Thursday, February 6, 2014

"The Living Page" Book Discussion Post 1

"Isn't that why some of us resonate so deeply with Mason? She can see the beauty?"  Pg xiv (preface).
My answer is a wonderful YES!   Laurie Bestvater begins the preface with a Wendell Berry  quote, in itself profound of meaning about his observation of seminary students and missing essence of God. She continues her analysis of the great question and includes this insight:
"Mason had shown me that notebooks can be forms of vitality, literally the shape and outline, the liturgy of the attentive life.  They nurture the science of relations and the art of mindfulness. They teach us to see the very brief beauty of now, to know the landscape of here, to be present in all our pleasures and pains.  Through them we, haltingly, dwell in a world of ideas and connections with an ever-higher opinion of God and his works and as truer students of Divinity." Pg xiv
I found the whole preface an appropriate greeting to the gateway.   I have always believed that you can't separate Mason from faith.   I can't speak for others but in our life living our faith and staying true to our beliefs are very important in home education.  When you see me express myself as living our education I am including to mean everything important in our lives and ultimately, hopefully, all required to make our children good stewards of God and all his creation.  So, YES,  there was always a natural calling from Mason for various reasons, but, her ability to "see the beauty," certainly one of the most important.

captured on our DC trip last year
Thus, the book sets us on a path to help us find the "aha's" for these wonderful notebooks many of us have had our children (and ourselves) use as part of a Charlotte Mason education.  Chapter 1: The Art of the Keeper gives us a list of extraordinary people in history whom kept these personal notebooks. The atmosphere is set....I'm convinced, there is a place in history for and from these  "Keepers" and in part could be owed to their "Art" the notebook.

Panel at last year's CM Institute Conference
I have to admit what grabbed me most about this chapter and, I, absolutely appreciated, was the idea that Mason, while a revolutionary in child centered education, did not re-invent the wheel. She didn't have to. Just as we don't either.  There is something freeing of the spirit to know there are others whom have gone before us with similar needs and interests.  Who have been successful or missed a few things.  Either way, we can learn and take what works in our lives.
"So, as Mason says of herself overall, she was not an innovator in this regard either.  The Keepers who were scholars, the movers and shakers in science, the arts, and exploration on whom she called regularly in her classroom she knew enough to imitate.  To that extent, Mason comes to the art of keeping notebooks naturally, not in a vacuum but within the rich context of the Western notion of Liberal Arts which fairly demands some of these academic disciplines." Pg 10
Most of us have come to appreciate Mason because her methods, her philosophy have felt natural in our lives.  I, for one, am grateful she took this notion of keeping notebooks and extended to include the child, the person, as Bestvater reminds us is at the center of a CM education.  Here, I give you my second favorite point in this chapter:
"Her method has arrived like a time capsule filled with ideas we seem to be in danger of losing track of in this fill-in-the-blank, megabyte world....Innovator or no, perhaps we simply have need of a studied, intelligent, common sense voice from the past asking us to hold up for a minute and examine the force of the culture shapers she insisted on as a curriculum for every child and the particular paper ways they had of pursuing their loves." Pg 11
Looking forward to Chapter 2: Gallery of Forms, a look at the Mason student and their notebooks.
Link to Wildflowers and Marbles


Anonymous said...

I love how you rightly observe that CM had this unique ability to "see the beauty." You're so right. I wonder if this is what Our Lord meant when He reminded us to be like a little child in order to inherit the kingdom of God. We need those eyes of wonder to be open to beauty. Very interesting thoughts. And I like how you say that the book sets us on the path to find those moments of beauty. I do think that's one of the things that is naturally inviting about keeping notebooks - doing so sets the mind to be tuned in to the beautiful so that it could capture a moment when it is found. Perhaps this is a foundational benefit - that notebooking attunes us to beauty.

Jen Mackintosh said...

Ugh - not sure why my comment says "" -- but I figured you'd know it was me anyway. :)

Jenny said...

Thanks for your lovely thoughts Jen! Life with six children, especially our four boys is always interesting to say the least ; ) They see things that I would just never have paid any attention too...but there lies that aw and wonder of a child.