No, not that soul mate. I won't turn this blog all personal and tell you about the great romance of mine with Mr. Nelson. No, I'm talking about Charlotte. It's funny, at our house we talk about Miss Mason like she's a beloved aunt. The other day as I was puzzling through how to handle a schooling issue Rodney suggested we think WWCD (what would Charlotte do?). Hope that isn't sacreligious to you. Yes, yes our concerns about discerning what Jesus would do takes significant pre-eminence, but you get the jist of how we think about her. In fact the part that makes our WWCD work is that Charlotte Mason sought to shape her approach to children and her entire world view with following Christ. But I digress....
I'm not sure exactly how it all began. Since I'm a historian who finds great joy in all the background details I'll not try to puzzle out exactly how for fear of a lengthy post, but somehow in my quest to provide enrichment for my children (who at the time were 4 and 2 years old) I turned to Amazon.com for inspiration. I enjoy recommended lists others publish there and have also had great success with Amazon's recommendations for me. One of those lists suggested For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. I recognized the name because of her father and another book she had written (How to be your Own Selfish Pig) which I had seen often on my mom's bookshelf. For the Children's Sake had rave reviews, so I added it to my cart and forgot about it. Eventually my order got placed, arrived and I read it. I remember sitting up late at night devouring it. I kept interrupting Rod's doctoral studies to read paragraphs to him. I just couldn't get over it. It spoke to me in a way that few books have, and I'm a reader. I read and read all the time. One of the many things that struck me about this book is that Susan Schaeffer Macaulay put into words what I had felt and thought. It was a rolling relief and recognition of an old friend or someone who get's what I'm talking about when others don't. It was fantastic!
Since that time I've read many other Charlotte related books and some of her own works as well. At first I read many of the books written by others about the CM method. Some I enjoyed more than others, but found value in all I read. Then I decided to "tackle" some of the original works. If you read enough of her admirers, you do get a sense of being warned off from the original works by Miss Mason. I figured if I could read and enjoy Victorian essayists like Mathew Arnold and Cardinal Newman, I certainly could read Miss Mason. I'll admit, her writing is rich and deep, and really I could read just a few paragraphs at a time. They haven't been a quick read for me, but I think that is because they are so good and complex that I need to ponder and savor the thoughts. So if you're really eager to better understand the method, by all means read her works. If you want to work your way up to that point, I've got a few books to point you to. All of them may be found at Amazon and sometimes at your local bookstore.
Marybeth's List of Charlotte Related Reading:
- Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss -- I'm reading this right now and am finding it to be so helpful and encouraging. It is one of the better CM books I've read. It is written more for homeschooling (as are most of the following). The lists of recommended books for children is a great resource.
- A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola -- this book gives a good overview of the method and breaks it down by subject area giving examples of how to accomplish instruction using the method. It is a great resource and a delight to read.
- Books Children Love: a guide to the best children's literature by Elizabeth Wilson. I love this book. Every family should have it. It organizes recommended reading by subject area and reading level. So say you really want a good, living book to read to your child about physics, you could use this book to track down a good read about Dr. Rontgen the discoverer of the x-ray. I enjoy just sitting and reading through this book which is why this post is taking me so long to finish!
- A Literary Education by Catherine Levison -- this book is similar to the one above, only not nearly so comprehensive. This is a catalog of books the author has used in homeschooling her children using the CM Method.
There are more books I could send your way, but these are enough for now! Soon I'll point you to a few of my favorite websites and blogs that have to do with our dear Miss Mason.