Charlotte Mason How We Make Use of the Mind – Principle

charlotte mason how we make use of the mind

Charlotte Mason How We Make Use Of The Mind

We hold that the child’s mind is no mere sac to hold ideas but is rather…a ‘spiritual organism’ with an appetite for all knowledge

Again Charlotte Mason challenges the thinking of the time. She argues vigorously against the views of Herbartian Psychology (German educational philosopher in the 1800’s) that a child is a mere receptacle: That philosophy endangers children of much teaching and little learning.

Her View On British Education and Higher Education

Here she outlines the outworking of education as it was in those days. Boys in particular may have been taught by good teachers but the emphasis was on the teacher and not the student. Boys were being raised to be clerks and nothing more. At the age of 14 most boys were ending their education and then getting jobs. Some employers were finding that boys couldn’t sit and memorize, for example, the railway signals; for they had no entertaining teacher to help them along. They were seeing a large number of boys drop out of work with no further prospects. She quotes the writings of Alexander Paterson.

She applauded the government for its decision to lift the leaving age of school from 14 to 16, but she argued what is the point if you don’t change the way you teach them. Are they not worthy to be taught more than just spelling and arithmetic? She argues that they need to be challenged and taught how to work at their education at a higher university level and not be spoon fed or taught a trade, but rather to give them a generous education. She also praises the education system in Denmark and Scandinavia.

Utilitarian Education In Germany –

Charlotte Mason principles are opposite to the efficient utilitarian trade based education of Germany and warns against these methods.

I’ve included this quote because I found it so interesting. Remember that this was written before the Second World War.

“Here is one more reason for treating the Continuation School as the People’s University and absolutely eschewing all money-making arts and crafts. Denmark and Scandinavia have tried this generous policy of educating young people, not according to the requirements of their trade but according to their natural capacity to know and their natural desire for knowledge, that desire to know history, poetry, science, art, which is natural to every man; and the success of the experiment now a century old is an object lesson for the rest of the world.

Germany has pursued a different ideal. Her efforts, too, have been great, unified by the idea of utility; and, if we will only remember the lesson, the war has shown us how futile is an education which affords no moral or intellectual uplift, no motive higher than the learner’s peculiar advantage and that of the State. Germany became morally bankrupt (for a season only, let us hope) not solely because of the war but as the result of an education which ignored the things of the spirit or gave these a nominal place and a poor rendering in a utilitarian syllabus. We are encouraged to face the fact boldly that it is a People’s University we should aim at, a University with its thousands of Colleges up and down the land, each of them the Continuation School (the name is not inviting) for some one neighbourhood.

The theme of this chapter is that we should continue to provide a rich education as our children get older. And we need to make sure that they work hard at their own education. She shifts the responsibility from the teacher to the student. She also challenges the teacher to think about her role, are they the entertainers or the facilitators? Is it with the clever teacher that the children learn more?

She talks about the object lesson curriculum (which some interpret as unit studies)and gives two examples, 100 lesson from an apple and a year with Robinson Crusoe. She believes the teacher is clever indeed to work out these lessons but are they good for the student. She thinks not, as it trivializes their education and to be sure they won’t like Robinson Crusoe at the end of it.

Charlotte Mason ends this chapter with her hopes for continuing education past the age of 14.

charlotte mason how we make use of the mind

Every man and woman will have received a liberal education; life will no longer discount the ideas and aims of the schoolroom, and, if according to the Platonic saying, “Knowledge is virtue,” knowledge informed by religion, we shall see even in our own day how righteousness exalteth a nation.

This principle – Charlotte Mason how we make use of the mind should be read by those thinking about high school. It gives you such food for thought. I am reminded that I am not raising my children to function in society but rather to serve their Maker and contribute to society.

All quotes are taken from A Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason. Chapter Seven. Available at Ambleside Online

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.

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  1. Lauren  June 17, 2010

    Have you looked much into the early vs late ages of school-entry? It's a fascinating study that shows that later schoolers basically perform "better".

  2. joyfulmum  June 10, 2010

    Thanks Michelle! I enjoyed reading this post very much.
    I like her philosophy of not being entertainers but facilitators in my child's education. Her principles and teaching methods are truly coming alive in our home and it's exciting to watch the process unfold.

  3. Renelle  June 9, 2010

    Thankyou for putting your thoughts down for us. It is very encouraging that even today the gentle art of learning is still relevant and one of the best we can offer our children today. One thing I have noticed in the last 6 months since adopting CM ideas is my dc love for nature and respect for life and the privileges he enjoys in life now. Blessings


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