At Charlotte Mason College (or CMC) we are concerned that children should not merely acquire knowledge and skills, but should have opportunity to experience an abundant life within all that is good, true and beautiful.
CMC families pursue lifestyles of….
…’goodness‘ – through Christian character training via the disciplined development of the habits needed for success in life. The CMC program employs Charlotte Mason’s gentle common- sense methods of child training.
…’truth‘ – through the search for knowledge in the sciences, humanities and the arts. Students engage with quality classic literature from the great thinkers and leaders throughout history; they engage with what Charlotte Mason called ‘living books’ and real-life practical experiences; and
…’beauty‘ – by maintaining a warm, loving, positively affirming atmosphere in the home or classroom; setting up an aesthetically beautiful and ordered learning environment; and by becoming familiar with classic artworks and music composers.
At CMC, we believe in a well-rounded practical, academic, and cultural education for all, in order to prepare every student for a constantly changing world of varied opportunities. In some schools, the ‘non-academic’ children are relegated to the ‘trades’ pathway, whereas the higher performing students are prepared for university. Both of these assumed outcomes can be somewhat narrow in focus. At CMC, we prepare children to live life well in a way that also prepares them for success whether they pursue further tertiary study, careers, trades, marriage, family, friendships, and recreation hobbies – prepared for all of life!
We aim to re-ignite the love of learning through a balance of practical hands-on activities, cultural and artistic pursuits, a smorgasbord of inspiring food-for-thought, academic skill development, and Christian character training.
Commentators have called Charlotte Mason’s methods ‘the gentle art of education’. Although she lived a century ago, her understanding of children, her elegantly simple and common-sense methods have been validated by the latest research on brain function and educational psychology, and these methods will effectively bring out the very best in your children.
EDUCATING FOR LIFE
“The people themselves begin to understand and to [search for] an education which shall qualify their children for life rather than for earning a living. As a matter of fact, it is the man who has read and thought on many subjects who is, with the necessary training, the most capable in handling tools, drawing plans, or keeping books. The more of a person we succeed in making a child, the better will he both fulfill his own life and serve society.”
– Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education, 1923.
PHILOSOPHY & AIMS
CMC is committed to providing an affirming, supportive encouraging and disciplined environment of excellence; a learning environment where students can grow into successful learners, confident and creative individuals, active and informed citizens; an environment where students can become more effective critical and creative thinkers and where the intellectual, physical, social, emotional, moral and spiritual development of each individual student is achieved to their maximum potential.
We are founded on the belief that a Classical Liberal Arts Education, where students are steeped in great historical thought, ideas and culture, provides a key preparation for a future life of leadership and service.
Smaller classes with a maximum of 16 students, allow for Socratic methods and tutorial discussion to develop thinking and communication skills, while ensuring those who learn at a slower pace, receive the special attention needed.
• To use the Classical Liberal Arts to help children become culturally literate, deep thinkers, passionate communicators, and develop into adults who are willing and able to give practical service in their community.
• To help students enter into what is known as the ‘great conversation’ with the leading thinkers through the ages; to grapple with the ideas embodied in the classics of the ‘great books’ – the ideas and wisdom that have contributed to the development of Western civilisation.
• To educate and train children of all ages, backgrounds, and ability levels in a way that enables them to reach their full potential in life.
• To establish and maintain a College that provides students with the necessary direction and caring support to be able to achieve a high standard of educational achievement.
• To provide educational options for families who are isolated, or for whom conventional classroom delivery for their children pose unreasonable obstacles.
• To provide a caring College community, both to those who are On Campus and those who are learning via Distance Educational delivery.
We value and believe in
• Presentation of a broad Classical Liberal Arts Education including cultural enrichment for all, balanced with practical life skills training.
• An emphasis on character training and retraining the brain using the discipline of habit formation.
• Respecting the individual personhood of the child.
• The importance of the learning ‘atmosphere’ including both the aesthetic environment and the social-emotional atmosphere of love and positive encouragement.
• Encouraging the child’s spirituality, belief in and relationship with God.
• Developing independent thinkers and self-motivated learners.
• Parents and teachers as partners in education.
• High quality and current teaching practices.
• A wide range of educational opportunities for all our students.
• Strategies to assist with the provision of equal educational outcomes for all enrolled students.
CMC CHRISTIAN STATEMENT OF FAITH
- We believe that the Judeo-Christian Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the infallible Word of God, our supreme and absolute standard by which our whole life is to be directed and judged, and indispensable and determinative for our knowledge of God, of ourselves, and the rest of creation.
- We believe in one God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the Saviour of all who put their faith in Him alone for eternal life.
