CM on What to Avoid in Education

Dear Reader,

In her third volume, School Education, Charlotte Mason spends some time saying what one should not do in education, and, indeed, she calls each of these “causes of failure” (pp.173-4):

1. the oral lesson– These she says should be “few and far between” (p.165).

2. the lecture– Her description reminds me of an article I read recently in Harvard Magazine which speaks of the professor reading his notes so the student can write them down and transfer them to his own notebook. Not a very profitable use of anyone’s time.

3. the text-book– Textbooks are not living books. Enough said.

4. the exciting of other desires than that to acquire knowledge– You get what you aim for. If you motivate children with good grades or other rewards, they will work for their grades or their stickers or their candy, but their natural love of knowledge will wither and they will do no more than they have to to get the reward. Young children often delight in school, but is that because they really delight in a love of knowledge (p. 175)?

5. apparatuses (what’s the plural? apparati?)– She acknowledges the usefulness of microscopes and telescopes and magic lanterns (any idea what those are?) but frowns upon elaborate models and diagrams (p.165).

6. elementary readers– Charlotte favors “consecutive” works instead. It sounds to me like it is not the level of the readers she is disapproving of here but their disjointedness. I know finding good books for one’s child to read at various points in their lives can be tough. Our library is awash with books for beginning readers, but many of them are deadly dull to me. There are some put there tough if one looks a bit which are more enjoyable and present real stories. Another post perhaps?

What strikes me about this list is that it pretty much describes modern education. These six things which Charlotte says cause failure in education are exactly what the schools are basing their system upon.



One response to this post.

  1. Very true. Informative so thanks for sharing.


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