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    Educational Philosophy, Mother's Education

    Music and the Poetry of Education

    July 22, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    It is easy to hear the phrase “musical education” and assume we’re talking about piano and violin lessons, with a bit of tonic sol-fa thrown in. While this is the beginning of what is meant by music as a liberal art, music here — as something that precedes the liberal arts — means something deeper and more basic. Clark and Jain, in The Liberal Arts Tradition, call it “foundational.”

    A grand collision of John Senior, Kevin Clark, Ravi Jain, James Taylor, Karen Glass, AND Charlotte Mason over this mystery of musical, poetic education.

    To Clark and Jain, musical education is “an education in wonder”:

    It studied all the subjects inspired by the Muses (from epic poetry to astronomy) in a pre-critical manner. … They taught passions more than skills and content. They sowed the seeds which would grow into a lifelong love of learning.

    p. 5

    Later, they explain that musical training is

    directed toward forming this “middle element,” the heart, the moral imagination.

    p. 27

    According to Clark and Jain, Christian classical schools are already doing this — they are just using the wrong words for it. Listening to Dorothy Sayers and Doug Wilson, these schools call what they are doing “grammar” — they say they are learning the “grammar of music” or the “grammar of science,” which leads them to the mistaken belief that children are actually studying the liberal arts in kindergarten and first grade. (p. 28)

    I remember the first time a friend of mine said that “there is no such thing as a classically educated child” and I gasped audibly. But this is exactly what she meant: the liberal arts aren’t for little children, and there is something Other and Necessary that precedes them.

    This is why John Senior wrote:

    [T]he seminal ideas of Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine and St. Thomas thrive only in an imaginative ground saturated with fables, fairy tales, stories, rhymes and adventures: the thousand books of Grimm, Andersen, Stevenson, Dickens, Scott, Dumas and the rest.

    But I digress.

    Clark and Jain go on to declare:

    Our position is as follows: while schools in the Christian classical renewal have imagined themselves to be teaching grammar (or one or more of the seven liberal arts) in very creative and effective ways — chanting US states, grammatical rules, names of president; dressing as flowing-haired Achaeans and attacking hapless Trojans from a wooden horse; drawing pictures of creatures whose names begin with the letter we have just learned — they have actually been engaged in the truly classical enterprise of musical education.

    p. 28

    But then they end the section with this poignant question:

    Imagine the possibilities of thinking of these areas of the curriculum as musical education rather than the “grammar of — “. History would not be so many facts to memorize however creatively we do it but an opportunity to use stories from the past to build up a child’s moral imagination …

    Yes, Imagine.

    I have never been inside a Christian classical school. I have never seen this sort of thing in action. But what is described — chanting lists and rules — does not sound representative of the poetic ideal much at all. I mean, maybe, perhaps, in a teensy-tiny way, they kinda sorta do? Like maybe they are one little piece of the big puzzle of a musical education? I think that Clark and Jain pointed the way with their question — imagine if — but they did not then extrapolate what the practical would look like if we started from the question itself.

    The reason why I subtitled my post “and the poetry of education” is because what Clark and Jain are calling a musical education is what James Taylor calls Poetic Knowledge (in my favorite book ever, ever, EVER) and what my friend Karen Glass, in her remarkable little book Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition, calls Synthetic Knowledge — and Karen connects this to Charlotte Mason’s assertion that “education is the science of relations.” These are all different names for the same thing.

    I think that Clark and Jain are absolutely correct when they say that the musical — or poetic, which is how I usually refer to this here on the blog — mode of learning is rooted in wonder and that it ought to bear fruit in the form of a lifelong love of learning. I believe they are correct when they say that it’s a training of the passions of the heart and that an effect of it is the formation of the moral imagination.

    What I think they left out was the idea that it is based on wholes — on the oneness of all knowledge.

    James Taylor describes poetic knowledge this way:

    [P]oetic knowledge is not necessarily a knowledge of poetry but rather a poetic (sensory-emotional) experience of reality. … What must be at the beginning of this understanding is the phenomenon of poetic experience. Poetic experience indicates an encounter with reality that is nonanalytical, something that is perceived as beautiful, awful (awefull), spontaneous, mysterious.

