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Glazunov's Allegretto from his ballet, "The Seasons". (photo)
Susan B. McGlohn


Living Science Books List Link

Handbook of Nature                                  Study

                                Anna Comstock

HyperHistory Scientists Timeline--1400
       A.D. - 2000 A.D.

Living Science Books List--provided by
     Karen Glass of the CMason e-list

TOPS Science

MacBeth's Awesome CM High School         Science Website

Wings & Stings--Living Book--NOW
       with click-able links to supplement this
       wonderful study of nature.  Written by
       Agnes McClelland  Daulton in 1903, the
       study of flowers and insects has never been
       more enjoyable for your grade school and
       middle school-aged child.

Nature by Renee Blokzyl

Nature Sketching by Renee Blokzyl

Nature by Jody

Nature Journals by Jody

Nature Journal

Holling Books Links: Geography &

The Animal Book for Children Online
    by Thornton Burgess

CM's Original Home Education

     Vol. 1:  Not yet online
Vol. 2:  Completely online
Vol. 3:  School Education (20
                  chapters online)
Vol. 4:  First 3 Chapters online
     Vol. 5:  Not yet online
Vol. 6:  A Philosophy of Education-

Knowledge of the Universe--Science
        Vol. 6, Book 1, Chapter 10, Sect. 3
Why Should We Teach Science?

Quoted from Laws of Thought by Archbishop Thompson:

          "When Captain Head was traveling across the pampas of South America, his
          guide one day suddenly stopped him, and pointing high into the air cried out
          'A Lion!' Surprised at such an exclamation, accompanied with such an act, he
          turned up his eyes, and with difficulty perceived, at immeasurable height, a
          flight of condors, soaring in circles in a particular spot.  Beneath this spot, far
          out of sight of himself and the guide, lay the carcass of a horse, and over that
          carcass stood, as the guide well knew, a lion, which the condors were eyeing
          with envy from their airy height.  The signal of the birds was to him what the
          sight of the lion alone would have been to the traveler -- a full assurance of its
          existence.  Here an act of thought which cost the thinker no trouble, which was
          as to him as to cast his eyes upward, yet which from us, unaccustomed to the
          subject, would require many steps and some labor...This is the sort of thing that
          children should go through, more or less, in every lesson -- a tracing of effect
          from cause, or of cause from effect; a comparing of things to find out wherein
          they are alike, and wherein they differ; a conclusion as to causes or  consequen-
          ces from certain premises.”
[From Charlotte Mason’s Original Home Schooling Series, Vol. 1 (Home Education) pp 150-151]

Science teaches us to think.  Not the everyday type of thinking, which we do constantly, but to put forth that "conscious effort of the mind".  And nature study is to science what base-ten blocks are to math:  concrete experience building towards abstract understanding.  Correct reasoning power begins on nature study walks with Mother.  By following our example, the child learns careful observation.  Nature study provides hands-on experience, which is the basis for later abstract thinking. 

The Rev. H.H. Moore, M.A., in an article in the Parent's Review states: "Two of the most vitally important faculties for the mental equipment both of young and old are intelligent observation and correct reasoning.  The study of natural science furnishes the widest field and most efficient instruments for the exercise and development of these faculties."  Thinking should be nurtured in the child by the types of questions asked, and by modeling given by the teacher. In a good science class the teacher trains the children to observe, to ask questions, and then to search out the answers for themselves.  Scientific thinking is helpful to all who would aim to make wise decisions in life, not just those bent on scientific careers.

Science shows us the Mighty Work of God. The highest value of scientific training, unrecognized by schools today, which separate the Creator from the Created, is that science shows us the awesomeness of God as the Creator.  By neglecting scientific training in our curriculum, we would be sending our children out into the world ill-equipped to participate in today’s technology-driven society.  But by teaching our children scientific principles and methods, while also preparing their consciences, we will be affording them a balanced education as well as raising up men and women who will be able to serve God mightily and well.

Charlotte Mason quotes Mr. Holden, author of The Sciences, as saying, "(our) special aim is to stimulate observation and to excite a living and lasting interest in the world that lies about us" (Vol. 1, pg. 267). The goal is ever a higher good than merely an appreciation of nature and scientific training, but sane reasoning power assists in making morally sound choices.  In the Parents Review article, "The Value of Scientific Training", Prof. J. Logan Lobley suggests that the habit of observation in the child leads to the development of "thought, consideration, deduction, and analytical and synthetical mental processes...As a direct consequence of this, a judicial habit of mind is fostered and developed with the obvious and most advantageous result that the spirit of mere partisanship is weakened and bigotry is killed".  It is our Conscience and our Reason together that inform our Will, so strong reasoning skills help a child's conscience in choosing good over evil.

Science gives us delight in childhood and adulthood, in the field, in literary pursuits, and in work.  Knowing the names and habits of flora and fauna makes them the child's friends.  Season after season, each year the same friends will rise in the Spring to greet him.  When he reads “Daffodowndilly” by A. A. Milne he will recognize an old friend of the garden, and feel a kinship with the author.  It also provides the child with knowledge not just of nature but also of the workings of common things around him, so even while doing manual labor his mind can be happily employed to dwell on this knowledge.  It provides a pleasant diversion while completing the tedious daily tasks of life.

How Miss Mason Felt Science Should Be Taught...

