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  • 23 Jun 2017 4:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Again, we know that the human hand is a wonderful and exquisite instrument to be used in a hundred movements exacting delicacy, direction and force; every such movement is a cause of joy as it leads to the pleasure of execution and the triumph of success. We begin to understand this and make some efforts to train the young in the deft handling of tools and the practice of handcrafts.  (Mason, 1989/1925A, p. 328-329)

    The architect is a man of poetic temperament, of creative imagination, and of artistic taste and judgment: coupled with seeing eyes and deft hands, he must have scientific accuracy and constructive power; he is at once a designer, a builder, a man of culture, and a man of business. (Robins, 1890) 

    How does using our hands and our creative imagination connect with teaching our students in this wide large room of knowledge?  Can we use arts and science to help stimulate our students to use their own creativity after main lessons?  How are we using the ideas from reading about architecture and engineering to learn a new skill, initiated by the biography we’ve read about the person in history, geography, science? How are we using the new skill, to teach our students to live happy, fully engaged, satisfying lives?  These are some of the questions that we can ask ourselves before diving into the world of architecture, engineering and craftsmanship studies. 

    As a teacher and parent, we do not know if our children will be architects, engineers, welders or carpenters.  They may pursue a field in chemistry, politics, social work, or business.   About half of a freshman class can easily change their major by their junior year in college.  Many students do not even use their degree they so painstakingly acquired in college when getting out into the workforce.  Many have a change of heart after working a few years in their chosen field of study, realizing that it is not something they want to pursue forever.  These scenarios are not mentioned because the students were in the wrong; it is just part of growth as a developing individual and alterations in our society over a period of time that can cause a change in plans.  Yet we would like our students to have some ideas, previously thought upon, that they can use to guide their decisions on what careers they would like to pursue in the future.  As our Charlotte reminds us, “It rests with parents not only to give their children birth into the life of intelligence and moral power, but to sustain the higher life which they have been borne.  Now that life, which we call education, receives only one kind of sustenance; it grows upon ideas. You may go through years of so-called 'education' without getting a single vital idea; and that is why many a well-fed body carries about a feeble, starved intelligence . . .” (Mason, 1989B, p. 33). As we provide our students with these vital ideas, many may use their hobbies to start their own businesses, becoming entrepreneurs--enjoying themselves more now, than when they were working for someone else in the corporate world.

    This reminds me of a short time ago, watching my husband over the course of several weekends; I realized how happy he is with his hammer, screw gun, wood and level.  He has always expressed his desire and a dream to own his own business, yet lack of assets has changed and altered his plans.  Using his skills, passed down from grandpa to dad to son, my husband is very content using his hands and mind to plan, build and carry out his ideas in his head for a fun family project in the backyard. 

    Gathering up the kids, rising early, he starts his work before the sun has time to peek out from behind the trees.   Even though it is hard, laborious work, we are all happily talking about how much supplies we will need to accomplish this sort of family project.  Will the project fit within the financial budget and time frame that was already discussed during our family meeting?  We pile out of the car at our local hardware store, with our list in hand, ready to accomplish the task of gathering supplies.  And later on in the day, as we build the structure, we start thinking aloud.  Who will be responsible for each of the different tasks needed to complete the project?  Can the sequence of steps to be done, affect the outcome and end result?  Who will measure to figure out the angles?  Who will use their geometry and math skills to double-check the measurements are correct?  What could we add onto it as to make good use of the space?  Will there be enough room to share the space with friends, neighbors and community?  How will we protect the tree with proper materials using the design thought upon?  How will we give the tree room to grow and sway in the wind, yet endure the weight of each person?   Hasn’t it been said, “The great secret to education is to combine mental and physical work so that one kind of exercise refreshes the other” (Larson, 1903, p. 10).

    As the days pass, we are seeing with our eyes something that is visual; something that is measurable as the end product.  We notice that our children enjoy the craftsmanship because it allows them to prove something to themselves.  They revel in the confidence that comes from participating and completing a project from start to finish.  And looking at my husband, I realized that this building project was likeable and enjoyable for him as well.  There was a part of him, which was playfully engaged in the task at hand.  He was using his mind and skills that took him beyond himself-- into a different world almost, that required of him to be fully engaged.  To use his mind and hands as he went along; he was figuring out how things worked so that the structure would be lasting and safe for the kids.  Besides thinking of safety, he wanted it to be aesthetically beautiful as well.  Creating something that can be used again (the reason for the screws, not nails), allowed him to be, not a consumer of stuff, but a creator of something beautiful, meaningful, useful and reusable.  I think these opportunities for him to teach skills to our children, give him some joy and light in a corporate world that can be dull at times for the human heart and mind. 

    As I am gazing at the finished product, I see how the success of the project was more than just a lesson on the skills of building.  It also was a lesson on creating something, being involved in finishing a task, and being happy during the challenge of a goal.  I start to think of the builders and engineers that we have read about this past year.  Their inspiring work of planning towns, inventing concrete, building aqueducts, plumbing bath houses--these Romans gave us many enjoyable afternoons of drawing floor plans and townscapes; building with mud, sticks and stone; using modeling materials or blocks and bricks to simulate what these old Romans built so long ago in the ancient days.  This is one of the many reasons why I embraced and dove into the ideas of our mentor Charlotte Mason.  This way of living is to “Make it your goal to live a quiet life; minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before” (I Thessalonians 4:11, New Living Translation).

