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A Pioneer in Character Education Ngozi Brown

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1 A Pioneer in Character Education Ngozi Brown
Charlotte Mason: A Pioneer in Character Education Ngozi Brown

2 The Essence of Charlotte Mason’s Character Education Approach…
“Children are born persons” (Mason, 1905/2009, Kindle e-reader location 163).

3 Character Value Lens #1: Respect
First and foremost, Charlotte Mason believed in RESPECT. She respected the student as an equal and an individual. Further, she acknowledged the enormous intellectual potential and the God-given personality that all children possess at birth (Mason, 1905/2009). “the mind is not a receptacle into which ideas must be dropped… a child’s mind is no mere sac to hold ideas” (Kindle e-reader location 183). “children have illimitable capacity for all knowledge which reaches them” (Kindle e-reader location 2065). “we recognize that children are persons, and personality should be far more inviolable in our eyes than property” (Kindle e-reader location 241).

4 Character Value Lens #2: Empathy
Charlotte Mason believed in EMPATHY. She encouraged empathy through understanding, sensitivity, nurture, and refraining from the abuse of authority (Mason, 1905/2009). “A child cannot bear estrangement, disapproval; he must needs live in the light of a countenance smiling upon him” (Kindle e-reader location 440). “we must keep ourselves continually in check, and see that our innate love of power finds lawful outlet in the building up of a child’s character, and not in the rude rebuff, the jibe and sneer, the short answer and hasty slap which none of us older people could conceivably endure ourselves” (Kindle e-reader location 1290). “let your children feel and see and be quite sure that you love them” (Kindle e-reader location 2005).

5 What I Admire About Charlotte Mason:
“Like religion, education is nothing or it is everything – a consuming fire in the bones” (Mason, Kindle e-reader location 2360). What I Admire About Charlotte Mason: Mason refused to separate the Christian faith from education; in fact, she considered faith essential to good education (Mason 1905/2009). Mason taught educators to gently yet diligently assist the development of the child’s character, writing, “Provide a child with what he needs in the way of instruction, opportunity, and wholesome occupation, and his character will take care of itself” (Kindle e-reader location 236). Mason recognized the importance of a good education asserting, “education is not merely a preparation for life, but the work of the lifetime” (Kindle e-reader location 2359). Mason respected a child’s individual personhood writing, “the mother errs in believing that her children are hers” (Kindle e-reader location 1298). Mason asserted that the educator should seek to kindle and feed the fire of a child’s curiosity writing, “lessons must be made interesting” (Kindle e-reader location 685) and “to starve her imagination would be to do real wrong to the child” (Kindle e-reader location 1574). Mason considered excellent literature to be the preferred means by which to teach children (Mason 1905/2009).

6 Possible Deficiencies in Mason’s Approach
Mason was an only child. Further, both of Mason’s parents were only children. Thus, Mason received a highly individualized education by parents who did not have to divide their time among multiple children. Mason herself never married and had no children (Natal, n.d.). Her solitary upbringing and her lack of mothering experience might have made her a bit idealistic in her theories. Parents with multiple children may find her theories difficult to implement due to how much time and individual attention is required for each child. Mason advised that children spend several unguided hours outdoors each day in order to explore (Mason, 1905/2009). In Mason’s day, safety was of less concern than it is today. In some settings today (for ex., big cities), implementing this idea may be impractical, dangerous and may even be considered negligent parenting.

7 Charlotte Mason Snapshot:
Respectful “showing regard for the worth of someone” (Lickona, 1992, p.43). Empathetic able to “climb out of our own skin and into another’s” (Lickona, 1992, p. 59). Competent able to “turn moral judgment and feeling into effective moral action” (Lickona, 1992, p. 61). Charlotte Mason respected the student, empathized with his needs, and was capable of providing him with an engaging, effective education.

8 References: Lickona, T. (1992). Educating for character: how our schools can teach respect and responsibility. New York: Bantam Books. Mason, C. (2009). Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series: Vol. 5. Formation of character. [Kindle e-reader]. Retrieved from (Original work published in 1905) Natal, A. (n.d.). In Encyclopaedia of informal education. Retrieved from

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