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Landscape with Olive Trees by Vincent Van Gogh 1889

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason was ahead of her time. As a 19th century educator, she believed that each child is first a whole person with their own will and passions. Mason saw the teacher as a facilitator to learning, namely the conductor who puts enthusiasm, questioning, and the presentation of ideas for the student to make their own connections, thus making their learning a self-education. She also included a set of principles to guide them known as habits of the mind and learning and used them to catapult the application of her philosophy.

Ms. Mason was a pioneer in the movement of women educators and child and parent empowerment. She initially worked in private schools with middle-class families whose parents were concerned about their children's future in a social culture that was becoming more competitive. She started a publication called Parents’ National Educational Union or P.N.E.U. to network with mothers and fathers to provide a quality education for their children. Later, Ms. Mason would move into the public sector so all children would benefit from the humanities rich in literature, history, music, and art. The following statement best describes Mason in a nutshell.


"Mason's work is permeated by traditional Victorian values: patriotism, duty, self-discipline, and Christianity. But she rejected a behaviourist, utilitarian and mechanistic approach to education. The educational philosophy she developed and the methods which she practised are described, piecemeal, throughout the original homeschooling series, volumes 1–6. The references below are indicative. She believed in intrinsic motivation (vol. 6.6, 98) and that learning is 'assimilated' through observing and interacting with the environment (vol. 1, 24; vol. 3, 21), creating individual mental maps and building on what was previously known (vol. 6, 39). She encouraged learning through direct experience (vol. 1, 179) while teaching 'the principles of a discipline' (vol. 2, 127). She insisted that children are individuals, 'persons' (vol. 6.1, 18). She saw the role of the adult as providing enthusiasm and stimuli (vol. 1, 79) and 'scaffolding' to support the learner through encouraging questioning, forming hypotheses, and making connections." (vol. 2, 181–5)

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