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Yes, I'm in America. Surprise! LA International Airport, to be precise, awaiting my connecting flight to Detroit in three hours, give or take. From Detroit, I'm headed across the Canadian border to the little town of Kingsville, Ontario, and the second Canadian Charlotte Mason conference, L'Harmas, which is on this weekend.
I can't wait to see Leslie and Anne and Amy and Jen and Sandy and Megan and Tammy and...well everyone, and I especially can't wait to see their faces when they see me.
Keeping secrets in this age of Facebook and instant connectivity has been really hard, and so I've had to tell nobody that I'm coming. Even so, the word seems to have leaked a little, and every time I've logged onto social media this past week I've expected to be outed by someone or other. Wouldn't it be painful if they spoilt the surprise at this late stage!
For obvious reasons, I won't be pressing the Publish button until Sunday. I will certainly post some pics, though, when I can.
Surprises are such very good fun, aren't they? Heh heh heh.
Sunday:There is a photo of me on Mama Squirrel's blog if you want to see us together!
This was actually supported to be Lesson II, only Lesson I is taking too long to write, and so I thought I should move on and actually get something into print. I'm sorry for the delay. It's the story of my life, I'm afraid.
Today's lesson is about the Book of Centuries.
Most of what we know about these history notebooks is due to the the extensive research of Laurie Bestvater. Laurie wrote two terrific articles on the Book of Centuries, here and here, followed by an inspirational book entitled The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason, as well as publishing a pretty impressive facsimile of the books, which she makes available on her website, Keeping a Book of Centuries. I was inspired, and back in 2012,I bought two copies, one for Jemimah, and one for me.
And then they sat on the shelf. And sat, and sat. I am not a drawer, (that is, somebody who draws rather than a thing that slides in and out), and the idea of filling the pages of these beautiful leather bound books panicked me into doing nothing at all. So at the time of my trip, there I was with not one, but two, of Laurie's beautiful Books of Centuries taunting me from the study shelf.
The Armitt is the holder of a copy of a Book of Centuries kept by P.N.E.U. teacher Eve Anderson during her teacher training years, and it was really exciting holding her book and looking through its pages. And what I learned was how simple and non-scary keeping a Book of Centuries can be.
First, Eve's drawings, while significantly better than mine, we not all that amazingly good. You won't believe what a relief that was to me. Secondly, and more relieving again, there weren't many pictures at all. Eve Anderson's Book of Centuries is mostly writing.
Miss G. M. Bernau has added to the value of these studies by producing a 'Book of Centuries' in which children draw such illustrations as they come across of objects of domestic use, of art, etc., connected with the century they are reading about. This slight study of the British Museum we find very valuable; whether the children have or have not the opportunity of visiting the Museum itself, they have the hope of doing so, and, besides, their minds are awakened to the treasures of local museums.
Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education (1923) pp 175-6
Now I don't know if that's a good thing. This quote of Miss Mason's certainly seems to imply that the illustrations play the major part in the Books of Centuries kept by her students, but it certainly freed me up. Maybe it will you too.
On our return home, we set to to fill in our pages. The photos below show that mine is not a work of art, but it is so much fun, and every time you get it out to add to it, you remember more and more as you reread. It is incredibly satisfying, as well as serving as a memory aid.
There's a few things I find difficult, in particular, remembering that the year 1066 is in the 11th century, not the 10th, and 595 is in the 6th. That's a bit tricky. The other thing is that the writing gap is really tiny, even for me. Sometimes it brings Jemimah to her knees.
The Book of Centuries, is a great joy to the owner, and even in these busy days it is possible to find some time, however short, to add an illustration from time to time. Children always take a keen delight in their books. There is no need to be an artist in order to have quite an interesting book - neatness and accuracy are essential though. Museums will be clothed with fresh interest to keepers of these books, who will be able to recognise objects which have already become familiar old friends through their Books of Centuries.
G. M. Bernau The Parents' Review, Volume 34 1923 pgs. 720-724
You'll notice I've made some mistakes. I try to be neat and accurate, but I don't always manage. The size of the writing puts paid to neatness, as well.
Anyhow, so that's Lesson I from the Armitt. Books of Centuries are not necessarily works of art, and they're not scary. Pictures enhance what you're learning, of course, but if you're afraid, at least start on the written side. Maybe soon you'll be ready to give the drawing side a burl as well. And maybe I'll join you when you do. Maybe.
I've always enjoyed a bit of handwork. I'm a reasonable crocheter, a decent knitter. I've turned my hand to cross-stitch and tapestry with pretty good results. I'm a bit artistic. My table looks nice; my home is better decorated than some; the food on my plates is prettily arranged; my photos are okay.
My mother-in-law, on the other hand, is exceptional. (Above is a pic of her work. It hangs on the walls of Hereford Cathedral, and is St Thomas dressed in 13C vestments.) My M-i-L is a professional artist, and she lives and breathes artistic talent. Dinner may be late, but her life is filled with beauty. She is truly a wonderful lady, and is also an enthusiastic and inspirational teacher.
