The panoramic method...(of geography)... unrolls the landscape of the world, region by region, before the eyes of the scholar with in every region its own conditions of climate, its productions, its people, their industries and their history. This way of teaching the most delightful of all subjects has the effect of giving to a map of a country or region the brilliancy of colour and the wealth of detail which a panorama might afford, together with a sense of proportion and a knowledge of general principles.You all know, I guess, that geography is one of our very favouritest subjects.
Charlotte Mason Towards A Philosophy Of Education p228
Our Australianised geography study this final term of AO4 is the Mighty Murray River. We're reading a couple of wonderful living books: Colin Thiele's River Murray Mary and Leila Pirani's Old Man River, both of which I have plans to tell you about in detail shortly; and mapping things on our river map as we go. We've already made a visit to Swan Hill, and Echuca is on the agenda.
We've also been doing a bit of work on the first Murray River residents - the Aboriginal People. Poppy's mother in the marvellous Our Australian Girl series is from the Bangerang People near Echuca, and we've been reading our way through her story as each book appears. (Not to self: must post on these as well.)
Today we watched this lovely Aboriginal Dreamtime story, Thukeri, from the Ngarrindjeri people who live in the lower River Murray area of South Australia.
It's starting to sound a little bit like a unit study, right? The kind of study that Miss Mason denigrates so strongly in Volume One, right?
Or are we?
Right, I mean?
Does Miss Mason really disapprove of integratory methods like this, or is this exactly what she's talking about as the Panoramic Method of Geography above?
Miss Mason talks a lot about her geography methods in Volume Six. She describes how her students learn first about their own region and country before moving onto next to their continent of Europe and later on to the rest of the world.
She writes that the youngest children..."are engaged with the counties of England, county by county, for so diverse are the counties in aspect, history and occupations, that only so can children acquire such a knowledge of England as will prove a key to the geography of every part of the world, whether in the way of comparison or contrast."
This is what we're trying to do with our River study. The Murray River is the biggest river in Australia. It is also one of the longest in the world. It forms the natural boundary between our State of Victoria and New South Wales. It has been the home of the Aborigines since before history was recorded, and was explored by many of our first explorers. Paddle steamers carried wool, wheat, and other goods up and down its length. It's a dream region for a geography study. It also happens to be local.
Jemimah dips a toe in 'New South Wales'
I love it when geography comes together like this. The book spines we're reading all term are the glue. They bring it all together. The other stuff though - the visits to the region; the free read novels and the videos are what makes The Mighty Murray more than a name. They're the things that make this study of local geography "a key to the geography of every part of the world, whether in the way of comparison or contrast."
If we could visit very geographical region we wanted to study, then we probably wouldn't need books at all. If not, then this panoramic method does a pretty fantastic job of unfolding a 'panorama' of the region in our mind's eye.
Once again, Miss Mason hits the nail right on the head. She always does, doesn't she?
If we read her right.