrote what in the reign of whom?––but to give them a sense of the spaciousness of the days, not only of great Elizabeth, but of all those times of which poets, historians and the makers of tales, have left us living pictures. In such ways the children secure, not the sort of information which is of little cultural value, but wide spaces wherein imagination may take those holiday excursions deprived of which life is dreary; judgment, too, will turn over these folios of the mind and arrive at fairly just decisions about a given strike, the question of Poland, Indian Unrest. Every man is called upon to be a statesman seeing that every man and woman, too, has a share in the government of the country; but statesmanship requires imaginative conceptions, formed upon pretty wide reading and some familiarity with historical precedents.


It is not that her students never read modern books for literature, it's just that Mason did not see a need to emphasize them.  She wrote that sometimes the oldest students' studies touched on:
current literature in the occasional use of modern books; but young people who have been brought up on this sort of work may, we find, be trusted to keep themselves au fait with the best that is being produced in their own days.

It is also true that we at AO appreciate about older books is that they are in the public domain.  Now, many, many public domain books are still twaddle, so that alone won't qualify a book for AO.  But once we've found a really well written book we love it when it's also public domain.  This means they are available on line as etexts,  *and will remain available.* I can't tell you how frustrating, how  much gnashing of teeth it causes the Advisory when a book goes out  of print. When we put together the curriculum (and when we revise it), it was and is the result of truly, thousands of Mama-hours (these are worth  more than man-hours, right? Just Joking!) researching books. 

We  amazed our librarians with the number of books we checked out from the  library and put on interlibrary loan. When all else fails, we  actually, gulp, spend money on a book if we can't find it to review  it any other way. We scan excerpts of different books into our  computers and pass them on to each other to compare and contrast.  We look at the wording, the breadth and scope of coverage, the  illustrations (if any), topics covered (and just as important,  topics not covered), and then, after devoting months of our lives to  this project, we finally pick the best book of all those available  and proudly and gleefully share it with the world.  Then it goes out  of print and we all have to go on anti-depressants and receive hours  of pastoral counseling. Okay, that last part was an exaggeration.  We don't go on medication.  Seriously, though, the newer, in-print  books have a Very High turnover rate. They very quickly become  newer but now hard to find and out of print books, and thus, of no  use to us. 

Individual homeschoolers can use and benefit from those books, of  course. Some of them may actually be better than any given book we  have listed. But a book that may be perfect for your family (or  mine) is not perfect for AmblesideOnline if it's out of print but not online.

Here's are some reasons why out of print but not yet in public domain books are not  very useful to us:
 We want to share our vision of what a Charlotte  Mason education might look like put into practice, and at the same  time, we want to make that vision available to as many people as  possible who might want to benefit from it.
We specifically want to consider the unique situations and needs of  missionaries, military, and other expat families overseas, as well as parents and educators around the world who love their kids; single  parents; families without access to a decent library, a good  bookstore, or inexpensive shipping; families who travel often and so  cannot cart thousands of pounds of books around; and fellow  homeschoolers all over the world. We want to recreate a solid, sound, and beautiful rendition of  what a CM curriculum might look like today, and we want that version to also  work for all those different families I mentioned. The best way for  us to do that is to rely strongly on public domain works that can be  used as etexts, whenever we find etexts of excellent quality..


This is not the only way to implement Charlotte Mason's ideas and  principles. These are not the only books worth using. But these  are the books that best fit the criteria we set for ourselves at the  start of this project. We want to offer a model of what a real living book looks like.  We want to share a curriculum based on excellently written books, packed with informing ideas rather than twaddle and  barren facts, in living language that engages the mind (often with some effort required, which is also an important part of a CM education),   and so we have chosen what we believe to  be the cream of the crop from those books that are online or still  in print, and in some cases, worked hard to get that oop book available online, or convinced a publisher to republish. 

We share this freely, and we try to keep costs down because we believe in Miss Mason's vision of 'Education for all.'