Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Reflections on Home Education - Prefaces...

Home Education by Charlotte Mason is a compilation of six lectures given by Charlotte on the rearing and education of young children up to age nine or Year 3. It was first published in 1886 and has become Volume 1 in Charlotte's six volume series. After finishing our study of a Charlotte Mason education with Volume 6, A Philosophy of Education, our CM Study Group decided to go back and study Volume 1, Home Education.

This series of blog posts will be a compilation of my thoughts and the commonplace entries I've amassed while studying Home Education. It's my feeble attempt to understand and apply Charlotte's thoughts on education to my homeschool. These posts are certainly not a substitute for reading The Original Home Schooling Series. I highly encourage you to read them and disseminate for yourself. However, if you have read or are currently reading Home Education, I'd love to hear your thoughts and share encouragement in the comments section of these posts. So, without further ado, let's begin....


I copied the first paragraph of the Preface into my commonplace. Initially, I was a bit surprised. According to Charlotte, education was already becoming utilitarian in the late 1800's. However, after further thought, considering the times, the release of Darwin's theories of evolution, and the Industrial Revolution, it's really not that surprising. It was the beginning of the downward spiral in education we are on today.

Some other commonplace entries I copied from the Prefaces are as follows:
...it is 'necessary' to believe in God; that, therefore, the knowledge of God is the principle knowledge, and the chief end of education."
In the second paragraph, after Charlotte's lament about the educational outlook, we see her encourage her audience to lean heavily on faith as she believed God had a plan for every child in His creation.
Such a theory of education...must be in harmony with the thought movements of the age; must regard education, not as a shut-off compartment, but as being as much a part of life as birth or growth, marriage or work; and it must leave the pupil attached to the world at many points of contact.
Then, Charlotte references harmony in education and the fact that we need to be sure not to compartmentalize or segregate knowledge by subject. I believe this relates to her Principle 12.
...the child is a person with all the possibilities and powers included in personality.
One thesis, which is, perhaps, new, that Education is the Science of Relations, appears to me to solve the question of curricula, as showing that the object of education is to put a child in living touch with as much as may be of the life of Nature and of thought.  
The period of the child's life between his sixth and his ninth year should be used to lay the basis of a liberal education, and of the habit of reading for instruction. 
Immediately, when I look at my last three commonplace passages, I see the italicized words/phrases: person, Education is the Science of Relations, and habit. These were Charlotte's italics, not my own. Having studied Charlotte's 20 Principles, I understand the significance of these words/phrases to the point she was trying to make.

In Vol. 6, Charlotte states, "If we have not proved that a child is born a person with a mind as complete and as beautiful as his beautiful little body, we can at least show that he always has all the mind he requires for his occasions; that is, that his mind is the instrument of his education and that his education does not produce his mind." This is Charlotte's first principle and is absolutely foundational to education!! As Christian educators, we must understand and believe that God designed each of our child's minds for His purpose and not ours. Also, that the child's mind is not a blank slate to write our ideas on or an empty bucket for us to fill.

In the second passage, we again see her reference Principle 12 when suggesting a solution to the question of curricula. Charlotte advocated using a broad and generous curricula in order to cultivate a child's natural born affinities. We must expose our children to a wide variety of subjects in order to open up their natural God-given tendencies, being careful to avoid being utilitarian by training our kids for certain careers.

Finally, Charlotte references forming a habit. Habit training should be a big part of early childhood. This lays the foundation for later academic knowledge and according to Charlotte, is the purpose behind Volume 1. She says,
The particular object of this volume, as a member of the 'Home Education' Series, is to show the bearing of the physiology of habit upon education; why certain physical, intellectual, and moral habits are a valuable asset to a child, and what may be done towards the formation of such habits. 
In summary:

1. We must have a Logos, aka God, and believe that He is the principle knowledge and chief end of education.

2. The child is born person.

3. We must not segregate knowledge, but rather, let the Science of Relations principle be our guiding curricula

4. The training of moral habits is particularly important prior to age nine.

This my friends is only the beginning. I look forward to more....

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