‘I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused – a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love – then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.’
– Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder, 1956
In a similar vein, Charlotte Mason wrote in her book, Home Education, that it’s possible to undervalue a child’s ability to get knowledge using his senses. Her context was the Kindergarten as a place of education and her concern was that it was an artificially limited environment.
While a kindergarten can provide some exact ideas such as the difference between a rhomboid and a pentagon, or a primary and secondary colour, this is at the expense of much of the real knowledge of the outside world.
Although this sort of training provided by the Kindergarten/Preschool may be valuable, it shouldn’t take the place of the wider training of the senses. This is something we can provide as we walk along the way, through our everyday lives.
Every Tuesday I go and pick up my granddaughter and take her to the park for an hour or so then bring her home to our place for the day. It had been raining when I picked her up the other week so we came straight home, but later in the day the weather cleared so Moozle and I took her on a nature walk with us for the first time. I thought she embodied the idea that Rachel Carson expressed above:
‘…it is not half so important to know as to feel.’
We spent a bit of time listening to the creek as it ran over some rocks, which she found quite fascinating; touching wet leaves, and walking along the track obscured at times by overhanging branches weighed down by the recent rain.
A rare sighting! We’d been hearing unusual bird sounds and then we found out what was making them. If you don’t already know, lyrebirds are incredible mimics and imitate other birds as well as trains, chainsaws, and all sorts of other noises. This is the second time we’ve seen one on our property but we didn’t get a great view of it the first time. This time I actually got quite close to it so I could get a decent photo with my phone. It’s a very attractive, elegant bird.
Hubby, Moozle & I had a road trip over the June long weekend up to Toowoomba in Queensland to see my husband’s parents. This photo was looking from the top of The Great Dividing Range, also known as The Eastern Highland or The Eastern Cordillera, Australia’s most extensive mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world. It stretches more than 3,500 kilometres (2,175 miles) from north east Queensland, down the length of the eastern coastline through New South Wales and into Victoria.
Nature Studies in Australia by William Gillies & Robert Hall is a book I’ve scheduled in Year 9. Moozle generally reads a chapter per week and either narrates after reading or writes a notebook entry. We have a few books by Gillies and they’re all very good. This one is a little like an Anna Comstock Handbook of Nature Study for Australians but written more to the student as opposed to the parent.
‘Browning would sit quite still in a wood for an hour, and the birds would hop about his feet. Tennyson would spend an afternoon in watching how the lark rose into the air and dropped to the ground. Dr. Fabre would sit on a sandy slope for a whole day to watch the ways of the solitary wasps. Nature will not give up her secrets to the man in a hurry.’
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
‘These are a few of my favourite things…’ watercolour and ink. Moozle did this for me & it does capture some of my most favourite things. She knows me well.
On Tuesdays we also have the pleasure of the company of this little fellow, my grandson, for a few hours. My daughter-in-law brings him over around midday and today he listened in as I read aloud to Moozle. I think he was trying to work out how to get the book off me and he ended up with it in his hot little hands. As one of his uncles remarked, ‘A gentleman and a scholar.’
It was so good to be a part of this and to meet such a wide variety of mothers, the common denominator being a love for their children and a desire to teach them well. A very enjoyable and fun day! I think Michelle is planning another one for next year so look out for it.