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It's now an educational cliché to point out that a surgeon from 100 years ago would be lost in a contemporary operating theatre; whereas a teacher from then would be right at home in a 21st century classroom - apart from the iBoard, iPads, groupwork and sweatshirts - the point being that education hasn't evolved to meet the demands of its time in the way that medicine has.
It's the other way round with Charlotte Mason. Her philosophy and practice of the late 19th century is exactly what's needed right now.
It's encouraging that many aspects of today's forward-thinking educational practices can be traced back to her ideas; less promising how little they have been adopted day-to-day in the classroom (homeschooling is a different matter; here, Mason is an inspiration and a deep mine of teaching resources)
Charlotte Mason was born in Bangor on 1st January 1842. An only child, home-schooled by her parents, she trained to teach at 17 then spent ten years at The Davison School in Worthing. She lectured at Bishop Otter College, Chichester, finally settling in Ambleside in 1891. Here she established The House of Education which later become The Charlotte Mason Teacher Training College (now closed). She was convinced that children's learning and growth would be helped if parents and carers actually understood the principles of bringing up children. The House of Education served governesses and those working with young children to do just that.
She believed passionately in the innate goodness of all children and in their natural predisposition to learn. Brain research of the time influenced her thinking about habit, character and memory, leading to a curriculum and a pedagogy that would by and large stand up to today's requirements.
Charlotte died in January 1923 having written extensively and concisely about her philosophy and having worked tirelessly to bring it to life through a broad, non-utilitarian curriculum.
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