At the recent AmblesideOnline Camp Meeting 2019 (#AOCM2019), where I was privileged to speak to 400 women about Charlotte Mason’s principles, I shared this announcement, and now I want to share it with all of you.
After studying and thinking about Charlotte Mason’s twenty principles very purposefully over the last several years, I realized that the two most vital principles are Children are born persons and Education is the science of relations. If you listened to the audio seminar, Principles at the Helm, you already heard a bit about that.
However, realizing which were the two primary principles made me want to understand how all the principles related to each other. They are not twenty individual things—they are part of the “science of relations” themselves. In Consider This, I devoted quite a bit of time to understanding synthetic, relational thinking, which helps us explore the ways in which “all things are bound to all other things.” Charlotte Mason understood the connected-ness of all things very well, and described her philosophy as “having a central idea, a body of thought with various members working in vital harmony.”
Therefore, I want to introduce my next book, In Vital Harmony: The Integrated Principles of Charlotte Mason:
You see, what I learned was that all the principles do have a relationship to each other—shaping themselves around the two primary principles—and understanding those relationships makes the whole philosophy cohesive and comprehensible. Charlotte Mason wanted her principles to be understandable and accessible to all parents, and so do I, which is why I’m going to share them in a way that relates them to our own time and culture. Charlotte Mason said:
That system which shall be of use to practical people in giving purpose, unity and continuity to education, must satisfy the following demands:—It must be adequate, covering the whole nature of man and his relations with all that is other than himself. It must be necessary, that is, no other equally adequate psychology should present itself; and it must touch at all points the living thought of the age. (emphasis added)
Notice how the “adequate” philosophy of education covers 1) the whole nature of man [children are born persons] and 2) his relations with all that is other than himself [education is the science of relations]. Those two principles are the keys to the rest! However, the thought of our age is not what it was during Charlotte Mason’s lifetime. Principles don’t change, but sometimes the way we need to think and talk about them changes because the ideas that drive our culture do shift.
Does that second principle about good and evil make you a little uneasy? Do you grasp how the authority and obedience principle which is “natural, necessary, and fundamental” gives purpose to education? Do you know how the Way of the Will and the Way of Reason relate to the two primary principles?
What if I could show you—graphically, all on one page—how everything fits together? And did you know that Charlotte Mason essentially gave us her educational philosophy “in a nutshell”—just one sentence that covers the whole ground? It’s not unlike Jesus’ summarizing the law and the prophets as “love the Lord your God, and your neighbor as yourself.” Yes, there are details, but that’s the essence. Charlotte Mason did the same thing for her entire educational philosophy.
In Vital Harmony will give you a strong, clear grasp of the philosophy of Charlotte Mason, but that is not all. If you read Know and Tell, did you find that the “why” behind the practice of narration made the details of “how” much more understandable? In Vital Harmony is also going to help you connect the philosophy to many of the practices that are part of a Charlotte Mason education. It’s an (easy-to-understand) philosophical book with a practical twist.
And the big question—when will it be available? I don’t have an exact date set, but I hope it will be ready before the end of 2019. In time for Christmas, maybe? Let’s hope so! I’ve been very excited as I’ve anticipated sharing the news about In Vital Harmony (and my cover!) with you, and I hope you’re looking forward to reading it.
Just for fun—which principle do you wish you understood a little better?