Charlotte Mason was a highly respected British educator in the late nineteenth century. She offered an alternative method of education to the traditional model common in her time. Her methods were often adopted by middle-class parents teaching their children at home and by upper-class families who frequently used governesses. Many schools (mostly private) also implemented her methods with great success.
Charlotte Mason founded the House of Education, a teaching college for governesses in Ambleside, in the Lake District of England. She also wrote a six volume series on educating children. Her books are available today and are known as The Original Home Schooling Series.
Charlotte Mason’s books were well received, for they offered practical teaching ideas and taught the teacher how to give children a generous and rich education. Paramount in Charlotte Mason’s philosophy was fostering children’s relationship and knowledge of God. Charlotte Mason also emphasised the importance of the home environment, teaching with books and respect for the child.
Charlotte Mason’s ideas and methods have been revived with the resurgence of the Christian homeschooling movement. Many home educators have adopted her teaching philosophies and techniques and this is what we call The Charlotte Mason Method.
Charlotte Mason used a range a teaching techniques that encouraged children to develop a love for learning.
Follow the links below to see how a Charlotte Mason curriculum is taught.
Charlotte Mason's book A Philosophy of Education Volume 6 was here last book. In this book she outlines her principles of education. Below are some quotes from this book. The links will take you to my reflections on these principles as I was reading through Charlotte Mason's book.
"Education is the Science of Relations'; that is, a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of––
"Those first-born affinities
That fit our new existence to existing things."
We should teach children, also, not to lean (too confidently) unto their own understanding because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration of (a) mathematical truth and (b) of initial ideas accepted by the will. In the former case reason is, perhaps, an infallible guide but in the latter is not always a safe one, for whether the initial idea be right or wrong reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.
We may offer to children two guides to moral and intellectual self-management which we may call 'the Way of the Will' and 'the Way of the Reason.' Children should be taught to distinguish between 'I want' and 'I will.'
We hold that the child's mind is no mere sac to hold ideas but is rather ...a 'spiritual organism' with an appetite for all knowledge
Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child's inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food.
Charlotte Mason saw the uniqueness of a child's personality and she felt this was ignored by many educators. She wanted the teacher/parent to respect the personality of a child and not place the burden of conformity on an individual.
"The principles of Authority on the one hand and Docility on the other are natural, necessary and fundamental."
This principle is all about children having a teachable heart and the teacher being aware of their authority and not abusing it.
"They are not born either good or bad, but with possibilities for good and for evil. "
I struggle with this principle. Please read this entry in my blog for more detailed discussion on this principle
“Our business is to give children the great ideas of life, of religion, history, science; but it is the ideas we must give, clothed upon with facts as they occur, and must leave the child to deal with as he chooses.” Volume 6 p.40
“Our business is to give children the great ideas of life, of religion, history, science; but it is the ideas we must give, clothed upon with facts as they occur, and must leave the child to deal with as he chooses.”
Charlotte Mason Study Guide by Penny Gardner