Charlotte Mason Volume I Synopsis

This is the bit I think you see most often as an introduction to Charlotte Mason.

Over at Ambleside Online you can see the whole list of twenty principles, along with good summaries or paraphrases of each.

Here’s my briefer summary:

Children are persons with possibilities for good and for evil. They need proper obedience to proper authority, but use of this is limited by the respect that is due them as persons.

Education is an atmosphere, but not an artificial one (she didn’t like Montessori’s carefully prepared environment and specialized materials). Their ordinary surroundings have educational value.

Education is a discipline; habit-formation for mind and body is useful and important.

Education is a life; it’s not just for school, not just for childhood, not just academics, not just for the mind, and so on. Likewise, the spiritual and the intellectual realms are not separate and unconnected.

Because children are not blank slates or empty vessels, but organisms made to feed on knowledge, much laborious teacher preparation is unnecessary as well as often unsuccessful; instead the teacher’s role is to provide a varied and generous diet of living knowledge, i.e. not disjointed facts out of context. Living knowledge consists of such things as physical exercise, nature, handicrafts, science, art, many living books, and so on.

Children should learn self-management: how to divert their will away from things they want but know are not right, and how to use reason properly, not trusting it too much regarding ideas, since reason is subject to distortion when we strongly desire to accept or reject any particular idea.


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