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The Story of Charlotte Mason and the Great Recognition


I am excited to share with you Nicole Handfield's story about the new book, Charlotte Mason and the Great Recognition! As I mentioned earlier in this post, on July 7th Nicole presented this project at the Living Education Retreat which consisted of the book and the two high-quality prints (one 8 x 11 and one 18 x 20 with principle 20 written beneath it) by an Italian photographer. While the book may be small in stature, the ideas presented are Mason's mightiest.


Nicole and I sharing at the LER

The Story of Charlotte Mason and the Great Recognition, edited by Nicole Handfield

The story of how this book on the Great Recognition came to be is inextricably linked to the Great Recognition itself. When Charlotte Mason explained that the Holy Spirit is our children's indefatigable teacher, who will teach them (and us) all things, this recognition turned my secular/spiritual dichotomy on its head, opening my eyes to the more intimate involvement of God in our lives than I had previously considered. And so, I can say in all honesty, the making of this book is really the work of the Holy Spirit, who put the silly-sounding idea of publishing a book into my head and then actually made it happen. I can say with full confidence that it wasn't me pushing the project because I am completely unqualified for such an endeavor and frankly didn't even know where to begin. And yet, every single piece literally fell into place, because God was orchestrating the whole thing. 

It all began about a year ago on a date night with my husband when he brought up the idea of taking a family vacation to Italy. He wanted to experience traditional Neopolitan wood-fired pizza, but I wanted to see for myself the fresco that Charlotte Mason described when she discussed the Great Recognition.

In the Cholmondeley biography of Charlotte Mason, I read how Charlotte had a reproduction of the frescoes hanging in a prominent place at the House of Education so that it could serve as a daily inspiration for the teachers in training. I really wanted to have something like that in my home, to remind me daily that the Holy Spirit is the real teacher in our homeschool. I thought you could find anything on the world wide web! However, when I tried to find an image online of the fresco, I could only find the ceiling vault and the wall fresco separately. Because of the shape of the inside of the Spanish Chapel, the dimensions of the frescoes are not the same and photoshopping the images together wouldn't produce a nice, frame-able image.

When I finally found myself in Florence looking at the fresco, I spent most of my time trying to get a great photograph of the two parts (wall and ceiling) in one shot. However, my camera was not able to overcome the limitations of the limited interior lighting and my inferior photography skills. So I did not get the beautiful photograph I wanted.

After we got home from Italy, I really felt that more Christian educators needed to hear this message. I wished that there was a book containing Charlotte Mason's discussion of the Great Recognition Required of Parents as well as John Ruskin's discussion of the fresco (which Charlotte read on her own trip to see the Florentine fresco). And it would be great if it could have photographs of the fresco as well. Of course, I still wanted a nice, frame-able shot of the fresco for my own wall at home.

I felt the Holy Spirit whisper that maybe I should make the book that didn't yet exist. I had plenty of reasons why I was not the person to take on this task. Besides the fullness of my plate in this season of mothering littles and literally knowing nothing about publishing a book, I wasn't even sure that I knew enough about Charlotte Mason and this concept to correctly describe it in a book.
I later attended the Grace to Build Retreat and found myself sitting next to Nancy Kelly at breakfast on the last day when I brought up my idea for this book. She said it was a great idea and told me she'd put me in contact with a publisher. And that was the beginning of this crazy project that involved the hiring of multiple professionals (including a professional photographer to get that beautiful image of the fresco) who put together this lovely book. I asked Art Middlekauff and Nancy Kelly to contribute chapters to the book as well, and I'm so pleased with their additional insights into this important foundation of Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy.

I earnestly pray that this book is a blessing to all who read it and that we can all be inspired and encouraged by the living ideas it contains. 

Gratefully,
Nicole Handfield

*The first printing of the book is sold out.  A second printing will be coming this fall. Riverbend Press  will be taking preorders for the art prints. The only other place to to get the books or prints will be this September at the Weekend of Living Ideas Retreat or this October at the Delightful Living Seminar or Grace to Build Retreat.



These two look rather sweet next to each other!

11 comments:

  1. How neat! I really love hearing Nicole's story about how it all came about! :) And the photos look gorgeous! :)

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  2. I just recently explained what the Great Recognition was to someone and thought, wow, we really need to get this front and center in people's minds. They are using Miss Mason's principles without knowing about something that's very foundational to the whole thing. This is what all of life hinges on for each one of us. Congrats to Nicole!

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    1. Thanks, Megan. I agree, it is foundational and we hope the book and prints will get that message out there a bit more.
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  3. My lovely copy arrived while I was visiting family in NY. I was so excited to open it upon arriving home this weekend, and I look forward to the arrival of the prints when they become available. Congratulations, Nicole! This is a wonderful gift to the CM community. I agree wholeheartedly, Nancy: the Cloud and Recognition look oh, so lovely next to each other:).

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  4. Can't wait to see them both at Grace to Build! Thank you for sharing how all of this came together. :)

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  5. Hello!
    Does Riverbend Press have an idea when more copies of Charlotte Mason and the Great Recognition will be available to ship? It looks like they have the art prints of the fresco now.

    Thanks

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    1. Dear Stephanie,
      I'm not sure but you might contact them and ask. Meanwhile, I know there will be copies at the Large Room Retreat in D.C. this Feb.!

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  6. I'll be ordering a large print soon, but I'm curious what size frame you have and where you found it - 13"X 21" print size won't fit a common frame, that I can find anyway.

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    1. My print is in a 20 x 28 frame with a mat. I purchased mine at Michael's - custom framing. A friend purchased this frame, took out the different cut outs and it worked perfectly - http://www.hobbylobby.com/Home-Decor-Frames/Frames-Photo-Albums/Collage-Frames/4-x-6-Black-Collage-Frame-with-4-Openings/p/40050

      Maybe one of those will work for you?

      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  7. oooh, I like the convenience and price of the hobby lobby idea. Thanks so much!

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