Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Charlotte Mason-style Education

A curriculum that follows Mason's recommendation of centering education around good literature looks very different from the typical curriculum used in American public and private schools. In Educating the WholeHearted Child, Clarkson states that, "Instead of lifeless, pedantic textbooks and workbooks that expected children only to remember the right answer, she insisted on reading only living books that made literature, history, geography, and science come alive, and that focused more on insights and ideas about the subject than on dry and lifeless facts."

According to Andreola, in her book A Charlotte Mason Companion, whole books are ones "that are written by a single author who shares personally his favorite subject with us, and we pick up his enthusiasm." Along with learning the above-mentioned subjects through whole books, Mason's students learned through nature studies. Nature studies consisted of long walks in the outdoors observing nature and wildlife, collecting specimens, and keeping a nature journal of their observations.

The key points of Mason's philosophy are that children are persons; children love to learn; children need a supportive atmosphere for learning; orality is essential to literacy and learning, living ideas are the natural food of the mind; active involvement is vital to learning; and that the formation of effective habits leads to a productive life.

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