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All the World's a Wonder-ball




One of the things I love about this whole living education thing is that everyday I get to learn and discover alongside my children.  Then I become interested in something that strikes me and pursue it at my own pace.  Learning about Amy Carmichael, the Irish missionary to low caste girls and boys in India for over 50 years is one of those pursuits.

Since she lived from 1867 to 1951, one of the first questions that I ask is "Did she know of Charlotte Mason?"

In this case, the answer is "Yes!"

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay has written a few words about this in the highly-recommended book, When Children Love to Learn.  She states, "The Ambleside books by her (Mason) on education were sent out to India to Amy Carmichael, who founded the Dohnavur Fellowship. She too recognized in the writings the “roots and trunk” she was looking for as she cared for and educated Indian children.”

And Amy certainly recognized the benefits of a PNEU education. Just read how Iain H. Murray delves into this fact a little deeper in his book Amy Carmichael 'Beauty For Ashes'  and listen as he describes the education Amy provided for these cast-off children.

Evangelicals were unaccustomed to think in terms of the education of lower-class girls; such a programme hardly existed in India, and few saw any urgency for its provision.

Amy took the need very seriously and had a definite understanding of what she wanted. First, the objective of schooling must be the formation of character, not merely a training of the intellect. That meant that love was the starting point, to be taught in the first instance by example. Not a child went to sleep at night without a kiss from Amy, and even when the numbers ultimately made that impossible, as long as she could, she sought to see each child every day...as much as possible everything characteristic of an institution was avoided.

Education was not in order to bring a rise in social standing, or material prosperity. It was preparation to serve Christ and others. Learning Scripture was therefore foundational, and at Dohnavur this was made as appealing as possible. Just as Amy wanted her girls dressed in bright colours (especially blue!), she wanted them to see Christianity as the source of a truly happy  life. She herself was a musician, and an artist with words as well as pictures. Many truths and observations from nature were put into verse by her to be sung by the children. Yet care was taken that song should not be an end in itself. (Murray, p. 54-55)

Teaching was to be made as appealing as possible. This was not the same as being as entertaining as possible. The years of childhood were too important to be filled with temporary amusement. She wanted them to take in what they would need for life.

Along with the Bible, the book of creation was a constant study. Animals, flowers, trees, birds and much more, were all to be enjoyed and to be the subject of study. The children had their own gardens, and sometimes their own pets; they learned how to see chlorophyll in the leaves of plants and to study drops of water through a microscope.  There were outings to 'the forest' in the mountains where there was swimming and fun as well as learning.
Amy Carmichael has left a legacy that continues to this day.

We also know that before she left for India (from whence she never returned!) she attended the Keswick Convention in the Lake District.  The meeting in 1887 changed her life when she heard Hudson Taylor speak.  It was then that she devoted her life to serving God on the mission field. I can't find that Charlotte Mason ever attended this convention, but she certainly must have known about it and quotes one of the founders on occasion, the Quaker Robert Wilson.

So interesting!

I have also enjoyed Elizabeth Elliot's biography A Chance to Die.  Murray's book is shorter and more like a primer on Carmichael - a good place to begin learning more.  Amy also wrote a lovely devotional that I enjoy, Edges of His Ways.

I will leave you with a wonderful poem from Mountain Breezes, The Collected Poems of Amy Carmichael. If you get this book, check out the poem "Looking Through the Microscope."  It really lets you see how her enthusiasm for God's world must have influenced those children!  Here is one of my favorites, "Wonderland."

Wonderland 
by Amy Carmichael

Lord, Thy little children stand
     At the opening of the day
Bordering on Wonderland.

Very near to us it lies,
     Gathers round us as we play,
Waiting for our seeing eyes.

Wonderland is everywhere;
     Can we go where it is not?
When we go, we find Thee there.

And Thou art so very kind;
     Thou hast never once forgot
To put things for us to find.

Oh, a thousand voices call,
     "Come and find what has been hidden;
All the world's a Wonder-ball."

Father, may we take Thy hand?
     We will do as we are bidden.
Come with us to Wonderland.


Warmly,
Nancy




21 comments:

  1. Nancy, Carmichael is one of my favorite poets/missionaries/writers of all times. This is beautiful! :) I JUST reread Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's mention about a connection with AC and CM. There was a mention of a young woman named Margaret Wilkinson who read AC's Kohila and wrote to Amy and that she actually mentioned that Margaret should read and learn more about the Home Education Series and the CM College at Ambleside! Margaret then attended the CM college and ended up at Dohnaver! Fascinating! (pg 106 of For the Family's Sake). I believe this is the story of Margaret and Amy???? I haven't been able to get it yet and see, but looks so interesting: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0948154934/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=KRQH983C68WT&coliid=I2S3H2JXFX9RQC

    Another interesting thing that I want to research a bit more is that two other favorites of mine, Oswald Chambers and Lilias Trotter were part of Keswick. It would so neat to find out their connection if anything to Amy. Lilias Trotter was also good friends with John Ruskin. Anyway...so nice.

