Last week, we looked briefly at Charlotte Mason’s beginnings and where her philosophies originated. This week, we are examining the Charlotte Mason method, which can be defined as “A method of education popular with homeschoolers in which children are taught as whole persons through a wide range of interesting living books, firsthand experiences, and good habits.”
She believed education was an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life, with each of these categories making up one-third of a child’s education. By “atmosphere,” Mason meant the home environment. She believed that children absorb a lot from the surroundings in which they grow up. The ideas that rule the lives of parents, will profoundly impact their children.
Mason emphasized the importance of training children in good habits, with habits that will serve them well as they grow. This is what she meant by “discipline.” She likened good habits to railroad tracks that parents lay down to enable a child to travel smoothly into adult life. She believed good habits, especially habits of character, to have such a powerful influence on children that she made them an important part of education.
The other one-third of education, she termed, “life” and meant academics. Mason believed in living ideas and not just the presentation of dry facts. Her methods for teaching various subjects are centered around this principle, and also important to note, academics is only one-third of her whole idea of education.
Mason believed these three ideas presented a well-balanced approach to education. Come back next week as we look more closely at her methods. Many of them will be recognizable to you.