Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Milne and Mason

"The child's world is a single indivisible world in which all creatures, human and animal, live together as equals. Instinctively he feels this to be the truth -- as indeed it is.
But in order to understand it, in order to learn how it works, we need to examine it bit by bit; and so we take it to pieces, separating it into its various layers -- its species and subspecies, its races and classes. At school I learned how to distinguish a verb from a noun, a Cavalier from a Roundhead, a logarithm from an antilogarithm and an atom from a molecule. When we have finished studying the world this way and have learned all we can about it, perhaps we remember it as we once knew it. But can we ever put it together again?"
~ Christopher Milne, The Open Garden: A Story With Four Essays, quoted from The Egg, The Fox and the Dagger

Despite possibly disagreeing* with Milne over what he meant by humans and animals being equals, I thought he made a very poignant observation in his observation that we may remember it as as we once knew it in reference to the way that children know the world around them, natural or man-made before they study it in their lessons.
Milne's description of his school lessons reminded me of analytical thinking that Karen Glass warned against by way of Charlotte Mason in her book Consider This. And of course, his final question echoes again the merits of learning as a whole, not separated into fragmented areas of study. Any further thoughts on any of this is always welcome.

*While I may disagree with him at times,  I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed his writings and miss that time spent reading him.


  1. In Consider This, Karen Glass talks about this as analytic vs synthetic education. I love seeing it fleshed out in another way. Thanks!

  2. Dawn, yes that's what I was thinking about. It's always fun to see these ideas elsewhere.

  3. Oops. I missed that paragraph [blush] I was reading at organ ...

  4. I just wondered a bit, but trust me, I miss things all the time.


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