Mother culture is about the pursuit of education for ourselves. We recognize that ‘education’ is not something we finished years ago. It’s not something our kids need to go through before they hit adulthood. If education is about the formation of our character, then we are still on the journey, pursuing the same goal as our children.
According to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, taking in living ideas through living books comprises a large part of our education; therefore, to grow in character, we read widely, gaining wisdom from all sorts of areas and increasing our interests. While Charlotte Mason advocated for a broad curriculum, covering the knowledge of God, the knowledge of man, and the knowledge of the universe, she also believed that we need one more bit of knowledge: self knowledge.
Maturity requires self-management.
In her sixteenth principle, Charlotte Mason tells us,
“There are two guides to moral and intellectual self-management to offer to children, which we may call ‘the way of the will’ and ‘the way of the reason.’”
Growing in knowledge doesn’t mean that we will also grow in maturity. It is easy to think that accumulating facts and information equates to gaining wisdom. However, knowledge is nothing if it does not touch our hearts. If we are unaware of how we take in ideas, the pitfalls we must avoid, and our duty, then we will struggle to grow in maturity and character, the ultimate aim of education.
Let’s look more closely at Charlotte Mason’s sixteenth principle. She says that we need ‘guides to moral and intellectual self-management’. But what is moral and intellectual self-management? When we practice moral and intellectual self-management, we are active in our pursuit of knowledge, of dealing with the ideas we encounter, and consciously do our duty to God and others. Charlotte Mason says it is easy to fall into convenient habits. We may have decent, acceptable conduct on the surface, while our hearts are far from acceptable to God. We cannot passively rely on the habits we happened to form along the way. Therefore, we need these principles of self-knowledge in order to help us proactively live our lives for God’s glory.
Charlotte Mason’s next two principles dive into these guides: the way of the will and the way of the reason. So, in the next two posts, I’ll discuss these two guides to self-management: what they mean and how we use them for our self-management.