An Educational Manifesto
by Charlotte Mason
Excerpted from Ideas and Books: The Means of Education
Every child has a right of entry to several fields of knowledge.
Every normal child has an appetite for such knowledge.
This appetite or desire for knowledge is a sufficient stimulus for all school work, if the knowledge be fitly given.
There are four means of destroying the desire for knowledge:—
(a) Too many oral lessons, which offer knowledge in a diluted form, and do not leave the child free to deal with it.
(b) Lectures, for which the teacher collects, arranges, and illustrates matter from various sources; these often offer knowledge in too condensed and ready prepared a form.
(c) Text-books compressed and recompressed from the big book of the big man.
(d) The use of emulation and ambition as incentives to learning in place of the adequate desire for, and delight in, knowledge.
Children can be most fitly educated on Things and Books. Things, e.g.—
- Natural obstacles for physical contention, climbing, swimming, walking, etc.
- Material to work in—wood, leather, clay, etc.
- Natural objects in situ—birds, plants, streams, stones, etc,
- Objects of art.
- Scientific apparatus, etc.
The value of this education by Things is receiving wide recognition, but intellectual education to be derived from Books is still for the most part to seek.
Every scholar of six years old and upwards should study with ‘delight’ his own, living, books on every subject in a pretty wide curriculum. children between six and eight must for the most part have their books read to them.
This plan has been tried with happy results for the last twelve years in many home schoolrooms, and some other schools.
By means of the free use of books the mechanical difficulties of education—reading, spelling, composition, etc.—disappear, and studies prove themselves to be ‘for delight, for ornament, and for ability.’
There is reason to believe that these principles are workable in all schools, Elementary and Secondary; that they tend in the working to simplification, economy, and discipline.