The Charlotte Mason Institute supports a worldwide community of learners and educators in an authentic practice of Charlotte Mason’s paradigm of education. They seek to do this in three ways:
- Explicating the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason
- Equipping individuals and schools to practice Mason’s pedagogy
- Nourishing the Mason community with insightful publications and examples of practices and various forms of knowledge from the arts to the sciences, from nature to literature to history and many more.
The Charlotte Mason Institute aims to extend the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy to children worldwide, just as Charlotte Mason intended. The Institute’s long term vision is to develop a vibrant and growing Mason community to sustain generations to come.
Speakers from Charlotte Mason Institute
Dr. Carroll Smith was introduced to Charlotte Mason at a L’Abri conference in the 1970s. While a young middle school teacher working within a mechanistic educational system that he saw neither inspired nor engaged his students, he attended Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s presentation on Mason and knew that the ideas of Charlotte Mason were what was missing in his professional training to become a teacher. He will always be grateful to Susan for then sending him Mason’s book, An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education, which gave him the scope and framework of Mason’s ideas.
The seeds of ideas given by Mason in her various books have slowly taken hold and have grown year by year as Carroll worked as a middle school teacher, school principal, professor of education, and university dean. Over the decades of working with children and teachers, teaching undergraduate and graduate education courses including philosophy of education courses, and helping to establish CMI as an accrediting agency, he finds that Charlotte Mason gets the ontology of children correct and thus, subsequently develops a philosophy of education and methods of education that match to the child as a person.
He founded the educational nonprofit The Charlotte Mason Institute to promote the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason, and cherishes the relationships that have gown over the years through a collective camaraderie with people interested in seeing education from a very different paradigm.
He enjoys reading, gardening and discussing ideas with friends. He and his wife, Andra, have two adult children and live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in Roanoke, VA. He enjoys speaking on Charlotte Mason’s theories and practices wherever he is asked. Carroll holds an undergraduate degree in Intermediate Education (grades 4–8) and a master’s in School Administration from East Carolina University, and a doctorate of education in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech. He is the Executive Director and Founder of the Charlotte Mason Institute.
Kelli has been involved in advocating home education for about 18 years and specifically in the Charlotte Mason Community for over 15 years. She facilitates the Charlotte Mason Study group in central Illinois, as well as directing or leading more than 10 online study groups in conjunction with the Charlotte Mason Institute. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Charlotte Mason Institute.
She enjoys studying and discussing those vitalizing ideas on education and life with others wanting to grow and learn more about how to implement a Charlotte Mason educational philosophy, and has a passion for sharing the beauty and breadth of ideas in a Mason educational approach with others through speaking, mentoring, consulting, training and supporting educators.
Through God’s abundant grace, Kelli’s children were home-educated through high school graduation. They all went on to finish university studies, two are in their first year of marriage with plans toward seminary, and the oldest is a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. at University of Chicago.
Lisa has studied Charlotte Mason’s methods since providentially hearing of her from Ranald and Susan Macaulay at a L’Abri Conference in the summer of 1982 while an undergraduate education major at Covenant College. Upon returning to school that fall, she found a few of Mason’s volumes in the college library and was entirely swept up in what she recognized as a much-needed antidote to the decidedly mechanistic approach to teaching prevalent in most teacher education programs and even Christian education practice in those days.
She was blessed to find a school some years later that employed Mason’s methods and has enjoyed a career of teaching, learning, and sharing Mason’s ideas and practice with those who endeavor to bring a “sane” education to children and families in diverse settings.
She is a catechist in The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd children’s spiritual formation program at Faith Presbyterian Church, and the director of Great River Learning, a non-profit organization that brings Charlotte Mason education to Cincinnati in the forms of classes for homeschooled children, in-service training for schools, and educational rehabilitation to students of all ages, shapes and sizes.
Lisa serves as chair of the board of the Charlotte Mason Institute. She holds a B. S. in Early Childhood Education from Covenant College and a M.Ed. in Literacy Instruction from Georgia State University.
Lisa lives in Cincinnati with her husband Matt, who is a PCA pastor, and two dachshunds, who preside over home security.
Dr. Jen Spencer spent eighteen years as an educator in public, private, and home schools teaching students from preschool all the way through high school. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education from Winthrop University in 1996. She then went on to earn a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Gardner-Webb University, where she was awarded the university’s highest honor for graduate research for her dissertation on writing development within the Mason model.
