So I'm just sitting down with my cuppa and my brand new stunning copy of An Essay Towards A Philosophy of Education from
Riverbend Press. I looked this morning, and the book is not on their website. I'm not sure why. I picked mine up at this summer's CMI conference in Kentucky. Keep checking back, though, because this printing really is stellar. As an aside, Riverbend also publishes good quality notebooks and beautiful artist study prints.
I am lucky enough to belong to a thriving Mason book study group that meets at Willow Tree. On August 1 we will have our first meeting of the year to discuss chapter 1 in Philosophy of Education. After six years, we have read through all of the volumes and are now starting over. I thought I would begin this morning by reading a little and sharing my thoughts. Feel free to read along with me! I have my Commonplace Book at the ready to jot down important passages. I even have my old copy, which is full of highlights and falling apart, for comparison. This new book is so gorgeous that I almost don't want to write in it. But it's definitely heirloom quality, so maybe I will pencil some things in so my children and grandchildren can see my thoughts years from now.
"It would seem a far cry from Undine to a 'liberal education' but there is a point of contact between the two; a soul awoke within a water-sprite at the touch of love so, I have to tell of the awakening of a 'general soul' at the touch of knowledge."
"It may be that the souls of all children are waiting for the call of knowledge
to awaken them to delightful living."
But living is not about achievement, competition, production, or consumption. Living is so much more beautiful than that. It is learning to be fully present right where you are. It is showing love to your neighbor and nurturing relationships. It is taking time to appreciate the Garden for which we were made and the Great Creator for whom we were made.
A great part of the paradigm shift that comes with reading Mason's works is that school should inspire delight. There are so many things to study in this wide world--art, literature, history, languages, music, natural history..the list would take us a lifetime and more. And they are all inherently interesting. Teachers don't have to perform a dog-and-pony show to make them interesting. They just have to put children into direct contact with them, do a little scaffolding, and wait for the awakening to delightful living that comes naturally. It is too easy to revert back to the way in which most of us were taught and to think that we have to have all of the answers so that we can give them to the students. But one of the things that offers the most delight to both the teacher and the student is learning things together--being excited together. All those unit studies and other things that take lots of preparation time for the teacher are not only unnecessary, they actually take away the child's delight in learning for herself and making her own connections. Isn't that a relief?
Well, now that I have made it through the first paragraph, I'm going to pour myself another cuppa and continue. Please post a comment below to let me know you are out there, and please share your thoughts or observations on the "awakenings" you have experienced yourself or that you have seen in your children.