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!