Charlotte Mason Volume I Part II.XIII-XIV

XIII: Red Indian Life

Alright, let me just start by saying that I have mixed feelings about activities based on or inspired by the culture of Native Americans. It’s so easy to involve stereotypes, cheap imitations and substitutes, gross over-generalizations, questions of respect and real understanding, and so on. Lacing together a leather wallet with precut holes and a plastic lace does not seem quite authentic to me. That said, I suppose there might be a baby in that bathwater somewhere.

First, Mason mentions a book called Scouting by Baden Powell — apparently a foundational book for the whole scouting movement. Powell states that ‘scouting’ refers to “the work and attributes of backwoodsmen, explorers and frontiersmen.” As an example, Mason describes a small group that sets the best possible ambush, and the other group endeavors to get as close as possible to the first without being discovered. She argues that the kind of alert observation this kind of activity fosters is what is needed for people to be able to see “the signs of the times” (89).

She describes ‘bird-stalking’ at much greater length. Again, though, the basic idea is to get close without disturbing the creature you’re pursuing, and to then spend time in observing it. Kids can start by identifying some bird-call, then try to follow it to its source as quietly as possible. Apparently in Mason’s time it was common for kids to hunt for birds’ nests — she says that this stalking thing is better because it involves no hurt to the bird but has all the same joy of discovery and observation.

XIV: The children require country air

Again Mason talks about how important it is to have fresh air — full of oxygen, not full of carbon dioxide, and therefore not only far from crowded unventilated rooms, but far from towns.

Lots of sunlight is also good for health; science was just beginning to consider why and how, but Mason discusses the production of red blood cells and guesses at the benefits of the invisible rays as well. This bit about sun is interesting in light (ha!) of recent articles I’ve encountered that argue that, when your health is good from diet and exercise, your body can benefit from the sun with less chance of damage, but that poor diet and toxicity, along with sunscreens (which are unregulated), might be the real culprits behind certain skin cancers.

Finally, she discusses the physical ideal — a certain way of being in the body that has vitality and grace and harmony, which can result from a holistic upbringing including mind, body, and soul.

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2 thoughts on “Charlotte Mason Volume I Part II.XIII-XIV

  1. I am intrigued by that information about sunlight and general health – it does make sense. I agree about the authenticity bit too – so important for our ‘ritualistic’ needs to get the main components right before we begin. Mind, body and soul are all important: educating head, heart and hands as Rudolf Steiner said. I think he and Charlotte Mason could have had some interesting conversations!

    • I wonder if she knew of Steiner… they were contemporaries, like Montessori. She was critical of quite a bit of Montessori’s methods and ideas, although I find they have enough in common that the judgment seems a bit overdone.

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