Why Charlotte Mason?

Parents visiting SCCS for the first time are pleasantly surprised by the cozy, home-like atmosphere of our classrooms. They are excited to discover that our students learn low-tech skills like cursive and handwork. They are captivated by students’ watercolored nature journals and impressed that preschoolers are listening to Tchaikovsky, third graders are reciting Shakespeare, and eighth graders are reading Les Miserable. All of these aspects of the SCCS student experience are shaped by Charlotte Mason.

CHARLOTTE MASON lived during the turn of the nineteenth century in England when the notion that all children, including girls and children born into lower socio-economic classes, were entitled to a high quality education was a radical belief. She believed from her own experience as an educator among a working class community that all children were thinking persons whose minds could be kindled through a broad feast of great literature, art, and ideas.

By age fifty, with a lifetime of education experience behind her, she began to write books and articles, becoming an authoritative voice within the widespread movement of her day that advocated for a liberal arts education for all children regardless of social class or status. She possessed not only an inspiring philosophical vision of children and education, but also an ability to demonstrate to teachers and parents how to practically implement these ideas.

Charlotte Mason’s advice was eagerly received by parents and teachers of her day who were waking up to the awesome responsibility to give children an education that would serve them well for a lifetime. Her insights were in many ways ahead of her time and continue to be a rich source of guidance and inspiration to educators and parents.

Keep reading for a basic overview of a Charlotte Mason education. To learn about how we blend this approach with contemporary research and best practice, visit the Our Classrooms page.

An Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life

Education is an atmosphere

… expressed through a class structure that provides succinct, focused lessons, promoted by a non-competitive atmosphere (without extrinsic rewards) and a positive and peaceful environment, focused on the delight of learning.

… expressed through classroom design and décor that takes into account the educational value of a home-like environment.

Education is a discipline

…that cultivates habits of caring— for one another, for materials and resources, and for the living world.

… that requires perseverance—with
the encouragement and expectation for students
to finish well and do their best work.

… that focuses on the attitude of the heart—
in conflict resolution, in relationship restoration,
and in response to correction.

Education is a life

… where no separation exists between the sacred and the secular.
All truth is God’s truth.

… best pursued through contact with real things—the best books by the best minds, real life experiences, actual objects, and opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Education is the science of relationships

… that the child has with the realm of ideas,
the created world, people, and God.

…that creates a vibrant and relevant learning experiences when connections are made across subjects, within relationships and with real life.

Our Beliefs about Children

Children are created in the image of God, and as image-bearers, they are spiritual, moral beings.

Children have an inherent curiosity about the world around them. The process of acquiring knowledge is as natural to them as breathing.

Children are rational beings. They are able to deal with complex ideas, generate original ideas, and connect with newly encountered ideas.

Children have unique perspectives and learn in different ways. Their strengths and weaknesses, interests and experiences, culture and background serve as places from which to begin their education.

Children learn and live best when part of a community where they are valued, respected, encouraged, and held accountable.

Children need guidance, discipline, and the consistency of routine. Authority and obedience are fundamental principles having their source in the authority of our Creator. This authority must never be abused to manipulate children by guilt, influence, fear, or undue play upon any natural desire (such as to be well-liked by one’s teacher).

Children have great potential as builders and shapers of their world. They are responsible beings, able to effect change in themselves, their families, and the larger community.

Further Reading

To learn more about Charlotte Mason and be inspired, our favorite introductory book is When Children Love to Learn, edited by Elaine Cooper.