    Many educators think that our philosophy of education is just an overabundance of reading.  It is quite a bit of reading, yet it is also conversation and opportunities to use of our hands.  The readings in history, literature, geography, science, architecture and engineering are invigorating!  They touch on and lay the foundation of independent thought.  They provide us with daily conversations about duty, citizenship and patriotism.  While our reading is wide, generous and varied, we are also allowing our students to use their hands in the afternoons, evenings and weekends. 

    Many times, especially with the little ones, this type of work is play.  It is natural with no preplanning on the teacher’s part to encourage the students.  With the older elementary, middle and higher forms, a bit of planning of some choices of projects are offered, only if the student cannot come up with a design on their own.  Study in perspective and scale drawing is continued to aid in using their mind for their creations.  Different materials are offered to the older students to use for their 2D plan to become a 3D model.  Verbal and written narrations and essays are still used; yet we also include renderings of architectural designs from the readings, building with blocks, constructing with branches using pioneering skills with knots, or compass drawings are just a few examples.

    During our afternoon session, we are first reading about the architect or engineer, who is the chief builder, the designer. We then choose an idea from the story that inspires each individual student.  Whether it be through using wood and hand tools, forming sculptures with plaster of Paris, or materials from nature, using clay for monuments, drawing in our architecture and engineering journals, using leather or other fabrics--we let the student decide what project they will create while using their mind and imagination. 

    As we read, we are also aware that there are more people in the story besides just one maker.  We see that there are a variety of professions of people.  There may be apprentices, assistants or journeymen, using their talents and ideas to help with the end result.  We are also engaged with learning about people that create things using their own craft.  We learn about the professionals in the trades that are becoming lost skills in the modern world.  We look at the architect or engineer-- yet we also look to the sculptor, the blacksmith, the glassmaker, the wood worker (carpenter), the tinsmith, the potter, and so many more.  All these amazing skills that could be the one skill your students use throughout their life to enrich and understand their own humanity.  

    Recently, we spent the afternoon talking with a print maker as we were experiencing the colonial life in Williamsburg, Virginia.  As he shook the ink that was to be applied to the moveable metal letters, he talked about the invention of printing.  Showing our small group the metal and how it was cut and prepared to become the moveable type cast.  Then he showed us how the metal was pieced and puzzled together to form a mirror, upside down image.  Placing the paper, pressing the lever, he showed us the end result of the page that was circulated around the first colonies in this great land.  Did you know that the printing press helped start the American Revolution by the passing of ideas on paper, in a fast, more frequent way to mass amounts of people?  These ideas and stories, which were exchanged on paper, provided unity among the colonies.  This unity was a new idea.  These ideas shared in the pamphlets and newspapers connected the people in a meaningful way and were the heart of the Revolution.  By listening to one tradesman talk about his craft, we are educating our students to use learning as a way to seize upon this life, just as our forefathers. The world becomes more tangible--and a thing of beauty, when we use our hands and minds.

    We need to provide our students with experiences in which they have the opportunities to make, to build, to create.  We know that wrestling and struggling with a problem builds the heart and mind muscle needed for character to develop. It is the experience of empowerment over being able to solve a problem that is needed to fulfill the soul.  Let us guide our students to a more fulfilled and engaged life.  The world is not abstract or distant--it is full of opportunities to learn, stretching our minds and using our hands.

    It is the man who has read and thought on many subjects who is, with the necessary training, the most capable whether in handling tools, drawing plans, or keeping books. The more of a person we suceed in making a child, the better will he both fulfill his own life and serve society.  (Mason, 1989A, p. 3)


    Burkeman, O. (7 May 2010). Working with your hands: The secret to happiness? The Guardian. Retrieved from:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/may/08/working-hands-happiness-burkeman.

    Crawford, M. (21 May 2009). The case for working with your hands. The New York Times. Retrieved from


    Crawford, M. (2010). Shop class as soulcraft:  An inquiry into the value of work. NYC: Penguin Group.

    Csikscentmihalyi, M. (2013). Creativity:  Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. NYC:  Harper Perennial.  

    Korn, P. (2013). How we make things and why it matters:  The education of a craftsman.  Jaffrey, New Hampshire:  David R. Godine, Publisher.

    Larsson, G. (1902). Sloyd. Boston:  Sloyd Training School.

    Mason, C.M. (1989A). An essay towards a philosophy of education. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (Original work published in 1925)

    Mason, C. M. (1989B). Parents and children. Charlotte Mason Research and Supply. (Original work published in 1925)

    Rebanks, J. (2015). The shepherds’ life:  Modern dispatches from an ancient landscape. NYC:  Flatiron Books.

