Topical CM Series

Charlotte Mason's ideas are too important not to be understood and implemented in the 21st century, but her Victorian style of writing sometimes prevents parents from attempting to read her books. This is an imperfect attempt to make Charlotte's words accessible to modern parents. You may read these, print them out, share them freely--but they are copyrighted to me, so please don't post or publish them without asking.
~L. N. Laurio

The Charlotte Mason Series in Modern English Arranged Topically


Volume 1, Home Education, pg 72-78

IX.--Out-Of-Door Geography

Small Things May Illustrate Bigger Things

We detoured from our topic to impress on mothers how important it is to inspire a love of nature in their children. A passion for natural objects can be like a wellspring of refreshment to a dry heart. Meanwhile, what about that mother from a few chapters back, who has been outdoors with her children? What is she to do next? She mustn't neglect teaching topography in her attempt to get children outside, as one teacher did, who when asked how she had time to fit it all in, said, 'Oh, I leave out subjects of no educational value; I do not teach geography, for instance.'

Pictorial Geography

But a mother knows better. She will find lots of ways to sneak in geography lessons. A duck pond can illustrate a big lake. A small brook can be like the Nile River. A little hill can be the Swiss Alps. A copse of trees can be the Amazon rainforest. A reedy swamp might be the rice fields of China. A meadow could be like the western prairies. A field of purple flowers might be the cotton fields of the south. Every kind of geographical type can be illustrated casually this way. The concept of maps can be taught in later years.

The Position of the Sun

Children should also learn to tell the time by the sun's position in the sky. They will undoubtedly ask if the sun ever gets tired, and then the mother can talk about the relative sizes of the sun and earth and about the orbits of bodies in the heavens.

Clouds, Rain, Snow, and Hail

Clouds, rain, snow, hail, wind and fog are all wonders of God that mothers will be asked to explain to their children in simple terms. If children are to understand any concepts of maps and geography at all, they will have to begin by learning about what's right in their own environment.

Distance is something that children must first learn at home, and it's fun for them to learn it. A child's pace [one step] can be measured and compared to the paces of his siblings. Then he can count how many steps it takes to walk to a certain point and multiply to get the distance--so many steps equals so many yards distance. Various walks around the home can be measured in this way. The time it takes to walk one hundred steps can be calculated and used as a reference to estimate other distances walked. If it takes two minutes for him to walk one hundred yards, he can calculate how far he's gone after walking for 30 minutes or 35 minutes, and he can figure out how long he has to walk to go one mile. The longer the legs of a person, the bigger their pace. That's why most grown-ups can walk a mile in just twenty minutes.


After the child is comfortable with calculating distance, the concept of direction can be introduced. The first step is making him aware of the progress of the sun. If he observes where the sun rises and sets in the sky during the year, he will have already learned something. He should be made aware of how the sun's light reflects in different windows in morning and evening, the differences in shadows at various times of day, how shadows are made by playing with a figure between a screen and a flashlight [or perhaps by making hand shadows!] He should be made aware of the heat when the sun is at its highest in the sky, and how the sun being lower in the sky results in cooler temperatures. He can be reminded how he feels warmer in a room while standing close to the source of the heat rather than in a far-off corner. When he is familiar with all of these observations related to the sun, he will be ready for the concept of direction, since that depends entirely on the sun.

East and West

The first ideas to learn are that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Just by knowing this he'll be able to tell in which direction nearby streets and buildings are from his house or the town where he lives. Have him stand so that east is towards his right where the sun rises and west is towards his left, where the sun sets. Everything straight in front of him is north, everything behind him is south. If he is in a certain place and wants to know in which direction a certain road goes but he has never seen the sun rise or set there, he can observe where his shadow falls at noon. At noon, all shadows fall a little north. Then he just has to face north so that east is on his right side and west is on his left side to tell which direction the road goes.

