Borrowed Views: An Addendum

Dappled autumn light on our porch and the perfect green table my girls found by the side of the road!
What interesting and thoughtful comments many of you left on the previous post, "Borrowed Views - Charlotte Mason on Critical Thinking".  Miss Mason put much confidence in the student's mind and its abilities to figure things out - much more confidence than modern education and most methods around today do.  Whether you read what she said to mean critical analysis, literary criticism, worldview studies, or even the ever-present  critical-thinking skills exercises  - the principles still  apply.  

Here's what she said was needed in order for the mind to do this work on its own:
  • the mind needs to be thoroughly furnished with ideas which it then compares and examines critically
  • the process needs to be a slow, sure process of assimilating ideas
  • the teacher needs to lay the proper and abundant feast
  • the student must receive with attention and then fix by narration
It begins with years and years of narrating.  It's during that exercise of the mind that those critical-thinking skills are developed.  Read what she says happens during narration - 

Here we get the mind forces which must act continuously in education - attention, assimilation  narration, retention, reproduction.  But what of reason, judgment, imagination, discrimination  all the corps of 'faculties' in whose behoof the teacher has hitherto laboured? These take care of themselves and play as naturally and involuntarily upon the knowledge we receive with attention and fix by narration as do the digestive organs upon duly masticated food-stuff for the body.  We must feed the mind as the body fitly and freely; and the less we meddle with the digestive processes in the one as in the other the more healthy the life we shall sustain.  It is an infinitely great thing, that mind of man, present in completeness and power in even the dullest of our pupils. 6.259

Dear Charlotte and her food analogies.  

We strive to  nurture students who are caring, intelligent, magnanimous, and humble.  Too often I am around students (adults included)  who have the right, albeit predigested answer - not what Mason was espousing.   I am reminded of this quote by Mason, "We should prefer that they should never say that they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy   The question is not, - how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education - but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care?" 3.171

From joy to joy,


  1. Love your new table and your porch! :) Love this post! I am always in need of reminders to just stay faithful to narration and to have PATIENCE. Patience brings about good things!

    That illustration is so sweet!


    1. Thanks, Amy. It is a continual learning process for both teacher and student!

  2. Thanks Nancy, I do so enjoy that last quote. I have to admit that it is often my little mental reminder when I'm selecting books & topics for our term. It is also what keeps my feet on the ground and moving forward in our living education.


    1. At the same time, that last quote is so very freeing as far as our role goes. We aren't to tell them everything about everything, nor are they to think they know it all! You are doing such a great job in your home!

  3. Nancy,

    The picture of your front porch brought a little slice of peace to an end of a busy day with the kiddos. Now, they are all tucked in for the night and I have a moment to just breathe. Your last quote of Mason:

    (The question is not, - how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education - but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care?" 3.171)

    completely inspired and encouraged me to RELAX!! It doesn't matter how much they know, but how much they CARE. I just loved that and it was a gentle reminder to me to continue reading Mason's books, because these wonderful little nuggets will keep popping up every time you pick up a volume to read.

    Thank you!

    1. Finding your note here as I START my day is a refreshing beginning! I couldn't agree more with your comments, my friend.

  4. On Mason and her food analagies:

    Yet another correlation to the scriptures in my mind. "I am the Bread." "This is my body, eat it and remember me." There are more.

    I keep thinking about simplicity and quality in relation to the food (all types- bodily, mental, spiritual) that I am responsible for placing before my beloved family. It's not about an elaborate presentation. And I am working towards this task with the best of my abilities hand-in-hand with the Holy Spirit. A mother/teacher/wife's role in the home is a magnanimous duty. One that I very often take too lightly and without abundant joy.

  5. those last words came out of my mouth during a hard week about one of my students who faced a hard situation with his disabilities this week. He cares so deeply for his education and for the Lord. Truly we would hope that believers would see each student as made in the image of God but he was faced with these words in the situation: we cann't accomodate. SO to read those words here, Nancy, gave me affirmation.

    1. He sounds like a wonderful student, Bonnie, and truly blessed to have you as his teacher. How life-giving all of this is for the teacher and the student! Thanks for passing this along - you always seem to inspire and affirm others!

  6. Feeling satisfied and full after your absorbing posts on critical-thinking, Nancy. I see it all happening -- just as Charlotte said it would -- in our own home (school) but still find myself having to 'bite my tongue' to keep from making a "connection" for my kids. Not out of fear but due to my own enthusiasm. I'm thankful the true Teacher is there to remind me to shut.my.mouth.

    Oh, and I will never tire of those food analogies either. Like Bobby Jo, I'm always reminded of the Living Bread. Thank you for taking the time to share with us on CM and critical-thinking.

  7. Perhaps the best exam or narration style critical thinking is taking prose and putting it into poetry form!