Friday, February 08, 2013

Bible lessons (continued): Philosophy of Education, Chapter 10 (Curriculum)

Continued from this post.

What did the junior grades do for Bible, in Charlotte Mason's schools?

The same as the primary: a rotation of Old Testament and New Testament readings, plus Psalms and passages from the term's reading to memorize. The Sunday reading list was more extensive, though. A sample term's work:

"The Bible for the Young: Genesis, Lessons 17-24, by Dr. Paterson Smyth (P.N.E.U. Office, 1/6). St. Luke's Gospel (S.P.C.K. Commentary, 9d.), chapters 16-24. Teacher to prepare beforehand and to use Bible passages in teaching, and to add such comments (from Paterson Smyth, say,) as will bring the passage home to the children. Children may use The Shorter Bible (Dent, 2/6); S.P.C.K. Bible Atlas (1/-)." (Programme 90, Form II)

What did the "junior highs" (ages 12 to 15) do?

They read the Old Testament to themselves, using a version of the text with "wise and necessary omissions" plus commentary by Canon Harold Costley-White. For New Testament, they used Charlotte Mason's "poetic presentation fo the life and teaching of Our Lord," The Saviour of the World. Plus the Sunday reading list (which wasn't always what you would call strictly religious books). A sample term's work:

"In all cases the Bible text must be read and narrated first. IV. & III. Old Testament History,* by T. M. Hardwich and H. Costley-White (Murray, 8/8, Vol. III. xi.-xxiii., pp. 8-56. (a) S.P.C.K. Bible Atlas* (1/-). (b) Historical Geography of the Holy Land, by R. B. Macphail (Clark, 1/-). (c) The Universal Bible Dictionary (R.T.S., 7/8), may be used for all names of persons and places. (d) The Saviour of the World. Vol. V. (P.N.E.U. Office, 8/-). pp. 1-63 (e) The Acts,* by E. M. Knox. pp. 128-189 (Macmillan, 8/8). (f) The Prayer Book in the Church, by The Rev. W. H. Campbell (Longmans, 8/8), with lessons on Advent and Christmas. (Programme 91 Form III)

What did the oldest ones (ages 15 to 18) do?

They read Dummelow's One Volume Bible Commentary, along with Saviour of the World, and a whole list of required-or-optional books on Bible history, archaelogical discoveries, etc..

"On the whole we shall perhaps do well to allow the Scripture reading itself to point the moral."

What does this mean for today's children, most of whom, if they are Christians, will not belong to the same church as Charlotte Mason did; or if they are not, may be part of some other faith, or none at all?  I am not assuming here that we limit the need for Bible teaching to our own children, but that we see its importance, for many reasons, as part of the "generous curriculum" that all children lay claim to.  Even in Charlotte Mason's time, especially with those council schools and "slum children" and Continuation Schools, there were various denominations of Christians, plus Jews (including one of her best friends) and those of other faiths, plus many (one would assume especially among the poorer children) who had never been taught any kind of faith at all.  Many of her optional books and Sunday reading choices would be irrelevant or outdated for most of us.  We might not even find that elementary-age children today understand many of the comparisons and references that her favourite Canon Paterson-Smyth uses.  But what stands...what I appreciate about the straightforwardness of this that the reading of the Bible itself, and the tone taken, the reverence, the lack of tacked-on morals, the systematic, bit-by-bit reading through...still works.

One note here:  As school lessons, readings in the Epistles and Revelation were mostly limited to the final high school years.  I don't believe that meant that most students would never have heard readings from those books until then; many of them would have gone to church and/or chapel services, or had family readings, or read the whole Bible themselves.  But they were not studied as lessons until those later years.  This may or may not be something we choose to copy in our own schools.  My own feeling (take it or leave it) is that, if children attend traditional Sunday School programs, they will be exposed to years...and years...of lessons on Genesis, Moses, a few stories of Elijah and Elisha, a bit of Daniel-in-the-Lions'-Den, the Gospels, and the Journeys of Paul with not much besides.  So I think it's more worthwhile for our homeschool Bible program (again, I'm speaking here only of our own family's needs) to go further afield, explore Paul's letters, do a topic study or just mix things up a bit.  For instance, this year my sixth grader and I read some of Francis Schaeffer's Basic Bible Studies, which uses verses from throughout the Bible to answer questions about what God is like, what sin is, what the Bible teaches about both the divinity and humanity of Jesus, and so on. 

1 comment:

amy in peru said...

all good points, mama squirrel.
thanks for this.