Practice in Finding Direction

Here's a way to learn something about the names of England's great railways. With a little practice, telling direction by the sun will get easier. Let him practice by looking out windows at home or school to observe which direction they face, or which direction rows of houses or church walls face. Soon he'll be able to tell the direction of the wind by observing smoke blowing from a chimney or branches or fields blowing in the breeze. If the wind blows in from the north, it means colder weather and perhaps some snow. If it's a west wind (from the west), it may mean rain. Children should understand that a wind is named for where it came from, not where it's blowing to. In the same way, he is English because he's from England. He doesn't become French because he's going to France. Now the concepts of distance and direction can be combined. A certain building might be judged to be 200 yards east of the gate, or a town might be two miles to the west. The child will soon find that not everything is exactly north or south or east or west. Let him figure out his own way of solving that difficulty: 'It's more east than west,' or 'It's sort of east but not quite,' or 'It's halfway between east and west.' He will appreciate the value of exact expression when he comes across a need for it on his own.

Later he can have a compass and observe how it marks all four directions. The compass will display the in-between names for all those difficult-to-pin-down directions he came across before.

Compass Drill

Then he can do compass exercises like this: Have him stand so that the compass points north. Then have him turn towards the east and observe how the needle moves in a different direction. However he turns, the needle follows with a movement of its own. How does the compass know when he moves? Have him walk straight in any direction and note that the needle isn't perfectly still, because, no matter how hard he tries, he can't help walking a little to the right or to the left. Have him move in a complete circle very slowly and watch the needle also make a complete circle in the opposite direction as it tries to stay pointed towards the north.


Once children understand the concept of direction, the concept of boundaries comes easily. A certain field, for example, is bounded by a road on the south, by a fenced field on the south-east, a hedge on the north-east, etc. By this, children come to understand that boundaries are no more than a space marked out by whatever touches it. A field may touch another without having any visible line between them, but it's still a boundary. Children should have a clear understanding of this because, later, they will come across countries in their geography lessons that are 'bounded by such and such.' Whether a space is a village, town, pond or field, children should be made to observe what kinds of crops grow in their area and why the land was used for those crops, or pasturing sheep, and what kinds of rocks are in the ground, and how many different kinds of trees grow there. For every field or space they examine, they should sketch it out in the dirt, drawing a rough outline of the shape and lettering N, S, E and W.

Drawing Plans

Once they have drawn a few of these rough plans of outdoor spaces, they can sometimes pace the length of a field and draw a kind of map to scale, allowing one inch for every five or ten yards. Then they can sketch the lay-out of the garden or barn or house.

Local Geography

A child's own area may provide opportunities to learn what a hill is, or a dale, pool, brook, watershed, current, bed, bank, tributary, and the relative position of nearby towns. He should be able to sketch this roughly with chalk or a rock or even a stick in the dirt, estimating the distances of all those things.

Volume 1, Home Education, pg 271-279


I think geography is highly educational, but not because it includes some scientific value. Geography has its share of scientific problems, and some very interesting ones. It provides some opportunities to classify things. But it's only physical geography that might be related to science, and even then it touches on several different sciences. It's not a science in and of itself. No, the reason geography is so valuable is because it gives an opportunity to furnish the mind with ideas, and to add pictures to the imagination. That's what makes geography so educational.

Geography As It's Usually Taught

How is geography usually taught? The child has to memorize the capital cities of Europe, or the rivers of England, or the names of mountains in Scotland, from some miserably dull textbook. He has to learn how many miles long, or feet high, or population count, or find the names on his map, whatever his teacher assigns. Poor child! His lesson is difficult, but is it educating him? Is it developing his mental power or broadening his mind? No, he'd learn more by watching a fly walk up a window. But someone might argue, geography serves more purpose than just educational. Shouldn't everybody know the kinds of things geography teaches? Yes, but consider a classroom of children. Shouldn't their geography lessons teach them the kind of things that grown-ups would like to know? Consider how unreasonable we adults are. We would never read a travel book that wasn't interesting, lively and adventurous. Even when we go around with our Fodor's travel guide in hand, we skip the dry facts and figures and read the interesting descriptions of places. That's the kind of thing we like to know about and that we remember easily. But we refuse such interesting tidbits for our children. We don't let them have vivid phrases to dream about. No, we think they need facts, names and figures.

Geography Should be Interesting

But, you might argue, although dry facts may be difficult to learn, it's useful later in life to know those things. Not true, and here's why. Those facts were never really received and assimilated by the mind. They never became more than unattached vague terms of short-term memory. Most of us have spent hours over the drudgery of memorizing geography lessons, but how much do we remember? We only remember the pleasant descriptions we heard from friends who visited Europe, or some things from The Voyages of Captain Cook, or some other adventure. And that's how children should learn geography. To be educational, the child's mind must be filled with ideas. His imagination must be enhanced with images. He must learn geography in a way that he'll remember. In other words, he should learn what's interesting to him. What's educational and what's practical both work together, and a child's geography lessons become his favorite part of school.

How to Begin

But where to start? First of all, children get their foundation for geography knowledge by observing natural science during all those hours of being outdoors that are so important, as I emphasized earlier. A pond that gets water from a creek in the woods will help children understand how a lake works, and will give an idea what a lake nestled in the Alps is like, or the big lake in Africa that Livingstone watched his children paddling in. In making these connections, there will be some pleasant discussion about real places, which might be thought of as 'pictorial geography.' After listening to that kind of interesting talk, the child will unconsciously pick up the names of great rivers, mountains, deserts, plains cities and countries in the world. At the same time, the child should be getting his first concepts of how maps work by seeing you make rough sketches as you talk with a few lines and dots on paper, or, even better, a stick in the sand or dirt. 'This squiggly line is the Rhine river, but you'll have to imagine the rafts and the island with the Mouse Tower, and the Nuns' Island, and the rest. These are the hills with their ruined castles on both sides. This dot is Cologne,' etc. Even more, let these talks be about the scenery at home and things you're familiar with. That way, when he later looks at a map of his homeland, he'll see lots of names he recognizes that will bring interesting landscapes to mind, places 'where Mom has been,' the wooded flowery banks of a local river, the rolling hills of the next town that are fun to run and roll on, the plains in the county across the river where berries grow. And always give him a roughly sketched map of the route when you take a trip.

What Next?

Next, give him thorough, detailed knowledge of any country in the world, and some county or district near his home. He doesn't need to memorize 'the geography' of every country in Europe, or the names of the seven continents. Those are merely meaningless names to him for the most part. Even if he does learn them, he probably won't remember them. But if he can feel at home in any one region, if he can envision in his mind the people there working and having fun, the flowers and trees bearing fruit in their season, the animals that are common there, and if he can see it all sympathetically as an adventurous traveler, then he will know more than if he had learned all the names on the map. The way to accomplish this kind of teaching is simple and obvious. Read to him, or read to yourself and tell him back a little bit at a time, an interesting, well-written travel book such as Tropical World or Polar World, both by G. Hartwig, or Unbeaten Tracks in Japan by Isabella Bishop Bird. You may have to leave out a lot, but every anecdote or description that helps show something about the place will enhance the child's education. Here, as with everything else, it isn't how many things he knows about that counts, but how much he knows about each thing.


Maps should be used carefully. A map can be sketched during a trip and then compared later to a real map of the region. The teacher can ask the child for a description of a certain city or town marked on the map to see how much the child really knows about the place. This also helps the child to have intelligent ideas about physical geography. In his reading, he may find a description of a volcano, or a glacier, or a canyon or hurricane, and he'll want to hear more about it and ask how and why questions about it, or about whatever interesting phenomena has captured his attention. In other words, he'll learn in the same way that grown-ups prefer to learn themselves, although they rarely think to let children learn in the same pleasant manner.

The General Knowledge that a Child of Nine Should Have

If a half dozen well-chosen travel books have been read to a child between the ages of six and nine, he will have some idea of what people are like and what they do in every major region of the world. He will have collected some reliable, valuable knowledge about the world that will be a benefit to him all his life. And he will have developed an interest in books and the habit of reading. Books that cover too much ground like A Voyage in the Sunbeam by Annie Brassey should be avoided, because they can breed confusing ideas.

