We have decided to finish up our school year and take July off from academics, partly to avoid the schools holiday rush. Even when we lived in the city I used to do this – we would take our holidays when everything was nice and quiet, and we’re back to work when the schools are off and the crowds are out. Now we’re near the sea, it works out even better.
But we’re coming up for another big milestone this September, and I feel as though now is the time to re-think my methods, books and curriculum.
Were he at school, my youngest (Baba Zonee, aka Bunny amongst other names) would go up to secondary level this year. That’s quite a shocker really, and makes me feel really, horribly old!
So now I officially have no primary age children, and it looks as though (saving for the ever possible miracle of new children) that we are beginning the final, home stretch of home education.
I have been thinking for a long time that I want to get back to my original ‘roots’ in Charlotte Mason education.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Charlotte Mason and her method of education, she was a British teacher and teacher of teachers who wrote with a revolutionary and forward-thinking concern for children as people to be nurtured and respected in a time when education, and the cultural view of humanity and children especially was strict and punitive.
Mason was influenced in part by classical ideas, but also such educational thinkers as Pellegrini. She emphasised a liberal arts education, offering children the best our culture has to offer, including art, music, literature and nature study.
She spoke about engaging children with ideas direct from the author’s mind, as opposed to dry, regurgitated text, and she railed against what she called ‘twaddle’ – often seen in textbooks.
In her day, she was influential, far out of proportion to the size of the small school for teachers that she ran from Ambleside in the Lake District, and she can be thanked for improving early years and primary education in the UK, but alas she is nearly forgotten over here. (‘A prophet in his home town’…)
Thankfully, she was rediscovered by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay and later Karen Andreola and others, who helped to propel her theories into one of the major homeschooling methods.
Most people assume though that the Charlotte Mason method only covers the primary years, but I have learned that Charlotte’s own book series also cover secondary age, and her sixth and final book, ‘Towards a Philosophy of Education’, addresses secondary education in particular.
But before I launch into reading Charlotte Mason’s own writings, which are admittedly dense and couched in difficult Victorian language, I thought I would start by re-reading one of my all-time favourites, Karen Andreola’s ‘A Charlotte Mason Companion’.
I have created a new UK-based yahoo discussion group for the purpose:
We are planning to go through approximately one chapter per week, and perhaps if that works well, we can look at other Charlotte Mason classics.