Charlotte Mason was a turn-of-the-century educator who frequently used the term "twaddle" to describe much of what was taught in textbooks as a waste of a child's time and energy.
Through her many years of teaching, she determined there were better ways to teach children, ways that stimulated a love for learning and helped children to retain knowledge better than traditional methods. She believed that children can and want to learn, and that teachers should not control all learning opportunities, leaving room for spontaneity. She stressed children learning through senses and recommended interaction wth nature, giving children plenty of time for exercise and outdoor exploration instead of always keeping children in the school room. But Ms. Mason did NOT believe in "unschooling." She believed that learning should be directed, if not controlled, and she believed in teaching a child self-discipline and good habits.
One of the ideas Charlotte Mason is best known for is her use of "narration," which is basically a child re-telling a story he has read or heard in his own words. She recommended using real, classic books for children, often called "living books." And she emphasized the importance of developing the imagination and the value of making connections between topics studied to enhance memory.
Charlotte Mason's ideas are generally implemented in the elementary levels. The hallmarks to this approach are the use of "living books" vs. textbooks; the narration technique; nature learning; hands-on learning; making connections between topics; studying the fine arts; and a focus on developing good habits and a love of learning.
Prominent companies that incorporate Charlotte Mason philosophy are Ambleside Online, Simply Charlotte Mason, Queen Homeschool Supplies, Living Books Curriculum, and My Father's World.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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