Particular Knowledge

We are discussing lessons as tools in a child's education, and so far the kind of learning I've discussed here has been what a child might do at home in his free time. For school lessons, the best book I know of is World at Home; or, Pictures and Scenes from Far-off-Lands by Mary and Elizabeth Kirby, for children aged 6 or 7. As they listen, they wonder, admire, imagine and role play all kinds of scenes. A child's first geography lessons about places should make him more observant of his own local environment. They should make him notice the features of his neighborhood, its hills and low places, where it's level, its streams and ponds. He should spend a lot of time outside seeing these things. He should be able to relate those things to generalized understandings of things, such as what a river is, or island or lake. He should be able to make one in the sandbox, or draw one on the blackboard.


Definitions should be arrived at as he records these things. For instance, before he learns the definition of a river, he should have watched a stream and observed how it flows.

Children easily parrot facts, so the teacher will need to be careful that he isn't assimilating mere word definitions, but that he has worked out and understands what these things are from his own observations and experiences. For example, the child sees a wide stretch of flat land and his teacher explains something about it. Then he reads something about 'Pampas' of Argentina in his book, and about the flat land of Kansas, and little by little, he begins to understand the idea of a plain and can show what it's like in a tray of sand.

Fundamental Ideas

By the time he's seven, or even earlier, the child finds that he needs to know more. He's read about hot countries and cold countries, he's watched the seasons where he lives, and the rising and setting of the sun, he's repeated to himself,

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!"

He knows a little about the ocean and the sea, he's seen the tide come in and out, he's seen some roughly sketched maps and even made a few himself. He has probably noticed the criss-cross lines on 'real' maps. Now he is ready to learn about various things. There are some things about geography that he's been introduced to that he really wants to know more about.

The shape of the earth and its rotation are fundamental ideas, even though they are difficult for a child to understand. It will be easier as the child matures.

In each case, the principle itself is simple. Children don't dwell on the magnitude of the universe and planet rotations and continents like adults do. Children have vivid imaginations and they can picture the way the Earth moves, what makes the seasons, and other things without needing to know how many exponential times larger the real things are.

The Meaning of a Map

Geography should mostly be learned from maps. Talking about landscapes and reading travel books is only an introduction to geography. When the child begins real geography lessons, he should be learning from maps. This principle is important. No matter how many interesting facts and anecdotes a child may know about Italy, if he isn't familiar with it on a map, then he knows nothing about its geography. So his geography lessons should begin by learning what a map is and how to use one. He should make a scale drawing of how his classroom is mapped out. Then he should sketch out a field, and then the plan of how his town is laid out. Gradually he should be made aware that these scale drawings are maps. An explorer finds a new land and measures it and uses the sun and stars to record where things are on the earth's surface, whether north, south, east or west.

Then he can learn that the lines on a map are latitude and longitude, and what that means. He will learn how water and land look on a map and how rivers and mountains are represented. He should already know which way is north, south, east, west and be able to use a compass. He will learn that maps are always made as if you're looking north, which will help him figure out some things about maps, such as direction, pretty quickly. The introductory ideas about geography and how to use a map will provide what he needs to learn geography in a fun way. He will think of geography as something he likes because of the wonder and amazement from books and talks, and map work will give him some mechanical knowledge that he will also enjoy. Geography lessons only seem dull to a child when he begins with dry facts and concise lists of things to learn. If we want our children to enjoy geography, it's worth trying to make their first experiences with it as interesting and fresh as we'd want them to be if it was us learning.

Volume 6, Philosophy of Education, pg 41-42

Don't we want every child to say, or, at least, feel, 'I was wonderfully broadened' by a geography lesson? Then let him 'see' a place through the eyes of those who have seen or conceived it. Barometer charts, temperature graphs, contour lines, relief maps, section cutaways, summarized sketches, etc., won't do it. When a child looks at a globe, his mind should be so filled with the panorama of images of places he's collected that he'd rather ponder them than go out to play. And it's so easy to give him this life's joy. Let him learn about the world in the same way we prefer to learn about it when we travel. Let him learn about its cities and people, its mountains and rivers, and his lesson will leave him with a piece of the place he has just read about, whether it's a county or country, sea or shore, and the place he pictures in his mind will seem like 'a new room prepared just for him, he'll be so broadened and pleased with it.' Truly, all the world is the child's possession prepared just for him. If we keep what's rightfully his away from him with our technical, financially-minded, or even historical approach to geography, or with attempts to make geography illustrate our own pet theories, then we cheat the child. What the child really needs is the whole world, every bit of it, piece by piece, and each piece a key to the next piece. When he reads about the Bore [surge wave] of the Severn River, he feels that he would know a Bore anywhere. He doesn't need to see a specific mountain to feel like he knows it. In his mind, he sees all that is described to him with a vividness that we adults underestimate. It's as if the only way to those places is in the spirit. Who can accurately assess a child? The genie of Arabian Nights isn't as marvelous as he is. Just like a genie, a child can be freed from his bottle and let out into the world. But woe to us if we keep him imprisoned in his bottle.