    [I]t is … knowledge from the inside out, radically different in this regard from a knowledge about things.

    pp. 5-6

    He goes on to specifically describe this as the opposite of scientific knowledge — that it is necessarily non-analytical and focuses on wholes rather than parts.

    This is why Karen Glass writes:

    Analysis should not be our primary approach to knowledge or our primary mode of thinking, especially in the earliest years of education. We should not begin taking apart the things that we learn until we have put them together first, and so solidly unified our understanding of the world that we will not lose sight of the relationships between things when we do begin to analyze.

    p. 35

    And this is why Charlotte Mason declares:

    A child should be brought up to have relations of force with earth and water, should run and ride, swim and skate, lift and carry; should know texture, and work in material; should know by name, and where and how they live at any rate, the things of the earth about him, its birds and beasts and creeping things, its herbs and trees; should be in touch with the literature, art and thought of the past and the present. I do not mean that he should know all these things; but he should feel, when he reads of it in the newspapers, the thrill which stirred the Cretan peasants when the frescoes in the palace of King Minos were disclosed to the labour of their spades. He should feel the thrill, not from mere contiguity, but because he has with the past the relationship of living pulsing thought; and, if blood be thicker than water, thought is more quickening than blood. He must have a living relationship with the present, its historic movement, its science, literature, art, social needs and aspirations. In fact, he must have a wide outlook, intimate relations all round; and force, virtue, must pass out of him, whether of hand, will, or sympathy, wherever he touches.

    p. 162

    If I was asked to make a list of practical expressions of this musical, poetic mode of education, I would say this:

    • Regular nature walks that develop the skill of attention and, over time, lead to students knowing the names of what they find on the walk — because they have cared about them and noticed them enough to require a name for them.
    • Singing psalms, hymns, and folk songs together daily.
    • Reading lots of poetry and nursery rhymes.
    • Hearing many, many tales — some True, and some merely true 😉 — which the student in turn narrates back as a whole.
    • Reading science biographies and histories that allow them to feel the thrill of discovery.
    • As many books as possible in literary form, because this form captures both the imagination as well as the heart — it is the only form that allows for Taylor’s “knowledge from the inside out.”
    • Memorizing whole poems and reciting whole passages of Scripture — especially whole Psalms and whole parables in the younger years.
    • Many, many hours for imaginative play. (It is only in extended hours of time that children will allow their books to animate their play — as did my 10- and 8-year-old daughters this week when they spent hours playing Riders of Rohan as a result of our months of walking through Middle Earth.)
    • Listening to music from exceptional composers.
    • Illustrating a story the student has read.
    • Looking at the best art work in history and then narrating a description of it from memory — effectively storing these examples of beauty and artistry in their memories — Charlotte Mason described this as a museum gallery of the mind.

    It’s really not fair to call this my list. This is just my regurgitation of all I’ve read from James Taylor, Karen Glass, John Senior, Charlotte Mason, and more — I’m just an Afterthinker, after all, you know.

    My thought is this: If the goal is a development of taste, the training of the loves of the heart, the fertilization of wonder, we have to get away from the idea that grammar chants have this effect. I’m not saying they’re bad or whatever. I’m saying they aren’t poetic and they don’t touch the heart, even if children are having a blast doing it.

    I’m not saying this because I’m an expert on anything. I’m saying this because whenever great thinkers like James Taylor point to examples of what not to do — what is not the poetic mode — they point to things like grammar chants. For starters, they aren’t beautiful. Says Taylor:

    It was from Socrates, to Aristotle, to Augustine, that we learned there must be something of the beautiful embedded as a universal in the particular object that gives rise to wonder and delight for there to be poetic experience.

    It’s sort of like I said in my talk, Memorization and the Soul. I don’t really care if you memorize lists of facts, but all the other stuff — the songs and poems and the lengthy passages and famous speeches and the ability to retell beautiful stories and describe beautiful pictures — this is the stuff of music and poetry, and this is the stuff that must take priority. And if, in all that leftover time, there is a deep desire to memorize a list of the Presidents of the United States, I give my blessing. 😉

    Needless to say, I wish Clark and Jain hadn’t been so quick to say “we’re already doing it” and rather tried to answer their own imagine if question. What does an education steeped in wonder, with the power to develop a moral imagination look like? Let’s start with that.

    Of course, I think there is a sense in which it could take a lifetime to formulate an answer.

