CMP Review 2024-02-13

CMP Review 2024-02-13

February 13, 2024

Peter’s parents believed that a child’s environment is subtle in its influences and permanent in its effects. So they took great care to ensure that their son would be immersed in a natural, aesthetic education, and that his reason would develop in harmony with his surroundings.

The walls of his room “were done in warm, cream-coloured paint and upon them Peter’s father had put the most lovely patterns of trotting and jumping horses and dancing cats and dogs and leaping lambs, a carnival of beasts.” And the floor “was of cork carpet on which Peter would put his toys.” Indeed, “there was nothing casual about the early years of Peter,” for his parents believed in the atmosphere of environment.

It sounds like something Charlotte Mason would say. And in fact she did say it, in her Towards a Philosophy of Education. The only problem is that she shared the story as an example of one of the “errors of education”! She explained: “What if parents and teachers in their zeal misread the schedule of their duties, magnified their office unduly and encroached upon the personality of children?”

It seems we are caught between Scylla and Charybdis. How do we employ atmosphere as an instrument of education without encroaching upon the personhood of our children? Read or listen as Laura Teeple tackles the question in her final article on Charlotte Mason’s paradoxical principle. Find it here.