- We believe that those who are made new in Christ are called to be holy in character and conduct, and can only live this way by being filled with the Lord’s Spirit.
- We believe God wills for people everywhere to know Him and be made new in Christ, living the abundant life that He gives to those who receive Him.
- We believe that the purpose of the Church is to worship God in spirit and in truth, and to reach a lost and fallen world with the gospel of Jesus Christ through its worship, witness, and loving deeds.
CMC is governed by the Parents National Education Union (Australia), which had its roots in the original Parents National Education Union (PNEU) in the UK over a century ago. The founder of the original PNEU (UK), Charlotte Mason (1842-1923), was a British education philosopher, reformer and pioneer in the field of education. Her concept of ‘living books and real-life experience’, as a foundation for educating, shaped many of the schools of Great Britain at the turn of the 20th century.
In 1896, Charlotte Mason wrote a book titled ‘Home Education’ and later books titled ‘School Education’, ‘The Formation of Character’, ‘Ourselves’, ‘Parents and Children’, plus a final treatise called ‘Towards a Philosophy of Education’ (1923). She established a network of schools in England and other countries, a correspondence education service, and a training college for teachers, nannies, governesses, and tutors called ‘The House of Education’. In the 1930’s there were a few PNEU schools in the southern States of Australia. One of these (The Wilderness School) is still operating today, though not strictly following her philosophy.
In 1995, the McNeice family, inspired by Charlotte Mason’s work with the original PNEU, established a non-profit ministry that would hopefully inspire parents with a vision of an education towards living an abundant life. For 22 years, they supported all home-educators with a legal advocacy service and provided advice for families using a broad range of resources and strategies. In 2012, they registered a range of nationally accredited qualifications (Certificate III, Certificate IV, and Diploma) effectively providing an alternate pathway for homeschool graduates.
Bruce and Karen McNeice
Over the years, Bruce and Karen McNeice have worked with more than 3000 families as they launched out into this journey of training their children with enthusiasm, conviction and determination.
In 2014, the Parents’ National Education Union (Australia) Inc was established – to continue the work of Charlotte Mason’s original PNEU that operated from 1887 to 1989; and then in 2017, PNEU (Australia) gained successful registration as an Accredited Non-Government School and School of Distance Education.
Since 1995, the ministry had operated under the names of Christian Academy of Life, Unity College, and Eastgate College. From 2017, the new registered school took on a new name (Charlotte Mason College) to more accurately reflect its philosophical foundations, joining a growing movement of Charlotte Mason Schools in numerous countries around the world. Many home educators also search the internet for information on Charlotte Mason’s Methods, so this new name will make it easier for them to find us and get the help they need.
The kind of parents who enquire and enrol in CMC, tend to be those who are not satisfied with a conventional education; but have in mind or are searching for a higher vision of who their child can become. They are searching for an education that treats their child as a precious person with unique qualities, and that values the role of the parent as an important member of their child’s education team.
CHARLOTTE MASON METHOD
The Charlotte Mason Curriculum is a broad general and cultural education curriculum with four distinctive features that make it such a unique and highly sought after program.
i) The Content – Q: “What is taught?”
ii) The Embedded Worldview – Q: “Which values & belief-system undergirds the moral, spiritual and character training?”
iii) The Learning Philosophy – Q: “How is it taught?”
iv) The Accredited Qualification – Q: “What do you get at the end; and what doors of opportunity will it open for you?”
i) The Content – The whole library as our textbook, and the whole world as our curriculum!
A Charlotte Mason Program provides a broad general and cultural education from Preschool to Year 12 and beyond. It employs the liberal arts and sciences to provide a rigorous tertiary preparation using what is known as ‘living books’ and the ‘great books’ to engage students in ‘the great conversation’ with the cultural giants, thinkers and leaders who have been influential in the development of Western civilisation and culture. Most textbooks represent the editor’s concept of what is important in a subject. Rather than limiting the students to the ideas of one author or publishing company, students learn to be true ‘scholars’, investigating many primary sources and immersing themselves in the real-life stories of the scientists, authors, philosophers, artists, leaders, geniuses, and the common people of the period they are studying. They become like the Bereans, who the Apostle Paul said were ‘more noble’ because they didn’t just take his word for it, but searched out the Scriptures to see what was truly true.
ii) The Embedded Worldview
Charlotte Mason proposed that “Anyone who wants to teach children needs to decide whether man [sic] is just physical, or something more. It can’t be both ways, and even the most trivial detail of the school day will line up with one or the other of these two fundamental perspectives.” (Mason, 1910)
Because the secular State Education System, stems from a belief that humans are merely the meaningless product of matter, chance and time, there is no inherent unifying meaning so that each subject is independently adrift. However, in a Charlotte Mason philosophy, we believe there is an overarching story that unifies all subjects and brings them to life; because there is a transcendent personal God who is really there, who is not silent, who acts in real space and time history, and who offers meaning and purpose to people. Therefore, without having to force any cross-curricular activities, topics and subjects naturally integrate in a way that makes sense, so the students discover the big picture of life. Subjects are interwoven within thematic units of study; they interconnect, so there is a reason for studying science, literature, history and the arts.
iii) The Learning Philosophy
The CMC philosophy of learning draws on the work of great thinkers and educators such as Charlotte Mason, Mortimer Adler, Dr Francis Schaeffer, and Socrates.