In 2009 she traveled to Ambleside (in the Lake District of the UK) as part of the team that digitized the Charlotte Mason archives, which are housed at the Armitt Library and Museum. The Charlotte Mason Digital Collection can now be viewed through WorldCat.
In 2011, Jen founded Willow Tree Community School in Shelby, NC ,so that she could have a place to work out and fully implement Mason’s philosophy and methods. She served as principal and teacher there for four years.
Jen currently works from home as an independent education consultant, researcher, and sometimes-blogger at Cuppa With Jen. After serving on the Board of Directors for the Charlotte Mason Institute (CMI) for four years, she moved into the role of Project Manager to spearhead the development of Mason’s Alveary, a comprehensive curriculum and parent training program that was unveiled in June 2016 at the CMI national conference and is now in its pilot year.
When she is not working, Jen enjoys hiking, reading, and supporting her two children in their musical endeavors.
Join us for a discussion on Bible and Religious training through a Charlotte Mason educational lens. We trace the path Charlotte Mason parents and teachers followed with an overall picture from the youngest years to the older student. How does an integrated Christian education look in today’s Charlotte Mason schools and homes? We consider together if the important issue of Worldview should be relegated to a high school course and where and how it might fit into our educational scheme. What are the implications for the younger year studies as well as the older students? Mason encourages us, as parents and teachers, to be “Inspirers” as we “train up our children in the way they should go.” We discuss ways to foster, watch over, and observe the implications of practices that impact “the character and conduct of life” from the pre-school ages through the time they step out into the path God has given them.
Is a Charlotte Mason education new to you? Are you using a few ideas here and there but want to learn and implement more CM-style studies? Do you have any of these questions?
- How do I know if I am doing it right?
- What is a living book anyway?
- What is the Science of Relations and Narration?
- Is this style only for younger children or can I keep using this approach in high school?
It is easy to get lost in all the different terminology and there are many opinions that pull us in different directions. We will discuss these questions and introduce some terms and ideas. As we consider some foundational points of a Charlotte Mason education, it will help us understand more about education as an Atmosphere of respect, a Discipline of habits of the heart and mind, and a Life of relational ideas resting upon truth.
Discipline? Many articles are written today about children who rule the home and rule the public if allowed. Why are we experiencing this rash of behavior? Could it be that we do not understand authority? Could it be that we do not understand the use of habits and how they can help us get rid of the labour of decision making? Is it possible to run our lives along smooth tracks? No person will ever have perfect habits. That’s the world we live in. But could we do a better job of preparing our children for the world they live in by helping them develop habits that make life sweeter and more delightful? Join us as we work through Mason’s principle of Education as a Discipline and its many applications to our lives.
Mason used the metaphor of food to help us understand an idea related to teaching and learning. Children need a variety of foods or a feast for their bodies to be well-nourished. As Frances (Bread and Jam for Frances) helps children understand, peanut butter and jam gets old. It is a good thing that it gets old because a steady diet of the same food would not nourish a child’s body. An educational paradigm which does not provide a feast of living ideas is denying children what they need to flourish as persons. Data and facts are not enough for the creature who is created in the image of the Infinite Person. A person needs relationships with God, the Universe, and with humankind. These relationships are developed not only by a look at the physical world, but also by a steady diet of ideas. Join us as we examine the ideas behind Mason’s Education as a Life.
Mason believed that our genes were important in understanding who we are as humans and that the personality of a child should never be encroached upon. How then do we educate children? After we understand from Session 1 what Mason believed about personhood, we can look at three educational venues through which we can assist our children in their learning. One of those is the atmosphere in our homes and educational settings.
Is the atmosphere conducive to living and learning on many levels?
- The physical space
- The intellectual space
- The emotional space
- Is the respect due to persons evident?
Join us as we deeply explore Mason’s ideas related to Education as an Atmosphere.
Mason’s first principle of education is what she called her “founding” principle—the child is a born person. She interestingly did not begin her educational principles with a curriculum, a set of books, child development theory, or moral theory. She first dealt with the ideas that should inform her educational theories and practices including the ones that were just mentioned. Following the pattern in Scripture (Genesis 1:26) she defines who children are before laying out the rest of her educational principles. To do otherwise is to place more value on curriculum and other topics rather than the human being as a person.
In this session, we will discover what Mason means by the idea that a child is a born person and how that idea applies to education. Mason studied the whole child—the physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual—and then designed her methods and curriculum to match what she believed God had created in humankind. Come join us as we look at Mason’s principle “the child is a born person.”