Friday, September 2, 2011

A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison

A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison is a rather slender book that summarizes the Charlotte Mason approach to education far more so than even Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake.  Levison is not shy about stating her personal opinions and, while she espouses most of what Mason recommends for the proper upbringing of a child, she is perhaps more conservative in her own application of the educational philosophy. 

The author touches on most of the expected subjects, from reading, writing, mathematics, etc.  It is important to note that Mason’s methods were developed over 100 years ago, in a social climate very different from our own.  For the more progressive parent, her recommendations will probably be far removed from the educational goals in a liberal household.  Multicultural literature is not listed in the recommended reading and few women are represented, mostly added by followers of her method.  This is not to negate the merit of her philosophy; I mention this as a point of interest for those who may be wondering what methods of nurturing curiosity are available.

Levison, as I have already said, has a conservative approach to how she applies the philosophy, modifying the schedule to fit her needs while also choosing to prohibit her children from premature exposure to certain forms of literature and art.  She is not alone; I remember meeting many homeschooling mothers who filtered everything their children read and did. 

In the end, this book is a disappointment.  For an overview of how Mason approach the education of children, For the Children’s Sake is a superior choice.  If the reader then wishes to learn more or read further, there are the books Charlotte Mason herself wrote, in particular School Education and Towards a Philosophy of Education.  These books are available very inexpensively.  Also, they are probably better edited because I was surprised that a book on education was so poorly written that the author doesn’t understand proper grammar (she says “different than” while also misplacing commas and more).  In spite of my misgivings and even distaste, I will probably read the author’s second book.  Perhaps between writing the first and second, as she was teaching her own children the proper use of commas and other grammar rules, she managed to properly edit her own writing and publish a better book.

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