Children as a Public Trust
I’ve recently decided to reread Ms Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series and then share what I take from my readings. I am not an expert on all things Charlotte Mason or a leading authority. I am sharing my opinions and what I take away from my readings. I do use the Ambleside Online Forums (membership required) and the many articles on their site http://www.amblesideonline.org for deeper insights.
Part 1- Some Preliminary Considerations
I began reading the section called “Children are a public trust”. I was struck by some of the things Ms Mason wrote about. While I will not quote all of the passages, I will quote the few parts that struck me. So let’s begin.
“Now, that work which is of most importance to society is the bringing up and instruction of the children…….because it is more than anything else the home influences brought to bear upon the child that determine the character and career of the future man or woman.”
Wow. I found this statement to be profound and thought provoking. It is evident as we get older what influences our home has had on us. It makes me stop and think what influences good and bad I have had on my children. Have I fostered an environment that will produce contributors? Sometimes I feel as if the weight of parenthood is too much but then I remember God gives us what he has equipped us for and not more than we can bear even if it feels that way.
“The children are, in truth, to be regarded less as personal property than as public trusts, put into the hands of parents that they may make the very most of them for the good of society.”
More layers are being added here and I feel the weight pressing down again. We are trusted with our children. We are expected to mold for the good of society. But I must stop here and look to the phrase “personal property”. What does she mean here? Is it that some parents try to make their kids into miniatures of themselves. They expect them to go to the same schools, play the same sports or be in the same clubs, and continue on in the same careers even if that is not what the children want. I take it to mean we are to mold them into citizens that contribute.
“And this responsibility is not equally divided between the parents: it is upon the mothers of the present that the future of the world depends, in even a greater degree than upon the fathers, because it is the mothers who have the sole direction of the children’s early, most impressible years.”
Is this where our modern times collide with the period of Ms Mason? To a degree, I would say yes. Let us take this just as it is written. “It is not equally divided between the parents” due to the fact that in that period women were usually homemakers and the sole “at home” provider for the children. The fathers were usually the ones who went from home to work and then come back home. The majority of the day for little ones was spent with the mom not dad. Now, this may not be the case in our current time period as more and more dads are choosing to be home. So whether it is mom or dad, the responsibility is with the one at home to whom the children spend the majority of their time with. Well, that is my take anyway.
“This is why we hear so frequently of great men who have had good mothers-that is, mothers who brought up their children themselves, and did not make over their gravest duty to indifferent people.”
What caught my eye here is the reference to “did not make over their gravest duty to indifferent people”. I think maybe this could be absentee parenting. Maybe even allowing others such as a babysitter/daycare to do the early care and training. This may or may not apply to today because so many mothers are having to work outside the home in addition to the father. The way I would apply it to today would be that if working outside the home is unavoidable then we must make it a priority to take the instruction into our own hands when at home, out and about, or any time our children are with us. It is our responsibility no matter the circumstances to ensure our children are a contribution to society not a hindrance.
Here I will be a bit more open with you. We have lived with my mother for about three years now due to some of her health and financial issues. About 6 months into this arrangement I noticed my “parent” spot had been usurped and it has been extremely hard to keep that spot. There are things my children are not allowed to do or have. And things I want them to learn and do. I see that however vigilant I am being that I must surely be falling under Ms Mason’s “making over my gravest duties to indifferent people”. I feel as if I’ve become the permanently cross parent. I am finding some of Ms Mason’s words setting heavily on my shoulders. I see this as a permanent struggle until we can move again. Until then I will keep at it and hope that my kids (my youngest mainly) can see the wisdom in what I am trying to teach him.
So off my soapbox and onto pictures. I keep my notes in a lined notebook so that I can go back and add notes without cluttering my book. This is helpful when I read an advisory article or forum post or something as equally helpful from a blog. I highlight and underline with a pencil things in my book. So I’m including pictures of them for you.
Let me know your thoughts on the above passages or on what I wrote. I am open to friendly dialog. Please don’t soul crush just because I can’t see you. 🙂