Introducing “Three Educational Idylls”

Introducing “Three Educational Idylls”

At the 2016 Charlotte Mason Institute Eastern Conference, I delivered a plenary session entitled “Charlotte Mason in the 21st Century.” The heart of my presentation was drawn from a 1912 article by Charlotte Mason entitled “Three Educational Idylls.” An idyll is defined as “a simple descriptive work in poetry or prose that deals with rustic life or pastoral scenes or suggests a mood of peace and contentment.” In this article, Mason describes and compares three idyllic theories of education. I believe this article is required reading for anyone who wants to understand how Mason viewed her theory of education relative to other developments in the field of educational theory.

In her Philosophy of Education, Mason writes of her theory, “One discovers a thing because it is there.” In this article, Mason specifies precisely where this “thing” was discovered:

If one discovers, it is because the thing is there; there is no credit in making a discovery; gravitation was there for Sir Isaac Newton, the possibility of communication without visible medium, for Signor Marconi; in like manner, educational principles are present in human nature itself and only wait to be discerned, discovered.

Mason did not discover these principles by carefully observing the past; rather, she discovered these principles by carefully observing the children standing before her in the present.

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