Learning to See

"The child must not be left to discover everything for himself; his mind must be prepared in some measure for what he is to see and observe. It has been well said that the previous history of the mind determines the impression which the sight of any object is to make. "We can only see what we have been trained to see." Medd, CM Parents Review

If we were to be perfectly honest, most of us live our lives, day in and day out, not really observing the natural world around us. While rushing from one appointment to another, we see houses, trees, roads and irritating bugs. If our lives are too busy, this is all our children will see. It is no wonder there is so much depression around us today. We have lost touch with the real world and live in a technological bubble surrounded by walls, plastic, metal and concrete. But we are all part of God’s creation and creation was made to be a comfort to us. The natural world can be a source of joy and inspiration when life grows weary and a mainstay in the troubled storms that will inevitably come.

Charlotte Mason challenges us to slow down and really look. Those are not just trees, but magnificent worlds filled with caverns and mountains that house thousands of tiny creatures, many of whom we depend upon for our own livelihood. The great King Solomon told us to observe the ant if we wanted wisdom. There is so much we can learn and enjoy from the natural world, but we must be intentional about it. This is not difficult. We don’t need a science curriculum. We don’t need to be experts. We do need to slow down and look.

The added bonus to developing this habit of seeing is that it will carry over into other areas of our lives. The child who has learned to really observe the hairs on the legs of a carpenter bee or the tiny network of rivers on an elm leaf will become a better artist or mathematician. He will also learn to see the errors in a word or a sentence he wrote, or, even better, make less errors, because he has learned to ‘attend.’  He begins to notice the uneven rows of a plowed field and purposes to do it better. He now sees that there are many shades of green… or blue. Do you see how the habit of attention can sharpen the beauty sense? Sharpen his sense of order? 

one step at a time...