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Charlotte Mason was a British educator and philosopher who lived in the late 1800s. She devoted her life to the field of education and developed a philosophy of education that many families have rediscovered today. While her philosophy has its roots in the classical tradition, her ideas and methodology stand alone in their own right. Charlotte’s foundational principle of education is that children are born persons. This is in stark contrast to the widely accepted “tabula rasa” theory; children are not vases to be filled or clay to be molded. Instead, she viewed them reverently with minds capable of deep, meaningful learning through what she calls, the science of relations.

Charlotte Mason likened education to the spreading of a feast. We should not consider students’ ability to regurgitate facts as the marker of a successful education. She believed a utilitarian education that focuses on teaching facts devoid of meaning is as nourishing to the mind as sawdust is to the body. The teacher’s role is to spread a feast of living ideas before his students. In this way, it is ultimately the child’s duty (not the teacher’s) to do the work of his own education  - anything less is simply, "a mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature". In other words, education is only as deep as it is meaningful to the student.

 

As the old adage goes, you can lead a horse to water yet cannot make him drink. The same holds true with children in regards to education; even if you douse him with a firehose worth of information, you cannot force him to assimilate anything. For true learning to take place, a student must make meaningful relationships with knowledge. In order for this to happen. the educator must spreading a feast for the mind filled with rich, living ideas. Miss Mason's philosophy reaches far beyond simply teaching the three Rs. As she so accurately stated, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." To read more detailed information about her philosophy, visit the methodology page.

Who was Charlotte Mason?