A trait that I admire in Charlotte Mason is how well-attuned she was to human nature. By this, I mean, that she was able to narrow down a lifetime of observations into 20 principles that – once known and understood – could guide educators without overwhelming them. Whenever I am in doubt about how to proceed with my children’s education, I come back to the principles.
Before moving ahead in my research, there are two principles that I would especially like to focus on. These are numbers eighteen and nineteen, and I have included them, in full, below.
18. The way of reason: We teach children, too, not to ‘lean (too confidently) to their own understanding’; because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth, (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case, reason is, practically, an infallible guide, but in the latter, it is not always a safe one; for, whether that idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.
19. Therefore, children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching, that the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas. To help them in this choice we give them principles of conduct, and a wide range of the knowledge fitted to them. These principles should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need.
-Charlotte Mason. “Preface.” Towards a Philosophy of Education.
There is one expression in the above quote that I especially want to emphasize, and it is this, that “…the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas.” Charlotte Mason argued that once an individual has accepted an idea, he could use reason to prove it true even if the original idea wasn’t a sound one.
I started this blog on the premise that technology and media can be integrated successfully into a Charlotte Mason school without taking away from the benefits of her original approach. If I read research or make observations that call my original premise into question, I may be “blinded” by my bias, and I may mistakenly blunder onward.
For this reason, it is more important than ever to have this conversation in a public space with other families that are implementing a Charlotte Mason education as well. It would be especially helpful to receive input from families that do not agree with my original idea. Through thoughtful discussion, we can ask better questions and come closer to a decision about whether to integrate technology into our home school, how to sift through the available materials to assess their worth, and what limits, if any, are required for our families’ health and well-being. With that in mind, I will share articles, books and other resources as I find them so that others have the opportunity to read the original information and come to their own conclusions.
I leave you tonight with a link to an article by Devorah Heitner, Ph.D., whose book ScreenWise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World is on my list of potential resources. The article is “Thinking Beyond Screentime: Creativity Over Consumption.” I hope you find some food for thought!