JH Classical Academy bases important aspects of its educational philosophy and pedagogical methods, particularly in the lower class levels, on the theories and practices of British educator Charlotte Mason (1842-1923). Miss Mason, a renowned “teacher of teachers,” founded a number of grammar schools and a college to train teachers in her philosophy and practices. JH Classical Academy has adopted Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education, and created four pillars: the personhood of the child; relationships come first; truth, goodness and beauty; and education as a catalyst for renewal.
Charlotte Mason wrote extensively on educational philosophy, but below is a list of specific points that have been incorporated into the teaching methodology of JH Classical Academy:
- Parents are the primary influence in their children’s lives; this responsibility cannot be delegated elsewhere. In Mason’s words: “More than anything else it is the home influences brought to bear upon the child that determine the character and career of the future man or woman.”
- Children are born as individuals of worth—as “persons” in Mason’s terminology—and as such should be valued and respected. Therefore the curriculum is never dumbed down but respects and values the potential of each student. All subjects, books, and experiences at school should exemplify and teach truth, goodness, and beauty.
- Instruction at school should reinforce mental and moral habits in order to train students to do what is right. Charlotte Mason believed children should be “taught what they ought, not what they want.”
- Following in the philosophy of Charlotte Mason, JH Classical Academy has four central habits that are in every classroom and that every student is expected to develop. They are: the habit of attention, the habit of obedience, they habit of respect, and the habit of responsibility. These are not only habits that help the student achieve academically, but create moral character as well, and can be found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
- Beyond school discipline and the formation of habits, JHCA implements the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason. In the humanities, teachers use oral and written narration to develop students’ overall language skills. Students tell back or narrate a story they have read or heard. As students narrate, they learn good writing style, as they often recite or write in the same style as the author. Narration also strengthens and develops students’ vocabulary and memory skills.
- Beginning next year, the elementary grades at JHCA will incorporate nature study as a core part of the science curriculum. Nature study allows students to develop all their senses and trains them to observe, count, classify, interpret, draw, and record. The skills of inquiry, observation, and analysis that are integral to scientific investigation are also central to fields as diverse as the study of history and of the visual arts.
JH Classical academy has adopted Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education and habit formation to train to the whole person. All our teachers are concerned with the development of the academic and moral faculties of each student. Our teaching methods and curriculum represent the search for truth, goodness, and beauty that can bring about that development in every child.
While Charlotte Mason based her educational philosophy on classical wisdom, she argued that an education that only teaches virtues and fills the mind will inevitably fall short of the goal of the complete flourishing of the child. She wrote that philosophy merely instructs, but religion instructs and enables. Even many ancient philosophers and educators, Quintilian, Plutarch, and Plato, for example, realized that humans cannot make themselves complete and good, as the soul is both rational and spiritual. JH Classical Academy agrees that a complete and effective classical education must base itself on the example of the teaching of Jesus Christ.