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(These are the overall beliefs of the Association in regards to the philosophy of Charlotte Mason)

A. The 20 Principles of Education (summarized and paraphrased)

- taken from the pamphlet entitled A Short Synopsis of the Educational Philosophy Advanced by the Founder of the Parents National Education Union
  1. Children are born persons.
  2. As persons they should not be labeled good or bad, but have possibilities for both.
  3. Authority and obedience are fundamental principles having their source in the authority of our Creator.
  4. This authority must never be abused to manipulate children by guilt, influence, fear, or undue play upon any one natural desire.
  5. Instead, the three educational instruments to teach children are atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit, and the presentation of living ideas.
  6. "Education is an atmosphere," not a "child-environment," but freedom to live real life under natural home conditions.
  7. "Education is a discipline" of habits of mind and body that open the doors to learning and maturity.
  8. "Education is a life" that feeds upon spiritual, intellectual, moral and physical sustenance.
  9. A child's mind is not a passive receptacle, but a ravenous organism that feeds upon ideas.
  10. The "receptacle" view puts the stress of education entirely on the influence, persuasion, and preparation of the teacher.
  11. Instead, the belief that children have active powers of mind to deal with vital knowledge given to them, allows the teacher to serve a full curriculum of facts along with their informing ideas, all the while trusting her Creator rather than herself as the "showman of the universe."
  12. In serving a full curriculum, the teacher allows children to have natural relations with many things, since "Education is the Science of Relations." It is not the teacher's business to teach all about anything, but to spread a feast of physical exercises, mathematics, crafts, science, art, living books, etc.
  13. This education does not distinguish between class, race, wealth, or status, but requires that all children receive much knowledge, a variety of courses, and information communicated in well-chosen language.
  14. As knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced, children must "tell back" orally or in writing after a single reading or hearing.
  15. The single reading is vital to reinforce the child's natural power of attention, and proves the educability of children regardless of heredity, environment, or previous education.
  16. There are two guides to self-discipline in children: "The way of the will" and "the way of the reason."
  17. "The way of the will" includes teaching children:
    • a. to distinguish between desires (I want) and wise choices (I will).
    • b. to divert their thoughts from selfish desires.
    • c. to divert those thoughts by thinking or doing some other quite different, interesting thing.
    • d. to then return, after this rest, to wise work of the will with new vigor.
    • e. to learn from failure as well as success.
  18. "The way of the reason" includes teaching children:
    • a. that there are absolute truths of logic and reason as demonstrated in mathematical truth.
    • b. that men should not lean too confidently on their own understanding and should recognize their fallibility.
  19. The chief responsibility which rests on us as persons is to accept or reject ideas, and discern truth and falsehood. Therefore education should provide principles of conduct and knowledge to avert "loose thinking and heedless action" in life.
  20. There is no separation between the intellectual or spiritual life of children, but the divine Spirit is involved in all the interests, duties, and joys of life.

B. The Cornerstone of the Philosophy

  1. Children are born Persons
    • a. Made in the image of God and due the respect thereof
    • b. Bearers of a sinful nature and due the discipline thereof
    • c. Potential recipients of His redemption and due the love thereof
    • d. The crown of God's creation and due the expectations thereof
  2. The Principles Of Authority Over Children Are Natural, Necessary And Fundamental:
    • a. Natural since children need boundaries and standards in order to learn and grow and adults are under authority as well
    • b. Necessary due to the sinful nature of mankind and the need for discipline
    • c. Fundamental because all earthly authority is under the rule of God and invested by Him
  3. The Respect Due To Children Prevents The Encroachment Of Authority Upon Their Personhood By:
    • a. Manipulation by guilt, fear, or love of an individual
    • b. Deliberate control of thinking by strong suggestion or influence
    • c. Undue play upon any one natural desire
  4. Therefore, We Confirm Four Basic Pillars Upon Which We Base Our Philosophy:

I. Education Is An Atmosphere

Not a "child's environment", but rather the formation of proper conditions that takes into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, acknowledges his due respect as an imagebearer of God, and then expects him to think, learn, and act in accordance with that truth.

II. Education Is An Discipline

The key to supplanting the weakness of will and forming character in children is the discipline of habits formed definitely and thoughtfully, both of mind and body. To a great degree education is the formation of habits, all the while trusting Divine grace.

III. Education Is A Life

The mind of a child is not a sack to be stuffed full of information, but an organism that feasts on ideas from all of life; thus the child should have a full curriculum to fill his appetite for knowledge, keeping in mind what subjects, intervals, and recesses are necessary at his age to produce maximum growth.

IV. Education Is The Science Of Relations

The child has natural relations as a created being with a number of things, thoughts, and people; therefore, we must give him opportunity to build these relations to nature, handicrafts, science, art and many living books.