Saving Our Children

Dear Reader,

Charlotte Mason’s writings are about more than just education. They are a whole philosophy, and a view of the child, Really it is an idea about personhood combined with the fundamental assumption that children are persons. So it is not at all surprising to find that she also has something to say about children’s religious training. Our task is pretty simple:

“But what can the parent do? Just this and no more: he can present the idea of God to the soul of the child.”                                         [Home Education, p.223]

It is not we who can save our children but only God. So we put Him before them and pray that they will form a relationship with Him. This is Charlotte’s approach to all education, and it is no different in this area. In fact, all education she would say is the work of the Holy Spirit who is the giver of all wisdom so it should not surprise us to find the process is the same no matter whether it is an understaning of God or spelling rules that one is trying to impart.

I have often said that I think we moralize a lot to our children, expecting them to behave as believers while we still seem also to be calling them to salvation as unbelievers. I think rather that we should treat them as believers in need of discipling. But there is still such a thing as too much moralizing which is why I like this quote:

“Do not bepreach the child about ‘being good’ as what he owes to God, without letting in upon him first a little of that knowledge which shall make him good.”         [Home Education, p.225]

We have to know God in order to be good. Without that knowledge the law serves only to condemn us in our sin. And even if we accept our children as among God’s people, we still need to feed their knowledge of Him more than we need to expound rules to them. We tend to teach children lots about what we think being good looks like while we underestimate what they can take in about who God is.

Finally, there is this quote:

“I think we make a mistake in burying the text under our endless comments and applications. Also, I doubt if the picking out of individual verses, and grinding these into the child until they cease to have any meaning for him, is anything but a hindrance to the spiritual life.” [p.226]

I understand the first sentence of this. It is about not coming between the children and the text too much (for more on how a Charlotte Mason approach to Sunday school would look see here). I wonder about the second. Is she just referring to the practice of memory verses? Is there something more specific or  a certain approach from her day that she is condemning? I personally have never been a huge fan of memory verses. Growing up Catholic, we did nothing like that. My first exposure to them was as a young adult when we had verses we were supposed to memorize and recite for our Sunday school class. But it was like any other memorization for a test, I learned them but they were in short-term memory and did not stick with me. My children have at times had to do them in their Sunday school classes and I have also questioned the value of that.

But I do see the value of knowing Scripture by heart. I would favor longer passages with more context and meaning.  So perhaps the emphasis should be on that word “individual” in the Mason quote.

What do you think? How do you do Scripture memory? Does it stick with you (or your children) long-term?


One response to this post.

  1. […] posted recently on saving our children , and how we, well, can’t. That is up to God, of course. All we can do is to try to present […]


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