Charlotte Mason Reflections

I've been doing a lot of studying lately on the Charlotte Mason method of education. If you are not familiar with CM, I suggest this link. It is interesting to compare and contrast theorists from similar time periods. Both theorists agreed in equal access to education and both believed strongly in the development of life skills (practical life). Both believed in things before symbols and the importance of interacting with the environment, although they defined this very differently. Charlotte Mason actually wrote a letter to the Times critiquing Montessori (you can read a version, here) but I think they are more complimentary than Charlotte Mason believed.

I am finding that the exact ways that a Montessori homeschooling mom is limited in space, time, and equipment with a Montessori elementry education, she is freed by the Charlotte Mason method. Subjects such as language, science, and history are learned from extensive study of living books as opposed to special materials that consume space and time. My own personal love of books and learning draws me into the Charlotte Mason method.

I admit to being less than impressed with the 6-9 & 9-12 science, language, and history materials. I could write more about why, but suffice it to say that I think the science curriculum is extremely weak (Tim agrees wholeheartedly with this and actually authored supplemental materials as part of his Master's Degree work...I'm still pushing him to get it published) and that the history curriculum is basically way too much. (Note- these are thoughts on 6-12 curricula, not 3-6.) I have planned all along to supplement our history curriculum beginning next year. You can read more on my thoughts about history and geography, here. I am already suplementing more than I am using the language curriculum for Aidan (read more here).

As I wander through these thoughts in my brain, I am reevaluating the best method for continuing in our home education. Charlotte Mason wrote very little on the subject of math and what she did write effectively defines a Montessori math curriculum. I will not give up on my Montessori Math! I truly believe there is nothing stronger when it comes to an effective understanding of how math works.

I will also not give up my Montessori 0-3 and 3-6 curriculum in general. I don't agree with Charlotte Mason that all formal schooling should be delayed until 6. I believe the sensitive periods that Montessori identified have an impact on life long educational experiences. Current research in early childhood education supports this. Although I don't believe that public schools are the standard by which the rest of us need to education, I do think it speaks loudly that much of Montessori's work has been absorbed into mainstream early childhood education while little to none of CM's methods have been adopted.

My plan right now is to continue doing what I have been doing from birth to age 6. The successes and failures of my children assure me this is the right thing to do. My experiences with applying Montessori at home this year, however, have led me to look for a way to make more of the Montessori experience. I have found weaknesses and I have found strengths. In some of those weaknesses I have found different ways to apply Montessori techniques (like the Words Their Way spelling curriculum) and in others I have continued to seek something different. I think Charlotte Mason might be that for our family when it comes to language, science, and history.


Kylie said...

We've also been doing a great deal more with living books.

My Boys' Teacher said...

Couldn't agree more! I think all of the subject that fall under "culture" need to be approached differently than they would in a school for those doing Montessori at home. Just as you said, there are ways to do it that don't need so much materials and time.

Becky said...

We do Montessori homeschooling, but I have been considering Charlotte Mason and wondered what CM thought about Montessori. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as well as CM's letter about Montessori.

My kids like Montessori, but they love being outside even more. As a homeschooler, I think we are blessed to have the opportunity to do both!

lilpeasinmypodfromgod said...

Beyond unschooling, Charlotte mason is all we have ever known/done. I love her methods. I have EVERY book(no joke) on her methods and yes, I have even read her 6 volume series....oy but I admit I didnt get much from them, they are too difficult reading to comprehend for me. Anyways I LOVE LOVE LOVE her and I LOVE for great materials as well as sonlight. We use sonlight with Queen lesson languages for language arts.

Mo said...

Thank you for sharing this. We also incorporate a lot of CM in our Montessori homeschool classroom. I've also wondered what MM thought of CM? I know CM expressed her opinions about MM, but so much of what MM intended for the elementary classroom is based on "cosmic education." As I continue to understand CM, I can't help but feel that MM's cosmic education is very similar to CM.