Meeting Charlotte Mason: A Lifestyle, Not Just a Philosophy

I’m so enamored I can hardly sit still or think about anything else. I find myself sneaking away to read a few paragraphs from her books and aligning my life with her ideas.

Reading her has re-awoken my standards.

Not in a distorted, idolizing way – but in a motivated way.

It’s been one of those “God things.” Ya know, when He tugs on your heart and won’t let you rest until you pursue whatever it is to the fullest?

I have found myself captivated by her, through space and time, as if she were a dear friend that I’d just hung up the phone with.

Who?

Charlotte Mason.

Meeting Charlotte Mason A Lifestyle, Not Just a Philosophy via My Life as a Rinnagade

This is the beginning of a series I introduced last week when I talked about what I consider to be the best homeschool approach for children with autism. This is not limited, of course, to our kids on the spectrum; when Charlotte Mason was writing in the late 1800s and early 1900s, autism hadn’t even been named.

I’m going to cover at least the main principles of a Charlotte Mason education:

  • Twaddle
  • Living Books
  • Narration
  • Habits
  • Mastery Mindset & the Pursuit of Excellence
  • Nature Study & the Great Outdoors
  • Free Afternoons & Handicrafts

If I am so inspired (or encouraged to do so by your comments) I’ll touch on other topics, as well. I’ll provide resource links so you can dig into each topic more deeply.

For those of you with children on the spectrum or with other concerns, I will elaborate on how each point fits into our autism treatment.

Perhaps Ms. Mason’s most popular quote (originally taken from poet, Matthew Arnold) is:

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” 

That is the thesis, so to speak, for her entire educational philosophy.

How simple life got for me when I read these words and dug deeper into what they mean. There has been such a sense of clarity – of cutting the fat.

Of discarding the unnecessary.

Reading her writings has made me clean out my thoughts as someone clears a bookshelf, getting rid of books that never really meant much to them anyway.

Charlotte Mason’s philosophies are not just something you pick up when you start your homeschool day and put down when you finish. Education is the umbrella over all of what you do because everything in one way or another is education.

When you familiarize yourself with her timeless ideas, you will, as I have, begin to feel multiple areas of your life being affected – home keeping, motherhood (even special needs parenting) and of course, homeschooling. It may even help deepen your faith, as it has mine.

Much of what she says is nearly prophetic – I think about the surge of ADD and autism. The downward spiral of the public school system. The lack of actual thought process in this instant gratification Google world.

I am so in this I simply cannot imagine another way. I will never say never (I’ve learned that lesson) but I will say I love this philosophy – and approach to teaching my children- with all my heart.

God has so intricately intertwined this philosophy with our autism treatment that I see these two things as one gift, set upon my lap to open and use as a tool to transform our family.

Her ideals are more than a philosophy; they are a lifestyle – both an attitude to take and a practical list to pursue.

Resources:

What is the Charlotte Mason method?

An Introduction to Charlotte Mason – Who was she & What is her approach?

How to Get Started

A Charlotte Mason Education

Education Is (FREE ebook!)

Explore Charlotte Mason’s Writing (Modern English, but available in its original entirety, as well)

Explore Charlotte Mason’s Writings by Topic (Modern English paraphrase only)