La Casa Giocosa

                                                                                    The Young Cicero Reading by Foppa, c. 1464                                                                             

It's Italian for "The Joyful House".  Now wouldn't that be a fitting name for a CM community  or school?  Based on all the times Mason references the importance of joy, I think so.  Marit (dd15) was reading Renaissance and Reformation Times by Dorothy Mills a wonderful living history book for jr. high or high school when she came across this description of the school run by Vittorino de Feltre during the early 1400's.

Vittorino believed in the importance of not only what was taught, but how and where teaching was done.  He believed that the influences of surroundings were of great importance and he cared a good deal about the buildings in which his school was carried on.  At Mantua the school was held in a a large garden-house to which he gave the name of La Casa Giocosa, the Joyful House, and the walls were covered with gay frescoes of children at work an at play....To Vittorino, every child whom he taught was an individual whose special needs and future were his concern...Vittorino looked out into the world in which his pupils would one day live, and it was his ideal to give them a training that would make them worthy  of the heritage into which they would enter. (Renaissance and Reformation Times by Dorothy Mills, 1939, p. 160)

medallion of Vittorino, c. 1446
Then, when my daughter narrated the passage, she began with, "Now Vittorino started a very Charlotte Masony school..."  So, of course my interested was piqued!  Guess what?  In the Appendix of Vol. 5, p. 436  under "A Few Books Dealing With Education", Mason recommends Vittorino da Feltre and other Humanist Educators by W.H. Woodward.  Here are some highlights of her review:

Should girls have equal advantages with boys?  Vittorino taught girls and boys together.  Is early education important? He laid himself out for children of five years old.  Should lessons be pleasant? La Giocosa not only named but described his school.  Should there be a mixture of classes in a school?  He taught children whom he educated out a his large charity with the children of princes.  Do we desire a wide and liberal curriculum?  This was what he accomplished - Latin and Greek, Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra, Natural Philosophy, Euclid, Astronomy, Natural History, Music, Choral Singing, Dancing, all games for the training and exercising of the body, and a good deal besides.  Plutarch was made much use of as an educational instrument, being employed with the Bible to teach morals...Do we pride ourselves on the higher education of women?  This is an old story in Italian education, where women were advanced to professorial chairs even in universities for men.  Are we beginning to expect that parents should be serious students of the philosophy of education? This was a matter of course for the fifteenth-century parent, to whom the schoolmaster looked for intelligent cooperation.
I find this sort of thing terrifically interesting.  Masterly inactivity for the teacher, I guess.  It's a little late to change our CM community's name or our school name.  Maybe some other venture...someday.

From joy to joy,

Renaissance and Reformation Times by Dorothy Mills


  1. What a wonderful link and Charlotte Mason moment! Love the expression 'The Joyful House', I love when the atmosphere is joyful in our home.

  2. Yesterday, our CM study group discussed joy and delight in her final book,

    We must all be able to 'take the front' of men and women by speaking of that which they have known and felt and already found joy in. So shall we cease to present motives of self interest and personal advantage as incentives to public action; we shall touch springs of poetry, of heroism, to which all natures have the habit of rising.

    I know that teachers enjoy the work set term by term fully as much as do the children and that a schoolroom life in which there is no monotony, no dulness, little or no idleness or inattention, does away with the necessity to make games the paramount interest of the school––to make them indeed a stern necessity rather than a joyous relaxation.

    We have, if not a higher, yet another standard which it may be interesting to consider. We offer children knowledge for its own sake and our pupils discover that 'studies serve for delight.'

    1. Tammy,
      Exactly! But you know, people often look at me in disbelief when I talk about this. But for those who KNOW, it makes for a different, rich, joyful life. Perfect quote, Tammy! Thank you.

      From joy to joy,

  3. Serious students of the philosophy of education - a good challenge. Thanks, Nancy.

  4. Love the translation: The Joyful House.
    I think you have a CM teacher or many in your house for their futures!
    Thanks for all the information which brightened my Saturday!

  5. love this: Are we beginning to expect that parents should be serious students of the philosophy of education? This was a matter of course for the fifteenth-century parent, to whom the schoolmaster looked for intelligent cooperation.

  6. Thanks Nancy! You always have the best finds!

  7. What a wonderful methodology inspired by Vittorino! It still amazes me that "new" methods are introduced (at enormous costs) to schools and curriculums, when the "joyful" way has already been proven! Thanks for enriching us again!