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  • 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/)


  • 12 Mar 2017 9:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ON a visit to the Armitt Museum and Library in Ambleside, England, I stumbled across a few letters which seem to indicate that in approximately 1921, there was an enquiry from a group in Ireland who wanted to set up an Irish Catholic House of Education.  I have always wanted to explore the topic further, but as with many things in life, other issues seem to be more pressing.  I thought it might be interesting to share with our blog readers a few of the letters that I stumbled upon that were written by Ellen Parish and Charlotte Mason.  It also seems that there were thoughts of training teachers in the "Dominions."

    Based on these letters there were plans developing to set up an Irish Catholic House of Education which would train teachers.  I do not know if it ever came to fruition.  Maybe someone will know, but the letters have always intrigued me. Maybe one day I can investigate further.

    Here is my typed version of a letter from Ellen Parish to Mrs. Franklin.  I have included the original as well.

    My dear Mrs. Franklin,

       The enclosed are copies of two existing letters from Mother de Sales, I have left out nothing but the dearie dears.

    To the first Miss Mason asked me to write & support Miss Hamilton Bruce who seems to be made for the job. 

    None of the other queries have been answered & so there is no more to tell you for the present.  But it does look like getting on doesn’t it?  I am delighted about it & Miss Mason wants to write to you about it as soon as she can.

     Yours affectionately (?)

    Ellen A. Parish

    The other letters I believe you will be able to read for your self since they were typed, probably by Elsie Kitching.  They are below the pictures of the original Parish letter.

    Here are the typed letters regarding the Irish Catholic House of Education also referred to as the Irish Catholic PUS Training College.








  • 04 Mar 2017 1:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Several people have been asking me how the Parents’ Union School was organised, during the middle years of the twentieth century, when others took over after the death of Charlotte Mason. We know that the Hon Mrs Henrietta Franklin (1866-1964) took a leading role in organising P.N.E.U. school education while the home-school service, led by Elsie Kitching (1870-1955) until her retirement in 1948, spread widely across British colonial outposts and overseas countries where parents were based. What was this service like?  While sorting out boxes of notes, gathered over time, I stumbled over this engaging article written for the Housewife by Lady Pakenham (1906-2002) and reprinted in the PR or Pianta. She had married the 7th Earl of Longford and 1st Baron Pakenham in 1931 and was active in Labour political life, mother of eight remarkable children, and subsequently an acclaimed historical biographer, especially for her life of Queen Victoria (1964) and the Duke of Wellington (1969, 1972). In 1952, she decided to teach her youngest child, Kevin, aged five, at home for two terms in their busy upper-class household, guided by the Parents’ Union School.

    'And what school do you go to?' said a kindly grown-up to my youngest son aged five, 'Oh, I go to Mummy’s school,' came the prompt reply. There was an unmistakable note of self-satisfaction in his voice.

        Of course, the answer was not quite accurate. He and I could not make up a ‘School’ in the sense that his brothers and sisters used the word.  Our Schoolroom was really a playroom. His lessons were really ‘occupations’. But we had spent two whole terms together. And all this had been worked out under guidance      the wise and experienced guidance of the Parents’ National Educational Union.

           I wonder how many mothers have debated, as I did, this particular problem?  How to fill an awkward educational gap? The gap may be caused by different things. Perhaps you live far away from a school. You feel that you would like to wait a while before you send your child on that bus journey. Perhaps yours is an only child, and you want to give him a taste of organised occupations before he starts school proper. Possibly, as in my case, he has reached school age. But you can’t get him into the particular school you want for a term or two.

         Whatever the reason for the gap, there is an obvious place in which to fill it—Home. And, an obvious person—Mother.

        Before I go on to show how Mother and Home can turn into a Parents’ Union School, I want to make one point. It is very important that a child’s first impression of school should be a happy one. Many children do, indeed, look forward to school eagerly. They feel it will promote them to the grandeur of their older brothers and sisters. Some under-fives describe their school experiences to strangers before they have ever been there!

         But others will shrink from the whole idea of school, and they will need some tactful introduction to it. What could be happier than two hours every morning with Mother herself? To most children, the thought of having their mother to themselves, devoting herself to them, for two whole hours at a stretch, is very Paradise. My son, in fact, liked it far too much; he often badgered me to make it longer: ‘Can’t I have school in the afternoon too, Mummy?’ When I caught ‘flu in the middle of the winter term, my ruthless pupil tried to make me conduct his lessons from bed. An older sister, temporarily absent from school, was only too delighted to join in, having two children greatly increased the fun of many of our activities, particularly singing games, poetry and handwork. The only disaster was painting, where the temptation to paint each other instead of the paper, proved irresistible.

