Isn't Charlotte Mason a Home Schooling Method?

A reader pointed out to me today (HT: Mrs. Curtis) that some people might think Charlotte Mason's method is a homeschooling method and that using her method in a school might be a counter productive application. This misconception arises, I think, because the renaissance in Miss Mason's thinking has grown fastest among the networks of home schooling parents who have found the method to be just what they were looking for. Check out AmblsideOnline for a taste of how the method can be used in the home. In my experience home schoolers are some of the most innovative educators going and it is almost definitional that home schoolers are responding to an unmet demand. It is not too surprising, then, that it was home schooling parents at the forefront of the revival of this most humane of methods. It is also not surprising that much of the recent literature about Charlotte Mason's method is aimed at home schooling parents.

Nevertheless, it is good to remember that it was through the PNEU schools in England that the method was developed and originally popularized, and it was in the laboratory school attached to the House of Education at Ambleside that the method was even further refined. The Charlotte Mason method, while an excellent approach to home education, was originally conceived to transform the schools of England. So, what we will be doing at RiverTree is entirely consistent with Miss Mason's original intentions.

It also should be noted that there are already several schools in the United States which are successfully implementing the Charlotte Mason method. Three of note are Ambleside School of Virginia, Ambleside School of Fredricksburg, TX, and Perimeter Christian School near Atlanta. My wife and I intend to visit at least one of these schools next fall so that we can learn from their experience and apply it to RiverTree.

Most important, however, to understanding why this method can be successfully implemented in a school environment is that it is true to the nature of the child. If a method of education is founded upon philosophical principles that are true, then the application of those principles will naturally be effective no matter the setting. More than any educational philosophy I have found, the Charlotte Mason method is consistent with Christian truth about our human nature, our relationship with God and our role in the world. I am very confident that our application of this philosophy to a school will be successful.