    Robins, E.E. (1890). Our Sons:  The Profession of Architecture. Parents’ Review, 1, Issue 1, pp 17-21. Retrieved from The Charlotte Mason Digital Collection http://charlottemason.redeemer.ca/ParentsReview/ParentsReviewV1/PDFs/n1/p017-21PRv1n1.pdf

    © 2017 Kerstin McClintic

  • 25 May 2017 11:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Charlotte Mason Community School began as Ambleside Community School in Detroit in 2002, with 18 students. The founders first spent a few years studying Charlotte Mason and researching how to start a school. This fall, God willing, we will begin a new school year, with 70+ students, in a building that we lease from a church in Detroit. Attrition, from teachers who are choosing to stay home with new babies, and from retirement, has thinned our ranks, and we hope to hire new teachers who will join with us in this mission work in Detroit. It will be my pleasure to train and oversee the new teachers. 

    Therefore, I recently set myself the task of reading Towards a Philosophy of Education once more, from the beginning.  I thought I would be going over familiar territory, not realizing that I most often refer to some well-read pages in this volume, and have not read it from cover to cover in some time.

     The first topic that caught my attention was Mason’s reference to the Great War. She reflects in the Introduction about how Germany came to be in the place in which they would allow what she calls a “breakdown in character and conduct.” The reason soon follows:

    “the symptoms have been duly traced to their cause in the thoughts the people have been taught to think during three or four generations (p.1).”

    Our school in Detroit is adjacent to Wayne State University, my alma mater, where I truly hope great thoughts are still encouraged and expected. However, surrounding us are casinos and sports venues that won huge tax concessions from the city so that they could be built. At the same time, funding for the education of the minds and souls of the children of this city is in question. Give us three or four generations more of these sad priorities and injustices, and where will we be?  Not being a public school, our school must charge tuition or close our doors, but we depend on every dollar given to us to make up for the tuition fees the parents cannot in any way afford to pay. The public schools are similarly endangered.

    The bright spot in all of this worry: our present students are being allowed to think, to question, to delve into great works, and not only that, but to become persons, because Mason also says in this Introduction,

    “the more of a person we succeed in making a child, the better will he both fulfill his own life and serve society (p.3).”

    A few years ago, I took a few days off from school to visit my son and daughter-in-law in Oakland, California, as they were moving from a loft apartment into a tiny house that they had purchased. Oakland is a city undergoing many changes. The homeless gather in parks and under highway bypasses, even as young people, like my son, are moving into their neighborhoods and bringing with them the usual gentrification signs: bike lanes and coffee shops.

    I stepped outside their loft apartment one morning, waiting for them to come down, when suddenly I felt a person touching me, surrounding me from the back. I turned quickly, and a tall man was behind me. He never spoke, but followed me as I backed away.  I headed for the front door of the building to be let back in. I felt threatened, but I wasn’t hurt. My son said, when I pointed him out, that he most certainly was a heroin user, because of the telltale signs on his face. I kept thinking of the man, wondering how he came to be homeless, and whether anyone had ever shown him kindness or opened up the world to him as a child.  When I returned to Detroit, Evelyn, our principal, told me that a woman was asking if we would take her son as a student. It was March, and late in the year to be taking new students.  She said the woman was a bus driver who drove past our school every day, and wanted something better for her son. He was being bullied at school and was behind in reading. I thought of the homeless man, and told Evelyn: we must take him.

    Our little child, we saw immediately, needed all of the nurturing and care we could give him. We provided an atmosphere that fosters growth as persons. We provided the discipline of habits, formed “definitely and thoughtfully”. We provided life: “intellectual and moral, as well as physical, sustenance”. (Preface)

    These three educational instruments are the backbone of the methods we employ to teach students to think, to narrate back what they read and hear, and to make connections and form relationships with the world around them. We will continue our commitment to help them become persons who will both fulfill their own lives and serve society. If we are diligent, perhaps there will be future generations in this city and this country who will be thinking great thoughts about the problems of society, whose characters and conduct reflect the great minds and hearts of our most admired leaders, not the wishes of those who would prey upon the weaknesses of others.

    I am going to continue my re-reading of Towards a Philosophy of Education, but I am amazed at what I have already gained from the first few pages.

    ©  2017 by Therese Racklyeft

  • 13 May 2017 6:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I have been working with a group of people just starting out on their Charlotte Mason journey.  It has given me the opportunity to see with fresh eyes the awakening that happens as one is first touched by this whole new way of living.  I am amazed at how far things have come, and how much richer it has grown over the years.  As I peer through Mason's Alveary, it makes me wish I could start all over.  I can only imagine enjoying the richness of learning together without all the time eaten away by research and study that was necessary in the early years.  There is so much more access and support available now.  I’m awed by the fact that truth really is eternal as the same enriching and inspiration I received washes over the hearts and faces of those first becoming acquainted with Mason’s feast.

    I feel like a “Selah” is in order to stop and really consider all that God has done.  I am so grateful for all the people that have sacrificed and contributed over the years.  The maturity and depth has only continued to increase, and so much has been firmly established.  I believe the hardest work has already been completed and there is a momentum that will give an easier path and an acceleration for the things ahead.  For all those that gave so selflessly and suffered to get us here, and for all that has been achieved, truly celebration is in order!  