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  • Reply Lindsey March 31, 2019 at 7:20 am

    Hi! For years, we have been memorizing lots of the types of songs, chants, etc., that make you so nervous (it’s our eighth year of CC), and I don’t think you’ll believe me, but I truly think it has awakened (and/or maintained) wonder in at least two of my children, boys 12 and 10 (remains to be seen with the third, a girl, age 8). We also read tons of great books, learn instruments and enjoy good music in other ways, memorize plenty of poetry, Scripture, speeches, and such, etc. It seems that both categories complement each other so well and give so much context for each other that I wouldn’t give up either. It was that very type of memory work done in fun ways that first drew me to classical education (having forgotten so very much of what I “learned” as a child myself), and I haven’t regretted it yet. Time after time, I’ve seen something that began as gibberish to them lead to lots of questions, book holds, internet searches, invented board games related to the topic in question, “museums” made, and more. Doors to rooms of knowledge were opened to my kids at ages I wouldn’t have considered on my own. (The periodic table at five? Seriously? Oh, but it has become a love.) They’ve wanted to know what that song we sing ad nauseum is all about, so we dig in! You are right that we have to guard against both pride and a mechanical attitude regarding our memory work, and I love reading and listening to you to remind me to never flag on the more musical side of what we’re doing, but we have been immensely blessed at our house by those chants and songs. But again, thank you so very, very much for the myriad of book recommendations, wonderful quotations, and general refining of my thinking that you’ve given me between here and Schole Sisters!

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  • Reply Mary March 2, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    I love this post, and every time I read it I want to rush out and get a copy of “Poetic Knowledge.” I haven’t had a chance yet, but I was excited to discover this same idea in the book I’m currently reading, “Beauty for Truth’s Sake” by Caldecott. He even quotes Taylor several times.

    Caldecott wants to break down the divide that has grown up between faith and reason, and between science and art—a divide that didn’t exist in classical education. He sees poetic knowledge as a way to rediscover the unity of knowledge:

    “If children were from an early age exposed to a “musical” training in the Greek sense, if their poetic sensibility was kindled by training in the observation of nature and the learning of poetry, and if mathematics and science were taught historically, with due attention to the symbolic and beautiful properties of numbers and shapes, then we might even begin to see the birth of that “regenerate science” that Lewis prophesied [referring to The Abolition of Man].”

    This idea of the symbolism of numbers and shapes is really key in Caldecott’s mind, and I’m curious, Brandy, if it has come up in any of your reading about poetic knowledge/musical education. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around what he’s trying to say, and I’m not sure what I think. He talks about how “traditional cosmologies were ways of reading the cosmos itself as a fabric woven of natural symbols.” He says that we have lost this way of looking at the world, to our detriment.

    I’m sorry for such a long comment, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this (if my explanation of the book makes sense). Thanks!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 2, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      Well, I might make you want to read Taylor, but YOU make ME want to read Caldecott! ♥

      When you asked if this has come up in my reading, for some reason what came to mind was the first time I encountered a similar idea, which was years ago in James Gaines’ book Evening in the Palace of Reason. The book is a history, not a philosophy, but the descriptions of the movement of the spheres (planets) and how that was related to the conception of music in the time of Bach was fascinating!

      It wasn’t exactly the same, because Gaines wasn’t talking about symbolism. But still: the idea the music was woven into math and astronomy brought about that same amazing connection between science and art that Caldecott desires.

      • Reply Mary March 2, 2017 at 9:23 pm

        Oh that’s really interesting! When he describes the classical perspective I often find myself thinking, What a beautiful way of looking at the world!

        “The assumption of this system of education [the quadrivium] was that by learning to understand the harmonies of the cosmos, our minds would be raised toward God, in whom we find the unity from which all these harmonies derive.”

        But then he starts talking about the number 2 representing “polarity and division, and also feminine receptivity and fruitfulness,” and I find myself thinking, okay maybe this is a bit too much for me.

        Although to be fair, he does say, “A superstitious obsession with magical correspondences, or a fascination with the occult, is a corruption of the symbolic imagination. The symbolic sensibility needs to be balanced and integrated with due attention to empirical evidence and logic.”

        I will just have to keep reading and see if he convinces me of his point of view!

