As Charlotte Mason educators we know that the compelling element of her philosophy is not necessarily the nitty gritty details of the day-to-day method- but rather the IDEAS behind that method. If truth be told many of us were so thoroughly captivated by those ideas that we struggled for a time, determined to figure out how those things translated into daily lessons. We were drawn like moths to the flame of her ideas on personhood, the way of will and the way of reason, deputed authority, masterly inactivity and more.
We know that these ideas were not birthed in a vacuum – but that Ms. Mason immersed herself in a conversation of ideas stretching back hundreds of years. Ms. Mason conversed fluently with the minds of many great thinkers, coupled them with the surety of the Christian faith, and articulated them to a generation that sighed with the relief. Her generation passed them down to us and today we find ourselves the keepers of these things. They inform how we interact with our children, students, and indeed with the world around us- but how will be pass them to the next generation?
This was obviously on Ms. Mason’s mind as she wrote volume 5 “Ourselves”. Taking a step back she paused to write directly to the students themselves. Volume 5 is an inspired work that attempts to do what should be at the core of all of our doings, the passing of the baton of truth and understanding to the next generation. Academic skills matter, but the ideas are paramount.
Desiring to follow in Ms. Mason’s steps I have created a 4 year High School English course that hopes to aid in that crucial passing. During these four years your students will not only experience Charlotte Mason’s method equipping them in all of the expected ways academically, but more importantly, be introduced to the ideas that were so compelling to you. They will see how personhood and reason and will must all be understood for the sake of the individual, but also for society as a whole. This study equips you to lead your students into conversation with the great thinkers and brings Ms. Mason’s writings alongside for comparison. Her ideas come alive in the context of the conversation she developed them in.
Let's join in that conversation. Like any good conversation this study builds over time. In true Charlotte Mason style we are not rushing through these connections but setting the stage so that those connections have a context to bond in.
Our students should leave their school years not only feeling the benefit of this broad and liberal education we have offered them but also understanding the why. They should see that a purposeful path was followed on inspiration of a Captain Idea… and understand that idea.
There is a why. We know it.
Let’s let our kids in on it so that they in turn can carry it to coming generations.
S. Timothy 2022
Here are some practical tidbits I love about this series:
1. I love that for groups- you have all you need to provide a full credit of English Studies. No need for each of your families to purchase extra memberships or curriculum pieces.
2. I love that this works well for a mom at home with her brood as well as for a group. This study equips anyone to host the meaningful conversations over literature and its big ideas. No need to outsource that relationship building time.
3. I love that any student, 9th- 12th, can begin with year one. This series was uniquely designed for our Cottage School so that any High Schooler could rotate in at any point. I have personally taught year one to my very own senior! If they only have time for one of these studies – let it be Year 1!
4. I love that the composition in this course is developed in the same slow and steady way it was in the Charlotte Mason younger years. There is no rush to cram it in all in one year, but rather a meaningful building over time.
5. I love that kids new to the Charlotte Mason method can hop in on year one and do just fine! (I have done this with several!) It is never too late! Yes, the foundation of years of narration is a benefit – but in the event they aren’t there- Year 1 introduces and gives space for newbies.
6. I love that this study is solid in grammar instruction without overdoing it. Grammar is studied in detail every other year allowing space in the gap years for its use and solidification. Their final brush with grammar targets ACT skills specifically.
7. I love that this study, in a pinch, can be open and go. Of course it is always best to read over it beforehand so that you are properly oriented… but life happens. In those moments, I’ve got you covered. You can wing it and still provide a good session of ideas. (Just don’t let it happen too many times! 😉)
8. I love that this study contains class/ conversation/ relationship time as well as independent work. I have said it elsewhere but – don’t let these final years pass by with them closeted away doing exclusively independent work. These are the times and conversations we put all of that effort into the early years for. This is where the fruit can be sweetest. Be there for the harvest.
9. I love that this comes as a digital download. My preference is for a 3 ring binder so I can pop out that week’s lesson plans and be able to walk around naturally as I talk and help.
10. Speaking of talking, I love the narration prompts and talking points! Guys! These were developed in real life situations with a wide variety of students, not in someone’s idealistic mind as they theorized how students might respond. Of course, every group is different and there is freedom, but when it comes to lesson planning nothing can take the place of actual experience. I think that is why Ms. Mason was so effective, she was birthing and trialing ideas simultaneously; discarding what didn’t work and polishing what did.
11. I love that all of my lesson plans are a la carte. I have always been the mix and match sort of mama. One company has a gift for this or that- but I don’t want to be obligated to their whole program. With this set up you can take only what you need and couple it with what you already love.
12. I love that this study has a built-in system for evaluating and offering grades that honors Charlotte Mason’s goals for education. Grades are neither prizes, nor punishments, nor goals. I believe I’ve hit the sweet spot between necessity and character development.