Towards a Philosophy of Education

Charlotte saw children as thinking, feeling human beings, as spirits to be kindled and not as vessels to be filled.

                                                                                                                                        - John Thorley, Principal
                                                                                                                                        Charlotte Mason College

The book, A Philosophy of Education, is tucked in my bag ready to be read during nap time of kids, before bedtime, and whenever else I can squeeze in a moment.

The first book I read regarding homeschooling was The Well Trained Mind. I was amazed by its philosophy.  It revealed to me a system of education that I wasn't familiar with, which is the classical-medieval organization of studies known as the trivium. It's rigorous academics is very appealing. But as I researched further and stumbled upon Charlotte Mason (CM), particularly Ambleside Online, I felt at home with how it presents its philosophy of education. That it is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.

I'm not yet sure of whether or not I will be a purist (I very much doubt it) and go full blown CM. I'm just taking it a season at a time, educating myself to see what would best suit our needs as a homeschooling family. There are so many options on how to Educate our children. I don't think there is a right or wrong way but the key thing is looking and learning what would be best for ones family. For now, reading and learning from Charlotte Mason's original work in beautiful old English is something I will prioritize while my kids enjoy the freedom of exploring the outdoors and not prioritizing formal lessons. After all, my eldest is just 4 years old. (More detailed description on what we do daily on another post)

After reading Volume 1 and now, starting with Volume 6, I feel there is a great misconception on how CMers do homeschooling. Whenever I google what a CM education means, it only describes snippets of what it looks like but never goes deep enough to explain the principles behind them. These are the common descriptions that usually come up on the net about how the CM philosophy is implemented:

*literature based
*habit training
*short lessons
*nature study
*learning through narration

But oh it is so much more than these!
As I read on, I hope to find out if this route to education is for us. Narrating my thoughts
from the readings and putting it in writing is my attempt to educate myself - processing, weighing and assimilating what I've read to make it my own.

Let me end with a list of a few salient points that Charlotte Mason implemented which she considered different from general theory and practice.

a) The children, not the teachers, are the responsible persons; they do the work by self-effort.
b) The teachers give sympathy and occasionally elucidate, sum up or enlarge, but the actual work is done by the scholars.
c) These read in a term - one, or two or three thousand pages, according to their age, school and Form, in a large number of set         books. The quantity set for each lesson allows of only a single reading; but reading is tested by narration, or by writing on a test passage. When the examination is at hand so much ground has been covered that revision is out of the question; what the children have read they know, and write on any part of it with ease and fluency.
d) There is no selection of studies, or of passages or of episodes, on the ground of interest. The best available book is chosen and is read through perhaps in the course of two or three years.
e) The children study many books on many subjects, but exhibit no confusion of thought.
f) They find that, in Bacon's phrase, "Studies serve for delight"; this delight being not in the lessons or the personality of the teacher, but purely in their 'lovely books.'
g) The book used are, whenever possible, literary in style.
h) Marks, prizes, places, rewards, punishments, praise, blame, or other inducements are not necessary to secure attention, which is voluntary, immediate and surprisingly perfect.
i) The success of the scholars in what may be called disciplinary subjects, such as Mathematics and Grammar, depends largely on the power of the teacher, though the pupils' habit of attention is of use in these too.

                                                                                                                   Charlotte Mason, Volume 6, p. 6-7

Come to think of it - it is a philosophy and, from my limited understanding, can be implemented in various ways. So those who may not follow Charlotte Mason can still benefit from this.

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