    It seems like we, as a movement, are at the top of a mountain.  I can look back and see the challenges of the climb and the exhilaration of having arrived at the top.  The view all around is breathtaking.  I can also look ahead and see the path moving forward into new territory, with gravity working for us on this next part.

    I believe we are at a divine moment in time where there is hunger for what we have to offer.  I also see things orchestrating incredible opportunities for us to do just that.  I’m referring to political shifts that have taken place in a couple countries, and a longing for truth stirring amongst people unlike I have seen in many decades.  There are also four additional countries where people have reached out for help in starting schools in the future.  It certainly appears to be time to advance!

    The potential for what this can impact is tremendous.  In other countries there is a desperate need for justice amongst the poor, and education can help provide that.  The girls are the ones  where this is realized the greatest.  A woman without an education is vulnerable to slavery, abuses of every kind, and oftentimes murder.  I attended a lecture on Women: Survival and Empowerment given by Dr. Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate, that addressed the oppression of women in undeveloped countries.  His number one answer to combat it was education.  

    Other significant changes needed are the ability to think logically, understand the worldview behind ideas being promoted, and the ability to discern truth—especially the truth of the Gospel.  I’m sure every one of us has had moments in the last year where we wondered if the world has lost its minds as we’ve watched the news!  The susceptibility of people to be swayed by sound bites and distorted news-reporting is a result of an education system that I daresay has failed, but at the very least is in great need of reform.

    If we can see that these things are established, we will see nations affected in one generation.  Give that a moment to sink in, because the power of that is beyond comprehension.  

    In light of all of this, there are several things I am praying for.  First, I want to see cross-cultural communicators who can instill in the business community the vision and importance of funding transformational education.  Secondly, I would like to see a wave of Charlotte Mason schools started.  Lastly, I would like to see teacher training colleges and universities established, especially in other countries.  

    I’m dreaming with God for this to leave the nations with a legacy.  Will you stand on this mountaintop and dream with me?  Will you join me in praying and networking with others unto the advancement of this precious movement that has so enriched our lives, so that others can share in the abundance of life it has provided us?  

    © 2017 by Tara Schorr

  • 07 May 2017 4:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

        Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be at the House of Education in Ambleside as a student teacher? Here are the requirements:

        Prospective candidates, who were not admitted under the age of 18, entered the House of Education in January. Each must have had a sound education and had taken an entrance exam in order to be educated to become a Primary Governess (not primary care, but rather the teaching of 6 – 10 year olds) or for a  Secondary Governess (upper grades: 10 – 17 or 18 years old) or to be Mistresses of the PUS schools or classes, and Mistresses in Secondary Schools. In becoming a primary or secondary governess, past certificates of attainments would determine which you qualified for. The course of study was for two years. Each of the two years consisted of three terms and three vacations. Seniors spent a summer in probationary teaching and Juniors were expected to spend some weeks in France. At the end, the student sat for the House of Education Certificate, which may be first, second, or third class. This certified teaching 6 year olds to 17 or 18, depending on Primary or Secondary levels. The student teacher also showed an enthusiasm for childhood to receive the certificate. In Charlotte’s words, this showed the work and training as heart-felt service to God.

         During the course of study, the students were required to write three papers, dealing with the history of education, practical methods, and theory of education. The final certificate depended on these papers. The aim of education, as presented to the students, is to produce a human being at his best—physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually quickened by religion, and with some knowledge of nature, art, literature, and manual work. Each student teacher undergoes Criticism Lessons and a lesson that is examined by an Inspector. On Thursday mornings, two or three students give Lessons for Criticism before the other students and staff. Miss Mason calls upon those present to criticise the lessons, finally summing them each up herself. The marks went towards the final certificate. On every Tuesday evening,  one of the students reads a paper dealing with a given author or composer, illustrated by readings or performances from his works. These evenings are known as "Scale How Tuesdays.” Some of these are in the Parent’s Review, labeled “Scale How Tuesdays.” Also, students took weekly charge, two at a time, of the girls (classroom pupils) who boarded while in the Practising School.

          They learned all subjects from learning to play the piano to great pains taken for elementary Greek, Latin, French, German, and Italian for excellent accents and fluency. This was tested orally.  Every student was required to keep a Nature Notebook and a Nature Lore Certificate assured the knowledge which should enable the teacher to gratify the intelligent curiosity of children, and to introduce her older pupils to the delightful pursuits of the field naturalist. This nature study is supplemented by definite scientific teaching in botany, biology, geology, astronomy, etc.

         There were difficulties, which a former H.E. student, Miss O’Ferrall, wrote in 1922: 

    I believe that two of the difficulties of many parents who teach or have their children taught at home are (1) the choice of books, and (2) the fact that they don't know how their children stand with regard to other children of their own age. She presented the curriculum which was sent out as one joined the PNEU and how to do it (The Work and Aim of the Parents’ Union School link listed below). None of us can study at  the House of Education today but as Miss O’Ferrall encourages us from 1922: It must not be imagined from this that Scale How Students are the only people allowed to teach on this method. This is far from the case. Many parents have a governess who has studied the methods under Miss Mason herself, but a great many do not, for the demand for students far exceeds the supply, and there are hundreds of mothers and other people using the method who have never had the opportunity of Ambleside training. 

