Monday, June 7, 2010

Miss Mason Monday

So I've read the first chapter in my Miss Mason Monday series. I have to applaud Mrs. Catherine Levison, author of A Charlotte Mason Education. She packs a lot into one little chapter!! Much of what I read in chapter 2 was actually just renforcing my knowledge of Charlotte Mason because I have done a good bit of studying before but review is always a good thing right? And I am starting with chapter 2 because I kinda delved into chapter 1 during my intro a couple of weeks ago. Well, let's begin.

The Method in Brief-chapter 2

Miss Mason belived whole heartedly that "children were born persons and should be educated by the humanities."
So what are humanities? They are academic disciplines (or field of study) which study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytic, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical (relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory) approaches of the natural and social sciences. Some examples of the disciplines of the humanities are ancient and modern languages, literature, law, history, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts (including music).

That right there lays the basis for why Miss Mason included the "subjects", if you will, that she included.
She also believed that "children should have a love for learning and we are not to kill that love." I believe that most children are born with a natural desire to learn. Have you ever been around a young child who has constantly asked question after question? I know that mine do that often! Honestly it is diffcult to not want to ignore them after some time because it is easy to grow weary of all of the questions. But if we are to foster a love of learning in our children we are going to have to "go the extra mile" at times to do just that.

One thing I appreciate about Miss Mason's educational philosophy is that the goal is to gently and gradually lead the child in such a way that they learn to self-educate. That means that in the beginning we are needed quite a bit but as they grow and mature they will become self-educators who need no one to encourage them to learn because they have fallen in love with learning themselves.

And although we may be needed more in the early years Miss Mason stresses that we are not to "be in the way" of the learning in the sense of not leading a child to learn this or that but to be available for whatever help is needed.

That is a hard one for me because my kiddos seem to need me to show them "what to do next". I'm not sure they would ever learn if it weren't for me....but then again maybe I should just let them try.

So how, you might be asking, does a parent know if a child is actually learning? Well that is where narration comes in. After a child spends time studying and learning about something have them tell back to you what they have learned. This method of narration is a wonderful way of varifying knowledge rather than comprehension questions or workbooks. I will warn you however that good narration takes patience. I will admit that I have been frustrated a time or two because the narration that I've recieved from my kiddos was just plain sorry. I know though that time needs to pass and practice given for them to be able to give a full and beautiful narration.

Narration is something that I have found to vary from Mom to Mom. What one might require of her children differs from what another requires. How do you know then what to expect? You pray first of all. Ask the Lord to allow you to begin to intimately understand each of your children so that you can teach to them as individuals. And then decide, from what you are learning about your precious children what each can handle at their various ages.

I have one child who excells at narration and another who struggles greatly at getting her thoughts out in an understandable manner. This process will take loads of patience and you will have to refrain from comparing one to the other because each is made differently.

Miss Mason also belived in the use of exams but only to show what a child does know rather than what she doesn't know. The child is to learn a body of information say about Australia and then they are to be asked to tell what they know about the country, essay style. This allows the parent and child to focus on the learning that has taken place rather than what has been "forgotten."

One of the most popular aspects of the Charlotte Mason method is her use of "whole and living books." A whole book is a book that the author wrote-one author. The opposite of this would be a book comprised of selections of different author's works.

A living book is opposite a textbook. Texts are facts-just facts. Living books have lives, emotions, people are married, and pass away. They are "clothed in literary language." A good example would be an accurate historical novel or biography.

I have read that Miss Mason didn't entirely give up on text books. I belived that they were used for subjects such as grammar and math I think but the emphasis in her schools were not put on textbooks as they are in our schools today.

Miss Mason's method also consists of short morning lessons with a large variety of subjects. She recommended switching subjects every 15-20 minutes in the younger grades because she felt that this invigorates the minds of the children. She was very adament that dawdling not be allowed during those few minutes so that the time was used as efficiently as possible. Mrs. Levision recommends using a timer and stopping when it goes off and moving to the next lesson. I think that this is a great idea and will be doing that tomorrow!!

The following is the child's motto:

I am, I can, I ought, I will.

  • I am a child of God.

  • I can through the power of God

  • I ought to out of duty

  • I will is different than I want. (It shows a choice or decision has been made. The child decides to do what is right.}
Parent's motto:

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."

We need to make education, learning, a natural part of the lives of our children.

That wraps up our first Miss Mason Monday. As I stated before, I am not trying to reinvent the wheel here. So much has been written and written well about the CM philosophy but I just wanted to share what little bits and pieces that I am grasping. I still have a LONG way to go before I become as seasoned homeschooling CM Mommy but I wanted to jump in somewhere and get some real understanding of this wonderful philosophy. Blogging about it just holds this "put it off until later" Mom accountable and gives me a deadline.

I hope that you learned a little something new. And please if you have any imput feel free to comment about it!

Lovin' Learnin'


  1. That was a lot packed into a chapter. Great summary. I love Charlotte Mason's philosophies and the effects on my family. Actually going to Childlight CM conference this week to learn more.
    You may want to come to to meet some other like-minded moms.
    Love your site. Your children are adorable.

  2. Kristine,

    I would LOVE to go to the conference! It's great that it's so close to where I live but it's a bit pricey for us right now and having no family in the area to leave the children with makes it all too hard to attend.

    Thank you for the kind comments! Enjoy the conference! I'm sure you'll learn loads there!!


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