Birch Forest by Gustav Klimt 1903
Science of Relations
If the adage is true that people do not value what they cannot name, then the need to expose children to the beauty found in nature is a notion that can no longer be ignored if the next generation is to act as good stewards of the earth. A Nature Study is one essential piece of curriculum and form of instructional practice to achieve this. Children naturally observe and perceive their surroundings with the five senses. Spending time outdoors at different times of the day or season allows the child the power to classify, discriminate, and distinguish between living and nonliving organisms that differ, are amongst the highest faculties of the human intellect. The real use of naturalist’s books at this stage is to give delightful glimpses into the world of wonders he lives in, to reveal the sort of things to be seen by curious eyes, and to fill him with the desire to make discoveries for himself. Whether it be on a hiking trail, in the garden, or watching a mother hen with her chicks, a child’s first experiences with the natural world will lay a solid foundation of reverence for all living things.
Ideas are the foundation of a delectable education. Great ideas are found in informational and literary “Living Books” or books that have the vitality or evoke curiosity and interest in the reader. Mason believed children naturally possess the ability to make their connections with knowledge and experiences. Students receive the best education when they have a vast exposure to nature studies, composer and artist works and biographies, literary classics and poetry, history, foreign language, handicrafts and art, hands-on math skills, and principles of science to solve real-world obstacles directly.
"It is enough for the present if they have shown us in what manner children attach themselves to their proper affinities, given opportunity and liberty. A teacher or parent’s role is to drop occasion freely in the way, whether in school or at home. Children should have relations with earth and water, should run and leap, ride and swim, should establish the connection of maker to material in as many kinds as may be; should have dear and intimate relations with persons, through present intercourse, tale or poem, picture or statue; through flint arrow-head or modern motor-car: beast and bird, herb and tree, of which they must have familiar acquaintance. Other peoples and their languages must not be strange to them. Above all, they should find that most intimate and highest of all Relationships,––the fulfillment of their being."-Mason
Intellect, reason, and imagination make up the whole person. Mason called imagination the chief explorer. Using visualization in the geography of distant lands and cultures, or seeing the possibilities found in a fairytale’s beginning and end, imagination acts as the guide. Similar to what Aristotle said, humans are the whole and not the sum of their parts. Allowing the opportunity for students to build creativity is critical for creating works of art and writing as well as fostering ideas that are innovative and require ingenuity.