I’m so please to be able to say that Mind to Mind: An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education is now available.
If you are familiar with Charlotte Mason’s writings, you probably know that the title of her last, most mature, book was An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education (shortened to A Philosophy of Education in modern reprints.) With fear and trembling, I have ventured to shorten more than the title of this last volume in order to make it more accessible to modern readers.
I have not abridged the vital material about Miss Mason’s methods and philosophy—the parts that you would most want to read. I have removed the outdated references to books, people, and political situations that are not relevant for us today. They illustrated and illuminated her ideas when she was writing to her contemporaries in Great Britain, but they often confuse and bewilder a modern reader. Rather than focusing on the vital ideas, a reader may become mired in trying to make sense of whole paragraphs that refer to unfamiliar (and essentially irrelevant) matters. I have also removed 99% of the poetry that added many pages to the volume. My desire was to leave intact the clear, unadorned message in a form that is much easier to comprehend.
Toward that end, in addition to removing (always with a pang) extraneous material, I have added subheadings to organize and structure the remaining material, and I have written short introductions to each chapter. This treatment has brought Charlotte Mason’s own words into sharper focus, clearer and more accessible for today’s readers.
If you cannot bear to think of reading anything less than every word Charlotte Mason wrote in her original volume, this abridgment is not for you. (I confess that I fall into that category, myself.) But if you have tried to read Charlotte Mason’s volumes and found the Victorian-style prose hard going, or simply lack the time to tackle the long books, this shorter version may be exactly what you need.
I have prepared a PDF file of chapter one, which has the full original chapter side by side with the abridged version, including the added subheadings and introduction. If you are interested or curious, feel free to download, read, and compare. You will be able to see the nature of the material I chose to abridge, the approximate quantity abridged, and to decide if the additional material makes the content more accessible for you.
Knowledge…is passed, like the light of a torch, from mind to mind.
I realize that this project has the potential to scandalize devoted followers of Charlotte Mason. Nevertheless, my desire is not to curtail Miss Mason’s message or lose anything that is part of the vital knowledge that she has to share. My desire is to garner for Charlotte Mason more readers than ever. My sincere hope is that reading Mind to Mind will be merely the first step toward reading volumes in full. But if not, it will enable a modern reader to sit at the feet of a great teacher, to read in her own words of her deep respect for the personhood of children and her desire to nourish their minds with the richest knowledge that the world has to give.
Charlotte Mason’s works have been the torch that has ignited the flame of knowledge in hundreds of minds across many decades. It is my hope that Mind to Mind will bring that flame a little closer to 21st century readers so that still more of us may owe her the thanks of a grateful pupil to an inspiring teacher.