By Kelly Garrison, Guest Author
It sounds like singing! As a description of sound, singing most often refers to the human voice. Birds chirp and machines whine, but people sing. In terms of creation, people are sacredly set apart and created to know, understand, and seek. For the Children’s Sake reminds us that Charlotte Mason specified children as persons, and in her teachings she respected the child’s mind and the strength of its endowment by the Creator and even warned against twaddle.
Children are sacred persons. I reminded myself of that fact following a Christmas break in 2018 when I evaluated my own teaching from remarks in Sara Osborne’s article “Philosophy First.” In lesson planning at specific intervals, I purposely grab her list of questions and use them to reevaluate my goals and teaching. This specific year I wanted to improve the weekly music and poetry studies in my second-grade class by asking more open-ended questions, allowing for more personal observations and conclusions.
In one of my first targeted lessons, I asked students to describe a musical arrangement. Of course, we first listened to the piece. My questions led toward recognizing patterns in the rhythm, and I wedged in some obligatory statements. Then, I created space for the students to listen to the music and share any thoughts about it. My mind relaxed into the pattern, and I imagined bows sliding up and down strings in choreographed unison. A student raised her hand, “It sounds like singing.” My mind startled at the thought, because it did sound like singing, as if it were supposed to sound like singing! That quick insight changed me and our lesson. The purposeful mechanics revealed a composer and form gave way to meaning. Perhaps not being classically trained, I had seen the pieces in the context of a composer. In a moment, I perceived a composer reaching out to the listener.
My students were participating in the Great Conversation. The Great Conversation occurs because there is a God, and we are His creation. His creation, His people. People are created, made in the image of God with inherent qualities. It is easy to perceive a child as a blank slate as they are adding to their knowledge daily. Yet, this metaphor implies passiveness on part of the children. Understanding the active part children are playing in their learning through their God-given qualities keeps the learner at the forefront of our lessons. We teach toward the learning process, creating lifelong learners. They are “grammar” students, but all aspects of the trivium are emerging in them.
Creation declares the glory of God. Since each part of creation prepares the world to receive God’s final creation, man and woman, it is as if the natural world is God singing over us. The Bible tells us God is near, as near as our right hand, and both the practicality of His nearness and the reality of His design emulsifies in creation, singing of God. I hope my lessons do not devalue my students’ minds, given them by God their Creator, but startle them with truth, goodness, and beauty. Do you hear the song in the child’s answer “it sounds like singing”?
Macaulay, Susan Schaeffer, For the Children’s Sake (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1984), 15.
Sara Osborne, “Philosophy First,” The Classical Thistle, January 30, 2018.
Littlejohn, Robert, and Charles T. Evans, Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2006), 42.
Kelly Garrison holds an M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Southwest Missouri State University. She started homeschooling the first of seven children in 1998 and is currently in her third year teaching second grade at Legacy Academy in Branson, Missouri. Her youngest two children attend School of the Ozarks. Her husband Darren and she have been married 32 years and now have four grandchildren, at present.