A Liberal Education for All: Lessons from Charlotte Mason for the Modern Classical Renewal

What can we learn from the experience of Charlotte Mason, a British Christian educator, and the ‘liberal education for all’ movement at the beginning of the 20th century? In all the unrest and turmoil of our world around race and class warfare, perhaps a re-awakening to the magic touch of knowledge is exactly what we need as a society. Take a trip down memory lane into the methods of Charlotte Mason and renew your appreciation for a classical awakening to knowledge, including some practical tools for how Charlotte Mason’s educational union got there. Mason’s classical tools of learning include the practice of narration; inspirational Nature Studies, Artist Studies and Composer Studies; and coaching students in the development of good habits.

Jason Barney

Jason Barney serves as the Principal of Coram Deo Academy in Carmel, IN. In 2012 he was awarded the Henry Salvatori Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Hillsdale College. He completed his MA in Biblical Exegesis at Wheaton College, where he received The Tenney Award in New Testament Studies. Before coming to CDA Jason Barney served as the Academic Dean at Clapham School, a classical Christian school in Wheaton, IL. In addition to his administrative responsibilities in vision, philosophy and faculty training, Jason has taught courses in Latin, Humanities, and Senior Thesis from 3rd-12th grades. He regularly speaks at events and conferences, including SCL, ACCS and the CiRCE Institute. He recently published The Joy of Learning: Finding Flow Through Classical Education, and A Classical Guide to Narration is forthcoming with the CiRCE Institute. Jason blogs regularly on ancient wisdom for the modern era at www.educationalrenaissance.com.

Implementing Charlotte Mason’s Practice of Narration in the Classroom

Narration is a foundational tool of learning in which students are asked to reproduce quality content from memory. It was a simple and elegant mainstay of classical education before the factory model of the modern era crowded it out of the classroom. One of the best proponents of this traditional learning tool was Charlotte Mason, who honed and perfected it in her schools. Charlotte Mason was a late 19th century British educator who sought to bring the heart of the liberal arts tradition into the modern era, just when it was being most assailed by early pragmatists.

The practice of narration is one of the best ways to embody the classical principal of self-education. As Dorothy Sayers concluded her essay on the lost tools of learning, “the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men to learn for themselves.”

Come to this practical workshop on the why and how of implementing narration in your classroom! We’ll explore what narration is as a teaching practice, why it’s so effective from the perspective of Christian classical education and modern learning science, and how to implement it in your classroom. We’ll touch on everything from how to roll out the new practice, how to call on students effectively, the varieties of narration that can be used, and how narration fits in a broader lesson structure. Free eBook offered to all who attend the workshop!

 

Jason Barney

Jason Barney serves as the Academic Dean at Clapham School, a classical Christian school in Wheaton, IL. In 2012 he was awarded the Henry Salvatori Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Hillsdale College. He completed his MA in Biblical Exegesis at Wheaton College, where he received The Tenney Award in New Testament Studies. In addition to his administrative responsibilities in vision, philosophy and faculty training, Jason has taught courses in Latin, Humanities, and Senior Thesis from 3rd-12th grades. He regularly speaks at events and conferences, including SCL, ACCS, and nearer home at Clapham School Curriculum Nights and Benefits. Recently he trained the Lower School faculty of the Geneva School in Charlotte Mason’s practice of narration in August 2019. Jason blogs regularly on ancient wisdom for the modern era at www.educationalrenaissance.com, where he has also made available a free eBook on implementing the practice of narration in the classical classroom.

How a Theology of Wisdom Undergirds Education

“Wisdom cries aloud in the street; in the squares she thunders!” (Prov 1:20). The figure of speaking Wisdom is more than just an interesting literary device. Jewish and Christian tradition saw in a theology of Wisdom a foundation for what we would call classical education. In this presentation I propose to show how the theology of Wisdom presented in Proverbs and later Jewish and Christian texts presents us with what I call a traditional and transcending pedagogy. This traditional and transcending pedagogy is the antidote to the fragmentation of the modern world of education, specifically to three problems: scientism, technicism and pragmatism. These three -isms share the feature of reductionism, i.e. they reduce the educational endeavor to less than it is. A theology of Wisdom, however, has the power to unite all the dissected ideals of education.

Jason Barney

Jason Barney recently joined the faculty of The Geneva School of Orlando as Upper School Latin and Greek Instructor. This last year he was the Director of Instruction for Languages and Faculty Development at Clapham School, a classical Christian school in Wheaton, IL. He served as Clapham’s Head Latin Instructor for the last six years. In 2012 he was awarded the Henry Salvatori Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Hillsdale College. In May 2014 he completed a MA in Biblical Exegesis at Wheaton College, where he received The Tenney Award in New Testament Studies. Jason’s research interests include: the foundations of classical education in the biblical texts, especially the Theology of Wisdom in Proverbs; the great philosophers of education from the classical era to the present (Aristotle, Quintilian and Aquinas are current favorites); and, in particular, the importance of Charllotte Mason’s philosophy of education for classical schools today.