Tools for You

Tools for You

When Charlotte Mason published Home Education in 1886, she began a chain reaction. First came the Parent’s Educational Union in 1887, which rapidly expanded to become the Parents’ National Educational Union (PNEU) in 1889. Then in February of 1890, Charlotte Mason became the editor of the first issue of The Parents’ Review. This amazing journal would continue to be published monthly for the next 75 years. After the first two decades, Mason realized that something very special was happening with this journal. In 1911, she wrote to her friend Henrietta Franklin:

Now [Parent’s Review (P.R.)] has a distinguished literary character to maintain. It is quite unique in all languages and in all times as an educational magazine of literary character not professional or technical; We must play the game and not edit in an amateurish way. When you and I are gone, the P.R. will be long quoted and made much of in the annals of Education

We at Charlotte Mason Poetry are living out that prediction. Mason and Franklin have been gone a long time, but we are quoting the P.R. almost every day. We hope that there will come a time when The Parents’ Review will be made much more of in the annals of Education.

Many of the early editions of The Parents’ Review are available online. But the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection only contains the volumes up through 1906. We have a vision to make later articles from The Parents’ Review accessible over the Internet. Currently this requires that we obtain photographs from various public and private libraries and transcribe them. There are many gems that have been hidden, but we are bringing them to light. Every month we plan to share new articles for your reading or listening pleasure.

In 1892, before even publishing her second volume, Charlotte Mason opened the House of Education to teach parent and professional educators. Aspiring educators came to the House of Education in Ambleside to learn the Charlotte Mason method. Once there, they experienced a dynamic environment of discussion and reflection under the guiding hand of Miss Mason herself. Upon graduation, they received their certificates and went out into the world to teach. Of course they loved this work in the world “for the children’s sake.” But often they missed the environment of the House of Education and longed to stay connected. To meet this need, the alumni journal called L’Umile Pianta was born.

Many L’Umile Pianta issues are available in the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection, and some of the articles are filled with important insight, theory, and guidance. The Transcription Team at Charlotte Mason Poetry has transcribed four articles from L’Umile Pianta so far, but expect to see more in the future.

L’Umile Pianta was not the only bond shared by graduates of the House of Education. Nancy Kelly explains another important gift they shared:

The Cloud of Witness – A Daily Sequence of Great Thoughts From Many Minds Following the Christian Seasons is indeed a gem. It was compiled by Edith Gell over 100 years ago and includes over one thousand quotes, scripture verses, and poetry selections. Each week begins with a new theme and prayer and each day starts with a verse from scripture along with poetry and excerpts from such luminaries as George MacDonald, William Wordsworth, Lord Tennyson, William Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson and others.

This devotional is significant to those of us who practice the Charlotte Mason philosophy because we know that Charlotte presented The Cloud of Witness as a gift to the graduates of The House of Education, her teacher training college. She knew that this would help bind the graduates together as they went off to their jobs around the world. And for us today, it has the same effect as we are all meditating on the same passages, sharing our thoughts and insights, and journeying through the Christian Seasons together. The Cloud of Witness offers us encouragement and inspiration on a daily basis. It has meant so much to me that I recently had it reprinted for a new generation to enjoy!

A wonderful aspect of The Cloud of Witness is that it follows the seasons of the church calendar. While many fine resources are available that aid in the observance of particular seasons such as Advent and Lent, this particular book is equally strong in the lesser known seasons of the Christian year. During extended seasons such as Pentecost, this devotional advances a spiritual theme for each week which is reinforced in the daily readings. The readings may be comprehended in a few minutes, or may be absorbed slowly and considered throughout the day.

A challenge for modern readers, however, is that the church calendar followed by The Cloud of Witness is based on the 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer. Due to ecumenical reform across the centuries, few Christians today observe the seasons precisely as they are laid out in The Cloud of Witness. In order to aid contemporary readers from both liturgical and non-liturgical backgrounds, Charlotte Mason Poetry provides a calendar that shows exactly which page or pages from the devotional are assigned for the day.

