What are the basics of Charlotte Mason education?
Charlotte Mason was a British educator, who, in the late-nineteenth century, published books on education that were both down-to-earth and practical. Her book, “Home Education,” was innovative and influential to other educators of the time.
She fostered the idea that children could be inspired to learn and explore with joy the world around them. Today, many homeschoolers find her ideals are very relevant to their everyday lives and her ideas are practical and inspiring to both parent and child.
Charlotte Mason’s Fundamental Ideas
Charlotte Mason based her philosophy of education upon nine fundamental, practical principles. There are five “DO’s” and two “DON’T’s.”
DO provide intelligent reading in abundance.
DO introduce your student to culture and things of beauty — music, nature, poetry, and the arts.
DO teach your children to narrate, telling you back about their learning experiences in their own words. Notebooking is a part of narration.
DO build habits that shape your child, and teach the discipline of self-education for joy’s sake.
DO allow free time to develop as a person instead of a heavy homework load, especially in the younger grades.
DON’T teach your student to succeed for the sake of a grade; instead, introduce them to things that capture their interest and they will try their best.
DON’T plan on lecture times of teaching; instead embrace learning together with discussion, experimentation, and narration.
How Do We Measure Education
Charlotte Mason summed up her ideals about education into the phrase, “bringing up” a child. Karen Andreola, in her marvelous book, “A Charlotte Mason Companion,” sums it up this way:
We all wish our children to be well brought up, and when we have come to understand what that means, we know that we need to go beyond simply fitting the child with the basic skills to make a living . . . First and foremost in importance is the power to live the life God has given in the way God intended. In order to have this power, a person must be at his best in his heart, mind, and soul. He must know how to choose good and how to refuse evil.
We, as persons, are not enlightened by means of multiple-choice tests or grades, but rather by the other people in our lives that we have come to know, admire, and love… Children are inspired by relationships, and this helps form their personalities. And so, throughout their educational life, we put them in touch with persons, places, and things…When you give your child a Charlotte Mason-style education, you will be endowing them with the substantial things of our culture, and their interest in these things will naturally spill out, like a cup running over, into their leisure activities, even as they enter adulthood.
Children have the same needs as an adult — to have meaningful work that excites and motivates them to achieve more and more. Charlotte believed that traditional educational systems — designed for demonstrated success through testing — denied children the opportunity to grow in their souls. Education should strive to introduce a student to that which expands their knowledge and understanding of the world in a way that shapes them to be the person God intended them to be.