Another point,the co-ordination of studies is carefully regulated without any reference to the clash of ideas on the threshold or their combination into apperception masses; but solely with reference to the natural and inevitable co-ordination of certain subjects. Thus, in readings on the period of the Armada, we should not devote the contemporary arithmetic lessons to calculations as to the amount of food necessary to sustain the Spanish fleet, because this is an arbitrary and not an inherent connection; but we should read such history, travels, and literature as would make the Spanish Armada live in the mind.Most of you, I am sure, are aware of advantages that you are able to offer your kids compared to other homeschooling families. I know that I feel somewhat envious of those families who grow chickens and ducks, who live on farms and ride horses. I would love to be one of those mums who sews or plays the piano or speaks a second language fluently. All these are things that I would like to pass on to my daughter but can't.
Charlotte Mason School Education p 231
One of the nice things that Mr PD and I have been able to offer Jemimah has been the opportunity for extensive overseas travel. Although the flood has curtailed our recent gallivanting, already at ten Jemimah has seen countries as diverse as France and Bhutan; the UK and Yemen; Japan and Indonesia, as well as many others. On Wednesday our family leaves for an impromptu three weeks in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. We're pretty excited, as well as being frazzled and harassed and disorganised. We still have school to finish up, work projects to conclude, bags to pack.
As we scuttle about, I find my mind naturally pondering my daughter's education. What do I hope she learns from this experience? What do I need to do to help her with that? Do I need to do anything at all?
Imagine, for a minute, just how much you learn when you travel, when you form an intimate relationship with a region of God's great world. While we are away I expect that Jemimah, as well as her parents, will learn about the geography of SE Asia. I expect her to learn not only the names and courses of the great rivers, the Mekong and the Chao Phraya, but to travel upon them. I expect her to know the names of the capitals and of some major cities. She will learn about their industry, their natural resources, their languages and their religion. I expect her to learn the differences between the Theravada Buddhism of Thailand, the Mahayana Buddhism she observed in Bhutan and the Nichiren Buddhism practices by some members of our extended family. I hope and pray that she will gain a renewed appreciation for the freedom of religion we hold as a right in our own country as she discovers the mistreatment and persecution of Christians in Laos, which holds a position as one of the top ten persecutors of Christians in the world. We will spend considerable time, no doubt, discussing the Killing Fields of Cambodia and the political turmoil and mass genocide that occurred when Pol Pot and his Communist Khmer Rouge forces took over the capital city, Phnom Penh, in 1975. On a lighter note she will experience the different cultures and learn about their dances, puppeteering, pottery, textiles, basket making and cuisines. Mmmmmmm I can still taste that delicious som tam papaya salad, despite it being 17 years since I was last in Laos.
I can't help but feel that travel perfectly illustrates the idea of the natural and inevitable coordination of certain subjects that Miss Mason speaks of above. In the next three weeks Jemimah will learn significantly more than those things that I have listed. She will learn because it is interesting to her. She will learn because she herself forms a relationship with certain things and because she herself discovers the natural connections between them. It is so easy to introduce those arbitrary and not inherent connections even when doing something as wonderful as travelling. You see and hear of parents requiring scrapbooks from their children, expecting them to follow their journeys on maps, requiring them to write a journal. We won't be doing any of those things. We will, however, be packing our travel journals, some pens and some glue. Inevitably the books will be filled, but perhaps not in the way I expect.
We will be reading some books. Jemimah will be packing, among others, the award winning Happiness of Kati, by Jane Vejjajiva, about a young girl living in contemporary rural Thailand. The book offers a fascinating insight into daily life in the country we will be visiting, as well as raising some interesting moral issues. Because the book deals with things like divorce, illness and death, I will be reading this aloud so that I can edit/discuss where necessary.
I am currently reading Somerset Maugham's The Gentleman in the Parlour, an engrossing and wonderfully written travelogue of his journey through Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam almost a century ago. I am also packing a delightful picture book version of A Siamese Fairy Tale included in this book, which he wrote in The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok whilst recovering from a bad bout of malaria. It is a story about a king and queen, nine princesses, nine parrots, one nightingale, and some cats. I shall read it aloud to my family whilst sitting in the very same Oriental Hotel taking tea. Imagine me! I also have on my kindle The English Governess at the Siamese Court by Anna Leonowen, the original Anna and the King of Siam.
To me these books add layers of knowledge to our journey. They provide conversation starters through stories as well as facts. They tell history in a way that brings it alive through they eyes of those who were in the same places that we will be in but in another time.
We will read from these books. We will indubitably read from others that we acquire on our travels. After all, it is not a holiday without a certain amount of lazing on the beach reading, now is it? We will not, however, read when we should be experiencing. We will read because we want to, not because we must.
And through everything my daughter - and her parents - will be learning, learning, learning.
If you want to keep up with our travels be sure to 'like' A Peaceful Day's Facebook page where we will be updating our status frequently and posting photos for family and friends. I might even post here occasionally on our city highlights as we've done on other journeys in the past. Feel free to leave me encouraging messages - I love hearing from my friends!!
Until then, dear friends, au revoir. Like Arnie, I'll be back.