Born on January 1, 1842, at Bangor, England, Mason grew up appreciating the ocean air. Her parents devoted much time to their daughter, and Mason was predominately taught at home. Life changed dramatically for Mason when her mother died and her father also passed away the next year. At age 16 she moved in with friends, and by 18 she enrolled in The Home and Colonial School Society in London. It was the only college which trained teachers in all of England at that time.
Mason embarked on a three-year journey of learning and then received her teaching certificate. She earned a job as a headmistress in a new school for very young children, and there she taught for another three years. Her schooling and on-the-job training encouraged Mason to see education in a different light than most educators. She believed in education for all children, regardless of social class, and that each child should be treated with respect and dignity. Mason saw that through living books rather than text books students gained great exposure to ideas, reason, and knowledge, and they thus began to understand that each person filled a unique purpose in this life.
Mason's ideas developed over a period of time as she taught and then fell ill, requiring rest. When she renewed her strength to teach again, she went to Bishop Otter College in Chichester. Several years of educating future teachers led Mason to think that informing parents about methods of raising children would be helpful. She needed to teach the parents how to teach the children who would later grow up into parents, and potentially teachers, themselves. Unfortunately, Mason fell sick once again, and was forced to quit teaching. Her rest and travel abroad resulted in several books based on geography. For, as she walked about, Mason kept notes and later saw published The Forty Shires and five more books. The income generated allowed Mason to move to Bradford and live in some comfort.
When asked for a donation to help fund a church room, Mason offered to give free lectures on education. Her offer was gladly accepted, and these lectures later became published as Home Education. Mason then decided to open a society for parents called the Parents Educational Union and pen a journal for members called the Parents' Review. Gaining wide acceptance, the PEU grew rapidly as new branches opened, and a Parents' Union School sprang up, following Mason's teaching methods and philosophy. By 1890, Mason opened a teaching college for women and through an adjacent PUS, young children could receive a free education while their mothers went to school as well.
Mason continued writing and oversaw the network of schools until her death on January 16, 1923. Her efforts and views on education later influenced many in the homeschool movement, and her style of teaching is taught in homes today.
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