Charlotte Mason on the Bible
I am always surprised at the number of homeschoolers who love the methodology of Charlotte Mason, but would prefer it secularized. In other words, have the spiritual component and foundation of her teachings removed.
Many homeschooling moms hang on Ms. Mason’s every word as it pertains to her methods, but they never really understand her philosophy of education. The foundation of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy is rooted in the Bible. If you’d like to learn more, read Charlotte Mason on the Bible.
By the way, these thoughts and quotes are taken from Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series, Vol. 1: Home Education.
The Deepest Insights into Children’s Nature
To begin with, Ms. Mason affirmed that it is the Bible that shows the deepest insights into the nature of children (p. 11). She asserts that:
“It is worthwhile for parents to ponder every utterance in the Gospels about… children.”
“It may surprise parents who have not given much attention to the subject to discover also a code of education in the Gospels, expressly laid down by Christ. It is summed up in three commandments…Take heed that ye OFFEND not (Matt. 18:6)—DESPISE not (Matt. 18:10) — HINDER not (Matt. 19:14) — one of these little ones.” –p. 12
Note: The Scripture references in parentheses were added.
Charlotte added that if parents clearly understood what we are not supposed to do, we would be able to see what we are supposed to do, what we are bound by duty to do, in “‘training up a child in the way he should go.’ ” –Vol. I, p. 12 and Proverbs 22:6
According to Ms. Mason, we offend our children when we do things to them that we shouldn’t do, such as:
- Disregard their physical health and safety
- Neglect providing them our love and affection, for example, by showing an obvious preference for one child over another
- Ignore their intellects by not providing a stimulating learning environment and holding them to high standards in their schoolwork
You may appreciate reading Charlotte’s words regarding children’s intellects:
… the child’s intellectual life may be wrecked at its outset by a round of dreary, dawdling lessons in which definite progress is the last thing made or expected, and which, so far from educating in any true sense, stultify his wits in a way he never gets over. Many a little girl, especially, leaves the home schoolroom with a distaste for all manner of learning, an aversion to mental effort, which lasts her lifetime, and that is why she grows up to read little but trashy novels, and to talk all day about her clothes. –Charlotte Mason, Vol. I, p. 16
We despise our children, Charlotte continues, when we undervalue them:
- by not giving them our best (“[our] freshest, brightest hours”)
- when we don’t ensure that their other caregivers have the highest moral character
- by not correcting our children’s misbehaviors at an early age, therefore muddying the waters between right and wrong
“Hinder not the little children to come unto Me,” says the Saviour, as if that were the natural thing for the children to do, the thing they do when they are not hindered by their elders. And perhaps it is not too beautiful a thing to believe in this redeemed world, that, as the babe turns to his mother though he has no power to say her name, as the flowers turn to the sun, so the hearts of the children turn to their Saviour and God with unconscious delight and trust. –Charlotte Mason, Vol. I, p. 20
We hinder our children by not accepting “or [by] making light of” children’s natural inclination towards God:
- by not showing respect and reverence for the Lord in our everyday conversations
- when we don’t have daily reading from God’s Word as part of our homeschool day
- by not taking their relationship with God seriously or by thinking they are too young to even have a relationship*
* Many years ago I had a missionary friend who advised me never to doubt my children’s desire to make a profession of faith –no matter how young. In her experience, if we take this desire and decision lightly – our children will end up taking it lightly as well.
Charlotte Mason on the Bible…In Her Own Words
Here are a few other quotes from Volume I from Charlotte Mason regarding the value of Bible reading and teaching to children:
…religious teaching helped the children, gave them power and motives for continuous effort, and raised their desires towards the best things. –p. 99
…their Bible lessons should help them to realise in early days that the knowledge of God is the principal knowledge, and, therefore, that their Bible lessons are their chief lessons. –p. 251
We are probably quite incapable of measuring the religious receptivity of children. Nevertheless, their fitness to apprehend the deep things of God is a fact with which we are called to ‘deal prudently,’ and to deal reverently…Children between the ages of six and nine should get a considerable knowledge of the Bible text. By nine they should have read the simple (and suitable) narrative portions of the Old Testament, and, say, two of the gospels. –p. 248
According to her writings, it is clear that Charlotte Mason had a genuine knowledge of and faith in God and His Word. So how could we separate her methodology from the passion and motivation behind her methods?
Doing so empties them of their rich meaning, boiling them down to a mere list of “to-dos” instead of a mission to which God has called us and will gladly equip us for physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
If you teach using Charlotte Mason methodology but have never given careful consideration to this aspect of her teaching, I invite you to do so!