{Her Words, My Rambles Thoughts} Introduction to Charlotte Mason's 20 Principles


I am going to attempt, yet again, to join in the discussions over at the forum. Right now, there is an ongoing discussion of Charlotte Mason's 20 Principles. After which, there will be another round of studying her 6 volumes. My husband encouraged me to dig further, and truly understand her educational philosophy. I might just be in the right season to do that: eldest is turning 9, youngest is turning 2. But of course, these are just my reactions to her words, and not at all an extensive study of her philosophy.

To give you an idea of what’s ahead, here are Charlotte Mason's 20 Principles :

Cm 20 principles jpeg

Before discussing the Principles, we were directed to read Teaching in the Branches (Moral and Religious).

Here are some of her words that struck me, followed by my rambled thoughts:


“It is extremely important that parents should keep in view, and counteract if need be, the tendencies of the day.”


I take this as a reminder to know the world and not live in a bubble where only certain thoughts and beliefs are to be talked about. We must engage as parents to know what is happening in our present times. To discern how present activities can sway or give more appeal. Not so to “police” or “judge” whatever is out there, but to sincerely understand the times and ways in light of His Truth, with much love, discernment, and compassion.

To add to this thought:

One of the reasons why I chose Ambleside Online over all the other so called Christian curriculums is the fact that AO lays out books with ideas that do not keep a child in a bubble. A lot question why we read the original fairy tales or Macbeth in the early years, or why my son knows about a certain lady warrior (Queen Boudicea) killing herself and her own children. I think this is part of the beauty AO. My children will see a glimpse of the reality of the world. They are not introduced to a life that is perfect, where evil does not exist. They are introduced to a fallen world that ONLY has Hope in Him. 

"One caution we should like to offer. A child's whole notion of religion is "being good." It is well that he should know that being good is not his whole duty to God, although it is so much of it, that the relationship of love and personal service, which they owe as children to their Father, as subjects to their King, are even more than "being good” which gives our Almighty Father such pleasure in His children” (emphasis mine)

I grew up in a private school environment where being “good” was a priority. I think it’s a natural way of control for a religious institution. They meant well. But it had an effect on my view of what “faith” meant. I thought it was just about choosing between being good or bad. And it just so happened that I veered more towards the “bad”, and so ended up being “bad”, and could not seem to overcome it. I was marked some way and felt trapped. 


I remember an incident in my 1st or 2nd year in elementary where I was pushed to confess my sins yet I could not think of any. I told my teacher that there was nothing to confess, but she insisted that I “should”. Fear crept in my 8 year old self, thinking that *I* have to be perfect and wash all traces of dirt. And so, I ended up making up a sin and actually confessed it to a priest. 


Another incident was when I went to a very conservative college where “perfection” was prized. I wanted to be “good” and so I did all I can to achieve it, but ended up tired and frustrated because I always fell short from the mark or standard. 


I was then introduced to the Gospel. The Gospel does not start by saying, “be good.” It starts off with the reality of needing a Messiah because I will never be “good” enough. I will always fall short. I started reading the Word, and the Word slowly transformed me. It showed me what Faith is, and Who I needed to live a life pleasing to God the Father. 


Given that, I truly love the approach of Charlotte Mason when it comes to Bible teaching and the lack of moralizing. I like the fact that the training of Habits like Obedience is not directly correlated with “pleasing" God. It does not create this pressure in children to be perfect for Him. Instead, it gives  them the opportunity to truly know who God is through the written Word, where it shows that all men and women are sinners. But because of Faith, they are moved to be and do good for Him.

Here is a quote from CM regarding the importance of children reading directly from the Word:


"The habit of hearing, and later, of reading the Bible, is one to establish at an early age. We are met with a difficulty that the Bible is, in fact, a library containing passages and, indeed, whole books which are not for the edification of children; and many parents fall back upon little collections of texts for morning and evening use. But I doubt the wisdom of this plan. We may believe that the narrative teaching of the Scriptures is far more helpful to children, anyway, than the stimulating moral and spiritual texts picked out from them in little devotional books."





More of her words that struck me from this article:



"On the other hand, it is well that they should understand the limitations of authority. Even the divine authority does not compel. It indicated the way and protects the wayfarer and strengthens and directs self-compelling power. It permits a man to make free choice of obedience rather than compels him to obey."



Authority works by principles and not by rules."


"We are inclined to make our religious aims subjective rather than objective. We are tempted to look upon Christianity as a scheme of salvation designed and carried out for our benefit; whereas the very essence of Christianity is passionate devotion to an altogether adorable Person.”


"But it would be well if we could break down in our children's minds the wall of separation between things sacred and things so-called secular, by making them feel that 'all sound learning,' as well as all 'religious instruction,' falls within the office of God, the Holy Spirit, the supreme Educator of mankind.”

That is all for now. There is more to the article than these ramblings of mine. Please take a look, and study along with us. Again, here is the link to the article.

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