I’ve been reading as much as I can about Charlotte Mason in high school. There isn’t a lot out there. There are some really great resources that take you through elementary and middle school, but it all stops right there with the exception of a few bloggers that have taken the time to record some of their choices and experiences. Sweet Pea and I had no doubt that we were continuing on with Charlotte Mason through high school. I was motivated to read what Charlotte Mason had to say because I felt I had become lax and casual about Charlotte Mason in our home. I’m finding this time of reading and studying to be completely rewarding! Not only am I really attentive to every nuance and mention I can find about Charlotte Mason’s Form IV (10th/11th grade) and Form V (11th/12th grade), I’m catching a lot I missed the first time that is really filling in cracks and solidifying methods in the earlier years! But, back to high school…our goal was simply to move a little wider and a little deeper in building a generous liberal arts curriculum.
I began by building booklists to refer to, but not booklists of our books – Charlotte’s booklists! Charlotte Mason would be the first to say that she felt strongly about using living books that are as current as possible. While I feel the same way, I wanted to get a sense of what she was using with her students, how many pages they were reading (it’s important to remember that one of the cornerstones of a Charlotte Mason education is that it is a liberal education based on living books). So, I opened up Toward a Philosophy of Education, the last book in a series of 6 volumes, that Charlotte wrote some 30 years after she first penned Home Education. Within this book are a treasure of reflections and summaries on how, over the last 30 years, this liberal, wide, and generous education worked for Charlotte’s students, and further within the book, she outlines her curriculum choices with details. What a treasure! This was a return visit for me to Charlotte’s volumes, but now this was my biggest clue to continuing with Charlotte’s methods and curriculum into high school. I began to compile all of her ideas and page numbers…because an easy to read list was what I needed just to reference as I built our own booklist! However, it is important to say that the curriculum and booklist SHOULD NOT be separated from the method and principles Charlotte Mason outlines!
“I feel strongly that to attempt to work this method without a firm adherence to the few principles laid down would be not only idle but disastrous. ‘Oh, we could do anything with books like those,’ said a master; he tried the books and failed conspicuously because he ignored the principles.” From A Philosophy of Education, Volume 6, p. 270
High school students read from a great number and wide range of books (possibly as many as 35 per 12 week term) which is consistent with a liberal arts approach. Also consistently applied were Miss Mason’s methods: narration, dictations, short lessons, which allowed the student time and ability to dig deeply into an author’s words, uncovering their own connections; as always the student relates to ideas shared by the author of a living book.Simply Charlotte Mason’s The Books and Things seminar workbook contains a skeleton of helpful information on term work in one of Charlotte Mason’s terms: books chosen, pages read. Included in the seminar are many different tables, and I found them all extremely helpful to me! It’s SUPER helpful if you’re building booklists and wondering if you’re close to Charlotte Mason in terms of the number of books chosen, types of books chosen, and pages read for the different ages/grades/forms. This seminar covers all ages – from early learners up through high school!
(Note – I really recommend this seminar as an at-home-retreat, but if your budget is tight and you’d just like the tables of helpful information along with a detailed listing of books chosen for the 1922 Term of work at Charlotte’s House of Education, the Seminar book can be ordered alone, and though not as wonderful as the full seminar, would still be very helpful as a reference for your shelf!!!! It contains compilation information for ALL ages/grades, not just high school, but HOW WONDERFUL that high school grade work is represented!)
After reading Toward a Philosophy of Education‘s chapter on The Curriculum, I gathered and listed every book and author I could from the Fall 1921 Programme of Work for Form IV (Grades 8 – 9), Form V (Grades 10 – 11) and Form VI (Grades 11 – 12), compiling everything into a table that I could refer to. I learned so much in doing this!! I could see the types of books chosen. I really paid attention to little things, the way something was worded or described, especially those things that Charlotte Mason worded herself. Each of these little nuggets gave me a clue to the whole, the big picture, that was so helpful and inspiring!
“unroll(s) the landscape of the world, region by region, before the eyes of the scholar with in every region its own conditions of climate, its productions, its people, their industries, their history. This way of teaching the most delightful of all subjects has the effect of giving to a map of a country or region the brilliancy of colour and the wealth of detail which a panorama might afford, together with a sense of proportion and a knowledge of general principles.” (Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education, p. 228)
Examples of current living Geography books appropriate for high school that unroll the landscape of the world in a panoramic method might be, Kon Tiki, Aku Aku, The Ra Expeditions, and others by Thor Heyerdahl, John McFee‘s books like Basin and Range, and Rising from the Plains. Additionally, I find that many naturalists express in beautiful living language the geography and panorama of a variety of geographical areas. Naturalists like John Muir and Edwin Way Teale are two that come to mind, but there are many more. My daughter is really enjoying Why Greenland Is an Island, Australia is Not – And Japan is Up for Grabs by Joyce Davis. Though it is more instructional and not narrative, it’s great for really helping to understand geography through the lens of current events.
These are the kind of ideas I walked away with as I looked over Charlotte Mason’s specific offerings, and they were significantly helpful to me in considering booklists for my 9th grader this year. I set out to develop what I hoped would be panoramic in general, in that this curriculum for 9th grade…and beyond, would continue to be wide and generous. A liberal education.
And now, a request! If you’re building plans for high school using Charlotte Mason’s methods, please do link if you have a post explaining your choices, or noting some of your plans. You can link a category of blog posts if that works better for you! I’d love to add all of the resources shared to the bottom of this post so I can compile an index of all the great high school Charlotte Mason resources and ideas!
Amazing posts from Theresa at LaPaz Home Learning for her 10th grader:
- High School: Charlotte Mason Style
- Battling the Chemical Beast
- Epic History in the Making
- Nature Study: taking it to the next level
Meredith’s lovely plans for Violet, her 9th grader:
I’m adding a few links to MacBeth’s site:
Erin’s very helpful high school posts at Seven Little Australians Living and Learning:
My high school posts at Wildflowers & Marbles
…and from Lindafay at Higher Up and Further In:
…and from Barb at Harmony Art Mom:
Simply Charlotte Mason 5 part series:
- More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison – Chapter 9
- Ourselves (Volume 4) by Charlotte Mason
- The second half of this volume consitutes an excellent civics/ethics/morality course for high school students
- Formation of Character (Volume 5) by Charlotte Mason
- The entire volume is good for habit and character formation
- Concerning the Young Maidens at Home
- A Philosophy of Education (Volume 6) by Charlotte Mason
- This is the best volume containing the most meat for those with students approaching high school
- The Curriculum
- The Scope of Continuation Schools