We’re starting a fun new series of posts this week: CM Myths. Over the next few weeks we will be investigating some of the statements we’ve heard people make about Charlotte Mason. We hope this series will help you learn more about Charlotte herself and her methods.
Because so many homeschoolers love her methods, and because she had such keen insight into children, some people think that Charlotte Mason was a homeschooling mom.
No, on both counts.
Charlotte taught in a regular school classroom for many years. During this time she solidified her philosophy of education and became convinced of what should be taught, when, and how.
She shared her ideas in a series of lectures for parents who employed governesses to teach their children at home. These lectures were published later as Home Education, and Charlotte went on to establish a training school for those governesses. She also published materials to help parents learn more about educating their children.
Schools across England started to adopt her philosophy and methods, and the training school for governesses evolved into a college for classroom teachers. Charlotte oversaw the training, the administration, the publications, and the book selections for the children who followed her programmes in those schools. In fact, Miss Mason was known to the children as “the head of their school, who chose their ‘lovely books’ for them” (The Story of Charlotte Mason, p. 93).
Charlotte’s writings and methods were “rediscovered” and brought to the United States by Dean and Karen Andreola in the 1980s (if I’m not mistaken on the date). They were homeschooling and found Charlotte’s ideas to be a breath of fresh air. So they arranged to republish her original writings in a six-volume set, calling it “The Original Home Schooling Series.” Soon homeschoolers across the nation were learning and using those wonderful CM methods.
Though Charlotte was never married and had no children of her own, she spent a lot of time with children and families. She had the advantage of a thoughtful “outside observer,” who, nonetheless, held the role of parents in highest regard.
“Allow me to say once more, that I venture to write upon subjects bearing on home education with the greatest deference to mothers; believing, that in virtue of their peculiar insight into the dispositions of their own children, they are blest with both knowledge and power in the management of them which lookers-on can only admire from afar” (Vol. 1, p. 135).
Charlotte Mason believed in the importance of the home and all it contributed to the education of the child. And her methods have proven effective, whether used in a classroom or in a homeschool.
Next week we’ll look at another CM Myth.