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Mastering Knowledge



I just may begin a column called "Charlotte Says" because Charlotte Mason is my girl. She just blows me away with her words. I found her quite by accident. I believe my first encounter with her was reading something where someone referred to her. I then heard of her several more times and each time someone described her or read a quote of hers, I thought, "Yes. This. This woman thinks the way I think." Then I finally read her books for myself, and I knew I found my intellectual soulmate (if there is such a thing).

My children are at an age now where I can share Charlotte's wisdom with them. And when we read her words together, I pray that they hear with their hearts and minds, and treasure her words in their hearts. Just this week, we were reading the book Ourselves and ran across this passage. So if you've never read anything from Charlotte Mason, I am honored to introduce you to her.


The Intellectual Life

I cannot tell you more now of the delightful and illimitable sources of pleasure open to Intellect and his colleagues; but, if you realise at all what has been said, you will be surprised to know that many people live within narrow bounds, and rarely step into either of the great worlds we have been considering. The happiness of the intellectual life comes of knowing and thinking, imagining and perceiving; or rather, comes of the range of things which we know and think about, imagine and perceive. Everybody's mind is occupied in these ways about something or other, but many people know and think about small matters. It is quite well to think of these for a little while, but they think about them always, and have no room for the great thoughts which great things bring to us.

Thus, a boy's head may be so full of his stamp collection or of the next cricket match that there is no room in it for bigger things. The stamps and the cricket are all right, but it is not all right by any means to miss the opportunities of great interests that come to us and pass unnoticed, while we think only of these small matters. Not only so: boys and girls may be so full of marks and places, prizes and scholarships, that they never see that their studies are meant to unlock the door for them into this or that region of intellectual joy and interest. School and college over, their books are shut for ever. When they become men and women, they still live among narrow interests, with hardly an outlook upon the wide world, past or present. This is to be the slaves of knowledge and not its joyful masters. Let it be said of us as it was of the late Bishop of London, "His was the rare gift of mastering knowledge as his splendid servant, not being himself mastered by it as its weary slave."

~ Ourselves pgs 43-44


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