Universal Charlotte

Shortly before the end of our homeschooling years, I discovered the teachings of the British educator Charlotte Mason. Here's en.Wikipedia's synopsis - it's a good one.

Charlotte's philosophy of education is probably best summarized by eighteen principles given at the beginning of each book mentioned above. Two key mottos taken from those principles are "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life" and "Education is the science of relations." She believed that children were born persons and should be respected as such; they should also be taught the Way of the Will and the Way of Reason. Her motto for students was "I am, I can, I ought, I will."

Now, the incomparable Miss Mason and I could easily attend church together (if you leave out the fact that she departed this life in 1923 ... that does make it a bit more difficult) because she and I share the same expression of the Christian faith - a traditionally Anglican one. But her ideas about children, and the way they develop, and what they are and what adults ought to do because of what children are ... these ideas are so universally solid and the results of teaching within her philosophy are so universally wonderful in the formation of minds and souls that my Anglicanism didn't do much to divide me from the Roman Catholics discussing Charlotte Mason in home education over at Catholic Charlotte Mason, which morphed into 4RealLearning.com while I wasn't looking. The book spawned by all these discussions and the passionate and compassionate writing of Elizabeth Foss is called Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home. I have a treasured signed copy of this lovely tome.

Okay ... so religiously unaffiliated people like over there at Ambleside Online, and Anglicans like the people at Charlotte's Daughters, and Roman Catholics like those at 4 Real Learning ... that's a pretty diverse population. But now I find that there's a wonderful discussion of Charlotte Mason's ideas from the point of view of the Eastern Orthodox as well! She calls her blog "Life in the Onion Dome," which is pretty funny to start with, and she's quite interesting to read.

I wonder if the diligent Miss Mason had any idea at all that so many many moms would find her ideas to be so rewarding and satisfying and universally adaptive. But I doubt it. She was just trying to get her job done.

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