If you are a homeschooler, you have probably heard a little about Charlotte Mason and her methods. Miss Mason is the founder of the Charlotte Mason Method for homeschooling. Her method is widely accepted as one of the most common methods for homeschooling. Unless you have researched her extensively, however, you might find some things that surprise you. Here are 10 things that might surprise you about Charlotte Mason and her methods…
1.Charlotte Mason didn’t have any children of her own. That’s right. The mother of the growing Charlotte Mason Philosophy that guides many a homeschool educator never had children herself. She taught for 10 years while developing her theories about a wide and liberal arts education, become a college lecturer, and co-founded the PNEU (Parent’s National Education Union), in which parents were taught about how to better educate their children. She also opened a school for governesses.
Do not discount Miss Mason, however, for not having children of her own. I was also a teacher for 10 years before I had children, and I would like to think that I learned a few things in that time as well! I always called my students “my kids.”
2.You don’t have to read Charlotte Mason’s volumes in order. If you want to study Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, it is a great idea to read her original works. It may be wise not to read them in order, however. Many people recommend starting with Volume 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education. A Philosophy of Education (The Home Education Series) was written nearly 40 years after her first book, so some of her educational methods and principles had been revised.
If want to dive right in and get a quick overview of Miss Mason’s philosophy, it’s not a bad idea to read other books on the topic as well, since they will be a much quicker read. For a precise and condensed version, check out Catherine Levison’s A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual or For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School.
3.You CAN read MODERN living books. Many people think that you can only read the classics if you are pursuing a Charlotte Mason education, but this is not the case. “Modern” is not a dirty word. After all, many of the books that Charlotte Mason enjoyed using were modern in her own time. “Living books” are actually the key because they make the information come alive. Living books are not dry texts, but instead are a well written conversation or narrative. They stir the heart and the imagination. No “twaddle” (formulaic, shortened, choppy books) allowed. Many modern books fit this description. Perhaps we would have seen Miss Mason walking around with her own copy of A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet) and perusing The Read Aloud Revival.
Children must have books, living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough.”Parents and Children, p. 279
4.Charlotte Mason influenced the creation of Scouting as we know it. She added Aids to Scouting by Robert Baden-Powell to the syllabus of the Parents’ Union School in 1905. You can read a funny story and find out about how she, and one of her trained students, helped influence the founder of Scouting here. Unfortunately, today, unless you are part of a church-based group, the traditional Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts organizations have made some decisions that may not sit easy with everyone. There are many great alternatives such as Trail Life USA and American Heritage Girls.
5.Following the Charlotte Mason method can actually be good for your health. Charlotte Mason was not well much of her life, and was actually forced to retire from her position as a college lecturer. Perhaps this is why she was such a proponent of being outside. She believed in more than your typical short jaunt outdoors (such as the 15 minutes or so children might get in public school), but many hours of the day should be spent outside.
Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.”Charlotte Mason
She also believed that a little rain or cold should not be a deterrent. It’s only common sense that a little fresh air and some Vitamin D can do you some good. For detailed specifics about the health benefits of a Charlotte Mason education, check out “A Physician’s Look at Charlotte Mason’s Views” on the Simply Charlotte Mason Poetry website.
6.Charlotte Mason wrote not only for adults, but also for children. Volume 4 of her Home Education series, Ourselves (The Home Education Series) (Volume 4), is written directly to the children. She wanted to help children learn to examine their own habits and standards, and to learn how to exercise self-control.
7.The Charlotte Mason Method is just as much about the parents as it is the child. Charlotte Mason believed that whatever a parent did for a child, they should do for themselves. I don’t know about you, but sign me up for some time outdoors, studying the arts, and reading lots of great books! I’m in!
“If Mother’s could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother get out to play!”Charlotte Mason
8.Although there are secular Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, Christ was the backbone of her philosophy. Miss Mason intertwines her belief in God with her educational philosophy throughout her volumes. She was a member of the Church of England, also known as the Anglican church. Members of her teachers’ college, The House of Education (later known as Charlotte Mason College) were expected to walk together to church each week.
“At the back of all Miss Mason’s teaching, was a philosophy of life based on an intense conviction of the personal relationship of every individual soul with God—a relationship that was the basis of all joy in living.”In Memoriam of Charlotte M. Mason, p. 77
9.Similar to the way Charlotte Mason carried out her own methods as a teacher in a school, you could choose to send your child to a Charlotte Mason School if you did not want to implement her methods by homeschooling. I have had the pleasure of visiting Crestwood Day School in Birmingham, Alabama during a Charlotte Mason retreat. It was inspiring to see so much nature in the classrooms and be surrounded by living books and children’s handiwork! With a much smaller number of students and quaint classrooms, this school was unlike any other I have ever seen.
10.You don’t have to exclusively follow Charlotte Mason to benefit from her philosophies. As with most popular movements and philosophies, the super ambitious and devout followers want you to jump in whole-hearted. You will find Facebook Forums that want to crucify you, kick you out, or publicly shame you for suggesting that there might be another way. The truth is, there is only one who was ever right about absolutely everything, and that was Jesus. Take what you want of Charlotte Mason–the short lessons, nature studies, living books, handicrafts. Experience those drops of wisdom and enlightenment to the fullest. I believe you will find quite a bit that is worth holding on to. If something doesn’t work for you, however, let go of it. That, my friends, is what makes homeschooling beautiful!
Check Out the Charlotte Mason Online Conference!
If you are interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason and her methods, I highly encourage you to check into The Charlotte Mason Online Conference. It will be online live, and you get unlimited lifetime access to the sessions, all for just $10! You will be encouraged as you learn how to actually have a peaceful homeschool. I will be speaking about letting go and letting the Holy Spirit take the lead. Join us!
What do you find surprising about Charlotte Mason and her methods?
When you join the Minivan Brigade, you get Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles in a Nutshell–a handy printable you can add to your homeschool planner to help you follow Charlotte Mason’s methods throughout the year. Join below!