Monday, October 19, 2009

Common Bushes

Earth's crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees, takes off his shoes-

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

So said Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I thought it was a wonderful, deliciously pithy bit of insight when I came across that quote a few weeks ago. It keeps coming back to me as I do my best to soak up every gorgeous drop of fall before winter sets in.

I've been reading the works of Charlotte Mason, on advice from a dear homeschooling friend. So far, I've been reading what she says about teaching and guiding young children. One of the things she strongly emphasizes, especially for kids under age 10, is nature study.

She writes about how keen a child's powers of observation are, especially when they're allowed plenty of time to roam outside.

Children's minds grow so fast at this point, and they learn in a very different fashion from older children and adults. They soak up every little thing that they see and hear, and everything that they do is mainly focused on learning how the world works.

Nature study provides a rich background for this. All the material they need for learning about their environment is already present in God's creation.

Charlotte Mason's writings contain some amazing insights into directing the formation of a young child's lifelong habits, and she in no way under-emphasizes their spiritual development as well.

As adults, we often block out the details or individual sensations from our daily life. We don't need them any more, and our brains just prioritize what's most important to our task.

But to a small child, every little occurrence and impression builds on their base of learning and prepares them for the bigger lessons to come. Here a little, there a little, until everything is indelibly in place. Even periods of "masterly inactivity" serves to feed a child's developing mind.

In my opinion, these little people are an even more amazing part of God's creation than any fiery bush, and I pray I can always have the wisdom to take off my shoes.

1 comment:

  1. Charlotte Mason is a great resource! YES to living books and living life! We did gobs of natural study and plant life sea life and you have farm life. Count it all joy!!