Saturday, June 7, 2008

Thoughts on Educating

I've been absent from blogging recently but busy with reading. And I thought I'd share some of the "thoughts" that have been inspiring me lately and keeping my mind busy.

These are all quotes from Charlotte Mason's books just coming from different formats.

Charlotte Mason Study Guide-Penny Gardner

"We hold that all education is divine, that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above, that the Lord the Holy Spirit is the supreme educator of mankind, and that the culmination of all education (which may, at the same time, be reached by a little child) is that personal knowledge of and intimacy with God in which our being finds its fullest perfection." (p. 95)

"We do not sufficiently realize the need for unity of principle in education. Our positive purpose is to present, in season and out of season, one such universal idea; that is, that education is the science of relations." (p. 160-161)

"Knowledge versus Information... Great minds...are able to deal at first hand with appearances or experiences; the ordinary mind gets a little of its knowledge by such direct dealing, but for the most part it is set in action by the vivifying knowledge of others, which is at the same time a stimulus and a point of departure. The information acquired in the course of education is only by chance, and here and there, of practical value. Knowledge, on the other hand, that is, the product of the vital action of the mind on the material presented to it, is power; as it implies an increase of intellectual aptitude in new directions, and an always new point of departure.
"Perhaps the chief function of a teacher is to distinguish information from knowledge in the acquisitions of his pupils. Because knowledge is power, the child who has got knowledge will certainly show power in dealing with it. He will recast, condense, illustrate, or narrate with vividness and with freedom in the arrangement of his words." (p. 224)

"Our aim in education is to give children vital interests in as many directions as possible ...because the crying evil of the day is … intellectual inanition." (p. 231)

"Relations and Interests. --I have throughout spoken of 'Relations,' and not of 'Interests,' because interests may be casual, unworthy, and passing. Everyone, even the most ignorant, has interests of a sort; while to make valid any one relation, implies that knowledge has begun in, at any rate, that one direction. But the defect in our educational thought is that we have ceased to realize that knowledge is vital; and, as children and adults, we suffer from underfed minds."
(p. 241)

"The getting of knowledge and the getting of delight in knowledge are the ends of a child's education." (p. 242)

"Education by Books. --For the last twelve years we have tried the plan of bringing children up on Books and Things, and, on the whole, the results are pleasing. The average child studies with 'delight.' We do not say he will remember all he knows, but, to use a phrase of Jane Austen's, he will have had his 'imagination warmed' in many regions of knowledge." (p. 243)

"Casual reading -that is, vague reading round a subject without the effort to know -is not our goal... If we are to read and grow thereby, we must read to know, that is, our reading must be study -orderly, definite, purposeful." (p. 382)

"No one knoweth the things of a man but the spirit of a man which is in him; therefore, there is no education but self-education, and as soon as a young child begins his education he does so as a student. Our business is to give him mind-stuff, and both quality and quantity are essential. Naturally, each of us possesses this mind-stuff only in limited measure, but we know where to procure it; for the best thought the world possesses is stored in books; we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving." (p. 26)

"Education, like faith, is the evidence of things not seen... The only fit sustenance for the mind is ideas... Our business is to give children the great ideas of life, of religion, history, science; but it is the ideas me must give, clothed upon with facts as they occur, and must leave the child to deal with these as he chooses." (p. 39-40)

"This is the way to make great men and not by petty efforts to form character in this direction or in that. Let us take it to ourselves that great character comes out of great thoughts, and that great thought must be initiated by great thinkers; then we shall have a definite aim in education." (p. 278)

"If knowledge means so much to us, 'What is knowledge?' the reader asks. We can give only a negative answer. Knowledge is not instruction, information, scholarship, a well-stored memory. It is passed, like the light of a torch, from mind to mind, and the flame can be kindled at original minds only. Thought, we know, breeds thought; it is as a vital thought touches our minds that our ideas are vitalized, and out of our ideas comes our conduct of life." (p. 303)

