Children Are Born Persons
Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the 19th century, believed “children are thinking, feeling human beings, with spirits to be kindled and not vessels to be filled.” She believed children should be taught as whole persons – mind, body and spirit. She said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” Meaning education is a lifelong process, reaching into every realm of our being. This type of education includes the knowledge of God, man, and the universe, but of primary importance is the knowledge of God. Miss Mason formulated many of her teaching principles from the Bible, saying, “It may surprise parents who have not given much attention to the subject to discover also a code of education in the Gospels, expressly laid down by Christ.” Readers of her six-volume Homeschooling Series are given tools for teaching and parenting, as well as for discipleship of their families. Because this teaching philosophy is counter intuitive to the standard institutional education many parents received, it requires a sort of retraining of education practices, which involves quite a bit of reading for parents learning this method.
The main elements of a Charlotte Mason education are character development, habit training (before academic learning can happen effectively), nature study, short and varied lessons (to maintain focus and attention), the use of living books rather than boxed curricula (as much as possible), narration as the primary method for learning assessment, foreign languages, and studies in classic arts (music, art, literature), as well as formal academics such as math, science, grammar, and composition. This method provides a well-rounded education in the sciences and humanities, preparing students for college, vocational training, or whatever field of life they choose. As Miss Mason said, “The question is not, – how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education – but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”