Another important resource for devotional reading and spiritual formation is Charlotte Mason’s six-volume poetry set entitled The Saviour of the World. These volumes were intended to be read in conjunction with the Bible itself, preferably using the English Revised Version (ERV) translation in a Gospel harmony prepared by the Rev. C. C. James. A challenge for modern readers is to understand exactly which reading in James’s The Gospel History corresponds to a particular poem in The Saviour of the World. In order to address this challenge, the team at Charlotte Mason Poetry has embarked on a project to release a collection of pages where each page contains The Gospel History selection followed by the corresponding poem written by Charlotte Mason.

We are starting with Volume 4 and plan to release a new poem and Gospel passage each week. You can see what we’ve done so far at this link: The Bread of Life.

Charlotte Mason assigned The Saviour of the World to students in Forms III through VI. It is especially important in Forms V and VI, but our information about those higher forms has been fairly scarce. For some time, it has been commonly accepted that the earliest programme in the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection for Forms V and VI dates from 1929, six years after Charlotte Mason’s death. Recently, however, the Charlotte Mason Poetry team discovered the examination portion of a Form V and VI programme from 1918. We have transcribed this page and made it available to give an idea of how these highest forms were organized in Mason’s day. We see a remarkable consistency between this programme and the later programmes from 1929 and onwards.

We see other consistencies in the operation of Mason’s program of education in her lifetime. The PNEU published various time-tables for school lessons across a span of about 30 years. While there are variations across these years, the basic structure and approach remained remarkably similar. The Charlotte Mason Poetry team has developed the first-ever harmonization and consolidation of these various time-tables produced in the first four decades of the PNEU. You can view this exciting new resource here.

The aim behind all of these resources is to support the overall purpose of Charlotte Mason Poetry: to promote an authentic interpretation of Charlotte Mason’s writings. Which resources do you find most valuable? What would you like to see more of? What have you not seen anywhere else that we might be able to produce for you? Please leave a comment and let us know!

11 Replies to “Tools for You”

  1. Oh, thank you all at CMP!
    Now, to open some presents –
    I’ll begin with those upper form exams and then your timetable compilation. May you all be as blessed as you have blessed us.

  2. Thank you so much for all you do! My wish list includes a list or database of all the programmes we have available in the digital library or elsewhere online and the year, season, history rotation (and other commonalities across forms) and if we have a corresponding PR volume available online with links or identifiers so that research can be made easier. Your team is a gift to the CM community. Keep up all the awesome work!

    1. Jennifer,

      This is a great wish. I think the rotations are best observed across a progressive sequence of programmes. The only consistent sequence of programmes in the archive begins with number 90, which is May-July of 1921. We have a small sample from 1905-1906 (programmes 42-44), but it is too small to identify patterns.

      That being said, The Parents’ Review volumes that correspond to 1905 and 1906 are volumes 16 and 17. The digital collection has all of volume 16 and the first half of volume 17, where its coverage of The Parents’ Review ends. It would be interesting and possible to search the 1905 and 1906 PR’s to see what articles correspond to programmes 42-44, even if patterns in rotations cannot be observed.


  3. These tools are amazing! Thank you for all your work.

    Do you know where I could get a clean eBook copy of “The Cloud of Witness”? I am finding free versions, but they are OCR scanned and hard to read. Thanks

  4. Thank you for bringing The Cloud of Witness to our attention! I just received my copy and I’m excited to follow the calendar you made.
    This sounds a little silly, but I’d love reprints of the PR. When Mason said, “we must not…edit in an amateurish way” it made me wonder about the flow of each magazine. I think it would be interesting to read them as they were intended, even though it’s probably more helpful for most peoples purposes to have an index and look things up by topic.

    1. Kara,

      I don’t think your wish is silly at all — I think reprints of The Parents’ Review would be wonderful. It is helpful to see how a single issue was put together and how a year of issues was developed. Fortunately, we can view full issues in the digital collection up to the year 1906. You may find this link useful.


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