Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Evolution of Our Book of Centuries

“The Book of Centuries, is a great joy to the owner, and even in these busy days it is possible to find some time, however short, to add an illustration from time to time.” ~ G. M. Bernau, Volume 34 1923 pgs. 720-724 of The Parents Review

One of the first tools of learning to inspire my imagination as I began studying about homeschooling was that of the Timeline. Ours has taken many forms throughout the past nine years. From a spiral bound artist book, divided by decades, to a fancy one I downloaded which had different colored pages for different subjects… Science, the Arts, Wars, etc. We have had timelines which were long strips of butcher paper going down the hallway, and timelines which were index cards clothes-pinned to a string attached to the edge of our bookshelves. All of these have been fun and educational, but the way in which we have used them is not quite what I would deem "CM".

Our latest and almost greatest timeline is our current Book of Centuries, which we began right after the index card timeline... about 2 years ago.

It consists of a spiral bound artist book, divided by centuries. This particular book has evolved in tandem with my understanding of what Miss Mason intended the Book of Centuries to be. In the beginning, I would choose a date from our reading each day, tell my daughter what it was, write it in the book for her and point out the other people and events that were contemporaneous.

Ahem, now… I’m not saying that was bad… or that she didn’t learn from the method, but I highly suspect that I learned much more than my student did because I was the one making the connections and doing the writing and noting the other people and events. You see, it took a while for me to begin to grasp this concept…

“Let them get at the books themselves, and do not let them be flooded with a warm diluent at the lips of their teacher. The teacher's business is to indicate, stimulate, direct and constrain to the acquirement of knowledge, but by no means to be the fountain-head and source of all knowledge in his or her own person. The less parents and teachers talk-in and expound their rations of knowledge and thought to the children they are educating, the better for the children.~ Charlotte Mason Vol 3 pg 162

Unfortunately, this continues to be a concept I struggle to put into practice!

After reading the above passage numerous times I began asking Georgi to tell me what she thought was important enough to write in her Book of Centuries, and to allow her to write it. (I must confess, I do keep a private list of dates from the readings so that if she gets stumped I can make suggestions, sorry Miss Mason.)

A few months ago I read the Parents Review Article on the Book of Centuries for the first time. The idea of including the maps and drawings was so inspiring that my first inclination was to throw ours out and start all over... right in the middle of the 1700’s! (Don’t laugh, I’ve done it before.)

After much consideration, I have decided to wait until we finish this cycle of history, and begin again at the beginning, with a new book. (Which, by the way, will certainly be our greatest timeline!)

In the meantime I am encouraging my daughter to start including pictures of anything she thinks relates to the date she has entered in her Book of Centuries. So, here’s our current BOC, you’ll see my writing, my daughter’s writing, and her drawing all together.

I’ve learned a lot from creating our Book of Centuries – The people and events which were contemporaneous (up through the 1800’s anyway), how Charlotte Mason used the BOC in her schools, and most importantly the simple fact that the less I talk, the more Georgianna learns! (Hmm, I guess I’ve still learned more from the Book of Centuries than my student has!)


  1. this is EXACTLY why I've started my own BoC... I can't stand to miss out on making my own connections!! ;)

    thanks for sharing this with the CM blog carnival! :)

    amy in peru

  2. Ya know, I've been thinking about making my own BOC when we start our new history rotation and our new BOC - you've convinced me to do just that! :~)
    Amy :~D

  3. I have my own it and it is a great life self-educating mama project. :)

  4. I am amazed when my kids make the links to important people, eras, major events or wars while we do our timeline activities. It is all about finding the best way to form relationships with exsisting knowledge and the new.