With all the great information and curriculum and standards and benchmarks available to us in this technology driven information age, let us not lose sight of the child himself.
British educator Charlotte Mason wrote:
Here we have the right order. That which was born of the spirit, the idea, came first and demanded to confirm and illustrate. ~Vol. 6
What came first? Information? Facts?
That which was born of the spirit, the idea...
And in that right order what was born of the spirit, the idea, DEMANDED to confirm and illustrate.
Do we observe this right order in our teaching? Do we see it in our children; that light of curiosity, interest, thoughtfulness and the desire to know?
The question is not,––how much does the youth know? ...but how much does he care?
This quote written almost 100 years ago by E.A Parish titled "Imagination as a Powerful Factor in a Well-balanced Mind" sums up one aspect in the art of educating children where I continually strive for better understanding:
It is a great thing to have a teacher who makes it a rule of life never to tell things that can be found out unaided.
Here are some more excellent quotes from the same article...
To the child, from the beginning, life is the unfolding of one vast mystery; to him our stalest commonplaces are great news, our dullest facts prismatic wonders.
It is the children who are right, and we who are wrong; the world is more wonderful and more beautiful than even children think, and yet we would for ever correct them and inform them as to what we believe really is. We substitute facts for that wonder which is the seed of knowledge, and then we are amazed that eager, sweet-faced children grow into dull and indifferent little boys and girls.
...they feel that the world of nature is free to them, for they are left, as far as possible, unhampered by "must not" and "do not." Their study of nature is loving and sympathetic, and carried on with fullest recognition of the rights of the Nixies and the Pixies. Much free time is spent in the open air every day, and the children are guided wisely and not too obviously. They know what it is to breathe the freshness of the morning, to feel the loneliness and peace of quiet places, where the parsley fern is growing, where the streamlet trickles over butterwort and sundew, they know what it is to find the world so beautiful that the heart leaps and is glad. It is in these silent places that they come face to face with God, and register high resolves which form the keynote of their lives. It is not only that they are learning botany or natural history, though these studies can immeasurably increase their joy, but they are also acquiring a priceless treasure which can never be taken from them; which will fill their hearts with praise. I have noticed reverently, that those of my friends who seem always young, no matter the date of their birth, are those who have never lost this happy intimacy with nature, they still "believe in love, believe in loveliness, believe in belief"; and they still know what it is,
This could have been written for a soccer mom of today:
...two things are necessary—solitude and independence. Children must have these. ...Miss Mason devises time-tables which cover such reasonable hours as to leave time over for this solitude, but parents are often very culpable in thinking that Tango or some other new thing must be learned as well, and the much needed time for solitude is used for plans which necessitate hurried journeys, always in the company of a responsible person, who feels it her duty to talk in an instructive way, and the thinking time, the growing time, the time in which the mind is to find food is diminished, and the child becomes restless, tiresome, irritable, disobedient—everything that a child who is reputed to be difficult can be.
It actually reminded me of Richard Louv's quote from Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder:
Some kids don't want to be organized all the time. They want to let their imaginations run; they want to see where a stream of water takes them."
In our enthusiasm to teach children nature, let's not forget that wonder is the seed of knowledge.