Many mothers feel that they are the better in body and mind for the
mental activity that nothing but definite study affords. We are making
arrangements for a course of study on education – a three years’ course –
with monthly questions. – Charlotte Mason
|Image used by permission from the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection,
Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada
lovely certificate was presented to mothers who completed Charlotte
Mason’s rigorous Mothers’ Education Course (M.E.C.). The mothers in the course
were to read many different books, including Mason’s 6 volume series and
were to answer exam questions periodically. The study also included books on divinity, physiology, psychology and nature lore. I’d like to think that I would have signed up for such a course. Actually, it turns out that I have studied all of these things to some degree over the past 20 years. I suspect that many of us homeschool moms have.
What I wanted to talk about in this post is not how busy moms of today might go about “definite study” (although that is an issue that should be explored), but those questions found in the back of her books in the appendices. Have you seen those?
They read like comprehension questions and in some cases are quite leading. They just don’t seem to fit what we know about Mason and narration or exam questions. I know that we have debated in our book discussion group what their purpose was as well as on forums. According to The Story of Charlotte Mason, the students mentioned on the above page are actually the moms taking the M.E.C. Here’s the explanation:
The Mothers’ Education Course consisted of Syllabus I and II with examination papers for each. The questions for these papers still appear at the end of each volume of the Home Education Series as a help to study and to indicate points which the author considers significant. The M.E.C. continued usefully for twenty-three years. It came to an end with the war difficulties of 1915, when mothers had no leisure for study. (p. 45)
So there you have it! These questions were used on examinations for the M.E.C. They focused on what Ms. Mason considered significant and were an aid for those mothers who had not been educated using narration. (That would be me.)
Comfort and joy,
Read the next post in this series – Women as Persons (Mothers’ Education Course Part II)