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A helpful concise overview of Charlotte Mason and her educational philosophy:

Ambleside Online gives further information on the Charlotte Mason method of education, and provides many resources, including freely accessible online versions of Charlotte Mason's original six-volume book series entitled, "Towards a Philosophy of Education."

In assessing the relevance of Charlotte Mason today, there is always a balance to be held carefully in tension.  On the one hand, we don’t assume that what is new and current is always better than traditional wisdom.  On the other hand, we can’t ignore our present local and cultural context as well as the unique issues that children are facing today.  Our respect for Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy is certainly not rooted in an idealistic notion to turn the clock back to a supposedly superior childhood of yesteryear.  We embrace the opportunities and distinctives of our present local context, but as we adapt to these, we don’t discard godly wisdom in the name of relevance.  


At its core, we prize Charlotte Mason’s high regard for the child as a human person, created in the image of God - a truth that she perceived had widespread ramifications for education as a whole.  We appreciate that children now, just as then, are persons with minds to be fed and nourished; with imaginations able to appreciate beauty in all its forms; with an inner moral sense of right and wrong; with physical bodies needing to run, climb, explore and play; and with a natural curiosity in the world around them.    

This was a truth that Charlotte Mason contended for in her own day - a time when children were told to be "seen and not heard"; when girls were told they weren’t as capable as boys and when those amongst the labouring poor were treated as inferior intellectually.  While much has changed between her day and our own, sadly the subtle undermining of the human person in modern school systems is still a reality to contend with.  We see natural curiosity stifled by an oversupply of entertainment; we see conformity to a one-size-fits-all curriculum; we see an over-emphasis on testing and assessments; and we see education treated as a competition in which both the 'winners' and the 'losers' ultimately lose out on any joy in learning.  


Our challenges may be different, but our response must still be to affirm the intrinsic value of children and to make sure that our schooling enriches them with the best possible relationships with God, community, books, art, music and creation.  We find great joy in seeing our children growing as persons; enjoying the wonder of personal discoveries; asking for the next chapter of their literature book to be read; relishing some unhurried time to do sketching or watercolour painting during a Nature Study.  Just as a plant needs soil, sun and water to grow, so the children of the 21st century still need the well-rounded nourishment of a broad and rich education that treats them as the persons they are.  


So at Grace Primary, we are thankful that we can take the hands of great mentors from across the generations and build on their godly wisdom as we seek to remain relevant in the present.  To the question, “Is Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education relevant?”, we at Grace Primary would still say a resounding “Yes”!     


This first video below is a summary of our educational philosophy shared by our Philosophy Director, Judy McComb, and the second one is a TED Talk given by the late Sir Ken Robinson about the urgent need for schools that don't place their emphasis on 'teaching to the test' but rather on nurturing innate curiosity.  At one point he says, "the arts aren't just important to children because they improve maths scores, but because they speak to the parts of a child's being that are otherwise left untouched" - this is something with which Charlotte Mason would very much agree.

How to escape education's death valley | Sir Ken Robinson | TED

How to escape education's death valley | Sir Ken Robinson | TED


Print Sources:

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, "For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School",

Crossway books, 1984, ISBN-10: 1433506955


News Articles:

The One Question Every Parent Should Quit Asking

Why our children need to get outside and engage with nature

Raising successful kids: be careful how your praise them!


If you would like to get a more 'close-up' view of life at Grace Primary School, please visit our Facebook page which shares much of our story from the start in 2014, and our Instagram feed, launched in 2020.

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