Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why Learn with Living Books ?

Not that they breathe and move, of course, though I'd quite like a house full of that kind of living book. The kind that Charlotte Mason advocates; books whose prose and characters and narrative come alive for us as we read.

For me, it's because learning this way privileges the relationship between author and reader, unmediated by others. The student-reader can form her own responses and thoughts on the subject being explored.  Of course the author of a living book comes to her work  with her own biases ( and as more experienced readers, it's up to us to point these out to our children ) but at least the learning  conversation is a direct, authentic and individual one. A textbook approach, especially in the humanities, which seeks to disseminate 'required' information, can rarely achieve the same depth of relationship, though it may act adequately as a spine or guide to areas of knowledge.

I suppose it comes down to how you view education - as a relationship with knowledge or a conquering of it.


  1. Totally agreed! I don't get why anyone would prefer a textbook to a well-written living book on the same topic. Living books can be just as comprehensive in scope. Or, when they aren't, it's not the end of the world to put a few books together.

  2. I agree with this. I like the idea of education being a relationship with knowledge. Spot on!