November 16, 2022

Noticing November - Education as Service

Activities and opportunities to see and enjoy more around you – for yourself and/or your students.

Noticing November - Education as Service


According to Charlotte Mason, a relational education leads to serving others. She writes in Ourselves, her volume written directly to students:

“The great decision open to us all, the great will act of a life, is whether we shall make our particular Mansoul available for service by means of knowledge, love, and endeavor” (Ourselves 151).

Our lives are not meant to be lived for ourselves but to be "available for service" to those around us. Mason connects this priority directly to her educational philosophy and specifically her principle of education as the "Science of Relations" in School Education where she argues that as children develop relationships with God, others, and the world around them, they will grow in their capacity to do good to others:

“Fulness of living, expansion, expression, and serviceableness, for each of us, depend upon how far we apprehend these relationships and how many of them we lay hold of” (School Education 186).

There are many ways we can encourage ourselves and our students to view education as training in "serviceableness," but one fun option is to get involved with a citizen science project. Whether recording rainfall on your particular yard, or logging a mushroom or bird sighting, these types of community projects help students recognize the real-world value of "school" subjects and connect education with service in a small but real way. Look for projects relevant to your location, but here are a few interesting possibilities to try yourself or to use to generate further ideas.


If you have any acorns around, try making acorn pancakes or try whistling with an acorn. If no acorns are available, try whistling with your fingers instead.


Black Lillies by Irma Stern. Observe this still life painting by Irma Stern, a famous 20th century painter. Discuss the colors, the texture of the lines, and anything else you notice. Consider drawing or painting your own still life.


As we approach the U.S.'s Thanksgiving holiday, enjoy this poem on gratitude by Malcolm Guite, a Petrarchan sonnet he published first in 2013. Listen to Malcolm read the poem and pay attention to the cadence of the words. Petrarchan sonnets often set up a question in their opening octave (the first 8 lines) and then give some sort of answer or shift thought in the following sestet (the final 6 lines). Do you sense a shift in this sonnet? If so, how would you describe it?


For the Beauty of the Earth arranged by John Rutter

Further Resources

Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow


Mason, Charlotte. Ourselves.Vol. 4. Tyndale House, 1989.

Mason, Charlotte. School Education. Vol. 3. Tyndale House, 1989.

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