Saturday, March 29, 2014

Describe a View

Number 10 on A Formidable List of Attainments for a Child of Six is:

to be able to describe 3 walks and 3 views

What did Charlotte Mason mean when she said a first grader should be able to describe a view?

On page 48 of Volume 1, Mason writes that a child should be taught to take "mental photographs" of Nature.

Get the children to look well at some patch of landscape, and then to shut their eyes and call up the picture before them, 

if any bit of it is blurred, they had better look again. 

When they have a perfect image before their eyes, let them say what they see. 

Thus: 'I see a pond; it is shallow on this side, but deep on the other; trees come to the waters edge on that side, and you can see their green leaves and branches so plainly in the water that you would think there was a wood underneath. Almost touching the trees in the water is a bit of blue sky with a soft white cloud; and when you look up you see that same little cloud, but with a great deal of sky instead of a patch, because there are no trees up there. There are lovely little water-lilies round the far edge of the pond, and two or three of the big round leaves are turned up like sails. Near where I am standing three cows have come to drink, and one has got far into the water, nearly up to her neck,' etc.

Mason wrote that this exercise should only be done now and then.  She also wrote that, when training a child to see the scene fully, the parent should prompt the child to notice the "salient points of the scene" and ask guiding questions. (I agree with doing this for picture talk as well.) 

Why spend time developing this habit?  From pages 49-50:
[The child] carries about with her just such a picture gallery; for whenever she sees anything lovely or interesting, she looks at it until she has the picture in her mind's eye; and then she carries it away with her, her own for ever, a picture on view just when she wants it.

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