Our StoryPublishing The Original Homeschooling Series was our first contribution to the homeschooling movement. After a long run, our edition is now out-of-print. It's hard saying goodbye. Do you have a minute for me to share the story with you of its beginnings? The photographs in this post were taken during our year of Christian literature missions with Operation Mobilization - based in Bromley, England.
|Bromley, Kent - England - where we lived|
A Light in The DarkOnce upon a time, British educator Miss Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) was not a household name with American home educators. That was about to change.
|One of seven stores Dean was overseeing in the UK.- 1986-87|
|Karen on the balcony of the third floor flat on London Road|
|Joy! We moved to a semi-detached with back garden.|
|Tiny tots - Yolanda and Sophia|
|Karen and Sophia summer 1986|
Just as Dean was about to give up, an elderly book shop owner told him, "Haven't seen any of Miss Mason's works for years . . . but have you tried the Charlotte Mason College?" A stunned silence followed. We were unaware that such a place existed.
|A Lake District Village of gray stone and pink stucco|
Crossing PathsIn the early spring of '87 Dean was away on business for the Christian literature mission he worked with. Travels north brought him near Scotland's boarder, and as Providence would have it, the Lake District of England; home of Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth and . . . the Charlotte Mason College. After booking into a B&B in the quaint village of Ambleside, he stepped into the college library and asked the librarian to direct him to the works of Miss Charlotte Mason.
|Dean en-route to Ambleside|
Having come so far Dean was not ready to call it quits. He said, "May I have a word with the college president, if he is available?"
"He sees no one without an appointment," came the reply.
"Tell him that I represent publishers in the USA who may wish to reprint these books and I would be delighted if the president would consider writing the forward."
The librarian dialed the president's office from a short-corded wall phone. With his back turned, he spoke in hushed tones. Dean waited, composed but a little anxious, straining his ears for what he hoped would be good news. He didn't wait long. Soon after he was met squarely with, "Dr. Thorley will see you in five minutes."
Dean spent the next hour with cheerful, gracious Dr. John Thorley, a Greek and Medieval history scholar, who exhibited a rare enthusiasm for educational reform. He was more than happy to give Dean a walking history of the school, a brief biographical sketch of Miss Mason, and finally to his delight, a package containing all six of Charlotte Mason's rare out-of-print books - on loan from the archives.
|Lake Windermere - England|
We Headed HomeOur mission term ended that spring. We headed home with one of the only complete sets of Miss Mason's books. It was nestled securely in a carry-on flight bag - not a suitcase. Dean would not entrust them to any airline baggage handlers. Back in the States Dean was in communication with Christian publishers to see who would take on the expensive and risky project of reprinting the entire six volumes in a box set. After months of rejections one publisher agreed. And in 1989 The Original Homeschooling Series was published by Tyndale House with Dr. Thorley's forward as promised. Tyndale House kept it in print a few years. After this we took on the printing - although the cover remained the same. Only in its latter years did we bother to make the change to our logo.
|Lake District country side|
To Learn it and Live ItYears of endeavoring to work out what I understood from my reading followed. In the 1990s we hosted a monthly CM home discussion group, edited and mailed out a quarterly CM magazine (Parents' Review), and Mary Pride asked me to become a columnist for her Practical Homeschooling magazine - which enabled me to offer my personal interpretations of the CM method to her readers.
"She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn't take them along." Margaret Culkin Banning
|Hastings, England - Courtyard- a tired tourist|
In '97 I finished writing A Charlotte Mason Companion. A movement was emerging. Today by way of the Internet, many voices are spreading the message. It's marvelous. Miss Mason's simple, yet straightforward method is being employed with freedom and success in homeschools and a growing number of private schools. For those who have the courage to trust in the natural, God-given curiosity of their student - a burden is lifted. A new refreshing learning experience awaits all who follow what I call "The Gentle Art of Learning."
Charlotte Mason's ideas are being passed friend-to-friend, mother-to-daughter. I now hear, "My mom read your book." Miss Mason could not have known how her wisdom would be enthusiastically welcomed by tens of thousands of American families a century later. Thank you Susan Macaulay for introducing us to her. Thank you Dean for finding her writings and keeping them in print for more than twenty years. Thank you Mary Pride for inviting me to write in Practical Homeschooling back-in-the-day.
|Swan Inn - Grasmere, England - of Wordsworth fame|
Tea and SympathyMy gratitude also goes out to my blog readers who have shared their copy of A Charlotte Mason Companion or a book from The Original Homeschooling Series, hosted a discussion group, or have passed along Miss Mason's helpful ideas to a lonely, overwrought mom. Let's keep encouraging one another. Good ideas given in friendship go a long long way. Apstotle Paul tells us that what we do out of love abides. (1 Cor. 13:8,13). I have the gray hair to have lived long enough to witness this.
Post ScriptA few remaining sets of Original Homeschooling Series are on our shelves. The set is a rare facsimile of Miss Mason's books (a faithful word-for-word rendering - not retyped or edited) We also have individual copies of Home Education (Vol 1.) and copies of A Philosophy of Education (Vol 6.) The set is expensive. For information on purchasing email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The new name of our company is Charlotte Mason Research (LLC). We shortened it.
|Karen overlooking the back garden from the kitchen sink - in Bromley|