This is a repost from my defunct blog.
Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.
This was Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education and it’s the central theme of Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s book, For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School.
I enjoyed this book because it presents an educational philosophy built on the premise of educating the whole child. A philosophy which appreciates that there is more to education than the three R’s. Of course, most homeschoolers know this instinctively, which is why they have chosen to homeschool.
For someone like me, who was steeped in 13 years of an educational model built largely on the ever-looming standardized test, a mental shift was required when considering the true meaning of education. This is particularly true since we decided to opt out the system for our younger children because of our dissatisfaction with the level of academic instruction. This, despite the fact that our older children were all honors/AP students in public school.
It wasn’t until I began doing my research that I began to get a greater understanding of the importance of creating an atmosphere conducive to learning rather than depending on an artificial learning environment. For The Children’s Sake does an excellent job of taking the ideas of Charlotte Mason and condensing them into a book that touches on all of the important aspects of educating the whole person.
Helping children to become lifelong lovers of learning, giving them the tools to teach themselves the things that interest them as they become old enough to do so, and not neglecting the importance of playtime and exposure to the classroom of nature were all themes that resonated with me. Most of all, the book frames its discussion of education from a Christian perspective:
“Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food.”
I enjoyed this book a great deal and appreciated that it offers a picture of education that is radically different than the traditional model our society has come to accept as the only “right way” to educate. A “right way” which incidentally, is being exposed more and more as a dismal failure by people of all educational persuasions.
I give For The Children’s Sake a grade of A-. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a book that succinctly captures the spirit of a Charlotte Mason education.