Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Charlotte Mason and the Benefit of Nature Study
1. Nature study lays a solid foundation for formal science studies.
"...there is no part of a child's education more important than that he should lay, by his own observation, a wide basis of facts towards scientific knowledge in the future. He must live hours daily in the open air, and, as far as possible, in the country; must look and touch and listen; must be quick to note, consciously, every peculiarity of habit or structure, in beast, bird, or insect; the manner of growth and fructification of every plant." (Vol. I, p. 264)
 2. Nature study makes science interesting.

"All the time he is storing up associations of delight which will come back for his refreshment when he is an old man. With this sort of appreciative knowledge of things to begin with, the superstructure of exact knowledge, living science, no mere affair of text-books and examinations, is easily raised, because a natural desire is implanted." (Vol. 3, pp. 77, 78).

 3. Nature study increases your child's capacity to understand the unknown.

"The child who has been made to observe how high in the heavens the sun is at noon on a summer's day, how low at noon on a day in mid-winter, is able to conceive of the great heat of the tropics under a vertical sun, and to understand that the climate of a place depends greatly upon the mean height the sun reaches above the horizon." (Vol. 1, p. 66)

4. Nature study cultivates a love of investigation.
"It is infinitely well worth the mother's while to take some pains every day to secure, in the first place, that her children spend hours daily amongst rural and natural objects; and, in the second place, to infuse into them, or rather, to cherish in them, the love of investigation." (Vol. 1, p. 71)

5. Nature study gives your child a sense of ownership and stewardship of the Earth.
"...there is no sort of knowledge to be got in these early years so valuable to children as that which they get for themselves of the world they live in.  Let them once get touch with Nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life. We were all meant to be naturalists, each in his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things." (Vol. 1, p. 61)

6. Nature study prepares your child's heart to worship God.
"Let each of us undertake the patient, unflagging, day-by-day observation for the behavior of sparrow, spider, teazel, of clouds or winds, recording what we ourselves have seen, correcting our records as we learn to be more accurate, and being very chary of conclusions. All we find out may be old knowledge, and is most likely already recorded in books; but, for us, it is new, our own discovery, our personal knowledge, a little bit of the world's real work which we have attempted and done. However little work we do in this kind, we gain by it some of the power to appreciate, not merely beauty, but fitness, adaptation, processes. Reverence and awe grow upon us, and we are brought into a truer relation with the Almighty Worker." (Vol. 4, Book 2, pp. 101, 102)

7. Nature study enriches your child's life.
"A love of Nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humour."
(Vol. 1, pg. 71)
"The question is not, - how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education - but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care?"
"The child who does not know the portly form and spotted breast of the thrush, the graceful flight of the swallow, the yellow bill of the blackbird, the gush of song which he skylark pours from above, is nearly as much to be pitied as those children who 'had never seen a bee' "(Vol. 1, pg. 60)

8. Nature study increases your child's intellect and makes him a more interesting person.
"This is what happens under Nature's teaching; and for the first five or six years of his life, everything, especially everything in action, is an object of intelligent curiosity to the child - the street or the field is a panorama of delight, the shepherd's dog, the baker's cart, the man with the barrow, are full of vivid interest. he has a thousand questions to ask, he wants to know about everything; he has, in fact, an inordinate appetite for knowledge. We soon cure all that: we occupy him with books instead of things; we evoke other desires in place of the desire to know; and we succeed in bringing up the unobservant man (and more unobservant woman) who discerns no difference between an elm, a poplar and a lime tree, and misses very much of the joy of living." (Vol. 2, pp. 181, 182)

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