I’ve written about this before. It’s quite likely I’ll have more to say about it in the future. I think that Education is the Science of Relations is one of the key principles among the twenty, around which the rest shape themselves.
In Consider This, I summarized this brief principle in this way: all knowledge is connected. Reading In Memoriam, I found that those who labored with Charlotte Mason were keenly aware of this idea, and that it formed a pivotal role in their understanding.
“The new student” says one of them, “is at first amazed to find how little we specialize, perhaps she does not wish to teach mathematics and does not see why she should study them; perhaps she loves history and considers that the study of history alone is a life-work. She does not yet understand that all subjects are so interwoven that one cannot fully be studied and understood apart from the rest and that is why so many subjects are taught at Scale How.”
I find this observation of particular interest because the students at Scale How were adults—young adults, for the most part—and they had yet to comprehend this understanding of knowledge. But they learned! Their two years of training under Charlotte Mason and her methods gave them the deeper understanding that enabled them to form their own relationships and equipped them to teach others.
I find this of particular interest because I think it gives us hope—we, the adult learners trying to understand Charlotte Mason and her methods, can develop deeper insight. It’s okay if we do “not yet understand that all subjects are so interwoven that one cannot fully be studied and understood apart from the rest.” Because we can learn. And we can help our children reach that understanding sooner than ourselves. This perception is not beyond the reach of children.
And in some wonderful way, P.U. School children do realize that knowledge is a balanced whole; that scripture, history, geography, botany and all the others are actually different facets of the same thing. Indeed it may be that herein lies the chief characteristic of a P.N.E.U. School; for it is merely another way of saying that the children have a wide curriculum and that they get at knowledge for themselves and for its own sake.
A child who is forming personal relationships with knowledge and growing in understanding of the wholeness of knowledge will become an adult with a more balanced and solid foundation upon which to judge, and upon which to form valid, worthwhile opinions.
This great unifying principle, that Education is the Science of Relations, should be firmly held and acted upon as the only way to the attainment of that “true knowledge” whereby a child may be put “into touch with the great thoughts of the past,” and be “kept in a right attitude to the thoughts of the present, so “that he may be prepared to meet new ideas” and come upon fresh avenues of thought in the future with an open mind, and be able to form his own opinions which will be the outcome of all the wide knowledge he has collected.
From a teacher’s perspective, this conception of education—“Education is the Science of Relations”—is a guiding principle that has an effect on every decision that has to made. Which foreign language will we learn? Will we read this biography or that one? Which math curriculum should I choose? Should we join a co-op? Education is the science of relations can keep our steps on the right path, and make even seemingly small choices a matter of principle, which will give us increased confidence as go along. The better we understand these principles, the more natural it becomes to act upon them.
“Education is the Science of Relations” is a phrase familiar to all those who have studied the works and principles of our Founder, Charlotte M. Mason, and it has a peculiar significance and vitalizing force, as presented by her, which inspires the teacher and lifts the work to that high plane where truly it belongs.
This particular principle is elevating. It “lifts the work” beyond the drudgery of day to day lessons, to a place of eternal truth, of labor in a greater cause. May it continue to inspire us as it inspired those who worked alongside Charlotte Mason during her lifetime.
If you are interested in reading In Memoriam for yourself—and I hope you are!—you can read the text for free. (That’s where I read it.)
I’m also excited to share that Brandy at Afterthoughts has made a clean, good-quality physical copy available, and included some additional material that will make it more useful for study. I’ll be adding this one to my library! If you want a copy of In Memoriam: A Tribute to Charlotte Mason in your hands, this is the one.