        • Reply Brandy Vencel March 2, 2017 at 9:59 pm

          Fascinating! I think I need to read this over summer when I have space in my brain for thoughts like these. Truly, I love that idea of harmony — I once also heard harmony related to the Church being the Body of Christ — we all play different parts, but work together according to our gifts and callings. The idea was that the Church needed to recover the ability to sing in harmony because in doing so we would learn to actually LIVE harmoniously with one another. ♥

          • Mary March 2, 2017 at 10:16 pm

            Well if you end up reading it, I hope you write a blog post or two on your thoughts! 🙂

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  • Reply Elizabeth Fern. August 8, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Hi Brandy! I found this article in the Schole Sisters newsletter. I have a concern about narration that perhaps you can set my mind at ease about: My oldest daughter hated narration. She didn’t really see the point in telling back what she knew we both learned from reading aloud. I found her really dreading/hating our catechism lessons because of narration. In fact, anything I required narration of, she began to hate. Of course, I didn’t want her hating our faith, the classics etc so I dropped narration all together. She’s 13 and I now have a 6, 4 and 3 month sons coming down the pipe. What can I do to encourage narration without getting the blowback that I received from my daughter? Again, my main concern is that they will hate whatever it is I force them to narrate. Thank you for this post.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 9, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      Hi, Elizabeth! I can *completely* understand your concern! I totally agree — we do not want them to hate it. Not any of it! 🙂

      I have a few thoughts on this. First, I think that, at my house, one of the reasons there isn’t any resistance is that it is a habit — we narrate every single school reading. The little ones have just accepted this as part of what it means to do school.

      With that said, if it were my daughter, I think I would start by talking with her about it — why was she resistant? Is there something you could have done differently? It might be interesting to hear from her perspective. Some children reject it because they think the point is to convey information, and that you were sitting right there, so you don’t need them to do that. They don’t understand that narration is for the student, not the teacher.

      There are different ways to handle narration resistance {some personalities are worse about that than others! 🙂 }, and I would love to discuss it more, but I think that in my own home I would start with talking with my child, and see if we could work something out, and maybe she could even help me teach it to the younger children when the time comes.

  • Reply Patty July 26, 2015 at 6:49 am

    Thank you for posting this NOW! I’ve been considering a co-op which includes that memorization which I already disliked about the other very popular co-op that follows that method. I was considering it because my daughter wants a group setting. After reading this, it has reminded me not to settle and to keep on searching for the RIGHT thing for our family. You always manage to express yourself so eloquently.
    Thank you!

  • Reply SarahD July 23, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Yes. This is exactly what drove me away from a certain way of doing classical education and drew me towards CM et al.

    • Reply Melissa July 23, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      I feel the same way SarahD! We started homeschooling traditionally with textbooks in hand. However, very soon thereafter I started studying classical education which seemed OK at the time for our older dd, but I just couldn’t see it with the younger kiddos just starting out. There is so much more to education than memorized fact dumping. Further studies led me to Charlotte Mason 🙂

      Thanks Brandy for this thought provoking post. I plan to link it to my Friday Findings this week.

      BTW, The Liberal Arts Tradition and Poetic Knowledge are both on my wish list…


  • Reply Sharyn Kelly July 23, 2015 at 6:53 am

    I have been studying Charlotte’s methods closely this week. I attended the LER and have been inspired by all the ideas I have missed in her writings. One thought I had in response to your post, which was lovely, was the idea of giving the idea to a child and letting them explore it before any “lesson” commences. Two easy examples would be the child reading the literature first and taking time to respond to it before the teacher/mother speaks of it. And we are told not to speak too much when we do speak. This allows the student their own explorations. The other example is Charlotte NOT using her math textbooks as written but giving the students a problem first and allowing them to explore and reason on their own how to look at and solve the problem. Then the teacher/mother would share the idea or concept. Each lesson was carefully planned and graded to allow for this exploration and the student must go under his or her own power with no help from teacher or mother except as a guide. Beautiful! Poetic! Richele Baburino’s Living Math book has been inspirational.
    I have a 17 year old who has lost her wonder. I am praying how to use Charlotte’s methods to restore them. She has attended a classical coop the last two years and the “music” has been squashed to some extent. Hope abounds!,
    Thank you for your thoughtful posts.
    Sharyn Kelly

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 23, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      Hope abounds! I love that, Sharyn! ♥

      I haven’t gotten a chance to read Richele’s book yet, but I certainly want to. I admire her a whole big bunch!

