Nuggets from the Armitt #7

One of the interesting things buried in various volumes of the L’Umile Pianta are records of the questions that teachers had about little practical details. Sometimes they had the advantage of being able to go directly to Charlotte Mason and ask her about how to deal with some particular problem, and her response to the question was recorded for posterity. However, few copies of the L’Umile Pianta are available, and the little nuggets of wisdom have to be mined for. (What I mean is, you have to sit on an uncomfortable wooden chair and spend the precious few hours you have in Ambleside, England turning over the leaves, scanning, and hoping to spot something valuable.) When you do find a gem, you take a picture, and now it can be shared with everyone.

This is a dense page of text (most of those pages are). The topic of discussion revolved around some of the complications encountered when a child moved from one Form to another. Sometimes they weren’t ready to do the math and grammar that the higher Form was doing, and in that case, the advise was not to jump ahead, but to keep going so that nothing important was missed. But for history, the answer was different, and that’s what this “nugget from the Armitt” is about.

It was a standard practice for some history books to be spread out and read across two or sometimes even three years. Because of that, if a child moved from a lower Form to a higher one, the class might be in the middle of book. Charlotte Mason had some specific and wise advice about how to handle the situation, which can be very relevant for contemporary homeschoolers. Sometimes, the chronological flow of history is interrupted by changing from one curriculum to another. Sometimes, you jump into a curriculum with an older child, and their history is already in the middle of a book, similar to the PNEU Forms. This is what you can do:

Miss Mason suggested that one or two lessons should be given to bridge over the interval; they should be bright and descriptive, and should just sketch in the changes that had taken place: the children should not be required to reproduce them.

So, the teacher (or mother) should simply summarize the missed parts of history as interestingly as possible, and the child need not narrate those summarized lessons. That will give them a framework to begin reading the new history or the next assigned chapter, and they will be able to pick up the thread of events and follow along.

I’ve seen many parents raise the same questions that the PNEU teachers did, and since we can’t go and ask Charlotte Mason exactly what we should do, it was nice of our predecessors to write it down and preserve it. Imagine how surprised they would be to know that the whole world could read about their dilemma and their answer, thanks to modern technology.