– Albert Einstein
When my two oldest, now graduated, entered the middle school years, I handed them a popular science textbook. Up to this point, all we had used were living books for science. They had read, narrated, sketched, labeled, observed, and recorded all sorts of things in addition to spending an awful lot of time outdoors. For whatever reason, I thought it was time we tried this series out. I guess I’m not sure why, as they were interested in many things scientific, curious about the the world around them and able to discuss more laws of nature than I could. In other words, they were doing just fine.
Books dealing with science as with history, say, should
be of a literary character, and we should probably be more scientific
as a people if we scrapped all the text-books which swell publishers’
lists and nearly all the chalk expended so freely on our blackboards. Mason, Vol. 6 p. 218
They glanced through the table of contents and began to remind me that they had already read about this or that topic in such-and-such a book. They weren’t stating that they already knew everything there was to know about each topic, but it was clear that this text was going to be redundant for them and could they please move on? Looking back, I see what an important lesson this was for me as I learned to trust Mason’s use of living books even more, particularly in the seemingly high-stakes area of science.
I was reminded of this little story when I recently came across some of their decade-old science narration journals. We have continued these with my four at home and I am convinced of their importance. We spend our science time exploring out in nature, sketching in nature notebooks, documenting in My Calendar of Firsts, trying pertinent experiments and reading lots of living science books. These books are narrated by telling back through oral, written and/or drawing narrations.
The pictures with this post are examples of their science journals. After they’ve completed a reading, they have the option of sketching an entry as their narration. They sketch, add relevant text, then come and explain it to me. This is so fun! My daughter’s Blood Saturation/Degrees of Anoxia sketch led to dad sharing some interesting (ahem) stories from flight school. Today, my son’s (12) sketch of a sun gear and planet pinion in a differential led him to adding notes from his book on Galileo and the competing ideas of his day on the solar system. You just never know what will be important to them or the connections they will end up making.
attitude of mind should fit us to behave ourselves quietly, think
justly, and walk humbly with our God. But we may not confound a glib
knowledge of scientific text-books with the patient investigation
carried on by ourselves of some one order of natural objects; and it is
this sort of investigation, in one direction or another, that is due
from each of us. We can only cover a mere inch of the field of Science,
it is true; but the attitude of mind we get in our own little bit of
work helps us to the understanding of what is being done elsewhere, and
we no longer conduct ourselves in this world of wonders like a gaping
rustic at a fair. -Mason, Vol. 4 p. 101
A wonderful blog post about Mason and high school science is Getting Ready for High School Science: Wonder and Order by Beth Pinckney.
Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Admiration, Hope and Love,