         Miss O’Ferrall  concludes with these words which we should take to heart: 

    I can only say that the more I know of these ideals the more wonderful I find them to be and the more you study them the more you will realise the truth of our motto: "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."

          Can you  imagine being at Scale How with Charlotte Mason observing your teaching in a Criticism Lesson or asking her all your questions? Read about one of her student’s experience in the Parents’ Review:  Miss Mason of the House of Education by R.A.Pennethorne Volume 34, 1923, pgs.73-77.  ( https://www.amblesideonline.org/PR/PR34p073InMemoriam.shtml)

    From these Parents’ Reviews:

    - The House of Education by Charlotte Mason (London: PNEU, 1921?), 1921?, pgs. 61-66 https://www.amblesideonline.org/PR/PR32p066HofEd.shtml

    - The Work and Aims of the Parents' Union School  by Miss O'Ferrall (Ex-student H.E.) Volume 33, no. 11, November 1922, pgs. 777-787 https://www.amblesideonline.org/PR/PR33p777WorkAimsofPUS.shtml

    - Training Lessons to Mothers by The Lady Isabel Margesson Volume 4, 1893/94, pgs. 17-24  https://www.amblesideonline.org/PR/PR04p017LessonsMothers.shtml

    © 2017 Bonnie Buckingham

  • 30 Apr 2017 9:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Join Cheri Struble and Sara Dalton at the Eastern Conference, Asbury University, Wilmore, KY.

    There are two elements to implementing any kind of educational theory – the philosophy and the practical application; the how and the why. Without a basic understanding of both of these aspects of Charlotte Mason’s educational method there is bound to be frustration, vexation and failure. On the other hand, with a little instruction in both (and a lot of grace!), education can be a delight for you and your students. 

    In our pre-conference session we will outline Miss Mason’s basic philosophy and hopefully whet your appetite to start your own journey into studying Charlotte Mason’s own books and other Mason resources.  It takes time to learn the nuances of any philosophy, including Miss Mason’s. However, this step should not be overlooked, as to try to recreate a school day solely based on time tables and book lists is destined for frustration. But with the scaffolding of the “why”, you may adapt Mason’s method to fit your family, your children, and your culture. Then your efforts are supported and do not come falling down around you.

    If philosophy is the scaffolding, the framework, then practical application and demonstration are the brick and mortar.  Many subjects like picture study, music, and even narration can be intimidating to a teacher just beginning to practice Mason’s philosophy.  Often things seem complicated when we read them, but once we participate in the new skill, they are easily reproducible.  Because we want you to leave the day inspired but also prepared, we will have several demonstrations of Miss Mason’s philosophy in action.   

    Education should be a joy and delight, not about lists and subjects to check off.  Having the freedom to adapt suggestions to your family or classroom, yet remaining true to Charlotte Mason’s principles takes time, thoughtful discussion and prayer. Hopefully this class will inspire your home or classroom education to be a place where a peaceful atmosphere, thoughtful habits and amazing ideas abound.

  • 15 Apr 2017 8:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I have been on this Charlotte Mason journey a while now. I enjoy the planning that comes with each year and have embraced the natural times of reflection and evaluation that come as we approach end of terms and the close of the school year. This year is different, and I find myself at a hard stop. Next month my oldest graduates from high school. I find my usual reflection is deeper and more pronounced. I would like to share some of my thoughts as I reflect, ask questions, and surprisingly find grace.

    Interestingly enough one question I find I am not asking is – does this Charlotte Mason thing really work? I am already confident my children will be adequately prepared for the larger world. For some time now I have felt a deep assurance that this philosophy of education prepares unlike any other – both academically, as well as, and more importantly, for life. And though it is not what matters most, I can now say with first-hand experience that our children can do well on standardized tests and get into college. I do not share this to boast or because I have just discovered it; but rather, it is because I remember truly wondering if I dared trust this Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. You can! I did, and I have not regretted that choice for a moment.

    As a homeschooling mom with several more years of schooling before me, I find myself asking – what would I do differently or wish I had done sooner? Is there anything I regret? Or rather, what things I am thankful that we did do?

    Looking back, I am thankful we have continued to spread the feast even in high school.  It can be tempting to allow poetry, picture study, drawing, music, nature study, and more to be crowded out by what can mistakenly be deemed the more important subjects such as math, science, and writing. Certainly there is always room for improvement, but I am thankful we continued to make the broad feast a priority not only in the school day but in our daily lives. Cultivating relationships toward God, man, and our world is vitally important as we lay hold of the broad field of our inheritance.

    In a similar vein, I have tried hard to create margin, so we are not constantly coming and going with every hour scheduled and full.  We all need time to be – time to savor and ponder the great ideas we are gleaning from our books and the beauty around us, and time to share and discuss ideas with others. Unhurried time is vital to the sinking in of ideas and the forming of relationships, and that is what it is all about.

    I have found myself amazed that I do not find myself wishing we had crammed in just one more book. I remember many times agonizing over book choices, literally almost feeling sick at the thought of what we might be missing. How could we not schedule this biography or that literature choice? It was so hard to pick a few from the many great options and ignore the temptation to speed along. I was told we are educating for life, not just until graduation, and I have found it is true.  The desire for knowledge for its own sake will carry on into the future. 