  • Reply Carol July 22, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your post, Brandy – and all the comments. Thanks.

  • Reply Kristie July 22, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    What a lovely thing to see my very thoughts formed into well-thought-out words! That comment about the understanding of Plato and Aristotle being dependent on a foundation of fables, fairy tales, and adventures is exactly what I’ve known to be true but never actually seen in writing. Thank you for being an After-thinker and taking the time to write. I’m off to order John Senior’s book.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 22, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      John Senior is amazing! I hope you love it! I was a lot for me — I had to read it in small bites.

      He has another book that I plan to order eventually — it’s called The Restoration of Christian Culture. 🙂

  • Reply Mariel July 22, 2015 at 11:22 am

    “I think that Clark and Jain pointed the way with their question — imagine if — but they did not then extrapolate what the practical would look like if we started from the question itself.”

    Brandy, can you clarify what you meant by this? What I mean is, could you explain what YOU would have liked? The practical…

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 22, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      I think I would have like a paragraph or two — the book is short, so to ask for more than that would have been too much, I think — where they used their imaginations and proposed answers to the question.

      My sense is that what they already said — that Grammar was not the correct terminology to be using — was so controversial that they didn’t take it further. But I could totally be wrong.

      A big reason why I would have thoroughly enjoyed a couple paragraphs like that is because they had NOT, at that point, yet read Charlotte Mason. So they might have come up with some things that aren’t on a CM-er’s radar. Or, conversely, they might have come up with the same things, which would have been equally interesting, you know?

      • Reply Mariel July 23, 2015 at 2:27 am

        Thank you for the clarification. 🙂

  • Reply Dawn July 22, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Musical education as in something inspired by the Muses. So different from what I have thought of as musical education in the past, but so incredibly beautiful at the same time.

    Again, all through this section I kept having flashbacks to Carlson’s Truth on Trial, written about the IHP at U of Kansas. In particular the following quote seems appropriate to share:

    “If wonder deserts the student at any step in the educational process that student’s education changes form. It becomes a mechanical art, which the student considers a burden rather than a joy Wonder is thus not only the beginning but also the sustaining principle of the best education because when we wonder, our attention is awakened to the world; and this is the first step on the way to truth. To awaken wonder was the major work of the muses and of the IHP. Quinn stated the job as such: ‘So much of what the Muses do is simply to cultivate and awaken attention to the world – what Wordsworth called passionate regard and Hopkins called an ecstasy of interest.’
    Senior explains precisely why wonder (in the experience of mystery) is the proper beginning and sustaining principle of all education: ‘You cannot teach a young man or woman college subjects unless he [or she] has had the experience of wonder in his [or her] childhood.’”

    Also, a quote that relates to star-gazing, which Quinn referred to as “musical astronomy” to distinguish it from a more advanced study of astrophysics:

    “Why should a student know the visible sky? What do the starts have to do with liberal education on the poetic level? The Greek word for man is anthopos, which means to walk upright. Because man can walk upright he can look up, look up at the stars. And when man looks at the stars he is struck with wonderment, and wonder, the Greeks said, is the beginning of the desire to know.”

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 22, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      Oh, Dawn! Those quotes! That is a book on the IHP that I don’t yet have, and I CRAVE it! Every quote I’ve ever read from it is amazing.

      I think that wonder is also the antidote to the greatest danger in a classical education: hubris. The two simply cannot coincide. This is one of the real reasons that drill and chants make me nervous — I have seen too many kids showing off, flaunting their nervous. We want our kids to have knowledge, yes, but anything that encourages hubris by definition depletes wonder, I think.

      • Reply Dawn July 22, 2015 at 3:58 pm

        I would love to add Truth on Trial to my personal library, but cannot quite afford the current going rate of $245. I was thrilled that I was able to find the book through my library’s ILL. I had to finish it in a month, but it still sticks with me despite having to race through it vs allowing it to marinate. I was about to pick up Poetic Knowledge until you announced this blog series:). I will save it for NEXT, though. AND Senior’s Death of Christian Culture – although I found myself really connecting with Quinn through Carson’s book more than either of the other IHP professors. I have loved reading them so heavily referenced in this book so far.

