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Fine Arts Friday: An Introduction

We’re going to call last week’s post “The prologue.”  This will actually be the introductory post for what I hope to do in these “Fine Arts Friday” posts.

As I explained in the prologue, now that our fine arts co-op is permanently winding down, I want to keep up with our fine arts studies at home. I’m going to actually homeschool at home. This is a shocking development. To help keep me faithful to this schedule and to learn about all those things I was relying on other moms to teach, I’ll be posting a “Fine Arts Friday” post most weeks.  My plan is to devote Fridays to the following subjects: nature studies, picture studies, music studies — including composer, hymn and folk song studies, art application, handicrafts, poetry, and Shakespeare. Whew.

mother and child freer

Assuming we spend Monday through Friday on education, why spend 20% of our educational time on the arts? Isn’t that a bit excessive? Actually, I don’t think it is at all. One of Charlotte Mason’s principles of education is “Education is a life.” “[T]he mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum.” Educating children is about giving them a feast for their minds to feed upon, beautiful and interesting things. Living books and art are important parts of that banquet. While reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic are critical (and science, Latin, bible, sports, etc.), the arts are just as central to a good education.

Another focus of our Friday studies, although not technically fine arts, will be nature studies. Miss Mason thought that children (and adults, I suppose) ought to be out in nature often — hours each week. “We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own 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.” My girls are already pretty well established in their habit of keeping a nature journal, so I can focus my efforts on helping the boys establish this habit, and develop the habit myself.
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So this is my plan for Fine Arts Fridays: to offer my children a banquet of beautiful and interesting things using primarily the methods Miss Mason espoused. I’ll confess, I know Miss Mason mainly through intermediaries. I’ve read For the Children’s Sake and A Charlotte Mason Companion. I’ve read countless blogs and websites, including Simply Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online.  Much of these writings have included quotes and large excerpts, but that’s not quite the same thing as reading  Miss Mason’s own writings without the filter.

You might consider my blogging the narration that Miss Mason championed. She believed, “As knowledge is not assimilated until is is reproduced, children should ‘tell back’ after a single reading or hearing: or should write on some part of what they have read.” As I read and study, I’ll “tell back” through the blog.

So this is the why. In future weeks, I’ll look at the specific whys of the individual subjects (Folk songs? Really) as well as the how. The beauty of Charlotte Mason is that the how is generally fairly simple to understand and implement. Of course, like the eclectic homeschooler that I am, I won’t be relying solely on Miss Mason’s works or philosophy. I believe in picking the choicest fruit from all the trees in the garden that catch my eye. But I also think that those fruits have more in common than not. So while I may choose to incorporate something like “Adventures in Art” for the older kids, or use Scouting (which Miss Mason actually influenced!) to facilitate nature studies, the meat is similar and the purpose the same: to provide true and good and beautiful things upon which my children can feast.

One response to “Fine Arts Friday: An Introduction”

  1. […] At the beginning of this series of posts on fine arts, I explained why I’m spending one day each week focusing on arts (and natures study). I wrote that I’m teaching fine arts (and nature studies) “to provide true and good and … […]

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