Monday, June 20, 2011

Who is Charlotte Mason?

Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) was a British educator during the turn of the century. She became a highly respected voice in education in England; and she had great influence on British education in her time. After teaching for about a dozen years, she began traveling, writing, and lecturing about a new way of education. Since her ideas arrived on the heels of the British Industrial Revolution and Victorian English thought, they contrasted greatly to the perspective of the day. At a time when most British saw children as cheap laborers, or at least, lesser citizens than adults, Charlotte Mason challenged their thinking. She proposed that, instead of thinking that "children should be seen and not heard in a culture that viewed children as sub-persons that needed to be formed and civilized," they were in fact "a whole, maturing person with an active intelligence and an enormous capacity for learning".

Before finishing her career teaching in the school she founded in Ambleside, England, she published some popular geography books, Home Education, and the six-volume The Original Homeschooling Series. By the time of her death in 1923, almost every public school in Gloucester County and several other areas in Great Britain were using the Mason method.

The strengths of Mason's approach are an emphasis on living books; fine arts, music and poetry; verbal and writing skills; self-motivated learning; real life; and dignity of the child. Her way of educating emphasizes character development; basic learning skills, which were reading, writing, and arithmetic; the reading of many living books; the study of the fine arts (art, music, poetry); and learning through real life experiences like nature and museums.

(Quotes taken from Educating the WholeHearted Child, by Clarkson)

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