I recently read a book called “For the Children’s Sake” written by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, examining the educational foundations for home and school. The author devotes a large amount of space in her book to the educational methods of Charlotte Mason, a Christian educationalist who lived some time ago. I found it a very interesting read and found myself not just ‘reading’ the book but almost ‘studying’ it, as I kept jotting down notes / quotes from the book that stood out for me, and blurting them out to my husband in excitement! J
If you are interested in education / teaching at all, or if you’re a parent with your own children, I hope you find the below quotations from her book very helpful and useful to bear in mind, especially with regards to deciding what type of educational method you believe would best serve your child. Whether you choose a large school, a small school, a co-ed school, a boys-only / girls-only school, a Christian school, a secular mainstream school, a boarding school, a day-scholar school, a home-based school, or to home-school your own child, I believe every child is unique and different educational methods will cater for your child’s individual needs in different ways, the decision comes down to ‘what would serve my child in the best possible way?’
Here are the quotes:
‘Educational institutions make poor substitute mothers, fathers and homes’.
‘Charlotte Mason believed that parents have the most interesting and valuable job that exists amongst all mankind’.
‘Charlotte Mason believed the family was of prime importance in all child development. The atmosphere in the family comes first.’
‘There can be no greater vocation in life than the family responsibility of sharing life with a growing child.’
‘When there is no parent who makes it his business to understand the individual child, and the people whose job it is to care for him treat him as part of their career, perhaps the only place where that child will find understanding is in the counselor’s office for one hour a week.’
‘Can we serve God’s children wholeheartedly while we are being consumed with career demands?’
‘There is no such thing as a neutral teacher. Every teacher does influence the child, either for the better or worse.’
‘Parents who provide for their children’s growth and learning….. Such children will be eager to exploit life without a sense of boredom. They will think, and express their thoughts. They are eagerly trying to master new skills.’
‘Charlotte Mason’s ideas are especially needed by deprived children today, the ones who are bored. Life is just too interesting for boredom!’
‘Children are to be respected and accepted as unique, valuable persons.’
‘Our children need to experience a day-by-day reality of those living life in relationship with a living King. They need to live in an atmosphere of love, truth, humility and forgiveness; an atmosphere of truly accepting the child, including his limitations.’
‘Teaching about the objective truth of Christianity is so very important. We do not become Christians because it will make us happy. We are called to One who is there. Have your children thrashed through the reasons why the Bible is true? Do they know about the historical and archaeological evidence? Can they remember the numerous occasions when the Bible fitted like a key into the keyhole of reality?’
‘Charlotte Mason did not advise enclosing a child in an artificial environment, such as a classroom, for too much of the day. The whole afternoon was to be free for the child’s own play. She held that the ideal was outdoor space where children ran, climbed trees, splashed, crawled, rode, explored and played.’
‘Part of life is the aspect of work and responsibility. When a child is at home, he wants to share in the activities that are going on: the work. The two-year-old says, “Me too! Me wash the floor. Me stir the food”. Whenever possible, a child should partake in real work situations. Therefore, if the school hours are shorter and more valuable, there is time for work and play.’
‘Let children illustrate (draw) a story that has interested them. Children become discouraged by their lack of expertise if they are used to “colouring in” an adult’s drawing. Sunday Schools, too, should stay away from such prepared (and boring) papers to colour in. How about large sheets of good-quality paper and fibre-tip pens for younger children, and drawing pencils for older children?’
‘The young child of six will spend twenty minutes a day (or more if practical) learning the mechanics of reading and writing. This process should be carried out in a friendly, quiet, regular and structured way. A child should never be made to feel that he is lagging behind others of his age. We don’t harass babies of eighteen months to walk if they still crawl. Einstein only started talking at four years!’
‘The habit of a dulled non-thinking mind may be easily produced by sitting the child in front of a TV for long periods.’
‘Literature is an important and central part of education. Make sure that the habit of reading is established. Make time for reading at home and at school. It is the foundation of education.’
‘Read the child a good story, full of interest (a “living book”). Then say to him, “Can you tell me the story?” As he puts it into words, he has to think for himself. He uses his memory, he has acquired knowledge, and having expressed it creatively in his own words, he will be able to remember what he has learned.’
‘These are some of our family’s “living books”:
- The Bible
- Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
- Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Chronicles of Narnia, by C S Lewis
- Hans Christian Anderson’s and Grimm’s fairy tales
- Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
- Just so Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
- All of Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Secret Garden, by Frances Burnett
- Abraham Lincoln, by Ingrid and Edgar D’Aulaire
- The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
- Oliver Twist and Hard Times, by Charles Dickens
- … and others.’
I respect you, you are a person.
Come with me.
You belong on this planet,
You are to inherit,
You are to understand.
Look. Look, and you will see.
Enjoy this day: the sun, the grass, your friends.
Listen – we will read God’s word.
We are His sheep, He is our Shepherd.
Grow! Flourish! Be master!
Let us do what we ought.
Let us choose what is right!
Let us be brothers and sisters, together.
The bored wake up,
The failures find a new spring,
The sinful start again.
Come, little child,
I will listen, I will learn, too –
Let us enjoy ABUNDANT LIFE!’
‘One day we will stand before the Creator. Were we willing to give, serve and sacrifice “for the children’s sake?”‘