“There is no education but self-education.”
Who is Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason was a British educator who dedicated her life to improving the education system in England at the turn of the 20th Century. She is best known for her Classical Homeschool ideas.
Charlotte was born in Bangor and mostly educated at home by her parents. After receiving her teaching certificate, she taught at the Davis school in Worthington, England. It was during this time that she begin to develop her groundbreaking theory, a Liberal Education for all (a broad curriculum for children regardless of social class).
After writing some geography books between 1880-1892, Charlotte was invited to teach at the Bishop Otter Teacher Training Center in Chichester, England. It was there that he determined that parents need to know some basic skills about bringing up children. Mason gave a series of lectures that were later published as Home Education, explaining how to apply her principles to children from 0-9 years old. From here was born the Parents Educational Union – which quickly expanded.
In 1891, Charlotte established a training school for women who work with small children.
Charlotte wrote a series of books explaining her theories on education
- Parents and Children – 1896
- School Education – 1904
- Ourselves – 1904
- Formation of Character – 1905
- Towards a Philosophy in Education – 1923
- Savior of the Word (a series on the study of the life and the teaching of Jesus in Verse) – 1908-1914
After her death, many schools using her teaching philosophies have been established all around the world.
Charlotte Mason’s Teaching philosophies
- Living Books – Instead of fact based textbooks – living books are used. Living books tell as story based on fact. For example, a child is learning about the revolutionary war, a living book would tell a story about something George Washington did, rather than listing fact after fact. Living book are usually written by one person with a passion for a topic. This person has a broad command of the topic and can write in an engaging, literary format.
- Narration – Children should be able to talk about what they read. Narration can be oral, written or drawn. It trains the “attention” centers in the brain.
- Habit Training – Good habits are essential to a good education. Charlotte specifically encouraged a child’s learning the habits; such as, attention, perfect execution, obedience, truthfulness, even temper, neatness, kindness, order, respect, punctuality, gentleness, and cleanliness.
- Lessons – Lessons should be kept short and focused (no longer than 20 minutes) for younger children. As children mature and master their powers of attention – the lessons become longer. Also lessons should be alternated as to not tire the brain.
- Handwriting – in perfect execution. Once the formation of the letters was mastered, copy work was introduced
- Dictation – She used dictation to reinforce spelling, composition and grammar skills. For younger students, the teacher would dictate. Older students were given a few passages to study over the week. At the end, they would do written dictation of a particular passage.
- Poetry – to get the students used to authors and thought
- Grammar – but not until age 10. Dictation would be used for grammar until that point.
- Foreign Language – Study of a foreign language was essential – in addition to Latin. The study starts through song and stories. Charlotte’s students learned Latin, German and French.
- Art appreciation for the Masters – they studied paintings, writings or music
- Music appreciation – They would listen to a few works by a composer.
- Handicrafts – explored the fields of clay, leather, learning on how to use tools.
Math and Science
- Nature Study and Outdoor Education – Children should spend several hours outdoors everyday (weather permitting). Her students would take a sketchpad and draw the elements of nature they saw.
- Mathematics – Charlotte expressed the importance of understanding math concepts before paper and pencil equations were attempted. The use of manipulative’s in understanding why and how a problem is solved is essential.
- Geography – taught through living books.
- Her emphasis led to the boy and girl scouts movement.
For more information on Charlotte Mason and the Classical Educational Curriculum
The Well Trained Mind – A Guide to Classical Education
Note From Lisa
I love love love the classical style. There are actually two popular styles of classical homeschooling (the other style which I will talk about tomorrow). I have incorporated both – and often mix them up in my mind because I think they work beautifully together.
What do you think about classical education. Do you think that it would benefit the children of today?
Visit our other posts in the series – addressing different homeschool methodologies
- Homeschool – Montessori
- Homeschool – Charlotte Mason
- Homeschool – Classical Trivium
- Homeschool – Waldorf
- Homeschooling – Unschooling
- Homeschool – A Day in The Life of a Homeschooling Family – A New Series