Alrighty, Week One of the Charlotte Mason Home Education Read-Along is officially underway! This week we have been reading the Preface and Some Preliminary considerations sections of Volume One (preface section & pages 1-6). I hope you will join in on the conversation, adding your insight so that we can learn together!
Charlotte Mason Home Education Preface
Charlotte Mason begins the preface by describing her observation of a “misty and depressing” educational outlook both in the homes and schools for children. She stresses that there are “no unifying principles, definitive aim of education, no philosophy of education”. She explains that perhaps the lack of educational philosophy is what is responsible for all the failings of their current educational attempts and she seeks to define an educational philosophy to correct those failings. You will note that she then lists 18 principles of educational thought that are to lead and guide the educator in the teaching of children.
I read through these principles, pausing to take notes and to try to re-form her sentences into my modern language the best that I could for my own understanding. If, however, you are familiar with Charlotte Mason, as I am, then you know that these 18 principles will be expanded and further defined into 20 principles in her Sixth Volume, Towards a Philosophy of Education, which, we are not currently reading.
Because I know these principles will be expounded on in the future, I am not going to address them here. However, it is good to be familiar with them, so make sure to read the preface section and check out this link that explains the 20 principles in more detail. I also liked this post from Everyday Graces too.
Some Preliminary Considerations
Charlotte Mason doesn’t mince words in her opening paragraphs. There is an increase in educated women and the work of these women is becoming increasingly important in the world. However, the career of most importance and of greatest value to society is of the bringing up and instruction of the children in the home. Charlotte cuts right to the chase by saying that it is the home which influences the child most of all and therefore, one- mainly the mother- must be willing to dedicate herself to the enormous task of doing so. Children are a public trust because it is into the public where they will eventually be sent and so the need for educated women is paramount to the success of this divine task.
“Maternal love is the first agent in education” (page3, Home Education)
Ms. Mason recognized that parents needed proper training in the theory of education in order to be truly effective to train them morally, physically and intellectually. She calls on women “And they will take it [motherhood] up as their profession- that is, with diligence, regularity, and punctuality which men bestow upon their professional labours“, to take their role as seriously as one pursuing success in a career. Her vision for mothers is further described;
“That the mother may know what she is about, may come thoroughly furnished to her work.” (pages 2-3)
I must say, that reading just these few pages stirred a mixture of emotion and revelation within me. Imagine coming to motherhood fully equipped to teach, train and nurture life. Knowing the fundamentals of psychology, education, philosophy, science, practical care, spiritual development… This is not a luxury many women had back then, education was not encouraged in women as it is today. However, most women today do not become educated to be mothers. Most women become educated to begin a career. Imagine if women put that kind of energy into motherhood! Charlotte envisioned such a profession and its powerful value not just for each child, but for the nation as a whole.
I have been granted a unique view of mothering with three adult children, a teenager, 10-year-old, 6-year-old and 18 months old. I can look back on my younger years and see where it would have benefitted all of us had I known some of the principles I now know. My motherhood toolbox was seriously lacking! My younger children have most assuredly reaped from the wisdom and lessons learned that I have gained over the course of two decades of motherhood under my belt.
It saddens me that in my youth I lacked so much maturity and practical “know-how”, but I also know that I serve a gracious and loving God and His Will for me is to learn and grow as a mother and to do what I know is the right thing now. Reading Ms. Mason’s thoughts spur me on to do better, to educate myself even more and to give myself over and over to the profession of motherhood, knowing that my efforts will be worth it in the end.
The family that is the unit of the nation
Charlotte wraps up this section by quoting a “great teacher” that in the Divine Plan, it is the family that is the unit of a nation and not just simply individuals. I wholeheartedly agree with this concept. If families are strong, then so a nation will become. And in the reverse perspective, you only need to look at a nation to determine the health and vitality of its families. If we want to see our nation’s true success then we must be willing to sow the needed attention and nourishment into our families. I have seen the same within the local church. A church is only as strong as the families within it. So, then, it is the family that must receive our concentrated efforts and training, ensuring the prosperity and well-being of each unit within then, collectively, will bear fruitfulness of the whole.
How wise Ms. Mason was! She absolutely had a global vision for the greater good and was keenly aware that the greater good first began with our greatest responsibility: the children.
“But it is as well we should remember that the children are a national trust whose bringing up is the concern of all…” page 6, Home Education
Do you have anything to add???
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