Charlotte Mason


Our first introduction, by all rights, should be the very lady to whom we owe this particular blog series…Miss Charlotte Mason, herself. In our magazine, we assume an understanding of who Charlotte Mason was and to what her life was dedicated. But, here on the blog, it is entirely possible that you have merely stumbled upon our site after following a rabbit trail of ideas and if you are new to the Charlotte Mason world, or homeschooling in general, then this post is for you!

Charlotte Mason lived in England during the Victorian Era, working in the educational community her entire life. Though she was a both a teacher and a philosophical creator, she was never a parent. Her ideas came from close observation throughout her early career as a children’s caretaker and her later careers in the field of education, as a teacher/trainer and then as a writer.

Consumed with a great passion to be a part of the change she hoped to see in the British school system, Mason spent her life searching out a beautiful and true way to teach children well. Her heart was steadfast in its dedication to the cause of a better education for all and, over the course of her life, she was able to consolidate her ideas into 20 separate principles. These principles are the heart of all that she did in her schools, her personal life, and the PNEU (Parent’s National Education Union).

Mason was a contemporary of many well known educators like Pestalozzi, Montessori, and Froebel. She was extremely well-read and left numerous references inside her volumes as to who was influencing her at different times. Her extensive reading helped form her thoughts and build what came to be a very robust collection of living ideas. You don’t need to know who the people she references are in order to understand Mason’s writings, but it sure can shed light on just what was happening in the world around her. She, though well-versed in other developing educational philosophies, took much pride in her own thoughtfully worked out method.

The truth is that Mason’s World was a world full of people just like ours…and we will perhaps be challenged by her idea to “not scorn the bridge that has borne us” (V3.49) as we meet some of them..

While Mason was first and foremost an educator, she stayed close in spirit to the mothers and nurse-maids of her day. When developing the methodology behind her school curriculums, she always remembered the home educators. This is one of the reasons why her method so appeals to moms today–she is directly speaking to us (but also sometimes to our maids, which is why we must still keep in mind that we live in a different century)

Mason wrote her thoughts down in what has become a 6 volume book set, often referred to as The Original Home Schooling Series. Page by page, CPQ is researching every person mentioned. Turns out, her educational philosophy is a cumulation of ideas from many different people.

Charlotte Mason wasn’t an island, she didn’t go it alone, and she should never become an idol. She was gifted with a wonderfully analytical mind that she filled to the brim with many books, much conversation, and a lifetime of living ideas.

The hope with these Friday Introductions is that they will give us a clearer view of the world Mason was living in, helping us to round out our understanding of both her and her educational philosophy in a healthy way. We believe that it is valuable to understand who and where the quotes she referenced came from. This project was born from just simply asking those questions on the fly as we researched for the magazine articles we were writing. Have we been shocked at some of our findings? Yup! Have we nodded our head in agreement? Absolutely! And more often than not we have found ourselves saying, “Well, I never….”

While it can be easy to envision the Victorian Era through the lens of what we are already familiar with and the literary/film characters we love and enjoy, it is also grounding and insightful to realize how much more than that it was in real life. The truth is that Mason’s World was a world full of people just like ours. These men and women in our Friday squares were the heroes, criminals, entertainers, writers, educators, and influencers of her day and we will perhaps be challenged by her idea to “not scorn the bridge that has borne us” (V3.49) as we meet some of them.

But God used Mason to weave together an educational philosophy that encompassed the ideas from a whole host of people throughout history, for His glory.