Episode 58: Charlotte Mason and Special Needs

This episode highlights the relevance of a Charlotte Mason education for children who have unique differences as persons in one way or another, needs that affect how they relate to and respond to their education. Is Mason's method possible for children with special needs?

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"Greatness and littleness belong to character, and life would be dull were we all cast in one mould..." (Vol. 2, pg. 71)

"The best public schoolboy is a fine product; and perhaps the worst has had his imagination touched by ideas; yet most of us recognise that the public school often fails, in that it launches the average and dull boy ignorant upon the world because the curriculum has been too narrow to make any appeal to him." (Vol. 3, p. 246)

"Let me add that the appeal of these principles and this method is not to the clever child only but to the average and even to the 'backward' child; indeed we have had several marked successes with backward children. Just as we all partake of that banquet which is 'Shakespeare' according to our needs and desires, so do the children behave at the ample board set before them; there is enough to satisfy the keenest intelligence while the dullest child is sustained through his own willing effort." (Vol. 6, p. 245)

"The teachers underrate the tastes and abilities of their pupils. In things intellectual, children, even backward children, have extraordinary 'possibilities for good'--possibilities so great that if we had the wit to give them their heard they would carry us alog like a stream in spate." (Vol. 6, p. 52)

"This is what we have established in many thousands of cases, even in those of dull and backward children, that any person can understand any book of the right calibre (a question to be determined mainly by the age of the young reader); that the book must be in literary form; that children and young persons require no elucidation of what they read; that their attention does not flag while so engaged; that they master a few pages at a single reading so thoroughly that they can 'tell it back' at the time or months later whether it be the Pilgrim's Progress or one of Bacon's Essays or Shakespeare's plays; that they throw individuality into this telling back so that no two tell quite the same tale; that they learn incidentally to write and speak with vigour and style and usually to spell well. Now this art of telling back is Education and is very enriching." (Vol. 6, pp. 291-92)

"People are too apt to use children as counters in a game, to be moved hither and thither according to the whim of the moment. Our crying need to-day is less for a better method of education than for an adequate conception of children,––children, merely as human beings, whether brilliant or dull, precocious or backward. Exceptional qualities take care of themselves and so does the 'wanting' intelligence, and both of these share with the rest in all that is claimed for them in the previous chapters. Our business is to find out how great a mystery a person is qua person. All action comes out of the ideas we hold and if we ponder duly upon personality we shall come to perceive that we cannot commit a greater offence than to maim or crush, or subvert any part of a person." (Vol. 6, p. 80)

Parents' Review article on Backward Children