    Oh, btw, I hope to see you in Rochester! A few of us Wisconsinites are planning on the trip! :)

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    1. Amy,
      Yes, I have that book on order. Someone told me it was Amy that went to the training at Ambleside, but it seems more likely it was Margaret. I will let you know when I find out!
      I KNOW - can't wait to see you again - and your fellow Wisconsinites!
      Truly,
      Nancy

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  2. Oh and PS, so far one of my favorite AC titles is Edges of His Ways. <3 :)

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  3. Thank you for sharing about Amy Carmichael, Nancy! I read a biography about her with one of our children, too, some time ago. I was introduced to Amy Carmichael years ago through Elisabeth Elliot's writing. Several years ago I, too, read For the Family's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, and in chapter 7 of that book I was so encouraged to read of the connection between Amy Carmichael and Charlotte Mason. Amy Carmichael said the Home Education series published by Charlotte Mason "was an immense help." When a new missionary, Margaret Wilkinson, was delayed in coming to Dohnavur (Amy's home for her girls), Amy asked Margaret to use the delay time to do teacher training at Ambleside. Margaret applied at Ambleside, and she was accepted "for their one-year course for graduates..." Amy adapted Charlotte Mason's ideas for her children. Susan Schaeffer Macaulay writes about Charlotte Mason throughout her book For the Family's Sake. Another book I treasure about Amy Carmichael is entitled Amma: The Life and Words of Amy Carmichael by Elizabeth R. Skoglund.

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    1. I'm sorry, Nancy. The above comment that I just typed about the connection between Amy Carmichael and Margaret Wilkinson found in chapter 7 of Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's book For the Family's Sake was sent by me, Sheila Bice. Isn't it such great news that Margaret Wilkinson spent time in the teacher training course at Ambleside before going on to Dohnavur?

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    2. Dear Sheila,
      Thank you for all of that info! That explains who exactly went to Ambleside for the training - Margaret W. I need to read For the Family's Sake again, too.
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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    3. Nancy, For the Family's Sake is a book filled with much lovely thinking. Scattered throughout her book, Susan shares various thoughts about Charlotte Mason. You will like the book. I posted more quotes from ch. 7 of Susan's book on your facebook page about this connection of Amy's with Charlotte Mason to make it clearer that Margaret was the one who received some training at Ambleside because of a suggestion from Dohnavur that she use her waiting time this way to prepare her to help the children. Amy had CM's Home Education series that she had been reading.

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    4. Dear Sheila,
      Yes! I have read it but it's been years.I appreciate all the lengthy quotes you've shared both here and on fb. Those connections and the whole science of relationships just keep on coming as we go on year after year exploring God's wonder-full world, don't they?
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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    5. Dear Nancy,
      I agree whole-heartedly about all the "connections and the whole science of relationships" which we keep bumping into that are so very delightful!
      With Joy,
      Sheila

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  4. All right. I guess I need to finish the Amy Carmichael biography by Elliot that I started a year ago.

    I know lots of people that I respect love to quote Carmichael. I agree, she has some great quotes!

    But...I don't quite understand the fascination with her? She seemed quite confused and mistaken to me, about all sorts of things!

    I guess I should finish the book and find out.

    (See, a perfect example of this is that two of the people I admire the most...Elisabeth Elliot and Iaian Murray...BOTH wrote biographies of her. Obviously I am missing something.)

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  5. Rachel,
    When I first read in Elliot book back in 1993, I found it ...a bit of a slog bordering on hagiography. But since then I have enjoyed Amy's devotional writing and will need to go back and reread Elliot's, I think. Murray's book is much more accessible and tells about some of the shortcomings and problems. His book portrays a real person.
    Thanks for your honest comment!
    Warmly,
    Nancy

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  6. That's encouraging. Maybe I'll start with Murray's, intersperse it with some of Carmichael's own writing, and then go back to Elliot's.

    Thank you! (And ...ahem...IAIN...I'm correcting my earlier misspelling ;) )

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  7. What age would you say the devotional appropriate for?

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    1. Dear Dawn,
      I would say mature teens and up.
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  8. This is a connection that fascinates me. The more I look, the more Charlotte shows up everywhere.

    It has been years since I read Elliot's bio of Carmichael, and while I was deeply impressed by her the one thing I took away from the book (without knowing I was doing so) that has haunted me all of these years was a mention that Amy did not allow the children to listen to music (classical) while doing any other activity--the music appreciation was activity unto itself. She was so strict on some things and I find even that as I go about our homeschool day with music often in the background, I hear Amy's preference in my head. I have wondered if CM shared this opinion, if it was common to Victorian educators, or if it was just Amy's own preference in light of music accessibility being still rather a special thing.

    At any rate, I love the connection between CM, Ambleside and Amy Carmichael--two women of history that I love seem to have known of and respected each other.

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    1. Dear Harmony,
      Oh, that is interesting! I think you have at least partially answered the question - it's probably a combination of what you suggested. I mean, while I would certainly play music in the background of my home, the Composer Study music is usually music we stop and purposefully listen to - right?

      Warmly,
      Nancy

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    2. Yes, that came to mind as I finished the comment! All these years I have had a negative impression of that practice of hers, probably because when I first read about I thought she was applying a rule legalistically--music is ONLY to be listened to in a certain way. But if I think of it in terms of Charlotte Mason and the habit of attention, suddenly the legalism strips away and the practice seems far more beautiful and, dare I say, reasonable. :)

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  9. I am playing catch up with my favorite blogs, so I just skimmed this one about Amy Carmichael and am leaving this comment without having fully read the post of the comments. I hope that's not cheating. I will read everyone slowly when I have more time later. I just wanted to say that I didn't know Iain Murray had a biography of A.C. and now I will have to look it up. I first read a children's biography of A.C when I was a preteen and loved her so much. I have read Elisabeth Elliot's biography years ago and have had it on my reread shelf for the last year. I have much more I could say about sharing my love of Amy Carmichael with my students back in my classroom days, but suffice to say, I was so pleased to see her mentioned in When Children Love to Learn when I first read it almost eight years ago. Thanks for writing about this. Love your posts so much.

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  10. The comment about AC's connection w/ CM has given me hope as I educate Indonesian children alongside my own! It has been a huge encouragement knowing she has gone before :) ~Elissa

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