I don’t want the standard of our education to be how closely it resembles Charlotte Mason’s, but instead how closely it resembles the Christian life described in scripture.
Why am I saying this? Among my CM circle, as I suspect in many CM circles (exemplified by the 3 bizillion CM blogs), there seems to be a strong drive to be ever more Mason-ish, even competitively so.
Point #1: Volume 6, chapter 10 section I. Miss Mason describes in this section her method for instructing children in the Bible. This method is distinctively different from her method for other subjects; in other subjects she aims to connect the child directly to the mind of the author by not inserting, disrupting or adding to a work. This contrasts with her method for teaching the Bible where she inserts commentaries and word pictures before reading scripture to children. The author I am most interested in connecting my children to is God Himself.
Beyond CM’s recommendation, commentaries must be utilized with care as all human works contain errors which can not add to God’s perfect work. The commentaries Miss Mason advises, from which her examples were given, are full of errors! The example errors are particularly disturbing because they invalidate the completeness and sufficiency, of scripture. The questions regarding Genesis 3 on pg 163, which are to be read to a student, are presented as though they are unaswerable, when in fact, the answers are clearly within scripture itself (Heb 11:4 is one obvious answer). If a student is presented with these questions from the vantage that they are unanswerable, then the inerrant nature of scripture appears negated.
Another type of error included in examples is the addition of information not included in scripture. The Philistines, on pg 162, were described as stupid, among other erroneous assumptions. While this is not only inaccurate, it also devalues the significance of what the Israelites were truly up against.
A historical query turns up that Miss Mason’s Anglican background firmly held to the need for commentaries in order for laypersons to understand scripture, and she dutifully held to this in her curriculum, despite its apparent deviation from her other ideas. This flatly disappoints me, though it is excusable from her perspective and respect for authority; it is not excusable to dismiss this error when we apply the CM education to our own students.
Here, we (finally) arrive at my purpose. Miss Mason was human. Her methods can not be accepted without critical thinking. It is unwise to accept and apply anyone’s philosophy without testing it against scripture. When we become so willing to apply something that we refuse to consider the failings, our motives come into question. I come back to the goals my husband and I established for our homeschool and I can clearly see why I need to reject Miss Mason’s method for Bible instruction.
In case you wonder what I do instead, I read scripture directly, and have my students narrate each portion we read. I also complete a study of the geographical area with mapwork, often on a different day because my children are so young. This is principally her method for teaching other subjects. Soooo…what I do instead is not really very dramatic. The drama seems to come from my CM group over my rejection of one of CM’s methods.
What about you? Do you think a CM education is all or nothing, or must it be critically applied?