Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do You Like the Outdoors & Nature?

While I was doing my Charlotte Mason reading this last week, besides the great benefits observation affords my children, there was one thing that really hit me and caught me by surprise.  It might be completely a no brainer for anyone who is already practicing Charlotte Mason's philosophies, but for some who are just getting started and showing an interest it might not be so obvious in the beginning.  Let's face it she offers so many wonderful ideas to implement in the areas of all the Arts; visual to grammatical.  But this little thing is a big one:
"Some children are born naturalists, with a bent inherited, perhaps, from an unknown ancestor; but every child has a natural interest in the living things about him which it is the business of his parents to encourage; for, but few children are equal to holding their own in the face of public opinion; and if they see that the things which interest them are indifferent or disgusting to you, their pleasure in them vanishes, and that chapter in the book of Nature is closed to them."  Volume 1, pg 58, 1906 edition
So much of Ms. Mason's ideas in the early years centers around the outdoors and nature study that it would be very difficult to guide my children in the art of keen observation, the beginning of narrations, and picture/composer study without giving them that opportunity to be outdoors. 

I found this very interesting because like I've mentioned in another post I am a city girl.  I did not discover or want to discover nature until I left home for college.  I lived in the dorms at a private university about 50 miles away from all the busy city hustle and bustle.   My first few nights were very difficult to sleep.  Part of it, of course, was the anxiety about being away from home and new beginnings; but there was another very distracting element.  There was no city noise!  All I could hear at night were crickets, rustling leafs and honestly, whistling wind.  I remember taking a Biology class and when we got to classification, our instructor had us meet her at a hiking trail site.  We went on a short hike, in the open trail, looking for flower specimens on our list and a blank notebook in hand to draw/write our observations.  What if there were snakes or a coyote up ahead.  For someone who had never been in the outdoors like that, it was an experience; hands on learning.  Maybe even at that point a little flame began to burn for what is now my admiration of Ms. Masons philosophies.  I can go on about many first impressions with the natural world, but my point is that I completely agree with Ms. Mason:  in order for my children to benefit from this approach, I have to absolutely be willing and wanting to enjoy the outdoors as well. 

For some of us this is a transition and sometimes not an easy one.  Anyone who knows me from many years back will tell you they just never imagined that this would be the type of education I would be giving my kids.  A bookworm I have always been, but a naturalist, that was not something I grew up with.  One last point, I married a man who craves the outdoors and dirt on his hands.  He seeks the comfort of hikes, annual backpacking trips and camping trips.  This has been essential in assisting me to appreciate all things natural and introducing our children to Ms. Mason's methods. The very first CM method I incorporated was giving my oldest a nature journal when we started our homeschooling journey four years ago.
These were taken yesterday morning in our backyard at the bottom of our hill.  I don't think I would have stuck around with the kids pre-college days. You can imagine the field guides that came out : )

1 comment:

Pam... said...

Wow. I read that before, but never really chewed on it. You are observant!
I asked the kids what they would like to study more of and what books should I get? I thought I knew them, but some things were a surprise. So I kept my eyes more open at a recent book sale. I would hate to be the one 'closing a book' to something that inspires them.
Sometimes it takes me so long to learn! We are inspirers; revealers of God to our children. Good post.