Charlotte Mason advocated for children to receive a broad and generous education. While we, as educators, see the importance of setting aside planned, structured time to give our children a ‘feast’ of ideas, it can be more challenging to partake as a mother. There is a tension between the practical demands on our time and the life of our minds.
I hope, if you’ve gained anything from this series of posts, that you feel that your own education is essential. While it may look much different from what you put together for your child, it is important that it helps you to continue growing in character as an adult by learning to love and think rightly.
As this series comes to a close, I want to address this tension. We have a sense that the demands of families are in competition with the need to learn and grow as a person. In light of this, Charlotte Mason leaves us with a final principle. Here, she tells us clearly that whatever dichotomies we see in our lives, whatever tension or competition we feel between our various duties, they are ultimately false.
There is no separation between the ‘spiritual’, the ‘intellectual’, or the ‘practical’.
We all feel the challenge of being pulled in many directions. God is meant to be the most important part of our lives, but my kids do actually need to eat. I need to grow in character because I am called to grow in maturity, but what happens when my attempts to make time for mother culture are thwarted by a poor night’s sleep and an unacceptably untidy house? When we compartmentalize our lives into ‘practical’ and ‘religious’, we set ourselves up for ‘discord and unrest’. We will never find peace when we try to juggle competing priorities.
Charlotte Mason, however, challenged the idea that our duties, whether spiritual, intellectual, or even practical, were actually pulling us in different directions. In her second volume she writes on ‘The Great Recognition’. In this passage she writes that if an idea is good, true, and beautiful, it can only come from one place: from God. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mathematical truth, insight into a discipline issue with your children, or a spiritual truth about God’s character. It all comes from God through the Holy Spirit.
The Beauty of a Unified Life
God does not see our lives as separate compartments of duty. He is the one who takes chaos and division, and restores it to order, unity, and harmony. There is no separation, because we have no life apart from God. He is as much a part of our practical daily life as he is part of our devotional life.
Charlotte Mason goes on to write in Volume 2,
But once the intimate relation, the relation of Teacher and taught in all things of the mind and spirit, be fully recognised, our feet are set in a large room; there is space for free development in all directions, and this free and joyous development, whether of intellect or heart, is recognised as a Godward movement.Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children
When we see all truth, practical, intellectual, or spiritual, as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we no longer feel a tension between our responsibilities. Taking care of our house and children is Godward movement. Reading an excellent, living novel is Godward movement. Time in prayer and Bible study is Godward movement. We find peace in our purpose when every direction expands our means of knowing and loving God.
Education is not a box to be ticked. This theme shines throughout Charlotte Mason’s principles. We cannot relegate it to a time slot, a phase of our life, a certain activity. The goal of education is the formation of character. God works out all things to continue our progress toward Christlikeness, and He uses all parts of our lives to do that.
This is my final post in the Mother Culture Roadmap series – and my 100th blog post ever! I’m celebrating with a Charlotte Mason inspired giveaway: check out the goodies and enter!
A letter from me to you, every week.
Like this post? Join the Around the Thicket newsletter for more ideas, encouragement, and inspiration for your Charlotte Mason journey. You’ll also get access to my private podcast starting in June 2022. Not sure? Find out more.