Education Sonya Shafer at Simply Charlotte Mason

“Ideas may invest as an atmosphere, rather than strike as a weapon. ‘The idea
may exist in a clear, distinct, definite form, as that of a circle in the mind of a
geometrician; or it may be a mere instinct, a vague appetency towards something,
. . . like the impulse which fills the young poet’s eyes with tears, he knows not why.’
To excite this ‘appetency towards something’––towards things lovely, honest, and of good report, is the earliest and most important ministry of the educator. How shall these indefinite ideas which manifest themselves in appetency be imparted? They are not to be given of set purpose, nor taken at set times. They are held in that thought environment which surrounds the child as an atmosphere, which he breathes as his breath of life; and this atmosphere in which the child inspires his unconscious ideas of right living emanates from his parents. Every look of gentleness and tone of reverence, every word of kindness and act of help, passes into the thought-environment, the very atmosphere which the child breathes; he does not think of these things, may never think of them, but all his life long they excite that ‘vague appetency towards something’ out of which most of his actions spring. Oh, the wonderful and dreadful presence of the little child in the midst!
“That he should take direction and inspiration from all the casual life about him,
should make our poor words and ways the starting-point from which, and in the
direction of which, he develops––this is a thought which makes the best of us hold
our breath. There is no way of escape for parents; they must needs be as ‘inspirers’
to their children, because about them hangs, as its atmosphere about a planet, the
thought-environment of the child, from which he derives those enduring ideas which
express themselves as a life-long ‘appetency’ towards things sordid or things lovely,
things earthly or divine” (Vol. 2, pp. 36, 37).

“Education is an atmosphere––that is, the child breathes the atmosphere
emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives”
(Vol. 2, p.247).

“The fact is, many of us do not believe in education, except as it means the
acquirement of a certain amount of knowledge; but education which shall deal
curatively and methodically with every flaw in character does not enter into our
scheme of things possible. No less than this is what we mean when we say, Education
is a Discipline” (Vol. 2, p. 66).

“Not mere spurts of occasional punishment, but the incessant watchfulness and
endeavour which go to the forming and preserving of the habits of the good life,
is what we mean by discipline; and, from this point of view, never were there such
disciplinarians as the parents who labour on the lines we would indicate. Every
habit of courtesy, consideration, order, neatness, punctuality, truthfulness, is itself a schoolmaster, and orders life with the most unfailing diligence” (Vol. 2, p. 173).

“In the early years of the child’s life it makes, perhaps, little apparent difference
whether his parents start with the notion that to educate is to fill a receptacle, inscribe
a tablet, mould plastic matter, or nourish a life; but in the end we shall find that only
those ideas which have fed his life are taken into the being of the child; all the rest is
thrown away, or worse, is like sawdust in the system, an impediment and an injury to
the vital processes” (Vol. 2, p. 38).

“For the mind is capable of dealing with only one kind of food; it lives, grows and is nourished upon ideas only; mere information is to it as a meal of sawdust to the
body” (Vol. 6, p. 105).

“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” (Vol. 6, p.

I've also been reading "When Children Love to Learn" by Eve Anderson which has been so very encouraging and inspiring that it is a "must" read for all CM educators.

I hope you've gleaned a new thought and idea to chew on by reading the words of dear Miss Mason!


  1. Beautiful quotes. My favorite is education is an atmosphere.


  2. Thanks for contributing to the CM Blog Carnival.


  3. Great quotes! Thanks for sharing. I need to jump back into my digging into Charlotte Mason stuff, too!

  4. This is the time of year, looking back on what we just accomplished and looking forward to next year, when reflecting on our purpose is so inspiring. Very nice collection.

  5. I missed the carnival this time.
    I liked the book...'When Children Love to Learn' It is always encouraging.


My Little Corner

A place to share home and school, children and family thoughts, ideas and inspirations.