© 2017 Jennifer Bascom
Eucharist, which means thanksgiving, can take many forms. I celebrate Eucharist on Sunday mornings in the Orthodox Church, and I celebrate Eucharist as I write these words about education and how it has played a part in my own transformation. I distinctly remember a moment in 2010 that embarrasses me now. I was talking to a friend about the behavior of certain neighborhood children and I referred to them as “little heathens.” In that moment I failed to see them as God made them. But through the grace of God, reality gradually came into view. For me, the beginning of that perspective shift was learning the Orthodox Christian teaching that all people are made in the image of God and are worthy of honor and respect.
This journey deepened for me on a drive to Oregon for the Fourth of July. On that drive, I listened to A Delectable Education (ADE) for the first time. I learned that Charlotte Mason fully embraced the Biblical teaching that all people are made in the image of God, and she emphasized this in her method of education with the phrase “children are born persons.” I was intrigued by the explanation of how to implement a Charlotte Mason education in the home. I listened to as many episodes as I could on that long drive. At first, the ADE ladies made me jealous. I wondered, “Why can’t I have such a beautiful homeschool?” I thought I wasn’t worthy to experience so much beauty myself, but then I began to hunger and to dream for a Charlotte Mason education for my own children. I tried to make up a schedule that layered Charlotte Mason elements into our classical homeschool program. It didn’t work and I didn’t have peace. I realized if I really wanted this to work, I would have to change our path completely, so with the support of my husband and children, I took a leap of faith: I began to implement a pure Charlotte Mason education, to the best of my ability.
To my joy and satisfaction, I have learned that just as the Fathers of Orthodox Christianity teach, Mason also emphasized that “the Divine Spirit has constant access to [children’s] spirits, and is their continual Helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life.” Charlotte Mason’s principles align with Orthodox Christian teaching, which emphasizes the free will of persons and the active ministry of the Holy Spirit, the omnipresent Comforter and Spirit of Truth. Charlotte Mason called education the “science of relations,” and that reminds me that personal relationship is foundational to reality, as God Himself exists in eternal relationship among the persons of the Holy Trinity. Charlotte Mason developed her method in such a way as to maximize the opportunity for relationships to form and for children to connect with living ideas and cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
One of my favorite services in the Orthodox Church is called “Glory to God for All Things.” The words of this service were found among the effects of Protopresbyter Gregory Petrov after his death in a prison camp in 1940. It is a song of thanksgiving amidst great suffering. One of my favorite verses follows:
The breath of Thine Holy Spirit inspires artists, poets and scientists.
The power of Thy supreme knowledge makes them prophets and interpreters of Thy laws, who reveal the depths of Thy creative wisdom.
Their works speak unwittingly of Thee.
How great art Thou in Thy creation!
How great art Thou in man!
Again, I find the echoes of Orthodox Christianity in these words of Charlotte Mason:
In the things of science, in the things of art, in the things of practical everyday life, his God doth instruct him and doth teach him, her God doth instruct her and doth teach her. Let this be the mother’s key to the whole of the education of each boy and each girl; not of her children; the Divine Spirit does not work with nouns of multitude, but with each single child. Because He is infinite, the whole world is not too great a school for this indefatigable Teacher, and because He is infinite, He is able to give the whole of his infinite attention for the whole time to each one of his multitudinous pupils. We do not sufficiently rejoice in the wealth that the infinite nature of our God brings to each of us.
Jesus said, “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Jesus tells us that the face of even the most humble person is the face of Christ. While I know this intellectually, I often find it difficult to open my eyes and really see the face of Christ in others. Charlotte Mason helps me open my eyes. As I spread the feast of a Charlotte Mason education to my children, I feed them life-giving ideas in cooperation with the Divine Spirit. I do so in a way that is united with my practice of Orthodox Christiantiy. And so I celebrate a Eucharist. I give thanks for a method of education that is in synergy with Christ as the source of life-giving ideas and that opens my eyes to recognize all children as image-bearers of God. Glory to God for all things!
Jennifer Bascom shares the joys and responsibilities of life with her husband Delaney. Together, they run a commercial print shop and homeschool their four children using the Charlotte Mason Method. They are also developing a new company called Morningtide to Eventide™ which offers planning products.