        And a resounding AMEN! to wonder as an antidote for hubris. Excellent thought.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel July 22, 2015 at 10:17 pm

          I have been looking for an affordable copy of Truth on Trail for YEARS! Sigh…

      • Reply Dawn July 23, 2015 at 2:05 am

        I keep pondering wonder as an antidote to hubris. I believe this is true because to have a sense of wonder one must be humble. To be full of wonder is to be in awe of something greater than ourselves, which necessarily demands humility.

  • Reply Julia July 22, 2015 at 6:10 am

    This was an excellent post! Makes me want to have more kids! 🙂 I did two-thirds of the things that you have on your list with my kids but I did it by default. It was by accident that I did these things and wasn’t always consistent in doing them. It would have been nice to have been more intentional with these poetic things but at least they were carried out, albeit haphazardly.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 22, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      So you are a Good Mom. 🙂 I needed to be told — this is where James Taylor saved me, before I became too analytical with 4-year-olds because I didn’t know any better. I didn’t bring in Comenius, but he classified the first six or so years of life as “Mother School” and thought that those sorts of motherly instincts, where a child sits upon your lap and learns about the world around him from YOU was the best thing.

  • Reply Lena July 22, 2015 at 5:00 am

    I agree with you about learning in the poetic mode and what does and does not count. However, not having read CM myself, there is something I am confused about. Does she ever see a point where a student leaves the poetic mode? The impression I get sometimes in subjects like languages and writing not only does she advocate beginning poetically, but stays there. For example, writing is narration, which i would consider a more poetic approach but it never seems to get at all analytic, simply longer and more complex narration. Am I wrong? Did mason believe those sorts of things were for higher education? Or did she want higher form students to do things like Latin with true grammar?

    • Reply Mariel July 22, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Hi Lena, in the later years (high school), students did do assignments like literary analysis compositions.

      • Reply Brandy Vencel July 22, 2015 at 3:19 pm

        Mariel, have you ever written about composition/written narration in the high school ages? I can’t recall?

        • Reply Mariel July 23, 2015 at 2:21 am

          I wrote this about a month ago:

          If you look at Form III and the resume/allegorical subject assignment, that would mean ~7th graders would be starting to explore literary analysis.

          Then, if you look at the upper forms, you can see the authors students were supposed to “write essays in the style of…” Those authors were masters of the genre. This implies that students were expected to craft their writing to be clear, animated, and persuasive.

          • Brandy Vencel July 23, 2015 at 9:18 pm

            Thank you, Mariel! I’ve read so many of your composition posts; I don’t know how I missed that one. But I had a feeling you’d thought about this already. Thanks! I look forward to reading it. 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 22, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      I think that is a great question! In Formation of Character she writes:

      There is also a time for sowing the seed of this knowledge, an intellectual as well as a natural springtime; and it would be interesting to examine the question, how far it is possible to prosecute any branch of knowledge, the sowing and germination of which has not taken place in early youth. It follows that the first three lustres belong to what we may call the synthetic stage of education, during which his reading should be wide and varied enough to allow the young scholar to get into living touch with earth-knowledge, history, literature, and much besides. These things are necessary for his intellectual life, and are especially necessary to give him material for the second stage of his education, the analytic, which, indeed, continues with us to the end. It is in this second stage that the value of the classical and mathematical grind comes in.

      A “lustre” is five years, so basically until the child’s 15th birthday. BUT she also admits elsewhere that some children will try and get more analytical before that time. I think the difference is in how the *teacher* is approaching it — it’s sort of like how the teacher doesn’t ask for a narration from a child less than six. If a four-year-old WANTS to narrate, we would totally let him. It just wouldn’t be an expectation we laid upon him, if that makes sense.

      With that said, she began formal Latin and grammar at age 10. She says that by age 12 she expected them to be able to read simple fairy tales and “a bit of Caesar” so I guess she was doing something right. I’ve always been a bit mystified by how she pulled off that much Latin between 10 and 12, but then again having a teacher who already knows Latin makes a big difference, I’m sure.

      With written narration, I cannot yet answer your question. I have actually been mulling that over myself, and I haven’t decided what I think. I’m trying to dig a little more into what her actual practices were in that area…

      I’m rambling now. Sorry!

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