Synthetic thinking can be understood as an approach to knowledge that places things together, comprehending the relationship of new knowledge to old knowledge, one discipline to another, and man to all things.
— from Consider This by Karen Glass, 2014
Consider This is a mind-bending, stereotype-breaking book explaining the relationship between Charlotte Mason and the classical tradition. One of my favorite parts of her book is her emphasis on synthetic thinking. I love to think synthetically! I love pulling ideas together so they speak about the same thing. When I find connections between an old memory and a poem I read for the first time–that get’s my brain humming. When I read a chapter about groundhogs from my son’s animal book and I find a way to relate it to something else we’ve read in a different type of book, that’s synthetic thinking.
Today we drove past a small lake, and my children kept calling it a river, and it dawned on me that they need a lesson on landforms and waterforms, but then, it also dawned on me that one of the books we are reading, Tree in the Trail by Holling C Holling, is teaching them quite a bit about landforms.
There are overlapping layers to the way we think, and our Ambleside Online curriculum contains a lot of overlapping layers as well. I don’t think my kids know when we are studying history, or when we are studying literature. It isn’t so different. I feel kind of bad for them when people ask them what their favorite subject is. School is school. It runs its course. And at the end, their minds have more ideas than when they began.