On our recent visit, Jemimah had the wonderful opportunity to spend lovely long summer days in GranniJean's beautiful studio. Here is what she created. None of these projects took more than an afternoon. Some are useful; others, like the stitch practice, may not be useful per se, but lead to further projects down the line. All are enjoyable, all are fun, all are things to be proud of.
Maybe they'll give you some ideas. They certainly inspire me. Grannijean seems to have that effect on people.
A sewing machine is now on the Santa list.
Silk dyed scarves.
Angelina fibre pieces ready for use in other projects.
Hessian coin purse, lined with felt.
A close-up of the fabric, made of wool pieces ironed onto fabric and over stitched. Amazingly beautiful.
A Yeti iPod cover. Yup.
And so we're home. It has been an incredible trip, filled with so much wonder that I scarcely know where to begin. Ten weeks of amazingness is just impossible to put into one post - or even ten. We've spent time in Scotland, Wales, England, France and Japan. We're attended performances of Shakespeare and Kabuki. We've stayed with friends and family, in homes, hotels, cottages, machiyas, ryokans, bed and breakfasts, and even a French chateau. We spent a week at a Bible conference, and another doing a tour of Reformation Scotland. We have thousands of photos, many of which we've been posting on A Peaceful Day's Facebook page, and I'm grateful to those of you who have followed along with us and who left encouraging comments.
With that said, probably the most interesting thing for many of you, was the very first week, where we visited Ambleside in the Lake District, and ensconced ourselves in the Armitt library to learn what we could about Charlotte Mason and her philosophy of education. I thought that I might begin there, with a few posts that together I will call Lessons From The Armitt. Because we learned so much. Mostly, that we make things much too hard. Maybe you'll get some ideas that you can incorporate into your homeschool. I hope so. I certainly did.
I don't know how many posts I'll do. Some people design series of posts and manage to see them through. Generally I'm really bad at that. I sort of lose steam halfway through. Anyhow, I'll make a start. Let's see how I go! I'll start next week.
But first, some pictures to set the scene:
Have you heard about Jamie Douglas?
by K A Peters
'Twas in the days when Claverhouse was scouring moor and glen,
To shake with fire and bloody sword the faith of Scottish men,
They had made a covenant with the Lord, firm in their faith to bide,
Nor break with Him their plighted word whatever might betide.
The sun was nearly setting, when o'er the heather wild,
And up a narrow mountain-path alone there walked a child.
He was a bonnie, blithesome lad, lithe and strong of limb,
A father's pride and a mother's love were fast bound up in him.
His bright blue eyes glanced fearless round, his step was firm and light.
What was it underneath his plaid his little hands clasped tight?
'Twas the bannocks which that morning his mother had made with care
From out her scanty store of meal, and now, with many a prayer,
Had sent by Jamie, her ain boy, a trusty lad and brave,
To good old Pastor Tammas Roy, now hiding in yon cave;
For whom the bloody Claverhouse had hunted long in vain,
And swore he would not leave that glen, till old Tam Roy was slain.
So Jamie Douglas went his way with heart that knew no fear.
He turned the great curve in the rock nor dreamed that death was near,
But lurking there were Clavers' men, who laughed aloud with glee.
He turned to flee, but all in vain, they drag him back a pace
To where their cruel leader stands, and set them face to face.
The cakes concealed beneath the plaid soon tell the story plain.
" 'Tis old Tam Roy these cakes are for!" exclaimed the angry man.
Boy, guide me to his hiding-place, and I will let you go."
But Jamie shook his yellow curls, and stoutly answered, "No."
"I'll drop you down the mountain cliffs, and there among the stones,
The old gaunt wolf and carrion crow shall battle for your bones; "
And in his brawny strong right hand he lifted up the child,
And held him o'er a clefted rock, a chasm deep and wild
So deep it was, the trees below like willow wands did seem.
The poor boy looked in frightened maze, it seemed some horrid dream.
He looked up to the sky above, and then at the men close by:
Had they no little ones at home, and could they let him die?
But no one spoke, and no one moved, or lifted hand to save
From such a fearful, awful death, the little lad so brave.
"It's waefu' deep," he shuddering cried, "but, oh !.I canna tell:
Sae drap me doon there if ye will, it's nae sae deep as hell."
A childish scream - a faint, dull sound - oh, Jamie Douglas true!
Long, long within that lonely cave shall Tam Roy wait for you;
And long for your welcome coming waits the mother on the moor,
And watches and cries, " Come, Jamie, lad," through the half-open door.
No more adown the rocky, path you come with fearless tread,
Or on the moor and mountains take the good man's daily bread ;
But up in heaven the shining ones a wondrous story tell,
Of a child snatched up from a rocky gulf that's nae sae deep as hell.
And there before the great white throne, forever blessed and glad,
His mother dear and Auld Tam Roy shall meet their bonnie lad.