Bent Leather, Part 2

Sioux Falls
wild turkeys in Pipestone
the prairie
So many of you responded to my last post (Bent Leather, Part 1) via email and comments to tell about how your parents were so conversant and inquiring with strangers!  For the most part, this was a good thing and I found some of your stories heartwarming.  Thank you.

 Do we see the results of this type of education only as the students become adults?  Mason tells us that her methods have a "curious" effect on the whole family.  "Children so taught are delightful companions because they have large interests and worthy thoughts;  they have much to talk about and such casual talk benefits society."  (Vol. 6, p. 267)

Pipestone National Monument

But how does this happen?  We looked at Mason's example of an astonishing amount of substantives used by an eleven-year-old (see the wordle) and read the vignette about Sir Walter Scott who finally discovered a traveling companion's specialty (bent leather) and was therefore able to have a lively conversation with the saddler. From the section I am reading from,  Vol. 6, p. 260-268, Mason gives us some specifics.

"Perform the graceful office of presenting the one enthusiastic mind to the other."
I love the way she states this!  Most of us think we need to be the bridge between the book's author and the child, but Mason disagrees and knows that the students can understand the well-written book.  Indeed, it is a "graceful office" she speaks of.

"A great deal of consecutive reading from very various books."
Avoid "general knowledge" learning which results in "scrappy information."  The readings are well thought-out, orderly, from excellent literature and across the disciplines.

"Telling again...it is really a magical creative process." 
She had her students narrate - in one way, shape or form - everything.  It is a way of learning and changes the way you think.

"Single reading"
This is a tough one.  If my child didn't hear it or wasn't listening, of course I should read it again - right?  If the student knows that the material will only be read once, he learns to automatically have the habit of attention.  If we know we can hear it again or look it up again, we relax in the attention department.  "I dwell on the single reading because, let me repeat, it is impossible to fix attention on that which we have heard before and know we shall hear again."
reading on a lazy afternoon

This week we have had a special guest in our house.  She, too, has been educated using Mason's methods.  In light of all this talk of substantives and bent leather, I wish you could have been a fly on the wall as the effects have been very "curious".  I'll leave you with a sampling of our discussions:
indigo farming, camel spiders, Pettigrew House, flax, TORO, "Aurora Leigh", Wollstonecraft, Sioux Uprising, okra, Beatrix Potter, petroglyphs, patriarchalism, placentas, Shanghai,coffee, frozen wastelands, Arthur Ransome, bats, fun dip, Julius Caesar, legends about St. Patrick and Landmark books
(All the photos in this post were taken this week in and around southwest Minnesota.)
This is lefse!

50 degrees - porch swing weather!


  1. Thanks. This is very insightful.

    What amazes, (and convicts) me, is the boy of 11 of whom you referred, used all 200 words "with ease and fitness in an examination on one term's work." (Vol.6.pg 262) This was a typical student, and he did not just have 'general information' about those words. This is where thoroughness of narrations on the teacher's part comes in... (and this is an area where I need to improve.) :{

  2. Wonderful second part. I enjoyed the pictures and how easily you connect Mason's teachings to your own life.
    To hear they "work" so well it's very encouraging!
    And I want to try that lefse! It looks delicious.

    The single reading is the tough one for me. Narration is such an angular stone that there is always room to improve, Pam.

  3. Thanks again, Nancy. Those living books just can't be beaten! A very interesting list of words discussed at your place. I looked at the couple in bottom photos and wondered if they were you and your husband a "few" years ago, but then read that the photos were all taken this week -- they must have been your visitors.

  4. C-U-T-E! pictures!! Gotta love spring break, huh?

    I like the "magical creative process of telling again." And I agree with Sylvia on how easy you make it look- connecting CM with your real life!

    Bobby Jo

  5. I really need to get this single reading aspect of CM going. The problem is I have the bad habit of reading too fast-just skimming through the page. So I guess I have "1 thing" to work on - right?
    Thanks for the reminder!

  6. I think we are all jealous that you live near an Ingalls site. I've been to a few but not to that one! And the guest ? One in the last photo with your son?

  7. Sounds like some delightful conversations happening in your home! I love those sort!

  8. Weren't you tempted to make another Wordle with that "curious sampling" from your weekend of fascinating discussions?! Being president has never interested me...secretary of state, maybe...but oh, performing that graceful office CM speaks of in introducing great minds to one another and then stepping out of the way. The fulfillment of that office was evident in your home last weekend.

    Having been raised in NE Iowa, I thought everyone ate lefse until attending school in California..."Hey, where's the lefse?"

    Regarding one reading only: My sister had told me how Charlotte or a PUS teacher would simply state that it was the child's loss when they couldn't narrate due to lack of attentiveness. Following an "That was so interesting, I couldn't possibly narrate" excuse in our home I gave it a try.

    "I'm sorry, but that really is your loss," I told my shocked students and continued with the reading. You could practically see the wheels turning in their heads and they've never tried to get away with that again.

    As always, Nancy, a very thought provoking post.