Charlotte Mason believed that education is a
        "science of relationships -- relationships with God, with each other, and with
         matter -- where the children learn to regard others with proper respect and
         to serve 'an object outside of themselves.'"
                                                                              (Vol. 6, pg. 133) 

We must help our children enter fully into those three relationships and to learn to think scientifically.  Charlotte Mason suggested that the parent’s most important role in teaching children to think scientifically is to

         "afford abundant and varied opportunities and to direct his observations
         so that, knowing little of the principles of scientific classification, he is, un-
         consciously, furnishing himself with the materials for such classification...
         the future of the man or woman depends largely on the store of knowledge
         gathered, and the habits of intelligent observation acquired, by the child" 
                                                                              (Vol. 1, pg. 265)

         "...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 be accustomed to as "WHY?" and do not hurry to answer
         his questions for him; let him think his difficulties out so far as his small experi-
         ence will carry him."

         "...Do not embarrass him with too much scientific nomenclature.  If he discover
         for himself that some animals have backbones and others have not, it is less
        important that he should learn the terms vertebrate and invertebrate than that
         he should class the animals he meets according to this difference." 
                                                                              (Vol 1 pp. 264-265)

Charlotte Mason expected her students to engage in nature study throughout their lives, not just as preparation for the study of other sciences.  She said,

          "The study of natural history and botany with bird lists and plant lists continues
           throughout school life, while other branches are taken term by term." 

[One essential resource for studying nature “the CM Way” is Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study. The Handbook is divided into many sections.  Part I is an excellent "teacher's guide" to how to use this book and how to teach nature study in a systematic way.  Part II is about the Animal Kingdom, and is divided into the different classifications contained therein.  Under each classification is anywhere from 8 to 20 different lessons, some focusing on species, some focusing on a certain aspect of an animal (example:  a bird's feathers or beak).  Part III is the Plant Kingdom; Part IV is the Earth and Sky (solar system, weather, rocks and minerals, etc.).]

At the Thirty First Annual Conference of the P.N.E.U. the notes of a discussion led by A. T. L. Hickson, M.S. (Joint-Principal, Oldfeld School, Swanage) entitled "Science:  Nature Study" were handed out.  In these notes, the following breakdown for science instruction in the P.N.E.U. school for each Form (grade level of instruction) was given:

          “Form I:     children six to eight are given an elementary knowledge of what they
                           can find out of doors or in the Zoo, animals, birds, plants and trees,
                           insects, fishes, sea creatures and star legends.

          “Form II:    children about nine to eleven.  Very elementary physics, natural
                           phenomena, astronomy, chemistry, meteorology, physiography,
                           including some detailed chapters on the work of water, ice, volca-
                           noes, etc.  A detailed study of the lower forms of animal life.  Botany,
                           only outdoor studies.

           “Form III:  children twelve to thirteen.  A continued course of animal life (higher
                           forms), a detailed course of botany, physical geography; in addition,
                           either astronomy or some general scientific principles connected with
                           their discoverers.

           “Form IV:  children about fourteen.  The course in animal life is continued, the
                            more detailed course is followed in physiography and geology.  Phys-
                            iology is added and a book on the underlying principles of Physics.

           “Form V:  age about 14 to 16.  A student's course in botany, geology, astronomy,
                           more advanced physics with some chemistry.

           “Form VI:  The work varies as books offer; there is always some more advanced
                            biology and physiology.  Modern astronomy and modern physics vary
                            from  year to year."

How Can We Apply Her Methods Today?

Our parental responsibilities as facilitators of our children’s scientific education are two-fold.

First, we must supply abundant and varied opportunities to our children to build up their stores of real knowledge and increase their habits of observation by exposing their senses to God’s creation from an early age.  Modern technology by way of the World Wide Web and television allows us to show our children places around the globe, and experience environments and cultures unattainable in Miss Mason’s time.  But even these wonderful tools for learning do not replace getting outside and actually coming into physical contact with nature on a regular, consistent basis.  Here is where the powers of observation and classification will be fine-tuned, as they learn to tell the difference between different types of flora and fauna by taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound.

Second, we must also train the children to use the tools they have at their disposal, their senses as well as lab tools, and train them in how to execute field and lab work, making assisted observation possible.  We should encourage the children in their habits of inquiry and research by teaching them to take what they have observed and, with careful research and examination, draw conclusions and speculations, and then test these hypotheses as far as they are able.  This is the essence of true scientific knowledge.  One other aspect of this responsibility is to supply the students with the best tools we can afford, such as field guides, microscopes, notebooks, colored pencils, and even art instruction if necessary to help them take accurate notes and illustrations of their observations.

Charlotte Mason, an educator who lived 1842-1923, suggested in her writings that only about 3% of all students would head toward "careers in science, particularly in technology".  She had NO idea what was to come, did she?  However, the rapid expansion of scientific fields actually makes our jobs as science teachers MUCH EASIER, not harder.  There is no way we can keep up with the advances in all fields. Training our children in the habits of observation, field and lab work, and research will give them the essential skills that can be applied to any subject or task they undertake as students and later as adults.  Rather than focusing just on facts, figures, and details, let us equip our children with life-long tools for gaining knowledge no matter how the world may grow and change within their lifetimes.
Science: The Charlotte Mason Way
Why Should We Teach Science?
How Miss Mason Felt Science Should Be Taught...
How Can We Apply Her Methods Today?
NHCMSG Charlotte Mason
Study Pages Links
NHCMSG Charlotte Mason
Study Pages Links