Random thoughts while re-reading Home Education

Just for fun, I’ve been re-reading Charlotte Mason’s book, Home Education, this weekend.

One of the things that’s really stood out to me this time through is how clear Charlotte Mason was about true education not being found in a method/system of education, or a particular curriculum, but that it was actually more of a collection of general educational principles to use in a child’s everyday life.  Especially for younger children.

It’s been my observation over the years that so many of the current day homeschoolers who use Charlotte Mason’s name to describe what they’re doing are putting together a curriculum or advocating a method/system, apparently without realizing Mason was very strong in her condemnation of turning educational principles into something set in stone.  She saw a system of education as something dead–something akin to beating a nail with a hammer.

‎”Though a system is highly useful as an instrument of education, a ‘system of education’ is mischievous, as producing only mechanical action instead of the vital growth and movement of a living being.” – Charlotte Mason

To Charlotte Mason, education, TRUE education, was a living, experience-oriented process that functioned best within the loving confines of the child’s home, family, and day-to-day life.  Education should be fresh.  Lively.  Full of zest and joy.

And yes, before anyone calls me on it, I’m as guilty of calling Charlotte Mason’s educational ideas, philosophies, and principles “a method” as the next person.  LOL!

More later.  Much more, actually.  Stay tuned.  🙂

PS:  A correction here.  🙂


Stop by and “Like” Charlotte Mason Home Education on Facebook!  :-)


NOTE: People often ask about our family’s homeschooling journey, so I pooled together some of my responses from several online interviews which you can now read here: Interview with Debi


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6 responses to “Random thoughts while re-reading Home Education

  1. ‎”Though a system is highly useful as an instrument of education, a ‘system of education’ is mischievous, as producing only mechanical action instead of the vital growth and movement of a living being.” – Charlotte Mason

  2. But in general, yes, I can see where you’re coming from. (Sorry, hit send too soon.)

  3. I’m not quite sure why you say that Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy is not a method. Actually, she used the word “method” herself, to differentiate between what she called “system” (meaning something mechanical) and her own philosophy and, yes, method.

    From her Volume 2, page 168-169:

    “A Method is not a System––System leads Nature: assists, supplements, rushes in to undertake

    vol 2 pg 169

    those very tasks which Nature has made her own since the world was. Does Nature endow every young thing, child or kitten, with a wonderful capacity for inventive play? Nay, but, says System, I can help here; I will invent games for the child and help his plays, and make more use of this power of his than unaided Nature knows how. So Dame System teaches the child to play, and he enjoys it; but, alas, there is no play in him, no initiative, when he is left to himself; and so on, all along the lines. System is fussy and zealous and produces enormous results––in the teacher!

    A Wise Passiveness––Method pursues a ‘wise passiveness.’ You watch the teacher and are hardly aware that he is doing anything. The children take the initiative, but, somehow, the result here is in these and not in the teacher. They develop, become daily more and more of persons, with

    ‘The reason firm, the temperate will,
    Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill.’

    Such as these are the golden fruits which ripen under the eyes of the parent, who is wise to discriminate between the role of Nature and that of the educator, who follows sympathetically and dutifully the lead of the great mother.”

    • It was in Volume 1 (Home Education) … You’re right, though, she did say it was a method but that a method could easily become a system which would then become lifeless, etc. I’ll find the exact quote later. 🙂

  4. Thank you so much! I agree with CM.I see what you are talking about over and over again. I read how parents are frustrated because they can not duplicate what they “think” CM or any other approach is “supposed” to look like. In fact I read it so often now that I have stopped reading messages in the groups.

    I think I’ll be reading that book too.

    Kris P

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