.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

They live closer to life




This is a really inspiring description from the April 1923 L'Umile Pianta of what one "H.E. Wix" described as the distinguishing points of Charlotte Mason's elementary schools:

What is it that distinguishes P.N.E.U. Elementary Schools from the ordinary School? It is a difficult question to answer, primarily because the “ordinary school” is indefinable. Many persons think that all “ordinary” elementary schools follow a similar clearly defined curriculum and that the teachers teach after a set plan. But it is not so. Nowhere is there more variety of method, syllabus, or “atmosphere.” There are, for example, schools where amazingly good compositions are freely and easily written – not as a result of wide reading, but rather of careful teaching, sometimes on the same lines as those followed in French schools. There are also schools where literature is really read and enjoyed, where history lives, where good story books are numerous, where the children even keep nature notebooks.  
And yet, the least satisfactory P.N.E.U. School has something which these others lack, even the best of them – what is it?  
It is not easy to lay one’s finger on, nor easy to express. Is it that these P.N.E.U. children are fuller of humble enthusiasms for all the great things of life? Is it that they – maybe only dimly realize that every new thread of knowledge leads them on to a further appreciation of the knowledge which is indivisible? Or can it best be summed up in: “they live closer to life?”

Wix goes on to describe how children and teachers travel great distances to see performances and Ms. Mason herself. And as it is in memorium, it concludes...

Perhaps the most visible gift that P.N.E.U. schools owe to Miss Mason is happiness; happiness in learning, happiness in teaching and the consequent happiness in giving and in living. A real joy in knowledge, a love of it as of a friend, is a lasting treasure. Too often it is merely as a “means to an end” that children are taught to acquire a necessary amount of information. But to a P.N.E.U. child knowledge is “lovely.”
 What is the distinction? It's not how much they know, but how much they care... knowledge is lovely... they live closer to life.

9 comments:

  1. May I include this in this week's CM Blog Carnival?

    ReplyDelete
  2. '...they live closer to life.' What a beautiful & simple way to describe it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Is it that these P.N.E.U. children are fuller of humble enthusiasms for all the great things of life?"

    As we get closer to the end of the school year at our CM style school, I do believe the children are more aware of the great things of life, are more able to use their hands and eyes and ears, and have developed enthusiasms. In some cases, they are doing things they could have never imagined doing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Living closer to life...a deep idea that will keep me pondering as we end this school year and plan for a new one. Thanks for sharing Naomi!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really appreciate this post. Just this week, I discuss in my blog carnival post about the connection between the how of the method/curriculum and the student caring. I really liked what you said at the end of the post: "What is the distinction? It's not how much they know, but how much they care... knowledge is lovely... they live closer to life."

    "They live closer to life." - What a great statement!

    Wix said: "But to a P.N.E.U. child knowledge is “lovely.”" And when that knowledge is found lovely, then the child may care more. Don't you think?

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love this paragraph: "Perhaps the most visible gift that P.N.E.U. schools owe to Miss Mason is happiness; happiness in learning, happiness in teaching and the consequent happiness in giving and in living. A real joy in knowledge, a love of it as of a friend, is a lasting treasure. Too often it is merely as a “means to an end” that children are taught to acquire a necessary amount of information. But to a P.N.E.U. child knowledge is “lovely.”"

    And the statement you made at the end of your post: "What is the distinction? It's not how much they know, but how much they care... knowledge is lovely... they live closer to life." This ties in to what I wrote this week on my blog. I love how it's put here in your statement how they live closer to life. What a great statement!

    Also, when knowledge is lovely, don't you think that contributes to them caring more about it? I think so. :) Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  7. In our last week of school we saw sign after sign of children full of humble enthusiasms. They found a mantis next and little nymphs, leaf-footed bug nymphs and eggs, worms, and a nearly drowned mouse in the pool before our pool party. They pretended Robin Hood and the Titanic (which we have not studied) and argued over who got to be William the Conqueror (especially one family learned from the family historian that they are kin to him). Another class begged to finish two books instead of playing after a morning of hard work cleaning up the school and yard.

    It's a wonderful thing to see!

    ReplyDelete