December 12, 2023
The Inherent Generosity Within a Charlotte Mason Education with Elizabeth Millar
The Charlotte Mason Centenary Series, a multi-authored monograph series commissioned in connection with the Charlotte Mason Centenary, is designed to highlight and explore the continuing educational and leadership relevance of the late 19th-century British educationalist Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) through the collective contributions of The Armitt Museum and Library, the University of Cumbria, the Charlotte Mason Institute, and other scholars and practitioners worldwide.
This post is included in a series on the monographs. Each post gives a snapshot of the author's motivation for writing, the various topics and content of each monograph, and suggestions for who might benefit most from the work.
What motivated you to join this research project?
Elizabeth Millar: The monograph series was a brilliant celebration of the Centenary Conference! It was an absolute honor and delight to write one of the monographs. I think the series adds to the "Mason storehouse" of research and resources that will serve educators well.
Why did you pick your topic?
Elizabeth: During my years of educating, I always knew that the Mason philosophy of education was a good way to live. There was something life-giving about this approach to learning - and to life. I was curious to think more about this.
What was the most interesting thing you discovered during your research and writing?
Elizabeth: I felt like I won the lottery when I discovered Mary Clark Moschella's practical theology of joy. It fits perfectly with the Mason education and was the link between what was inherently good about Mason's philosophy and practical life. Moschella articulated what I suspected but hadn't voiced. Even though she was writing with a different audience in mind, her definition of joy fit so well for educators and children. It is that attention, awareness, and aliveness to the goodness of God in everyday life that makes us happy - and thinking of the feast Mason advocates for, you realize that there is so much to be attentive to. Therefore, so much joy waiting for us.
What one or two ideas do you most hope people take away from reading your monograph?
Elizabeth: First, a Mason education is so timely in our cultural moment of depression and anxiety. More than ever, our children need an education and childhood formed by a Mason philosophy of education. Second, for those interested in faith, our picture of God is so important. To trace what is good about a Mason education back to Mason's understanding of God caused me to theologically reflect on what I considered to be true about the nature of God. I hope that those who read the book may do the same. It may surprise them!
Who do you think should (especially) read your monograph?
Elizabeth: Anyone who desires a joyful childhood for children and anyone who needs encouragement to fully embrace the Mason philosophy of education.
FROM THE TEXT
"In our cultural moment of loneliness and anxiety, a Mason education is more timely than ever." (p. 9)
"A Mason education is characterized by abundance and generosity, which is evidenced through the view of the child, the curriculum, and the chosen evaluation form of narration. There is a sense of plenty as the child, the curriculum, and evaluation are understood through a Mason philosophical lens." (p. 16)
"The Mason emphasis on ideas, rather than information, encourages expansive thinking and relationship building which is based on the premise that all truth, goodness, and beauty originates from God." (p. 23)
"Not only are we called to pay attention—and the habit of attention is worthwhile regardless—but it is what we are paying attention to that matters." (p. 44)
Elizabeth’s monograph is available in print as a physical or digital copy.
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