Charlotte Mason Principles
The Way of Reason
We should teach children, also, not to lean (too confidently) unto their own understanding because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration of (a) mathematical truth and (b) of initial ideas accepted by the will. In the former case reason is, perhaps, an infallible guide but in the latter is not always a safe one, for whether the initial idea be right or wrong reason will confirm it by irrefragible proofs.
Therefore children should be taught as they become mature enough to understand such teaching that the chief responsibility which rests upon then: as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas presented to them. To help them in this choice we should afford them principles of conduct and a wide range of fitting knowledge.
Encouraging Critical Thinking
Charlotte Mason principle in this chapter is about the importance of children learning how to think through a matter. How can it be done, is a worthy question to ask and how was that made is another. Another interesting suggestion is to teach them some of the thinking in the psychology of crime, for example when reading a book and a character makes a bad choice ask the child, why did they make that choice? This training will help a child to see that people always do what they see is right in their own eyes but does that make it right.
For ourselves and our children it is enough to know that reason will put a good face on any matter we propose; and, that we can prove ourselves to be in the right is no justification for there is absolutely no theory we may receive, no action we may contemplate, which our reason will not affirm.
She encourages us to help children expose fallacies, but not waste their time discussing endless blasphemous propositions that come their way. But we must give them principles that enable them to discern and the understanding that humans are fallible and that we should not be carried away by every wind of doctrine. The is a good modern book written by two homeschool boys who teach about how to detect fallacy.
Facts are good to learn and some children excel in Maths and grammar but she implores us to not stick only to these subjects or give them too much undue attention. Allow children to realise that not everything can be proved and reason comes with continued practice in congenial fields of thought.
I will finish with Charlotte’s words.
We would send forth children informed by “the reason firm, the temperate will, endurance, foresight, strength and skill,” [Wordsworth] but we must add resolution to our good intentions and may not expect to produce a reasonable soul of fine polish from the steady friction, say, of mathematical studies only.
All quotes are taken from Charlotte Mason’s A Philosophy of Education Volume Six.
Online version available at Ambleside Online.
Professional Development Resource for Homeschool Teachers
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