Consider This by Karen Glass
Since I’ve been homeschooling a distinction has been made between Classical homeschooling and Charlotte Mason homeschooling. Whilst it was obvious the two methods shared many ideals, I think that the classical educators felt that the Charlotte Mason method lacked the rigour.
Consider This by Karen Glass challenges the commonly held belief that a Charlotte Mason education is not a Classical education. Throughout the book Karen highlights the principles of Classical education using examples from early writers such as Plato and Socrates and demonstrates how these values were essential to Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy. She also challenges Dorothy Sayers’s idea of using the notion of Trivium and the Quadrivium as the only interpretation of Classical education.
Whilst this is a book about philosophy it is not boring. It is filled with insight about the objectives behind Charlotte Mason’s methods and how well considered her methods were. It has challenged me to think more deeply into my own educational goals and ideals.
Will this book make me a better home educator? Yes!
The more I delve into the ideas of Charlotte Mason I understand what she was trying to achieve in the education of children. It wasn’t only an academic goal she had in mind; she was also making opportunities for children to discover the intertwined relationship between subjects before they were taught to analyse the facts. She was teaching children to make connections with the world around them. It was an education that wasn’t about getting them a job but one that instilled in them the habits, character and values of lifelong learners.
And her methods reflected this in the way she taught:
- Reading from carefully chosen living books was essential, as this was the place to connect with great thinkers of the past and teach character. If the books were too difficult for the child then they would be read to from it – rather than a teacher regurgitating or watering down the content. Narration was used to train their mind in recall and organisation.
- Notebooking was encouraged to give children the skills of the scholars so that they could become keepers of their thoughts, discoveries, and observations (see The Living Page).
- Latin was taught to children so that they could read this language and comprehend phrases and texts however she wasn’t trying to make Latin scholars – she was unlocking a language so that they could see that it was understandable. A Charlotte Mason education was about giving children a generous education.
After reading this book I was reminded how much of Charlotte’s ideas overlap with the classical tradition of learning. Like the classical educators, she linked intellectual growth with moral development. She placed a great emphasis on her methods leading children to right thinking but I wondered if right thinking and knowledge of God was the same as knowing Christ. I was reminded that education does not equal salvation. I don’t want good girls and boys; I want God girls and boys.
I have only shared with you a small portion of the marvellous insights that Karen Glass has written in her pages. Her book won’t tell you much about how to teach using the Charlotte Mason method but it will give you an understanding of what is behind her methods. It’s not an entry level book for homeschoolers. I still think that A Charlotte Mason Education is probably the best for that. However this is an inspirational Charlotte Mason book that I’m glad I read.