Plumfield Academy practices the ideas of the noted English educator Charlotte Mason. Following her inspiration, we see education as a way of life based on five Gospel principles: respect, humility, direct access, substance, and meeting the needs of children.
To welcome the child is to welcome the presence of God. Mark 9:37
Charlotte Mason begins with the idea that “children are born persons.” They come to us as persons with their own thoughts, feelings, desires, and with the in-born capacity to engage with a wide variety of persons, ideas, and things. At Plumfield, we strive each day to create a person-honoring atmosphere where the intelligence and dignity of the child are respected.
. . . That children are born persons,- is the first article of the educational credo which I am concerned to advance; this implies that they come to us with power of attention, avidity for knowledge, clearness of thought, nice discrimination in books even before they can read, and the power of dealing with many subjects. (Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, 247)
You are all learners. Matthew 23:8
Charlotte Mason believed education is a conversation with Great Minds. At Plumfield, teachers are engaged in this process alongside their students, co-learning with them from the greatest authors, artists, composers, philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists. Each day, teachers and students alike are growing in wisdom and gaining knowledge to make sense of life.
“The teacher’s part is not the weariful task of spoon feeding, but the delightful commerce of equal minds where his is the part of guide, philosopher, friend. The friction of wills which makes school work harassing, ceases to a surprising degree when we deal with children, mind to mind, through the medium of knowledge (Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, 237-238)
“Let the children come . . .and do not hinder them.” Mark 10:14
Charlotte Mason believed children should be put into direct contact with the best that civilization has produced by way of great books, excellent music, and glorious art. She encouraged frequent contact with nature and hands-on work with various objects such as wood, clay, and tile. She styled her method as “education on books and things.” Teachers at Plumfield facilitate this active learning on the part of children and refrain from hindering their work with long and unnecessary explanations.
I soon perceived that children were well equipped to deal with ideas, and that explanations, questionings, amplifications, are unnecessary and wearisome. (Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, 10-11)
Substance, Not Appearance
“Do not act in order to be seen.” Matthew 6:1
Charlotte Mason believed the mind of the child hungered for knowledge just as the body hungered for food. In her schools, learning was not done “in order to be seen,” to impress another, to best a classmate, or to win approval. Instead, the focus of attention rested on the matter at hand which was learned for its own sake. This, too, is our goal. We call our Plumfield students to work at their highest potential because this is worthy of them as vibrant children of God.
We foresee happy days for children when all teachers know that no other exciting motive whatever is necessary to produce good work in each individual than the love of knowledge which is natural to every child. (Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, 98)
Serving the Needs
“Serve the needs of all.” Mark 10:44
Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education rested on the Gospel vision of meeting our deepest human needs. At Plumfield, we recognize the needs of children to include: the companionship of their parents, high quality “mind food,” child-driven free play, meaningful work, healthy relationships, contact with nature, pursuit of interests, and a naturally evolving spiritual life.
We endeavor that children shall have relations of pleasure and intimacy established with as many as possible of the interests proper to them: not having a slight or incomplete smattering about this or that subject, but plunging into vital knowledge . . . (Charlotte Mason, School Education, 223)