As I was writing In Vital Harmony, I had younger moms in mind—mothers still early in their homeschooling journeys, still thinking about how they want to teach and trying to find time to learn for themselves while caring for young children. Who else has to address phonics, fractions, and potty-training on the same day, while also doing laundry and providing meals? I wanted to write In Vital Harmony for you, to give you a one-stop overview of the important principles that will lighten your load as a teacher and ease the burden of decision-making when you are confronted with a bewildering array of educational options.
At the same time, I wondered if there would be anything here for the Charlotte Mason veteran—someone who has already read her books and immersed themselves in her methods for a long time? As I said earlier, I’ve never been interested in just rehashing and translating Charlotte Mason. This book also goes a step or two beyond—my deliberate attempt to articulate her message for our time and our culture. While Charlotte Mason has always been my educational mentor, I have not focused as much on her as a person as I have on her life’s passion. Education was her topic of interest, and so I made education my topic of interest as well—the principles or laws that govern it, and how those could best be adhered to. This book began because of some questions I asked myself, and it grew as I found the answers to those questions.
My fundamental question was: Since all knowledge is connected, how are these twenty principles related to each other? And another aspect of that was: Can I represent the relationships in a graphic form?
I reread the series, looking for the answers, and they were there. I found the relationships, but representing them in a graphic form turned out to be … challenging. I hope readers of In Vital Harmony will appreciate the simplicity of the final design, which bears no resemblance at all to my initial chaotic attempts.
I asked a few knowledgeable friends to beta-read the book, and I’m pleased to say that one of them, Cindy Rollins—popular podcaster and author of Mere Motherhood—has written a foreword. I’ll save that for readers of the book, but I want to share the thoughts of another friend who has been using Charlotte Mason’s methods for over ten years:
I was recently asked, as a “veteran” CM user, to give my impression of Karen Glass’s new book, In Vital Harmony. The main question was whether veterans would find it boring. That is, would it elicit the response, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all this before—many, many, times!”? As it turns out for me, absolutely not! Now, perhaps it is because I can’t get enough of Charlotte Mason philosophy, but as I read Karen’s book, delightful feelings of clarity and confirmation and conviction followed me all the way through.
Even veterans who know that their knowledge needs to be constantly renewed and refreshed do not wish to get bogged down in a heavy tome, and Karen Glass has provided for them, as well as new CMers, a resource that is both wonderfully light and rich. (Kay Pelham, experienced Charlotte Mason homeschooler and music teacher)
I really appreciated hearing that! So, as it turns out, In Vital Harmony isn’t just a book for those getting started with Charlotte Mason—it’s for everyone. No matter how well you already know her philosophy, you’re probably going to find some new insight in this intensive dive into her principles. Another CM veteran told me:
In short, you asked if I think this book has appeal and something to offer to both newbies and veterans, and my answer is a resounding YES. Hard to hit this nail on the head, but you have done so. (Dawn Duran, Charlotte Mason homeschooler, organizer of several CM conferences and co-ops, and author of Swedish Drill Revisited)
One thing I’m really excited about is the infographic of the twenty principles. I drew a few dozen versions, all of them clunky and ugly beyond belief (it might be amusing to share them sometime but I’m probably too vain–they’re pretty bad). It was a process, though, that helped me to refine my understanding and to show the relationships between the principles. It’s been the work of over a year to develop the graphic with the indispensable assistance of a real graphic designer (who also happens to be a Charlotte-Mason educated person raised in my own home), and the final version is clean and clear and tucked into the final chapter of In Vital Harmony on one single page. It looks so simple, but it represents some of the hardest thinking I’ve ever done, and I hope it will make Charlotte Mason’s twenty principles feel cohesive and harmonious for many, many future educators.
That’s all I’ve got by way of introduction. I hope this series has whetted your appetite for what I hope will be a very helpful book. The next time I post here—it won’t be long—it will be to tell you that In Vital Harmony: Charlotte Mason and the Natural Laws of Education, with a foreword by Cindy Rollins!—is ready for purchase.
If you haven’t yet signed up for the newsletter I’ll be launching in 2020, I hope you will. I’ve got some exciting projects underway and this will be the best and earliest way to hear about them. I’ve also prepared a free printable for you–a two-sided bookmark with an abbreviated version of the 20 principles that will be very useful as you read In Vital Harmony or the CM Series itself. (Please click “email” to give me permission to send you the newsletter, in compliance with GDPR.)