When Adults Love to Learn: Flowing Streams or Stagnant Pools

Do you love what you do?   If you are a teacher, do you model a genuine love of learning to your students? Do you participate in their studies because you want to?
Cheney and Mrs. Taber learning about cattails

For the most part, my answers to those questions are "yes", and I attribute that to Charlotte Mason's philosophy which I try to apply in our home.  So I found it interesting to learn a little bit about Mason's teacher training at our Living Education retreat.  As usual, it was by Mason's design that the teachers love to learn, too.
House of Education

In the House of Education, Mason's teacher training college, the trainees lived and practiced every discipline and method that they would soon be guiding their students through in schools and homes. They narrated, learned languages, kept nature notebooks and timelines, read Shakespeare - everything.  In his speech "Realizing a Pedagogy - Timeless Truths, Teaching and Learning", Dr. Beckman describes this by saying "As with students, so with teachers."  (This runs counter to many teacher training programs today where the teacher is given information and materials that he will be expected to deliver or inflict upon the students.) As the trainees at the House of Education daily lived out her philosophy,  it became part of their hearts and minds.  Indeed, when Beckman interviewed many of these teachers decades later, they could describe with detail and fondness their schedules while at the college. Part of this life-long commitment can be attributed to one of Mason's three instruments of education - "Education is a life."

"Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child's inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food." (Vol. 6 p. 109)
Some of you know that quote so well, I bet you skipped it!  But did you ever notice that it could be applied to adults as well as children?  I think Mason knew this.  It's why teachers made a commitment to her philosophy.  It's also why, after 15 years, I'm still anticipating the upcoming school year. Professor deBurgh said the following about Mason's teachers:
"One of the striking characteristics of teachers trained by her is that they too move forward on  their own in after life; realising that they must teach from a flowing stream, not from a stagnant pool." (In Memoriam, Pt. IV, 103)
Beckman states that while Mason said that education is a life, we see death in many classrooms.  Dry textbooks, lectures, emphasis on grades and facts, lack of new ideas, bored teachers - these things are more characteristic of stagnant pools, not flowing streams.

Three generations
I understand that we can't always be enthusiastic and excited and we all have our bad days.  Thankfully, I find that by God's grace, ideas and living books carry our classroom through these times. Read what Professor de Burgh so succinctly summarizes about Mason's teachers.

"...Miss Mason's students learn to love teaching.  She taught the teacher to love teaching and the child to love learning.  Her students learnt too that education is not, as in some Universities, a departmental subject; rather, that all life is education, and all education that deserves the name is life."

Cheney and I bird watching
Do you love what you do?


  1. Yes.
    Yes. Indeed. I also know those who love what they do and that is the key to a calling. I think CM got that so right. Lovely photos!

  2. Nancy, Oh, how I ENJOY your blog! I am so thankful for the discovery of the Charlotte Mason way of learning as soon as we started on this homeschooling journey. I have learned so much along with our boys along the way and have enjoyed learning more and more. I'm finding it difficult to keep up now that I have a 10th grader and what I mean by keeping up is that I don't want to miss out on a single book (and that's certainly a lot of reading to keep up with at this point.) Funny thing is I NEVER enjoyed reading growing up and isn't it amazing how Charlotte Mason just instills that in you without you even meaning for it to? It has me anyway and I really, really appreciate all these posts you're giving us on the retreat. THANK YOU!!!! (Great photos) Deneen W in Tennessee

  3. Deneen,
    Thank you! I share your enthusiasm - writing is one of the ways I can express it. Maybe someday we'll meet.

  4. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to teach my children from the flowing stream rather than the stagnant pool. Thanks for sharing this inspirational post.


  5. Hi Nancy,
    Enthusiasm for learning is definitely catching! If we are not excited about it, how can we expect our kids to be?

    Thank you for your encouraging post!

  6. I love that this is part of our God-given design!

  7. Be what you want your children to be. Do what you want your children to do, and if able, do it TOGETHER. Thank you Nancy for the reminder.