Charlotte Mason’s motto was, ‘Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.’
Education is an atmosphere: The atmosphere of the home is seen to be crucially important. When considering atmosphere, we care about both the physical environment of the students learning centre, as well as the ‘social- emotional’ atmosphere and that is both disciplined and friendly, with parents, Learning Advisors and students always positively uplifting one another.
Education is a discipline: Of course, it takes much time and effort to continually train everyone towards this type of supportive learning culture. One of the key roles of the Learning Advisor and parent is to work diligently on the formation of habitual character traits until they become the innate ‘modus operandi’ of the child.
Education is a life: Mason believed in respecting the person-hood of each child; and that our role as educators is to foster the love of learning as a lifestyle. Instead of force-feeding them information, she respected and trusted the child’s mind to digest and assimilate quality food for thought. She was careful to present a smorgasbord of quality mental food, and then allowed them to share their thoughts and discoveries, and to come to conclusions on their own. In her classes, she tried not to over-explain, lecture, or analyse; and tried not to get too much between the student and the author or artist they were studying.
Mason recommended ‘whole’ books rather than condensed snippets. She gave the children time to read a ‘whole’ book by an author rather than a selected reading in an anthology, so they could fully understand and appreciate what the author had to offer. Rather than using textbooks which are typically full of ‘canned bits of information’ with rote memorisation of facts, she recommended what she called ‘living’ books which were excellently written stories and texts authored by someone who is passionate about their topic and brings it to life. Living books were often written in conversational style, and included selected biographies, classics, and historical novels. Quality books of this sort allowed the reader to identify with and understand the personal lives of the characters while gleaning important contextual facts.
She employed a comprehension technique called ‘narration’ as a significant learning tool. The child is required to listen intently to a reading (only once) and then retell it as closely as he/she can. Charlotte Mason believed this helped a child to interact with the material in an original way and to assimilate and connect information in the process. She felt it was important that children be exposed to only the best literature rather than ‘twaddle’ which was how she defined literature written ‘down’ to a child’s level.
Charlotte Mason believed in a structured morning of basic academics and then dedicating time in the afternoon to real-life situations through hands-on projects, work experience, play, exploration, nature walks, visits to the museum, and reading. This would allow education to be a life-enriching, joyous experience and adventure.
iv) What Qualification or Award will the students receive and where will that lead to?
Depending on their level of achievement, CMC students will graduate with one or more of these four qualifications by the end of their Year 12 (or Gap-year 13) studies.
The Cert III would be equivalent to a ‘General and Vocational Year 12’; the Cert IV would be equivalent to an ‘Academic Year 12 or Tertiary Preparation Certificate’; and students with a Diploma are performing at first year university level.
iv) What Qualification or Award will the students receive, and where will that lead to?
Depending on their level of achievement, CMC students will graduate with one or more of these four qualifications by the end of their Year 12 (or Gap-year 13) studies.
a) Certificate III in General Education;
b) Certificate IV in Liberal Arts;
c) Certificate IV in Science;
d) Diploma of Musical Theatre.
COLLEGE GOVERNANCE & ADMINISTRATION
CHARLOTTE MASON COLLEGE BOARD
Charlotte Mason College is governed by a board of seven directors, referred to as “The College Board”.
Each director of The College Board has been appointed because of particular skills and expertise in areas of education and good corporate governance.
The College Board’s role is to uphold the constitution, set and clarify strategic direction and objectives, approve policy and plans, and oversee the operations and activities of the College, with responsibility for ultimate decision-making.
The College Board appoints the Principal, and delegates all operational aspects of the College to that position.
The College Board does not take part in the day-to-day affairs or running of the College. The Principal reports to the Board.
CMC SCHOOL MANAGEMENT TEAM (SMT)
The responsibility for achieving College objectives, plans and policies, lies with the School Management Team. The Principal and Curriculum Manager are responsible for the daily operations of the College. The School Management Team (SMT) meets fortnightly and its primary function is to manage the College in a way that is consistent with its mission and vision.