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Some Final Words for this Week by Carroll Smith

Before we post the next blog that will be online for next week, I wanted to thank all of you who have commented and to encourage you to continue to do so. It is truly important that we dialogue continuously about Mason’s philosophy and daily practice of her philosophy in order to “work it out.”In this present conversation we must remember that one would not dump all “physical” instruction. Laurie, I think you have hit on something, that is, at the training level (colleges, etc.) we must work toward shifting the paradigm. What will help with this shift are schools and home schools that are doing their best to practice Mason—remembering that it isn’t possible to be pure Mason, but even with this, there still is no reason we cannot move a long way toward her ideas. When others begin to see what her education creates in children, then the paradigm shift will gain momentum. But this requires those of us who are practitioners to be studious, conscientious, dedicated, open and inviting. We must welcome people to watch us. And, we must show the world that a Mason education is not only good for a small number of children currently being educated using her methods, but this type of education is the best for all children.One of the most important issues in this discussion is preventing our children from devaluing many areas of life. We must see the transcendent ideas that are in all subjects even science and the other disciplinary subjects and make sure these ideas are not lost to children as they learn through a more physical instructional program or “field studies.” Continuing with science as the example, without these transcendent values our children will follow our current culture with little respect and appreciation of nature. This educates children to be selfish and to see nature and science for utilitarian purposes with no transcendent values such as the beauty of God’s creation, being reminded that it belongs to him not to us, it is for our enjoyment and for us to take care of not for us to destroy. Handwriting can be seen as a technical subject with no value beyond writing “when I have to.” Rather, as technology consumes us handwriting should be seen not only as a disciplinary subject but also as an art form. When we over indulge in one view of education (more disciplinary, “physical” approach vs a more spiritual view) over another, we begin to lose our way. “Physical” instruction in one sense is like spiritual instruction, it should point us towards what is true or those transcendent values that are bigger than we are.We also must remember that we are in fact meaning makers and that we are sorting out life. Since we are finite then we are solving problems, making meaning of life and living, so to speak, on a finite level. And, of course, for this reason we need our redemption and the Holy Spirit. This is why we have education whether it is home school, seminary, or any other type of education—it is all to help us sort out the meaning of life as Mason said with education being the handmaid of religion.

This entry was posted in: Purpose of This Blog


Carroll Smith has spoken on various topics related to Charlotte Mason. Currently he teaches at Gardner-Webb University and enjoys working with children, teachers, college students, and Charlotte Mason Institute. He was a teacher and a principal for 21 years before coming to Gardner-Webb University where he has been for six years. Having grown up in eastern North Carolina, he attended East Carolina University for his undergraduate degree and his master's in school administration. He completed his terminal degree and wrote his dissertation on Charlotte Mason at Virginia Tech. Carroll enjoys reading, gardening, and discussing ideas with friends. He and his wife, Andra, and their two young adult college-age children, Corban and Anna, enjoy living, working and playing in North Carolina.

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