    I find I am also glad we embraced the study of language arts in the manner and timing Charlotte Mason recommends. It seemed too simple at first, and I struggled whether or not I would trust as well in this area. But we did, and I found that once again she was right. Copywork, dictation, oral and written narration, composition (often based upon the living books we were already reading), and yes, formal grammar and essay instruction - but in its place and time - have joined together to create a cohesive but natural whole. It does work and I am thankful.

    What would I do differently? It may not be what you might think, then again, maybe so. As I reflect I find I regret developing habits in myself and my children that would take so much effort to undo. I can attest to the fact that it is easier to make the proper habit in the first place than to undo the bad and replace it with a new one.

    I wish I would have realized sooner how easily I could and should model the delight and expectation of joy in our studies and the great world around us. Fostering anticipation and delight is such a simple thing that can reap great rewards, but it takes being aware and alert.

    I have been awakened to the importance of my own attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions. So often it starts with me. I have found that it is I who greatly influences the atmosphere and tone of our home. And frankly, I need work. Implementing a Charlotte Mason philosophy has been life changing as I discover so much more than simply how to teach children.

    There are many important aspects of home-life from first training to highest education; but there is nothing in the way of direct teaching that will ever have so wide and lasting an effect as the atmosphere of home. And the gravest thought concerning this is that in this instance there is nothing to learn and nothing to teach: the atmosphere emanates from ourselves--literally is ourselves; our children live in it and breathe it, and what we are is thus incorporated into them. There is no pretence here or possibility of evasion; we may deceive ourselves: in the long run, we never deceive our children. The spirit of home lives, and, what is more, is accentuated in them. Atmosphere is much more than teaching, and infinitely more than talk.

     Atmosphere of the Home, by M. F. Jerrold, PR, Vol. 8, no. 12, 1897.

    I wish I had realized sooner that fewer words often say more and speak more clearly. Many times my mouth should simply remain shut.

    As I ponder what I wish we had done better or sooner, I find it has nothing to do with which math curriculum, biography, or science book we chose.  Though some could argue we have done well, I can see all the things I could have done better or sooner. It is an interesting thing, isn’t it? The more you come to know the more you realize how little you actually do know.

    If anything, my biggest regret is not implementing the philosophy and methods of Charlotte Mason sooner and more fully.  But as a wise woman once told me, I cannot do anything about what I did not know in the past, all I can do is move forward implementing now what I do know in the present.  I can make all kinds of wishes and consider regrets.  I wish I had read Home Education when my children were small, but I didn’t even know Charlotte Mason existed.  I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.

    So as I come to this unexpected hard stop and reflect, I find what I need most is grace.

    Grace. Have you ever noticed that we often fail to extend ourselves the same care and grace we would so freely extend to others?

    As I choose to extend grace to myself – and it is a choice – I gain confidence in the knowledge that I am not alone in this endeavor. That the Holy Spirit would wish to join me is such a balm to my sometimes weary spirit and such cause for rejoicing! 

    In the things of science, in the things of art, in the things of practical everyday life, his God doth instruct him and doth teach him, her God doth instruct her and doth teach her. Let this be the mother's key to the whole of the education of each boy and each girl; not of her children; the Divine Spirit does not work with nouns of multitude, but with each single child. Because He is infinite, the whole world is not too great a school for this indefatigable Teacher, and because He is infinite, He is able to give the whole of his infinite attention for the whole time to each one of his multitudinous pupils. We do not sufficiently rejoice in the wealth that the infinite nature of our God brings to each of us. 

    Parents and Children, p. 273.

    So I will continue to take time to reflect for there is merit in examination and evaluation. I will continue to trust the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy—continuing to learn and grow. I will continue to work on habits and atmosphere, as we seek to be persons who live closer to life. I will continue to draw strength as I partner with the Holy Spirit in the education of my children. And I will also embrace grace – grace for the past, grace for today, and grace for the future.

    © 2017 by Joy Shannon

  • 08 Apr 2017 8:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Are you considering attending a conference this summer?   Over the past six years I have been attending conferences specific to Charlotte Mason that encourage me and my family on our homeschooling journey.   The conferences I have attended sometimes focus on the abstract and give me big ideas to ponder for months to come.  Other times I have been able to attend a conference that just allows for rest. From these I come home ready to face the rest of the schooling year with a light heart.  Still other times I have attended conferences that allow me to be the student.  I follow along in the footsteps of another homeschooling mother or father and become the complete learner.  I experience a day or a morning through the eyes of the child.  This allows me to see another way of implementing the philosophy and methodology.  It gives me pause to consider how best I may be the teacher in the coming months.  When I put myself in the place of those I will teach, I can begin to be more empathic for their experience. 

    This summer I will be offering a Nature Study Immersion at CMI East.  What are some reasons you might want to take the nature immersion?  Are you afraid of bugs and dirt?  Do you feel like nature is boring or drudgery?  Have you lost the joy in nature study?  Do you want to open your own eyes to the natural world?  Need some systematic help in getting special studies soaring again?  Think a Natural History Club would keep you accountable to more outings?  These are just some reasons to attend!

    Our gathering will begin with a short exercise in the habit of attention with a mini lecture on the impact of nature study for us as mothers and for our children.  Soon after we will head outside where we will spend the rest of the morning on a nature walk discovering the flora and fauna of Kentucky.  Together we will admire, wonder and question at all that we see and hear.  We will take time to record in our nature journals.  It’s important that you check the current weather trends to be appropriately dressed for all kinds of Kentucky weather! 

    After lunch we will return to our discussion of the impacts of nature study including ways to implement it with various Forms.  We will share different products necessary and not so necessary to begin your family culture of nature study.  I’ll share my experiences with the Natural History Club in central Illinois and what I’ve gleaned from the Parents’ Review articles.   My daughter, Catherine, a homeschooled sophomore, will help direct a little dry brush exercise and give you helpful hints in making dry brush a breeze! 

    Won’t you join us? 

    Read more on my blog about our nature forays at www.motherwonderswhy.blogspot.com 

    © 2017 by Marcia Mattern

    Register now at Events.

  • 01 Apr 2017 6:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Recently, a young woman I admire very much informed me with a great deal of excitement that she had purchased school curriculum for her son, as a gift for his fourth birthday. Oh my! I thought, but did not say it out loud. The conversation was taking place on the phone (my hearing is not too good), and I was returning a call from her husband, so I just remarked about how time flies and wished her son a happy birthday. 

    Although I dropped the subject with her, I've been thinking about it quite a bit since then. Like so many young parents I observe (and me, when my children were young), my young friend couldn't wait to get her child started on the business of "real" learning – reading, writing and arithmetic. I remember the excitement of choosing curriculum and organizing a school schedule, as soon as my children turned five (not four!). There are traditions, expectations, and laws that say this is the right way. Walk in it. 

    Along with this, I've been thinking about Charlotte Mason's seemingly subversive writings on educating young children, particularly these quotes from Home Education

    Tommy should be free to do what he likes with his limbs and his mind through all the hours of the day when he is not sitting up nicely at meals. He should run and jump, leap and tumble, lie on his face watching a worm, or on his back watching the bees in a lime tree. Nature will look after him and give him prompting of desire to know many things; and somebody must tell as he wants to know; and to do many things, and somebody should be handy just to put him in the way; and to be many things, naughtily and good, and somebody should give direction. 

    A child will have taught himself to paint, paste, cut paper, knit, weave, hammer and saw, make lovely things in clay and sand, build castles with his bricks; possibly, too, will have taught himself to read, write, and do sums, besides acquiring no end of knowledge and notions about the world he lives in, by the time he is six or seven. What I contend for is that he shall do these things because he chooses (provided that the standard of perfection in his small works be kept before him). 

    And these 6 points she makes about education: 

    a) That the knowledge most valuable to the child is that which he gets with his own eyes and ears and fingers (under direction) in the open air. 

    (b) That the claims of the schoolroom should not be allowed to encroach on the child's right to long hours daily for exercise and investigation. 

    (c) That the child should be taken daily, if possible, to scenes––moor or meadow, park, common, or shore––where he may find new things to examine, and so add to his store of real knowledge. That the child's observation should be directed to flower or boulder, bird or tree; that, in fact, he should be employed in gathering the common information which is the basis of scientific knowledge. 

    (d) That play, vigorous healthful play, is, in its turn, fully as important as lessons, as regards both bodily health and brain-power. 

    (e) That the child, though under supervision, should be left much to himself––both that he may go to work in his own way on the ideas that he receives, and also that he may be the more open to natural influences. 

    (f) That the happiness of the child is the condition of his progress; that his lessons should be joyous, and that occasions of friction in the schoolroom are greatly to be deprecated. 

    Mason believed that parents and teachers should practice what she called "Masterly Inactivity" - the art of keeping in the background, ready with a guiding or restraining hand only when these are badly wanted. Parents are to assume this attitude from the beginning. She went on to point out how much a child learns without formal education in the first two years of life, and how we run the risk of supplanting nature and of depriving her of her space and time to do her own work in her own way in our children. 

    This is not about giving young children freedom from book work for as long as possible. It is about establishing proper boundaries from the beginning of our relationships with our children. It is about enabling them to start a life-long journey on the right road – one of personal initiative. 

    There is no habit or power so useful to man or woman as that of personal initiative. 

    It is about believing in the full personhood of each child and trusting that God has given each of them curiosity, intelligence, and the ability to learn from play, exploration, and trial and error. These abilities are not something they will grow into, but are born with. We are not more equipped to learn than children, but we do have more experience. This is why they need our gentle guidance, but not our condescending attitudes and actions that say they aren't capable of obtaining real knowledge without our mediation. 

    Mason believed that putting off formal studies until a child is 6 or 7 gives them more time to grow in the knowledge of these God-given capabilities and the self-confidence and experience needed to carry them through life knowing their questions, ideas, and interests are important. 

    Most of us are the products of a system of education that has demeaned children and stunted this growth in them. I know I am. Thankfully, through years of reading Mason's writings, I have grown in a curiosity and confidence I didn't acquire in my youth. I have grown in a respect for children as whole persons that I didn't possess when some of my children were young. 