          But these two terms at home did not spoil Kevin for ‘real’ school when a vacancy appeared. His mornings away from home were described as ‘wizard’ and ‘smashing’. But when the other day he was kept indoors with a cold, there was no doubt in his mind as to how he should pass his time. He made a beeline for his old P.N.E.U.books. Out came the number books, reading, writing and handwork. What a boon when a six-year-old gives himself lessons!  And for the sheer joy of it. . . . It is a tribute, too, to the methods of this educational union.

        I turn now to the ‘guiding hand’ of the P.N.E.U. I was lucky enough to live near the London offices of the Parents’ National Educational Union at 171 Victoria Street. S.W.1. So having taken the decision to appoint myself  Kevin’s parent-teacher for the coming term, I went in search of advice and equipment.

       How much I enjoyed that first visit. I went in full of good, but undefined intentions; pious, but woolly hopes;  and a mass of half-formulated queries. How long is a ‘morning’s work’ for a child of five? Three hours or less? How long should one spend on anyone subject at a time? How should one test children’s knowledge? Is it a good thing to ask them questions about the books we read to them?

          I came out full of information, vital hints, and crayons galore—huge fat ones, all the colours of the rainbow. Also the thickest, blackest pencil I have ever seen, a pile of coloured sheets of paper, reading cards. Exercise books and tins of powder paint.

           But I think the most useful things of all were a shilling book by Miss E. Kitching on Children at Home and in the Parents’ Union School and a timetable (1) giving specimen timetables for preparatory classes.   

         Here is some of the useful advice I got.

    1.      Two to two–and-a-half hours a day is enough for the five-year-old. Don’t forget ‘Break' outdoors.
    2.       Never spend more than ten minutes at a time on a subject that needs concentration, e.g. reading, writing and numbers. You can carry on for fifteen or twenty minutes with the others. But encourage small ‘Breaks’ between lessons by letting your child get out and putting away everything himself.

    3. Preparatory work must be informal and flexible—but not irregular. Don’t confuse flexibility with a haphazard timetable. Frequent half-holidays, when two hours’ teaching happen to be a little inconvenient for you, are to be avoided. The child should have the feeling of utmost freedom. But the parent-teacher must consider herself as bound as if she was doing a paid job. Otherwise the whole thing will lack seriousness, and collapse.

    It was great help to know that all one’s efforts were made within a real educational framework. At the end of ten weeks one could send in a report. This would come back with further advice and criticism.   

    We parents were urged to keep a log book. In it we entered each morning’s work with the time spent on each subject. It’s amazing what a kindly mentor that log book becomes. Somehow one can’t let it down.

    4. The vexed question of handwriting is made beautifully easy. I use the word beautifully advisedly, for the Marian Richardson writing cards are lovely to look at and inspire splendid original patterns.

    All the sentences and rhymes are copied through tracing paper. Kevin found writing hard and numbers easy. But his aberrations were as fascinating as his successes. He had an uncontrollable urge to write backwards from right to left. We got great amusement from holding it up and reading it the right way in the mirror.

    Enormous pictures were achieved economically by an excellent tip given by the P.N.E.U. Secretary. Don’t buy fresh sheets of paper. If you do the expense will automatically make you say to your child. ‘Don’t waste it!’ This is all wrong. Sheet after sheet—3ft by2ft,--must be available. What so handy and inexpensive as old newspapers? Make a good thick pile of them. The wonderful thing is small children don’t mind the print.

    5.  On the point about questioning five-year-olds, the P.N.E.U. was quite definite. ‘Kevin should not be expected  to narrate what is read to him, nor should he be questioned on it. If he volunteers to tell back all well and good. But he should not be pushed at this stage.

     Poetry and singing play a big part in the P.N.E.U. curriculum. I doubt whether I should have dared to attempt the latter but for their encouragement. Born into a sadly unmusical family, it took Kevin a long time before he could imitate one note correctly. But how enchanted he was when the right sound came out at last. It reminded me of an older sister who had suddenly begun to sing in tune at four and a half, and was asked how she managed to do it. 'I just made a voice in my tummy,’ she replied, ‘and then put it into my mouth.’

         Impossible to enumerate the many other subjects we covered-foremost in popularity being Scripture and Nature. Enough to say that we tried to look at man in his three relationships – with himself, (History etc.), with the outside world, (Nature, Geography etc), and with his Maker (Scripture), always remembering  that ‘education’ for a five-year-old  means occupations in a playroom, not lessons in a classroom. And that for all ages ‘education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.’     Lady Pakenham

    End note

    Do you think the overall approach to P.N.E.U. home education has significantly changed since the early days of the P.U.S., established by Charlotte Mason in 1891, but managed and organised by Elsie Kitching and her team from the later 1890s until 1948? How far does this 1952 account resonate with parents’ experiences in the twenty-first century?


    (1) E Kitching, Children at Home and in the Parents’ Union School, P.N.E.U. pamphlet price 1s.6d. I have a copy. Revised 1955.


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