The mind feeds on ideas. These ideas
are found in books of literary quality. A
student digests this mind-food by narrating, that is, telling back the passage of
the book in his own words. After a while
he develops a taste for knowledge. With
each new idea digested and each new bit
of knowledge made personal, he grows.
“Miss Mason believed that there is no
education but self-education. Our business, she said, was to give him mind-stuff. Both quantity and quality are essential. . . . Self-education by means of living
books, narration, first-hand experience
and observation is such a very satisfying
and rewarding process that it naturally
continues throughout life.”
Charlotte Mason takes no credit for
being the first to recognize the advantages of self-education. She refers to the
Christian educator, John Amos Comenius (1592–1670), at the very start of her
book Philosophy of Education: “. . . That
golden rule of which Comenius was in
search has discovered itself in the Rule,
- ‘Whereby teachers shall teach less and
scholars shall learn more.’ ”
Keep up the good work,
young mother, and
your children will be
lifelong learners like
Indoors she is looking at artwork and
displaying art prints she had never seen
in her youth, becoming familiar with
new pieces of classical music. Although it
is the kind of education she did not have
herself, she is finding joy in guiding her
children in it daily.
Keep up the good work, young mother,
and your children will be lifelong learners like you’ve become. You are in this
together. Yes, you are wearing a new
suit of clothes too, one of self-education.
Doesn’t this realization give you a special
kind of “together feel”?
A Horse That Is Light
Once during our first summer here in
Pennsylvania Dutch Country, I was waiting at a traffic light. When I looked in my
rear-view mirror I was startled. “Oh, my,
it’s the face of a horse!” Waiting behind
me in traffic were a horse and buggy.
During that time it was no easy task to
teach the last two of our children how to
drive with the added feature of learning
how to pass buggies safely, I can assure
you. With every venture down our roads
comes the unnerving necessity to pass at
least one or two horse-drawn buggies.
Since first reading the following paragraph in Miss Charlotte Mason’s
Philosophy of Education I have been immensely
fond of it. It is enlightening. Miss Mason
assumes that her readers, who were no
doubt born in the nineteenth century, are
as familiar with the behavior of horses
on the road as we are familiar with them
now, in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
READING FOR ALL LEARNERS
An Added Blessing
A mother who is taking new steps to
homeschool with the Gentle Art of
Learning is very likely witnessing a remarkable ability in her children to be
self-educated, particularly while listening
to her students narrate from their “city of
books.” This mother is walking on new
ground year by year, with courage, especially when she feels less than confident
in what she is doing.
Blessings come her way. So much is
new to her. Perhaps she is reading aloud
books she had never read in her childhood. She is probably getting outside and
enjoying nature study with her children.
Home educators know Karen Andreola
by her groundbreaking book A Charlotte
Mason Companion. Karen taught her
three children through high school—
studying with them all the many wonderful
things her own education was missing.
The entire Andreola family writes product
reviews for Christian Book Distributors.
Knitting mittens and sweaters and cross-stitching historic samplers are activities
enjoyed in Karen’s leisure. For encouraging
ideas, visit her blog: www.momentswith
1. Karen Andreola, A Charlotte Mason Companion,
2. Ibid., pages 43, 44.
3. Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education, page
4. Ibid, page 8.
In urging a method of self-education for children in lieu of the vicarious education which prevails,
I should like to dwell on the enormous relief to teachers, a self-sacrificing and greatly overburdened
class; the difference is just that between driving a horse that is light
and a horse that is heavy in hand;
the former covers the ground of his
own gay will and the driver goes
merrily. The teacher who allows his
scholars the freedom of the city of
books is at liberty to be their guide,
philosopher and friend; and is no
longer the mere instrument of forcible intellectual feeding.
Built just for your learners
Based on their needs
Little Books Teaching Guide