Charlotte Mason and Your Heritage

Charlotte Mason and Your Heritage

Art Middlekauff speaks with Amber Johnston of in which they discuss the relevance and application of Charlotte Mason’s ideas for mothers and families today.


Recipe Versus Thought

Ask Art #2 – What Happened?

3 Replies to “Charlotte Mason and Your Heritage”

  1. Thank you for this, Art and Amber! I have always loved that quote about the Finnish child in South Korea 🙂 So many of us don’t fit in the “normal box.” It is always a blessing to be encouraged to keep seeking what is best for my family.

  2. I so appreciate the voice that Amber and others are bringing to the conversation in the Charlotte Mason home school community. Thank you for helping to broaden the feast! Thank you also for the reminder to bring ourselves into our home schools, to share what we love with our children. With regard to Latin (and other subjects) I agree that we shouldn’t force our children to study a subject just because it is on “the list,” but I also feel that we shouldn’t disregard it either because it is not our taste or our area of interest. We never know what idea is going to capture our children’s attention. That is why we spread the wide and varied curriculum! My children have all done at least one year of Latin. None of them have really shown an interest in going further, but they have had the exposure to it and can pick it up again when and if they are interested. Thanks again for the many wonderful ideas to chew on!

    1. Jennifer,

      Thank you for listening to this interview and thank you for sharing your thoughts. I want to clarify that Amber did not say that you should not to teach Latin, but rather that you should know why you are teaching Latin if you choose to do so. One theme of the interview was to distinguish the universals (principles) from the particulars (expressions of those principles) in the Charlotte Mason method. It is somewhat common nowadays to do this in the area of living languages, and so eyebrows are usually not raised when a CM parent-educator chooses Spanish over French. But I wanted to raise the question of whether Latin was a universal or a particular.

      I have heard at least five reasons to include Latin in the CM curriculum:

      1. CM herself included it.
      2. Learning a highly-inflected language aids in the comprehension of English grammar.
      3. Students who study Latin score better on the SAT.
      4. Latin opens the door to historical and contemporary Christian writing.
      5. Latin opens the door to writings of the classical era.

      Reason #1 is insufficient for all the reasons we discussed in this interview. The Finnish child in South Korea should not start with British history simply because CM began with British history. We need to understand why Mason included British history — and Latin.

      Reason #2 is not tied solely to Latin. There are other inflected languages. For example, a family could teach Arabic as a means to elucidate English grammar.

      Reason #3 seems very utilitarian. One of Mason’s key ideas is that we should not teach to the test. Neither student nor teacher is likely to get excited about Latin if this is the highest goal.

      Reason #4 is certainly applicable to Catholics and others in the Latin Christian tradition. However, it seems to me it would ring hollow for members of non-Latin traditions such as Russian, Greek, and Ethiopian Orthodox. I would think such families might choose their own church’s classical language over Latin.

      Reason #5 is the answer of Classical Christian Education (CCE). Clark & Jain in The Liberal Arts Tradition say that “Obedience to the fifth commandment involves being pious to one’s heritage and thus for the citizens of the West that means respecting medieval and classical culture” (p. 144). In fact, they go as far as to say that Latin “remains an essential tool through which to access reality” (p. 50).

      Must we teach Latin because of the Ten Commandments? Do we need Latin to “access reality”? As for me, my access to reality is through the revelation of God in Jesus Christ and Sacred Scripture. To the extent that Mason’s philosophy is derived from the Gospel of Christ and the nature of things as they are, it is universally applicable. In my view, the classical Latin authors, no matter how wise or virtuous, cannot make the same claim.

      I believe every modern CM educator must determine for herself whether Latin should be an element of her curriculum. Even a Finnish mother in South Korea, or an African mother in North America. And for the record, I would note that I am currently studying Latin myself and we do incorporate it in our homeschool.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *