The central goal of Arborbrook Christian Academy regarding an academic education is to instill in each student a love for learning that will last a lifetime. To do this, Arborbrook has adopted much of the philosophy of Charlotte Mason, an innovative British educator of the late 1800’s. Miss Mason was a remarkable Christian woman who truly loved children, and worked diligently to change the educational climate of her day. Charlotte Mason outlined her methodology in a series of six scholarly books on education. Reading Mason’s works and embracing her philosophy is bound to fill the reader with an enthusiasm for beauty and excellence in education.
The Charlotte Mason Methodology
The Charlotte Mason methodology is characterized by the following, as its central tenets:
A Way of Life
Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life, and is in no way confined to the classroom. At Arborbrook we operate on a four-day classroom school schedule so that one day per week can be committed to home and community learning opportunities.
A Liberal Education
Children deserve a broad, liberal (meaning generous or rich) education. This includes extensive exposure to the humanities as well as a strong foundation in reading, writing, arithmetic, science and history.
“Whole Books” and “Living Books” are preferred over textbooks. Textbooks are filled with facts and information at the expense of human emotion. Miss Mason believed this to be deadening to the imagination of a child. She advocated primary sources and “living books” containing living ideas from great minds. Instead of presenting dry facts, these books are written in conversational, literary language.
Narration is the most natural and effective way to learn. Mason said that narration is the mind asking questions of itself. After reading or listening to a passage from a living book, the child is asked to tell or write in his own words what he understood from that reading. This allows the student to think through the writer’s ideas and make them his own. Narration develops the power of self-expression and forces the child to use his own mind and form his own judgment. There is more to narration than meets the eye, and parents are encouraged to study more on this fascinating, yet beautifully simple method of learning. It is easy to see how narration invites the child’s individual personality to become part of the learning process. What may not be seen at first is that narration actually strengthens and challenges all the powers of the mind: attending, remembering, visualizing, comprehending, synthesizing (seeing the whole from the parts), and articulating.
Miss Mason promoted short lessons; enabling children to develop the habit of paying attention and preventing the contrary habit of dawdling over lessons. Children thrive when they know a definite amount of work is to be completed in a given time. Short lessons requiring much concentration are followed by activities requiring less concentration, or a different, but equally meaningful kind of concentration.
The Great Outdoors
Plenty of time to explore nature, run, jump, play, and discover is an important part of a Charlotte Mason education. At Arborbrook we value time spent in the great out of doors. Students participate in outdoor exercise (drill), an outdoor lunch period, nature study, numerous field trips in the out of doors, and early dismissal so that they have time to go home and spend time outside.
A portion of every school day in a Mason school was devoted to what she referred to as drill. This actually meant physical exercise. A healthy, active body supports an active, inquisitive mind, and fosters a positive attitude. Students at Arborbrook enjoy 10-15 minutes of drill every day.
Exposing children to the greatest artists, composers, and musicians of all times helps them to develop a taste for what is good, teaches history and world view, and expands the creative horizons of each individual.
A Christian worldview is interwoven into the very fabric of a Charlotte Mason education, and we also embrace this view at Arborbrook Christian Academy. All subject matter is taught in light of Biblical truths.