I met Nicole at CMI’s 2017 Eastern National Education Conference while participating in her science immersion. She asked me if I’d give a perspective about a Charlotte Mason educated high schooler and whether I thought they would “succeed” at the college level, especially a nationally-known technical college. Before I do, it’s important I do 3 things first, so bear with me. I need to tell you who I am, tell you my knowledge & experience with CM; and finally, tell you a little about my institution.
I am a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, active duty now for 22 years. I am an Assistant Professor and Senior Military Faculty (essentially, tenured military) at the Air Force Academy, having taught Mechanical Engineering for 10 years of my career. My bachelor of science is in Engineering Mechanics from the Academy (’95) and I hold an MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering, both from Georgia Tech. My subarea of interest is mechanics of materials (what things are made of and how they fail), but I have taught everything from core engineering fundamentals, to fatigue, to experimental mechanics. Continue reading
I frequently receive the following question, or some form thereof. I thought it might be time to answer it here.
I am wondering about the Christian content, or lack thereof, in your science guides and the books they accompany. Could you share a bit about your philosophy in this area and how that philosophy plays out in your science guides?
I guess the first thing you need to know is that I am a Christian. I proclaim those words with tears in my eyes because I know that it was only my Lord’s love for me that made my salvation possible, with exactly zero effort or warranting on my part.
The next thing you need to know is that while I am amazingly grateful for Christian authors and publishers that focus on the field of science, having “Christian” stamped on the cover does not tell me what I need to know about a book.
What I need to know is this:
I frequently use the following quote when pleading that people not subject their child to science instruction by way of a textbook:
“The mind is capable of dealing with only one kind of food; it lives, grows and is nourished upon ideas only; mere information is to it as a meal of sawdust to the body; there are no organs for the assimilation of the one more than of the other.” (Towards A Philosophy Of Education, p. 218)
Sawdust. That should close the book on this question, right? But you might think your child can handle a bit of sawdust in their meal, as long as it comes with a side of real food. I hear this is the case with packaged grated cheese these days, after all. But Mason tells us not to bother because our kids’ minds will reject it:
“Again, we have made a rather strange discovery, that the mind refuses to know anything except what reaches it in more or less literary form.“ (Towards A Philosophy Of Education, p. 256)
I suspect it’s the same with the cheese. The manufacturers know it will just pass right on through us, and they assure us that it won’t hurt us, so how can it be a big deal? I suspect it’s a very big deal – both the wood coated cheese and the textbook. Continue reading