“Treat children in this reasonable way, mind to mind; not so much of the teacher to the child…but the minds of a score of thinkers who meet the children, mind to mind.” (Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education, pg 261)
“What we want is a common basis of thought, such a ground work as we get from having read the same books, grown familiar with the same pictures, the same musical compositions, the same interests; when we have such a fundamental basis, we shall be able to speak to each other whether in public speaking or common talk; we shall ‘all hear in our own tongue the wonderful works of God’ because we have learned a common speech through those who in their books have lived to educate the race.” (Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education, pg 264)
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
The beginning of our new school’s second year is well under way. Schedules are getting adjusted and progress is continuing and picking up speed as we are getting more into our work. But, most important, to this certain Magistra at least, is that relationships are being formed.
Recently, we read the encounter of our Lord Jesus and his disciples in the boat during a storm. As the storm was brewing, the disciples found Jesus sleeping in the boat. The disciples were frightened, woke Jesus, and asked, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to drown?” Our Lord commanded the waves and wind to stop, at which the disciples then asked, “Who is this that even the winds and waves obey him?” (Children’s Bible Reader)
Another, less theological story we read involves a man (perhaps a teacher figure), some followers, and a boat. In this simple story, Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, I am reminded of some principles of education and of our Christian life.
Mr. Gumpy, a farmer, decides to take a boat ride. While various characters from children, to a pig, a dog, some chickens, and others ask Mr. Gumpy for a ride he accepts them with certain exhortations attributed to each of their characters. He asks the children not to squabble, the pig to not muck about, the dog to not chase the cat, and so on. Soon after, sure enough, the children squabbled, the pig mucked about, the dog chased the cat, the chickens squawked, and…the boat tipped…and into the water they all went. Mr. Gumpy suggested they all go ashore to dry off in the sun. Then they all went back to his house and had tea. “Come again another day!” said Mr. Gumpy.
Sometimes, I confess, my class-time feels like Mr. Gumpy’s Outing. As I begin the lesson, the children are wanting to “come along” and I exhort them to pay attention, not interrupt, and so on. Of course, sometimes they squabble, “muck about,” and “squawk.”
I then am reminded of our Lord, who amidst the storm, commands the wind and waves to stop. I say a quick prayer, dry off in the Son, and proceed to have “tea” (sometimes literally).
Both accounts show what is most important: the relationships. I am concerned for correct behavior and manage it when needed in the classroom. However, it is this sharing of the journey, the reasoning together, the “common basis of thought” that compels me to say “Come again another day!”