March 2, 2008

An Ally from the Annals of History

I recently researched Charlotte Mason, a 19th century educator who revolutionized pedagogical practices in England. When I read that Ms. Mason “believed passionately that children are persons who should be treated as individuals as they are introduced to the variety and richness of the world in which they live,” I realized she would be a huge fan of Dr. Kathy’s teachings about multiple intelligences. In fact, Kathy and Ms. Mason would surely be allies in terms of celebrating and advocating for kids!

Just as Kathy challenges us to awaken and grow all eight of our kids’ intelligences, Ms. Mason designed a curriculum for the “whole child.” For example, she ended formal academics by very early afternoon each day. Then the children engaged in a variety of non-traditional (multiple intelligence-building) activities, including handicrafts (picture- and body-smart), substantial time outside to play and explore (body- and nature-smart), and nature walks (nature- and picture-smart).

Ms. Mason also included extensive study of music and art as integral parts of what she deemed a full education. Her methods for such study are quite easily reproducible by any parent. I encourage you to try them with your kids.

Simply put, expose your kids to great works. For example, with art – in addition to providing opportunities for children to draw and paint – show them the work of great artists, one per month. We recently studied Mary Cassat. I merely printed copies of some of her paintings from one of the myriad websites providing such services. Each Monday we picked one, looked at and talked about it, then left it out to observe at our leisure. Amazing as it sounds, I’ve seen this technique grow my daughters’ picture smarts.

Similarly with music, pick one great classical musician to focus on each month. Perhaps read a brief biography about the composer with your child, and then just put on his music as often as you can. You’ll be amazed at your child’s positive response! Consider, too, memorizing one traditional hymn each month as a family; for March, we’ll learn Christ the Lord is Risen Today. With both classical masterpieces and hymns, you’ll tune your child’s ear and heart to the world’s greatest music. In the process, her music smarts will blossom.

I’m fascinated that the ideas of a woman who taught over one hundred years ago mirror the concepts that we now know to be among the best educational practices. If you’re committed to your child’s education as a whole person, try these suggestions and perhaps some of Ms. Mason’s other ideas as well.

Quote Source:
Schaeffer Macaulay, Susan. For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1984.


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...