In education we must comprehend man as a wholesome; and man in his totality is body, soul and spirit. (Steiner)
Some of the most incredible educators of the last century encouraged the idea of a threefold person and the importance of nurturing the body, soul and spirit of the individual child. Charlotte Mason, Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessori all stressed that education was more than just improving the mind, the soul of the child also needed nourishment, as did the body.
Children must grow not only in the body but in the spirit… (Montessori)
The child is a body which grows, and a soul which develops,…(Montessori)
Whether you agree with or hold to their individual philosophies, the consenting view of this threefold nature has fascinated me and caused me to stop and evaluate the way I have chosen to educate my own children.
We begin by believing in the children as spiritual beings… ––intellectual, moral, spiritual––capable of receiving and constantly enjoying intuitions from the intimate converse of the Divine Spirit. (Mason)
You see as a Christian – I also believe in a threefold aspect to each created human being. God created us in His own image and asks us to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind. Believing this to be true, my focus of education has shifted to encompassing all three aspects of the person.
In the saying that Education is a life, the need of intellectual and moral as well as of physical sustenance is implied. (Mason)
Here is where the beauty of Nature Study lies. It is an amazingly way to truly nourish your children.
Body– to breathe deeply, walk, run jump and celebrate the wonder of outdoors. I think we would all agree that to have children away from the TVs, computers and books and head out into nature is essential for good health. Research shows that our bodies need the vitamin D we receive when we are outdoors. Our creator designed our bodies to need fresh air and sunshine.
Soul– Stop and look at the world through the eyes of a child. The awesome world around us can’t fail to nourish our souls. We may as well face it that we need the beauty around us as much as our children. Our Creator gave us a feast for our senses when He designed this world, there is so much to explore and wonder about. If you and your children are feeling frazzled, stressed and worn out, take a deep dose of the beauty around you and let God’s creation refresh you all.
Mind– Young children are by nature inquisitive. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they never lost that sense of amazement? Don’t worry if you can’t answer their question; just let them know what a great question to explore together. Anna Comstock in her Handbook of Natures-Study states “She should say frankly, “I do not know; let us see if we cannot together find out this mysterious thing. Maybe no one knows it as yet, and I wonder if you will discover it before I do.”
The chief charm of nature-study would be taken away if it did not lead us through the border-land of knowledge into the realm of the undiscovered. (Anna Comstock)
I think that the incredible beauty of nature study is that it gives us a glimpse of the Creator. It educates not just our children, but us as well. It refreshes our body, feeds our soul, and nourishes our mind.
So grab a copy of Marie’s study guide and enjoy the world with your children!
(Jo: Wife, Home-school mum and Homemaker)