“Education is the Science of Relations’; that is, a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of those first-born affinities that fit our new existence to existing things.”
Education is The Science of Relations
I used to think this meant that we should give our children a holistic education and that all subjects are somehow connected. But Charlotte does not mean that. She makes a point of refuting that idea:
“What is education after all? An answer lies in the phrase – Education is the Science of Relations. I do not use this phrase, let me say once more, in the Herbartian sense – that things are related to each other, and we must be careful to pack the right things in together, so that, having got into the brain of a boy, each thing may fasten on its cousins, and together they may make a strong clique or ‘apperception mass.’ What we are concerned with is the fact that we personally have relations with all that there is in the present, all that there has been in the past, and all that there will be in the future – with all above us and all about us – and that fullness of living, expansion, expression, and serviceableness, for each of us, depend upon how far we apprehend these relationships and how many of them we lay hold of.” (Charlotte Mason V6 p. 185-186)
This principle is about teaching children to care about what they were learning and to have a personal connection with their studies. Help them to see how things are all connected, to make their lessons mean something to them. This is why you don’t just give the facts because children won’t connect with the facts alone but when you give them the story they can relate to the subject matter and absorb “facts only as these are connected with the living ideas upon which they hang” (V 6 p. 20).
Teach them more than they need in practice. She says do not teach from a utilitarian point of view; one where children only learn the skills they need for useful employment but give them a rich and generous curriculum.
“It is even possible for a person to go into any one of the great fields of thought and to work therein with delight until he become incapable of finding his way into any other such field. We know how Darwin lost himself in science until he could not read poetry, find pleasure in pictures, think upon things divine; he was unable to turn his mind out of the course in which it had run for most of his life. In the great (and ungoverned) age of the Renaissance, the time when great things were done, great pictures painted, great buildings raised, great discoveries made, the same man was a painter, an architect, a goldsmith and a master of much knowledge besides; and all that he did he did well, all that he knew was part of his daily thought and enjoyment.”
(Charlotte Mason V6 p. 53-54)
The Science of Relations is where Charlotte Mason begins to spell out her syllabus in quite specific detail. Here she gives her three points for devising an educational plan:
- Children need a great deal of knowledge given to them that must be full of lots of mind food. Do not neglect the study of God Almighty, poetry, art, literature and science. Teach their mind and hands with excellent ideas and encourage them to have a relationship with their leaning.
- Knowledge should be interesting and varied. It should encourage curiosity.
- Knowledge should be given to children using quality literature they can understand. This helps them to naturally respond to what they are learning. A child’s knowledge is absorbed through the process of reproduction. Charlotte believed telling back after a single reading (narration) was the best way to do this.
Professional Development Resource for Homeschool Teachers
Inspired by Charlotte Mason is for you the home educator. You as the teacher need professional development and this ebook will help you teach. It’s not about resources; it’s the reasons behind teaching the Charlotte Mason way.
Inspired by Charlotte Mason will familiarise you with Charlotte Mason the educator and her core beliefs so you can understand how to implement her ideas and make them suit your homeschool.