This year in TBG, I wanted to encourage the students to explore the treasures in their local museums. Here in southwest Minnesota, they are usually quite small affairs but often staffed with knowledgeable volunteers and workers who may have lived through much of what is displayed. I have explained how we now go about our BOC journals in the post, Book of Centuries Examples. But the practice of recording in a BOC originated with children illustrating what they read about or saw in the British Museum as it related to ancient history.
The study of ancient history which cannot be contemporaneous we approach through a chronologically-arranged book about the British Museum* (written for the scholars of the P.U.S. by the late Mrs. W. Epps who had the delightful gift of realising the progress of the ages as represented in our great national storehouse). I have already instanced a child’s visit to the Parthenon Room and her eager identification of what she saw with what she had read, and that will serve to indicate the sort of key to ancient history afforded by this valuable book. Miss G. M. Bernau has added to the value of these studies by producing a ‘Book of Centuries’ in which children draw such illustrations as they come across of objects of domestic use, of art, etc., connected with the century they are reading about. This slight study of the British Museum we find very valuable; whether the children have or have not the opportunity of visiting the Museum itself, they have the hope of doing so, and, besides, their minds are awakened to the treasures of local museums. – Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6, p. 175-176
I have had the privilege of visiting the British Museum twice. It’s amazing, of course. I can see how a trip there would inspire students as it certainly inspired me! But most of us cannot visit there regularly. How many of us have explored the treasures of our local museums and the inspiration they may afford as Mason suggests in the above quote? With all this in mind, I assigned the students one BOC entry (or more, if they wish!) from their local museum or historical society. While most of them had visited their local museum, visiting while attending to what really strikes them and recording that in their BOC is quite another matter. It has been just the thing to keep their BOC fresh and to help the students understand their important local history, further establishing their sense of place in the world. Of course, Mason knew this all along. I encourage you to visit your local museum on a more regular basis and make entries in your BOC, too. In fact, this will now be an assignment at least once per term for us.
Teaching from peace,
*The “chronologically-arranged book about the British Museum” is The British Museum for Children” by Frances Epps
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