Who Is Charlotte Mason?
Charlotte Mason was a British educator who believed that education was about more than training for a job, passing an exam, or getting into the right college. She said education was an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life; it was about finding out who we were and how we fit into the world of human beings and into the universe God created. But this kind of thinking was pretty much eclipsed during the 20th century by demands for more exams and more workers. In 1987, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay wrote a book called For the Children's Sake, which reintroduced parents to Charlotte Mason's methods and philosophy, and it started to gain a foothold with a new generation of homeschoolers.
Charlotte Mason believed that children are able to deal with ideas and knowledge, that they are not blank slates or empty sacks to be filled with information. She thought children should do the work of dealing with ideas and knowledge, rather than the teacher acting as a middle man, dispensing filtered knowledge. A Charlotte Mason education includes first-hand exposure to great and noble ideas through books in each school subject, and through art, music and poetry. Anne White,
Ambleside Online. – This link will take you to a wealth of information. It is also a free curriculum available for everyone!
Quote from Ambleside home page: When I began reading what Miss Mason herself had to say about her methods (rather than reading what others had to say about it), there were a few things she said that didn't mesh with my own assumptions, so I did not at first try them. However, the more I used Charlotte Mason's methods and saw good fruit, the more I began to wonder about those other things. One by one, I gave them a try, and I generally found that Charlotte Mason was right and my assumptions were false. Here are some of them:
Short lessons--I thought it best to keep going until we tired of a subject. But my kids are fresher and stay interested longer with short lessons--they have better retention, too.
Slowly reading through a book a few pages at a time instead of sitting down for a gluttonous feast of cover to cover reading (it's oh-so-fun that way!)--I thought it was ridiculous to make a child quit reading a school book if she was having fun with it. But I find that when I slow my children down with their schoolbooks, they think about the material longer, harder, and deeper. They remember details better, as well.
Unit studies--Charlotte Mason really did not much care for most unit studies. She has some very amusing things to say about them. I was using a unit study curriculum when I first read the six volume series, and I thought she was mistaken. But the fewer unit study projects I do, the more real learning my kids do, the more time I have, the less mess there is to pick up! Miss Mason talks about letting the kids make their own connections. The more I step back and let this happen, the more amazed I am at how many connections the kids make that I never thought of.
Dictation--I never did prepared dictation in a steady, organized fashion until around 2003. Since implementing it. I've seen big improvements in my girls' spelling and writing skills.
Drawing--I thought drawing was something you either could do or you could not do--not a skill that could be taught. I tried some easy teaching programs, and found that the children who had the benefit of those programs did draw better than those who did not. They are not artists, and I didn't stick to the programs as much as I should have, but there is definitely a difference.
Narration on every single reading--this is so important! I see much better retention, better interaction with the book, greater interest in the story, improved language skills, and better understanding of the material.
To learn more about Charlotte Mason and her methods, visit these websites: