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 Plenary Sessions 

The Trial Of John Brown-1942

Dr. Jack Beckman

The Child’s Estate – “Except ye become as little children…”

Charlotte Mason constructed her living philosophy upon a captain idea – the personhood of the child. Upon this foundation she built a solid framework of books and curriculum that guide us to this very day. Particularly in Home Education, we see her vision for the young child under the age of six or seven.  She writes, “…the chief function of the child… is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses (HE, p. 96). If this is the vision, then what is the context? In Home Education Mason works towards describing for us the homeishness of the young child’s estate while latterly visiting the schoolishness of the formal education of the older child. In our time together, we will interpret the estate of the young child through several lenses – the Holy Scriptures, Mason’s writings, and other likeminded thinkers who help us understand these unique creatures made in God’s image. My hope is that we can excavate the rich and generative ideas of kinderleben (the child’s life) as they apply to the child under six.

Much has happened in my field of early childhood education in the ensuing years since Mason’s death; some of which is enlightening to our understanding of the development of young children. My thoughts in interpreting Mason are that fidelity to her principles is paramount, and that we can indeed find fellow travelers along the way who can help us as we proceed with the times and construct a more accurate view of the young learner. Much has also happened in my personal and professional life in the last years – 42 years of marriage and grandchildren (three), a commitment to understanding texts and writings (including Mason) from more complex frameworks such as reader response and perspectival hermeneutics, and literacy work through my community library with under resourced families.

The Warped Table Still Life-1940

Liz Cottrill

The Unseen Foundation

Every teacher knows there is far more to teaching than choosing and implementing curriculum.  Preparing the varied feast of school
subjects is simple compared to working with the complex personalities of our students. Add our own personality to the relationship, and the reality of the day-in and day-out work often shakes our hopes and dreams of a living education. How do we cope with conflict and contrariness, doubt and discouragement, opposition or downright disrespect? How do we honor these persons and their rights and maintain our balance? We acknowledge that character is the outcome we aim for, but what if our own character is challenged and found wanting? We will explore what Mason has to say about the realm of education beyond the material we cover in lessons, advice that makesall the difference in experiencing education as an atmosphere, a
discipline, and a life.

Sketchbook - Lara Gastinger

Unfurling Ferns - Lara Gastinger

Lara Call Gastinger

Eve Anderson Nature Study Lecture - Botanical Art through journals and paintings

Botanical artist and illustrator of the Flora of Virginia, Lara Call Gastinger, will seek to inspire you with her presentation of her field journals, her illustrations for the Flora of Virginia and her recent botanical watercolor paintings. We will examine how the flora around you changes through the seasons and how a anyone can document those important observations with pen and watercolor. 


The Temptation Of Saint Anthony-1946

Rev. Storm Hutchinson

Atmosphere and Relationships: How to Shape Atmosphere by Building a Strong Student Community

Student relationships have a significant impact on Atmosphere.  As we work in a broken world full of broken relationships, how do we create habits of healthy relationships for our students?  By building a strong student community we shape the will and mind of both students and teachers so that they are focused on strengthening and repairing relationships in the classroom and across the school community.  The focus is also on how we prevent problems from occurring in the first place and what we need to do to ensure that practice and policy support this effort.  These practices have been implemented in families, in schools, across school districts, in churches, and even throughout an entire town with dramatic results for over 30 years.

Giving Thanks-1942

Dr. Jennifer Spencer

Understanding Cognitive Load and Its Implications for a Mason Education

Every task that we undertake costs something of us in terms of mental energy; that is, it has a "cognitive load." The more novel the task, the higher the cognitive load. The task feels difficult because our brains have to spend much attention and energy to accomplish it. As we practice the task over time, our brains do not have to work as hard, and the task feels easier to us; that is, the task has become automated to some degree. This fact has important implications for us as educators, as we try to determine when a child is ready for certain tasks. In this lecture, Dr. Spencer will discuss cognitive load, using Michael Polanyi's model of focal and subsidiary awareness, how it relates to various subjects of study, and how Mason's developmental and incremental learning model recognizes the importance of cognitive load.

Cabin In The Cotton-1935

Dr. David Wiggins

The Absent Father - Abstract to be Added

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