Living books are the heart of a Mason education. Education is a life, and living books are the food the mind requires for its nourishment. Liz, Emily, and Nicole share excerpts from some living books to demonstrate the power of living ideas. They discuss some reasons why living books are the richer road to engaging a child's imagination, inspire and feed their thirst for knowledge, and why textbooks do not.
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"A corollary of the principle that education is the science of relations, is, that no education seems to be worth the name which has not made children at home in the world of books, and so related them, mind to mind, with thinkers who have dealt with knowledge. We reject epitomes, compilations, and their like, and put into children's hands books which, long or short, are living." (School Education, p. 226)
"In literature, we have definite ends in view, both for our own children and for the world through them. We wish the children to grow up to find joy and refreshment in the taste, the flavour of a book. We do not mean by a book any printed matter in a binding, but a work possessing certain literary qualities able to bring that sensible delight to the reader which belongs to a literary word fitly spoken. It is a sad fact that we are losing our joy in literary form. We are in such haste to be instructed by facts or titillated by theories, that we have no leisure to linger over the mere putting of a thought. But this is our error, for words are mighty both to delight and to inspire. If we were not as blind as bats, we should long ago have discovered a truth very fully indicated in the Bible––that that which is once said with perfect fitness can never be said again, and becomes ever thereafter a living power in the world. But in literature, as in art, we require more than mere form. Great ideas are brooding over the chaos of our thought; and it is he who shall say the thing we are all dumbly thinking, who shall be to us as a teacher sent from God." (Parents and Children, pgs. 262-63)
“Again, we have made a rather strange discovery, that the mind refuses to know anything except what reaches it in more or less literary form. It is not surprising that this should be true of children and persons accustomed to a literary atmosphere but that it should be so of ignorant children of the slums points to a curious fact in the behaviour of mind. Persons can ‘get up’ the driest of pulverised text-books and enough mathematics for some public examination; but these attainments do not appear to touch the region of the mind.” (Towards a Philosophy of Education, pg. 256)
“Once more, we know that there is a storehouse of thought wherein we may find all the great ideas that have moved the world. We are above all things anxious to give the child the key to this storehouse. The education of the day, it is said, does not produce reading people. We are determined that the children shall love books, therefore we do not interpose ourselves between the book and the child. We read him his Tanglewood Tales, and when he is a little older his Plutarch, not trying to break up or water down, but leaving the child’s mind to deal with the matter as it can.” (Parents and Children, pg. 232)
If you would like to study along with us, here are some passages from The Home Education Series and other Parent's Review articles that would be helpful for this episode's topic. You may also read the series online here, or get the free Kindle version from Fisher Academy.
School Education, Chapters XV and XVI
Towards a Philosophy of Education, Book I, Chapter VII
The Silent Storm, Marion Marsh Brown and Ruth Crone
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Rocks, Rivers, and the Changing Earth, Herman and Nina Schneider
A Tree for Peter, Kate Seredy
The White Stag, Kate Seredy
All About the Planet Earth, Patricia Lauber
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