Charlotte Mason
A Life Lived For Children
By Teri Brown

Writer, educator, visionary. Charlotte Mason is a little known English educator who changed the face of education in England and had a profound affect on the modern homeschooling movement. Her books, the Original Home Education series, have given rise to a homeschooling method dubbed the Charlotte Mason Method and encouraged a number of books on the subject.

Born in 1842, she was educated mostly at home. In an era where the fashion was to allow governesses and nannies to care for and educate your children, Charlotte’s parents preferred to do this themselves and the three were rarely apart. Charlotte was educated mostly at home where she and her mother were known to pour over books voraciously. Unfortunately her parents died within a year of one another when Charlotte was only sixteen. The next few years were hard on Charlotte and she very nearly died herself. One of the things that kept her going was her faith and her desire to become a teacher.

After attending college she taught for a bit but her own health was never strong and after teaching at a college she was forced to retire. She began to write and when her first book, Home Education, was published in 1886 and was very well received. This led to the launching of the PNEU, A magazine for parents educating their children at home. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Ambleside to open a school to train governesses in her method. This school is now a part of St. Martins College.

The Charlotte Mason Method was an extraordinary break from current educational thought. She advocated short lessons, the readings of good classical books, daily nature walks and the training of a child to cultivate and maintain good personal habits, such as listening carefully, kindness to others, ect. Narration, the telling back of what one has learned, was a large part of her educational teachings. In an age where children were to be seen and not heard, Charlotte not only heard them, but encouraged them to speak.

Charlotte Mason taught three mottos, one for children, one for parents, one for the teachers. For the teachers: “For the Children’s Sake”. For the children: “I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will.” For the parents: “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” She died in 1923. The following is the inscription on Charlotte Mason’s gravestone:

“In loving memory of Charlotte Maria Shaw Mason, Born Jan 1 1842, died Jan 16 1923, Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty. Founder of the Parents National Educational Union, The Parents Union School and The House of Education. She devoted her life to the work of education, believing that children are dear to our Heavenly Father, and that they are a precious national possession. Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life. I am, I can, I ought, I will. For the children’s sake.”


Teri Brown is a homeschooling Mom with two children, one husband and way too many pets. She has written for Home Education Magazine, Northwest Woman, Moms Online and other publications. Her book, Christian Unschooling; Growing Your Children in the Freedom of Christ, was released last spring. Unschooling. Her family zoo is located in Portland, Oregon.