A few months ago, while I was waiting for my daughter's piano lesson, I thought it would be fun to challenge myself to get a definitional synopsis of CM squeezed into 100 words.
I was quite pleased with myself -- I got as close as 101 words:
"In a Charlotte Mason education, the child's dignity as an individual made in God's image is respected. His education connects him to the world around him, building relationships with God and people from various places and times. Outdoor life is emphasized. Focused attention at short lessons keep the mind fresh and leave free time for personal interests. Living books put the child in touch with vital ideas, and narration teaches him to process those ideas. Copywork and dictation are the bulk of language arts instruction. The educational course of study is teacher-directed, but learning is the responsibility of the student."
It's admittedly a bit choppy. One of the other AO AA (Ambleside Advisory/Auxiliary members) made an improvement that was not only smoother, but weighed in at only 97 words -- less than 100. Maybe I can convince her to share hers in the comments!
Not totally happy with my failure to get under 100 words, I wondered if I could do any better, squeeze it any further. And I did! This one is 63 words:
"The child's dignity as an individual made in God's image is respected. Education means connection between the child and the world around him. Outdoor life is emphasized. Focused attention at short lessons provide free time for personal pursuits. Living books and narration allow the child to process ideas. Copywork teaches handwriting. Course of study is teacher-directed, but learning is the student's job."
Still not satisfied, I pared it down to 27 words that would fit on a Post-It note:
"The child's personhood is respected. His education connects him to the world and ideas. The method includes outdoor life, focused attention, short lessons, living books, narration, copywork."
Nine months later, I'm revisiting this. Now that I had boiled down Charlotte Mason to its most crucial aspects, could I put it all back together without using any CM lingo? Could I explain CM thoroughly, yet in a way that even someone outside of the Charlotte Mason world could understand? I'll post what I came up with in a separate post. It's 599 words. :-)
I think this is a good exercise for anyone. What better way is there to prepare to answer questions about your homeschool method than by getting to its bare bones and then re-assembling those bones in your own words?
How would YOU define a Charlotte Mason education? If you take up the challenge, I would love to see what you come up with!