A Brief History of Charlotte

Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived from 1842-1923.  She was born near Bangor on the Northwest tip of Wales.

She lived during the Victorian area. This time period is known for its hierarchy of social, class-based social order. Women wore, long, bustled flowing dresses with ruffles and ornaments on the bodice cinched with corsets. Medicine and transportation were making strides in science. The Industrial Revolution began to move people from farm to factories. Many immigrants were coming to England for work which put the middle class competing for jobs. England nearly doubled its population which put many into a poor and starvation lifestyle in the cities. Often both parents had to work so children were on the street or working themselves. Child labor groups began to form to pass legislation protecting child workers keeping the hours per day that they could work to twelve. Girls were bred to marry. The upper classes often hired a governess and mothers left the care of children to them.

By the time Charlotte Mason was 16 both of her parents had died. Charlotte’s first job was at the Home and Colonial School Society which was a training school for  young women to learn to be teachers and headmistresses.

 After teaching for 30 years, she began a teachers and governess training college, schools for children, parents union and a magazine.  

She was instrumental in founding an organization called the Parents’ Educational Union(PEU), to provide support and resources to parents educating their children at home.  In 1892, it was re-named the Parents National Educational Union (PNEU).

Near the end of the 1800’s she began a publication for the PEU members to bring them vision and application of the philosophy and methods. It was called the Parents’ Review.  It used a variety of authors as well as her own personal articles

In 1891, she began a school to train governesses in Ambleside England called the House of Education.

She wrote widely. During the 1880’s she wrote a geography series called the Ambleside Geography Books.  A study of Jesus’ life and teachings called The Saviour of the World was published in the early 1900’s. She described her philosophy and methods of education in six volumes.
Volume 1 is Home Education, Volume 2 Parents and Children, Volume 3 School Education, Volume 4 Ourselves, Volume 5 Formation of Character, and Volume 6 Towards a Philosophy of Education.

She cast her net far in search of worthy resources for children. In 1905 after correspondence with Robert Baden Powell, she added his Aids to Scouting to her school curriculum.

On January 26, 1923 at the age 81, she passed away at Ambleside, England.

Some quotes from friends gathering for Charlotte’s memorial state:

Miss Mason’s life was one long struggle against mechanism. She distrusted organisation and standardisation. For this reason, she would have no truck with government departments or municipal control.
The result has been that Miss Mason’s students learn to love teaching. She taught the teacher to love teaching and the child to love learning.
I do not think that Miss Mason would have altogether liked to have been told that she exercised influence. She would say that she set ideas in people’s way and let them work in people’s minds. But, however we express it, the fact remains; for three generations of human life she gave herself, her wise and stimulating counsel, and the stores of her rich mind, with lavish generosity to hundreds, thousands, of individuals, both in personal intercourse and in correspondence.
Miss Mason not only possessed wonderful powers but throughout her whole life, wherever she might be, made the fullest use of them in the service of others.

Charlotte Maria Shaw Mason 1902

Photos compliments of Wikipedia

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