Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Helen Keller and Charlotte Mason Education

I don't know what it is like teaching children with learning disabilities aside from what I have read here and there on the AmblesideOnline Yahoo Groups and Tammy Glaser's blog Aut-2B-Home in Carolina. I think I have even heard of a teacher who was attempting to teach a mixed CM class of multiple ages and LD/ non-LD kids applying the idea that each child will take from the class what their individual nature dictates.

Reading Chapter VII of The Story of my Life by Helen Keller with my kids tonight it was interesting to note how much of her teacher Anne Mansfield Sullivan's methods were similar to CM's.

Everything Miss Sullivan taught me she illustrated by a beautiful story or a poem.

We read and studied out of doors, preferring the sunlit woods to the house. All my early lessons have in them the breath of the woods - the fine, resinous odour of pine needles, blended with the perfume of wild grapes. Seated in the gracious shade of a wild tulip tree, I learned to think that everything has a lesson and a suggestion. 

From the first I was not interested in the science of numbers. Miss Sullivan tried to teach me to count by stringing beads in groups, and by arranging kintergarten straws I learned to add and subtract. I never had patience to arrange more than five or six groups at a time. When I had accomplished this my conscience was at rest for the day, and I went out quickly to find my playmates. In this same leisurely manner I studied zoology and bontany.

...a beautiful shell was given me, and with a child's surprise and delight I learned how a tiny mollusk had built the lustrous coil for his dwelling place, and how on still nights, when there is no breeze stirring the waves, the Nautilus sails on the blue waters of the Indian Ocean in his "ship of pearl."

"It was my teacher's genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me. She realized that a child's mind is like a shallow brook which ripples and dances merrily over the stony course of its education and reflects here a flower, there a bush, yonder a fleecy cloud; and she attempted to guide my mind on its way, knowing that like a brook it should be fed by mountain streams and hidden springs, until it broadened out into a deep river, capable of reflecting in its placid surface, billowy hills, the luminous shadows of trees and the blue heavens, as well as the sweet face of a little flower.

 ...my teacher read me "The Chambered Nautilus," and showed me that the shell-building process of the mollusks is symbolical of the development of the mind. Just as the wonder-working mantle of the Nautilus changes the material it absorbs from the water and makes it a part of itself, so the bits of knowledge one gathers undergo a similar change and become pearls of thought. 

A literary way of learning * Putting the child in touch with nature * Short lessons * Putting them in touch with real things * Allowing the child to take from a reading what they find in it * A science of relations * An education that revolves around ideas...

...these are not about Charlotte Mason - she herself has said as much - rather, could it be perhaps in the direction of some universal truth about the way young children learn?

By the way, in case you are interested in educating LD children with the Charlotte Mason method, there is a private subforum in the AmblesideOnline Forum open for discussion and I believe Tammy is involved in the discussions there.

1 comment:

  1. i too, was super impressed with helen keller's teacher! i loved that book! my boys, not so much. ;)