Angel, a beautiful young mom, very pregnant with their second child, caught me after class to ask me about homeschooling. I started gushing about Charlotte Mason. Their first child, a five year old, is one of the delights of our church. His joy in life and his easy ability to make friends with any age always puts a smile on my face.
Another Sunday brought me similar inquires from Jodi, a mom of three lively preschoolers, and my own daughter, Samantha, the mother of our beautiful grandchildren and I are in a long standing discussion of the pros and cons of homeschooling vs. public schooling vs. private schooling. We do agree on following, as closely as possible, the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason.
My Granddaughter Zoe
This article is an attempt to provide a reference point for those searching for information on this educational journey and to a path that leads to a wonderful way of life.
“It may be that the souls of all children are waiting for the call of knowledge to awaken them to delightful living.” This quote from the preface of the last published book of Mason, “Towards a Philosophy of Education,” summarizes, I believe, the passion behind her never ending fight to offer children the best and brightest of educations. It is the touchstone of the new vision of Childlight USA.
Children are born persons is a CM distinctive.
1925 Edition of “Towards A Philosophy of Education”
This is the first point in the twenty-item summary of her teachings, now printed in each of her six-volume works, that she originally titled, “A Short Synopsis of the Educational Philosophy Advanced in This Volume.” Today, an Internet search of “Charlotte Mason’s Twenty Principles” will lead to the original language and to modern paraphrases. This is an excellent place to begin. Think of it as the starting line at a Marathon Race.
After reading a summary of Mason’s writings, I would advise the following journeys
1. Attend a conference or retreat, if possible.
- The Childlight USA Conference is scheduled for June 6-9, 2012 and promises to be a continued source of information and inspiration. http://www.childlightusa.org/conferences_2012.php
- Nancy Kelly leads her “Seventh Annual Living Education Retreat” at Shalom Hill Farm in Windom, MN in August of this year. It is sold out for this fall, but be sure to look into it for next year. http://sageparnassus.blogspot.com/2012/03/2012-living-education-retreat.html
- Search the Internet again looking for meetings in or near your hometown.
2. Books to read:
Mason’s Six-Volume Set:
Parents and Children
Formation of Character
Towards a Philosophy of Education
Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake:
This is the book that introduced me to Mason, and to say it changed my life is an understatement. I share this book on an ongoing basis when anyone asks me for educational help. I recently purchased it as an audio book and listened to it again. It had been seventeen years since I had originally read it. It is still fresh and true.
3. Charlotte Mason Schools
If you are lucky enough to live near a CM school, you are lucky enough. These bastions of knowledge offer shared wisdom and structured application of Mason’s directives.
4. Charlotte Mason Cooperatives
These also offer opportunities to practice the wisdom outlined in her books. Many times this is simply a group of parents who band together once or twice a week to share living books, nature study and other ingredients imperative in an authentic CM education.
I have lead a group of high school students this year in a Friday group called “The Gathering” and we have studied Shakespeare, Poetry, Current Events, and have taken numerous field trips exploring our Alabama heritage. We usually met in coffee shops around Birmingham.
Current Events at The Gathering
5. Reading Groups
If all this reading and planning sounds overwhelming, start or join a once-a-month reading group, with dessert and coffee, to work through one of the volumes. The joy of shared discovery and friendships adds depth and value to the journey.
Do you have other resources that have helped you? Please share them on the comments section.
Blessings and Peace,
© 2012 Gladys Schaefer, Childlight USA Board Member