Charlotte Mason was a 19 th century British Educator who founded a chain of Parent Controlled School called Parents National Education Union (PNEU).Her style and exposition were homely.She stressed the influence and responsibility of the home.Specifically addressing the mother she writes:
The mother needs to acquire her own habit of training her children so that by and by,it is not troublesome to her,but a pleasure .She devotes herself to the formation of one habit in her children at a time,doing no more than watch over those already formed.
Some elements you will always read in her work are:
This is what drove me right at the heart of this philosophy.Whole books are living in the sense that they are written by a single author who shares personally his favorite subject with us.An exemplary author for us is Imam Bhukari ,who started acquiring knowledge of Hadith at the age of ten and traveled to Makkah when he was sixteen.He spend six year in Hijaz acquiring knowledge.He traveled many different places gathering Hadith ,it is said he collected over 300,000 Ahadith and memorized 200,000 .He labored day and night to sift forged Ahadith from authentic ones.In his book he only chose 7,275 haidth with repetition and without repetition 2,230 hadith ,which there is no doubt about authenticity.SubhanAllah.Now this is not in a story format ,which is one quality of a living book.But its soo neat and beautiful words of the Prophet make is ever so living.
On a more contemporary note Luqman Nagy has written some wonderful books with passion and information.
With living books a child gains knowledge through his own efforts .He digs out facts and information and then expresses in his own language.Narration also provides opportunities for a child to form an opinion or make a judgment ,no matter how crude.Because narration takes the place of fill in the blank and multiple choice tests it enables the child to bring all his mental faculties into play.
When a child follows her method there is no need for homework,because the child immediately deals with the literature at hand and proves his mastery by narrating.Instead of homework children enjoy cozy evenings with good books and parental attention.
Charlotte wanted children to be motivated by admiration ,faith and love ,instead of artificial stimulants such as prizes (stickers ,candy or money),competition and grades.I still have to work my way through this one….some days all my boys do is jump on the bed …yes whole day!they can go on and on and on….they just don’t read some days!
So when they finish reading a book I buy them a kinder joy egg!(aahhh I am ashamed)but then you have well read kids,so its a good deal.(I told you I am an eclectic homeschooler)
Formal lessons end by one P.M.So afternoons are free for running ,climbing,yelling and all out doors.It has been observed that boys particularly cannot flourish with out this opportunity. Handicrafts ,chores ,cooking ,gardening ,visiting lonely neighbors ,observing nature may all be enjoyed during this time.
Nature study is emphasis on being outdoors and observing nature. Students keep a nature notebook of drawings and description of their many finds.
SubhanAllah this observation of nature is ever more emphasized in the Quran …every now and then we come across ayas where Allah says:
Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except (Allah) Most Gracious: Truly (Allah) Most Gracious: Truly it is He that watches over all things. (Surah 67, verse 19)
And Allah has created every animal from water: of them there are some that creep on their bellies; some that walk on two legs; and some that walk on four. Allah creates what He wills for verily Allah has power over all things.
Over and over God tells us that the alternation of night and day are signs of His power. And the weather and climate are His to create and control.
Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that you can see; is firmly established on the throne (of authority); He has subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law)! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed. He regulates all affairs, explaining the signs in detail, that you may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord.
And it is He who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm and (flowing) rivers: and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two: He draws the night as a veil o’er the Day. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who consider!
And in the earth are tracts (diverse though) neighboring, and gardens of vines and fields sown with corn, and palm trees – growing out of single roots or otherwise: watered with the same water, yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who understand! (Surah 13, verses 2, 3 and 4)
Through Charlotte’s method we need not do very much teaching .Children gain the ability to educate themselves.They do not depend upon notes they have taken from a teacher’s lecture-where most of the information has been per-digested by the teacher.With the method of narration from books,the child at age six or seven, comments on the carefully chosen words of an author in essay form, either oral or written.Too much explaining by the teacher can be a detriment to self education
Ideas and Culture
Children’s love of knowledge is dependent upon how clearly ideas are presented to them.The mind feeds upon ideas.To quote Charlotte
“Ideas must reach us directly from the mind of the thinker, and it is chiefly by the means of the books they have written that we get in touch with the best minds”
Education is a Discipline
By discipline Charlotte basically means laying down the rails for good habits.Which are foundations for a well mannered child.
And how important are manners in Islam:
Abu Darda (RA) reported that Rasulullah (SAW) said, “Nothing is weightier on the Scale of Deeds than one’s good manners.”(Al-Bukhari)
Abu Hurairah (RA) said, “I heard Abu al Qasim (Rasulullah (SAW)), say, ‘The best among you in Islam are those with the best manners, so long as they develop a sense of understanding.” (Al-Bukhari)