Volume 6, Philosophy of Education, pg 176

In Form III children continue with the same history of England as they were doing in Form II, as well as the same French history, and the same British museum book. They continue adding to their 'Book of Centuries.' In addition, they read about 20-30 pages per term from a short book about the history of India, a subject that they are very interested in.

Their geography studies touch on the history of other parts of the British Empire.

Volume 6, Philosophy of Education, pg 177

The geographical aspects of history are studied under geography.

Volume 6, Philosophy of Education, pg 224-230


The teaching of geography has suffered a lot from our utilitarian mindset. The focus seems to be on stripping the planet we live on of every trace of its beauty and mystery. There's nothing left to admire or wonder about in our beloved world. We can't agree anymore with Jasper Petulengro, who wrote, 'The sun, moon and stars are sweet things, and so is the wind on the plain.' Instead, geography is confined to the question of how and under what conditions the earth's surface can turn a profit and be made comfortable for man to live on. Students are no longer indulged in imagining themselves climbing Mt. Rainier or Mount Everest, or skating on the fiords of Norway, or riding a gondola in Venice. In the world of corporate profit, these things don't count--all that matters is how and where and why money can be made in any region's conditions anywhere on the surface of the planet. Yet it's doubtful whether such teaching is effective, whether it even makes any impression at all on students. The mind ruminates on great ideas. Given great ideas, the mind can work to great ends. But if education doesn't teach a child to wonder and admire, it probably doesn't teach him anything at all.

Probably the most enjoyable knowledge is when one has such a familiarity with the earth's surface region by region, that a map of any area unfolds a panorama of delight. A map of every part of this beautiful earth not only brings to mind the great geographical features like mountains and rivers, but associations, images of people busy at different things both in history and in the present. In our schools, we focus a lot of attention on map work. Before reading a lesson, children find the places mentioned in the text on a map. They learn where they are, their relativity to other places, and to specific parallels and meridians. Since children don't think in generalities but in particulars, they read and picture in their minds places like the Yorkshire Downs, the Sussex Downs, the mysteries of a coal mine. They envision 'pigs' of iron flowing from a furnace, the bustle of the great towns, the occupations of the villages. Students in Form II (both A and B, grades 4-6) are busy working with a map of the counties of England. They study one county at a time. The counties are so different in geography, history and what the people do, that knowing England well will provide children with a reference point to the geography of every part of the world by either comparing or contrasting. For instance, even now as I write this book, the students in Form IIA (grades 5/6) are learning about the counties that touch the Thames basin. Part of their work for the term is to 'write poetic verses about The Thames.' H. W. Household's book Our Sea Power is very helpful in linking England with the world using an enthusiastic account of our navy's glorious history. The late Sir George Parkin, a highly qualified authority, writes books that help transport students around the British Empire. Students are left to their own devices to learn the facts that are usually considered geography. For instance, students might be asked to 'learn what you can about the political map of Europe after WWI.'

In Form III (grade 7), students still focus on their region, forming an acquaintance with the countries of Europe. In this way, a map of any country will make the child think of wonderful images in his mind's eye of the variety in another place, and the people who live there--their history and what they do. The only way to gain this kind of mental picture is by taking the countries one at a time. Students begin with an overview of the sea and shoreline of a continent, then they learn about the country and its people--the language they speak, the history of its people, its plains, mountains, rivers and basins. After such an overview, they should be able to answer questions like, 'Name three rivers that flow into the Baltic Sea.' 'Which countries form the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea?' 'Between what parallels does Europe lie? What other continents lie partly within the same parallels?' In this way, the young students become familiar with the map of Europe before they begin to focus on the individual countries.