    If your Charlotte Mason knowledge consists mainly of how she taught subjects, I encourage you to read through A Philosophy of Education. If you have very young children, you may benefit from a small study group that focuses on Home Education. This could be a great help to you as you consider how you will approach your child's education. And if you are like I was, it may bring some healing and growth to you personally. 

    Evelyn Hoey is a cofounder and recently retired principal of Charlotte Mason Community School in Detroit, Michigan. Currently, she is nourishing the love of learning and personal initiative she acquired later in life, by taking fine arts classes at Wayne State University 

    © 2017 by Evelyn Hoey

  • 25 Mar 2017 7:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As a Mason educator for over 20 years, I take seriously Charlotte Mason’s exhortation to “keep the fresh impulse of training” alive and not to get stuck in a groove due to my years of experience. I do this in 2 ways: first, by reading and rereading her volumes and second, by attending and speaking at conferences. And it’s why I think immersion groups can be such a wonderful, life-giving experience for the Mason educator. Therefore, I am committed to these training sessions and encourage those who have never attended one to consider it. Don’t just read about it – experience it!

    I will demonstrate a morning in a multi-age homeschool using Mason’s methods at the upcoming CMI East conference. The focus will be on subjects that can be successfully combined with multiple ages, an organizing strategy that has allowed me to keep grace and peace in my home when planning school for my six children.  Attendees assume the role of the student, experiencing firsthand the different forms of narration, the banquet of ideas, and the concept of self education. Subject areas that may be presented include Bible, dictation, citizenship, Shakespeare, history, geography, hymn, folksong, poetry, copywork, composer study, picture study, handcrafts, nature study, literature, architecture, and natural history.

    Whether you are new to the method and are eager to experience  training or, like me, you have some experience but always consider yourself under training and learning new things, I think you will find an immersion group a fresh and exciting experience that will help you be a better parent and teacher.

    Nancy’s Multi-age Homeschool Immersion will be at this year’s Charlotte Mason Institute Conference. You can register here.

    Nancy blogs about CM, homeschooling, and life at her blog, Sage Parnassus.

    #sageparnassus #nancykCMI2017

  • 20 Mar 2017 8:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Charlotte Mason’s goal for school science was to instill a sense of wonder and awe in students and to provide them with the common information that allows for scientific literacy. This is a lofty goal, because, being scientifically literate means more than preparing a student for college entrance exams and possible university courses to follow, but also preparing them to be a citizen who can think about, discuss, and vote on the scientific issues of the day.

    Many parents recognize these as important goals, but they do not know where to begin. After all, Miss. Mason’s approach to science education is not at all similar to what many experienced during their school days.  During the High School Science Immersion class offered at the CMI Eastern Conference you will have the opportunity to experience Charlotte Mason’s science for yourself as well as learn: 

    Why our students must be allowed this portion of the feast, and why it is essential to follow Charlotte Mason’s method as we present it.

    How to ensure your student covers the material necessary for graduation, college entrance exams, and possible university courses to follow, as well as how to record what they have accomplished on high school transcripts.

    How to honor Mason’s principles while incorporating each of the practices she recommended with which to achieve these goals.  

    Why you must offer living books, how to choose the best ones, and how to deal with those that may have a different worldview than you have. 

    How to inspire your student to both awe and wonder for the wondrous world created for us.

    Science is often the last holdout for those pursuing a Charlotte Mason education, but it shouldn’t be. 

    In addition, however, to its utilitarian value, in addition to its training in accurate thinking, every science subject has its romance, its poetry, its philosophy, and it is for the recognition of this that I wish to plead most strongly. We give to the humanities, to classics, literature, history, recognition of their intellectual and cultural possibilities, we value their training in accurate thinking, and the wider life they make possible. Why should we ignore the inspiration of science, neglect the mental training it offers, and reduce science to the equivalent of a collection of cookery book recipes? The world is too poor, and our lives too denuded, to allow the robbery to continue. Let us give to our children the greatness of their inheritance. Make every science subject the portal to a fuller and wider world.  (Cultural Value of Science by D. Avery, The Parents' Review, Volume 31, no. 9, September 1920, pgs. 651-664)

    Let’s resolve to give our children their due.

    The Charlotte Mason Institute conference will be held at Asbury University, Wilmore, KY on 14, 15, 16, 17 June 2017.  You can find out more information by placing your cursor over the Events menu item and then selecting 2017 Eastern Conference.

    You can read more of Nicole’s thoughts about Science as the Last Hold Out on her blog at SabbathMoodHomeschool.com.(http://sabbathmoodhomeschool.com/2013/10/science-the-last-hold-out/)

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The Institute wishes to support a robust conversation about the educational philosophy and pedagogy of Charlotte Mason. Although all blog posts are invited, a writer’s comments made in these blog posts do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, views or positions of the Charlotte Mason Institute. Statements by those responding to a blog post deemed to be derogatory to people or organisations, slanderous, vulgar or containing advertising and/or links will not be approved. All statements to a writer’s blog post are subject to administrator approval prior to being posted--this may take up to 48 hours.


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