29 Sep 2008


We study this interesting geography book of the Great Lakes in AO1. We have family members on both sides of our family in the area described by this book, and the story has really made this area of the world come alive...just as Miss Mason promises!

Many people add to the simple reading of Paddle, but it is easy to turn this book, in particular, into a unit study, and who can forget Charlotte Mason's opinion of these in her book, A philosophy of education...

A successful and able modern educationalist gives us a valuable introduction to Herbartian Principles, and, by way of example, "A Robinson Crusoe Concentration Scheme," a series of lessons given to children in Standard I in an Elementary School. First we have nine lessons in literature and language, the subjects being such as 'Robinson climbs a hill and finds he is on an island.' Then, ten object lessons of which the first is,––The Sea, the second, A Ship from Foreign Parts, the sixth, A Life-Boat, the seventh, Shell-Fish, the tenth, A Cave. How these 'objects' are to be produced one does not see. The third series are drawing lessons, probably as many, a boat, a ship, an oar, an anchor and so on. Then follows a series on manual training, still built upon 'Robinson'; the first, a model of the seashore; then models of Robinson's island, of Robinson's house, and Robinson's pottery. The next course consists of reading, an infinite number of lessons,––'passages from The Child's Robinson Crusoe and from a general reader on the matters discussed in object lessons.' Then follows a series of writing lessons, "simple compositions on the subject of the lessons. ... the children framed the sentences which the teacher wrote on the blackboard and the class copied afterwards." Here is one composition,––"Robinson spent his first night in a tree. In the morning he was hungry but he saw nothing round him but grass and trees without fruit. On the sea-shore he found some shell-fish which he ate." Compare this with the voluminous output of children of six or seven working on the P.U.S. scheme upon any subject that they know; with, indeed, the pages they will dictate after a single reading of a chapter of Robinson Crusoe, not a 'child's edition.'

Arithmetic follows with, no doubt, as many lessons, many mental examples and simple problems dealt with Robinson"; the eighth and last course was in singing and recitation,––'I am monarch of all I survey,' etc. "The lessons lasted about forty-five minutes each.

. . . Under ordinary conditions the story of 'Robinson Crusoe' would be the leading feature in the work of a whole year . . . in comparing the English classes with the German classes I have seen studying 'Robinson Crusoe' I was convinced that the
eagerness and interest was as keen among the children here as in the German schools . . . One easily sees what a wealth of material there is in the further development of the story." One does indeed! The whole thing must be highly amusing to the teacher, as ingenious amplifications self-produced always are: that the children too were entertained, one does not doubt. The teacher was probably at her best in getting by sheer force much out of little: she was, in fact, acting a part and the children were entertained as at a show, cinema or other; but of one thing we may be sure, an utter distaste, a loathing, on the part of the children ever after, not only for 'Robinson Crusoe' but for every one of the subjects lugged in to illustrate his adventures. We read elsewhere of an apple affording a text for a hundred lessons, including the making of a ladder, (in paper), to gather the apples; but, alas, the eating of the worn-out apple is not suggested. The author whom we quote for
'Robinson Crusoe' and whom we refrain from naming because, as a Greek Chorus might say, 'we cannot praise,' follows the 'Robinson' series with another interminable series on the Armada.

Leaving Robinson Crusoe for a while and wandering back to Canada and Back to Paddle-to-the-Sea, we add only one thing to the readinig of this story on a regular basis - mapping of Paddle's adventures on a map. We use a beautiful map produced by Beautiful Feet Books. Jemimah colours the lakes, the cities Paddle visits, and a number of the Americal States he passes through. Mapping only adds about ten minutes to our week.

We did make one exception to this today though - we watched a film...

In 1966, Paddle-To-The-Sea was beautifully adapted into a 30-minute live action short film by Canadian filmmaker, Bill Mason. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film in 1968.

If you click here, you too can watch Bill Mason's complete 30 minute Paddle-to-the-Sea Film online!

It is an adaptation of the story, and as such is best kept until you have completed the book, but it is quite lovely and really worthwhile. We loved it!

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