The image we want to present of the individual countries in these lessons should be, above all, interesting. At the same time, it should give an intelligent and fairly thorough knowledge of the specific country. Whatever else the child learns about the country will be learned alongside this scheme. For example, they might also read 'The Rhone Valley and the Border lands' (the fourth book of Charlotte Mason's Ambleside Geography series):

'The warm, fertile Rhone Valley has a climate like the southern region where grapes are grown, but even more plantations grow olives and mulberries. We tend to think of southern France as the sunny south, but a writer we quoted earlier says that it's 'bleak, grim and somber.' The mulberry bushes are for feeding the silkworms that make the threads that are made into silk in the factories of France. Lyons, the second most important city in France, is the main place where silk is manufactured, including velvets and satins. Lyons is situated on a tongue of land where the rapid Rhone River meets the sluggish Saone River. There are piers along the banks of both rivers.'

You can see from that portion of text how geographical facts are casually worked in, similarly to the way someone actually traveling through the country might come across them. In one term, students might learn about Belgium, Holland, Spain and Portugal. There are many ways in which these countries are interconnected. For example,

'Katwyck is on the seashore near Leyden, where the Rhine River is nearing its end. A wide man-made channel provides no less than thirteen pairs of enormous floodgates to help the river empty itself into the sea. These floodgates are closed to keep the sea out when the tide is coming in, and opened to let the streams pass on their way out to sea at low tide. Even with these impressive gates, the Rhine River that was once so glorious makes a humble exit. The river's delta might be said to be wide enough to cover the whole width of Holland.' (Ambleside Geography, Book IV)

Notice that an attempt is made to give an exciting idea of the country's natural features, its history, and its industries. In this way, no country is merely a set of names on a map, or an outline of contour shapes. Those kinds of generalizations aren't geography. They're the kind of information that someone should draw a slow conclusion about as they become intimate with a region. The geography lessons need to have some literary character. What's new about these lessons is the addition of map study, which should be very thorough. For the other part of geography lessons, a single reading followed by narration is enough, the same as with every other subject we've discussed. Children can't tell about what they haven't seen in their own minds with their imaginations. And they can't imagine what's in their books unless their books are written with some vividness and some grasp of the subject. You can see how thorough their map study is from the questions on their term exam: 'Where in Belgium does the Scheldt drain? Name any of the waterways that feed into it. Name ten famous places in its basin. What port is at the head of its estuary?' The little yet very literary book, Fighting for Sea Power in the Days of Sail, is a very enlightening book about the English Empire's geography.

There are two rational ways to teach geography. The first is the inferential method, and it's popular right now. The student learns specific geographical principles, which he will supposedly apply universally. But this seems defective to me for two reasons. First, it can be misleading because every principle has to be modified to fit specific places. Also, the regional color, local historical and personal interest are missing, and the student doesn't form any kind of mental image or personal associations about the place he's learning about. The second way to teach geography is the panoramic method. The landscape of the whole world is unrolled region by region, right before the child's eyes. Every region is presented with its own climate, its specific products, its people, what they do, and their history. Geography is a fascinating subject, and this way of teaching it seems to bring the area to life with brilliant color and a wealth of detail along with a sense of proportion and familiarity with general geographical principles. I don't think that pictures are very useful in geography study. After all, as we all know, the images that stay with us are the ones we construct in our own imaginations from written descriptions.

The geography book (The Ambleside Geography, Book V by Charlotte Mason) used in Form IV (grade 9) covers Asia, Africa, America and Australia. The same principle is followed: vivid descriptions, geographical information, historical details, and facts about the area's industry. These are presented for the purpose of making an impression so that the child feels like he 'owns' that region, like it's a possession in his imagination. It also adds to the collective store of knowledge in the mind from which to make future judgments. Students begin with a survey of Asia, and then Asia is broken down into separate countries, regions and geographical areas. So the part about Siberia says,

'All travelers admire the free peasants of Siberia. As soon as you cross the Urals, you're surprised by the extreme friendliness and cheerfulness of the people, and by the rich vegetation of the carefully tended fields and the roads that are kept in such good condition in southern Tobolsk.'


