Friday, March 10, 2017

Education in CM's Day: Introduction

I have spent RIDICULOUS amounts of time culling through educational journals of the early 1900's. For a history and education geek like me it has been great fun. My husband is not as thrilled; but, I am glad to share what I have discovered with you all.

After I was convinced that Mason is not really "classical" in the traditional sense (focus on Latin and Greek and limited curriculum) or in the neo-classical sense (the trivium: three stages starting with memorization - which of course wasn't a "thing" until at least the 1940s/1980s), I began to wonder how similar her methods were to those practiced in Britain at the time.  She clearly didn't live in a vacuum - she was VERY well read, as her 6 volumes (and other works) attest to.  I knew that the early 1900's was a crucial time in educational history and I wondered about Mason's response to and role in this.

This series looks at two key questions:

1.  How does Charlotte Mason respond to the educational debates of her era? 

In her works she doesn't always articulate the debate but she clearly takes a position on issues that we may not even realize were questions.  As I have started reading, I have realized that MANY of the questions of that era continue to be debated today (the role of science, how to teach reading, approach to foreign languages, etc.).  Understanding her response can help us navigate some of these issues today.

2.  How similar or different are Charlotte Mason's methods from the "traditional" English educational system of her era?

Trying to fully implement her ideas seems very foreign to us today - handicrafts, timetables, multiple languages at a young age, etc.  I wanted to know if the shift was as difficult for mother's of that era. How revolutionary were her ideas?   If her ideas were fairly similar maybe reading other resources of the day can help us understand the common practices and mindsets of the era.  If they are truly unique, it can deepen our appreciation of the novelty of her philosophy and practices in her time and today.

Knowing history can inform the present.  I hope that this series does that for you.  Do you have questions about that era and her practices and philosophy? I can't promise to find answers to everything but I can have fun trying!  

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