Practices are linked to Principles

Just a note–I’m going to let the sale of Principles at the Helm run through the end of the week, so there’s still time to grab it at 50% off if you want to.


In the first post in this series, I mentioned that all educational practices are based on educational philosophies. This is always true, but it is pointedly true in Charlotte Mason’s case, because she was trying on purpose “to sketch out roughly a method of education” which rested “upon a basis of natural law.”

What that means is that the specific practices of a Charlotte Mason education—narration, the use of living books, nature study, her approach to art and music, and much more—are firmly grounded in the principles. In Vital Harmony is divided into two parts—the first part of the book covers the natural laws of education that Charlotte Mason included in her principles, and the second part of the book is devoted to the methods and practices.

However, this isn’t a “how to” book. I have not merely described Charlotte Mason’s approach to every area of the curriculum, because you can find that elsewhere. Maybe you’ve been using the methods already for a while, and could explain them yourself just as well as I could. I’m not really interested in writing books that simply rehash what Charlotte Mason already said.

Instead, as I’ve discussed the methods and practices and areas of study, I’ve taken care to focus on the way that the practices are grounded in the principles. Why narration? Why chronological history? Why nature study? I think if we connect the practices to the principles, we’ll find them more easy and intuitive to implement. Charlotte Mason said:

Every subject has its living way, with what Coleridge calls “its guiding idea” at the head, and it is only as we discover this living way in each case that a subject of instruction makes for the education of a child. (Parents and Children, p. 279)

In the practical part of In Vital Harmony, I’ve called attention to some of the “guiding ideas” that should govern our studies of math and history and science and more. When you know why you’re including these things in the curriculum, you’ll find the answers to your questions about what to do are resolved as easily as deciding where to build a fire in your house or yard. It’s not really that hard when you understand the principles well, and it’s as easy and natural as Charlotte Mason promised it would be.


I’ve got a free gift for you!

Beginning in 2020, I’m launching a newsletter (to be sent out as frequently as I manage to create each one) which I hope will be an encouragement to you as you continue to learn and study the natural laws and principles of education, particularly as Charlotte Mason explained them to us. If you plan to read In Vital Harmony, you might find it convenient to have a list of the principles on hand for reference, as I refer to them by their designated numbers throughout the book. (Children are born persons is the first principles. Education is the science of relations is the twelfth principle.)

I’ve created a printable, two-sided bookmark with all twenty principles in abbreviated form for quick reference, and that’s my free gift to you for signing up for the newsletter. I think the newsletter will be a real encouragement to you as you learn and grow as a mother and teacher, so the bookmark is just a nice bonus.

To comply with GDPR requirements please just click “email,” which will give me permission to send you the newsletter. I don’t plan to mail anything to your home or target you for advertising. But I do hope you’ll subscribe to receive exclusive articles, news about what I’m reading and studying, and updates about new projects. I’ve got some interesting things in the works. (You’ll receive an email asking you to confirm that you want to subscribe—be sure to check your spam folder and add the newsletter to your address book.)

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