'The shiny black soft thick fur of the otter is the most valuable of the Russian skins. Next is the black fox. But even though the otter's skin is a thousand times more valuable, the little gray squirrel is the most important fur to Siberian fur traders. Millions of them are exported to other countries.'

Here's what it says about Further India:

'Pigou, the middle division, is really the huge delta of the Irrawaddy, which is a low-lying land where huge quantities of rice are grown. On the higher ground that walls in the great river, are forests where the finest teak wood in the world grows.'

Africa comes after Asia, and students learn about David Livingston, John Hanning Speke, Richard Burton, James Augustus Grant, etc. They read about African village life. Chapters in that part of the book are titled Abyssinia, Egypt, Up the Nile, The Sudan, The Sahara, The Barbary Coast, South Africa, Cape Colony, The Islands. America is studied next. Students learn about the discovery of the continent, the geographical area of South America, the Andes and Mountain states of Peru, Chili, and Bolivia. They learn about South America's Pampas (great plains), Central America, North America, and Canada. They get a historical sketch of the United States, the eastern states, the Mississippi valley, the prairies, and the West. The section about the eastern states says,

'Stretching the Allegheny mountain chain is the great Appalachian coalfield. It extends through Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio for 720 miles. They say that there's enough coal there to supply the whole world for 4000 years! There's an abundance of iron mixed with the coal. Most of the coal is the kind called Anthracite. It burns very lowly with no smoke, but it can dry out the humidity of a room. Sir Charles Lyall visited the Pottsville coal field and said, 'I was pleasantly surprised to find a flourishing manufacturing town here, with tall smokestacks from a hundred furnaces burning continually, yet emitting no smoke. And when we left this clean, clear atmosphere to go down into one the mines, we were just as pleased to discover that we could pick up and handle the coal without getting our fingers dirty.'

That should be enough to indicate the kind of familiar intimacy that Form IV (grade 9) students get in all the regions of the world and their terrain, landscape, history, industry and all the things that affect climate and industry. Geikie's Physical Geography does a good job introducing students to the principles of physical geography.

Forms V and VI (grades 10-12) also have to keep up with current events by reading the newspaper and finding out what's happening in the country they're studying. Also, correlating to the period being studied in history, readings are included like these books from one term: Sir John Robert Seeley's Expansion of England, Sir T. W. Holderness's The Peoples and Problems of India, Archibald Geikie's Elementary Lessons in Physical Geography, Frederick Mort's Practical Geography, and Kipling's Letters of Travel. In these Forms, students are expected to apply their knowledge to both practical and theoretical geography, and to be able to use an atlas without the leading questions that guide younger students.

Volume 6, Philosophy of Education, pg 266

We could use more of the kinds of books that everyone should know. We could include enough history and geography to make everyone feel at home wherever they travel.

Volume 6, Philosophy of Education, pg 339-340

The current trend to teach geography using the scientific method is designed to give a child a stuffy, prudish relationship with Mother earth. The human mind is unable to assimilate the sentences in most books written for children. Yet they're retained by the memory, so the child gets a false sense of having information, but it's only psuedo-knowledge. Most geography books need to be written in literary terms before they can be taken in. We put a lot of confidence in diagrams and pictures. It's true that children enjoy diagrams and understand them as much as they do puzzles. But they often miss the connection between the diagram and what it's supposed to be illustrating. We rely too much on pictures, slides, and films. But without work there's no profit. Probably the pictures that stay with us are the ones we imagined in our own minds from words we've heard or read. Pictures can help to correct our false notions, but the imagination doesn't work with visual displays. When we process the phrases of a description on the palette of our mind, we create our own pictures. (I'm not talking about great works of art; works of art are in another category.) Dr. Arnold was always uneasy with new places until he had enough details to form a mental picture of it in his mind. It's the same with children, and with all people who have original minds. We like to have a map to figure out where a place is, but, after that, it's details about the place that we want.


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