Who We Are
The Charlotte Mason Educational Center (CMEC) was founded as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization in 2015 “in response to a demand from thoughtful parents who desired to know how to give intelligent supervision and guidance to the development of their children's whole nature—physical, mental, moral and spiritual.”
We offer to our members a theory and practice of education based on the philosophy of Charlotte Mason, which has succeeded for families, schools, and students of every grade. In this past year, we have not only expanded these initiatives through cooperative learning programs in both Philadelphia and Princeton, but also begun offering the CMEC curriculum and support to families throughout the nation.
Our Aims and Initiatives
We have been inspired by the stated goals of the organization Charlotte Mason founded in 1888, the Parent’s National Education Union (PNEU).
These goals have become the CMEC’s guiding ideas. Around them we have formulated our key initiatives.
1. To give earnest study to the mastery of the principles of Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy which concerns the formation of character, as well as actual methods of teaching.
Research and Study- The CMEC is committed to careful reading of Mason’s volumes on educational theory, studying the 30+ years of curriculum she created for homes and classrooms throughout the world, and researching the PNEU journal (published 1891-1965), which includes scholarly articles, practical guidance, reports from teachers and examiners, and all the conferences held by the PNEU.
The CMEC curriculum team conducts this research, but also has interns engaged in specialized projects.
2. To aid in the application of these principles in various educational settings (both the home schoolroom and the school classroom).
Development of a Curriculum- The CMEC has developed a course of study based on Mason’s original philosophy and practice, yet updated for contemporary needs. Our curriculum offers pupils a liberal education and an opportunity to establish relations with living ideas through the study of great books, while including a feast of subjects such as science, nature, art, music, and handicrafts.
See our Curriculum Overview for more information.
Creation of Support Materials – To aid in the successful implementation of the CMEC Course of Study, we provide several forms of curricular support:
- Live curriculum overview presentation in the spring, walking through the books and plans for the year to come.
- A detailed printable Form Guide for each level, with explanations of the books assigned and helpful teaching suggestions for each subject, including sample timetables for each Form’s program.
- Background information and “captain ideas” for each term’s artist, composer, hymn, and folksong studies.
- Growing resources for each subject on the website, including a collection of curated articles from the Parents’ Review.
3. To make Mason’s principles known to parents, teachers and all who are interested in the field of education.
Education and Training for Educators and Parents– The CMEC conducts retreats, workshops, support meetings and reading groups, both online and face-to-face, to support and educate parents and teachers. CMEC community members have the opportunity each term to receive guidance on the curriculum, ask questions, and meet with parents of similar-aged children around the country. The recordings of our retreats and webinars reach families across the world, providing much-desired support for educators in regions with fewer on-the-ground resources.
Read more about our Retreats and Workshops.
4. To afford parents opportunities for co-operation and consultation, so that the wisdom and experience of each may be profitable to all, and to stimulate parents’ enthusiasm through the sympathy of a community acting together.
Cooperation and Consultation - A unique aspect of the CMEC is our desire to provide live, personal support to those using the curriculum. Beginning in 2010, founding members of the CMEC began to establish nature study clubs and fine arts programs (“Truth, Beauty, Goodness Gatherings”), which eventually grew into a blended-model homeschooling program for the greater Philadelphia region. We now have an affiliated academy in Princeton, NJ and new initiatives around the country. Our hope is that the experience we have gleaned over the years in our community may benefit others. We have seen that our successful application of Mason’s principles has depended on a community of support, and we aim to provide similar support to families around the country. We provide assistance both to those implementing the curriculum in their own family and to those who would like to have a community like ours in their own region.
We at the CMEC believe that education must be based on the fact that children are persons and have an innate hunger for knowledge, the pursuit of which will lead to a life that is “beautiful, good and happy-making,” as Charlotte Mason explained to her students in 1922:
There is a saying of King Alfred's that I like to apply to our School,--‘I have found a door,’ he says. That is just what I hope your School is to you--a door opening into a great palace of art and knowledge in which there are many chambers all opening into gardens or field paths, forest or hills. One chamber, entered through a beautiful Gothic archway, is labeled Bible Knowledge, and there the Scholar finds goodness as well as knowledge, as indeed he does in many others of the fair chambers. You see that doorway with much curious lettering? History is within, and that is, I think, an especially delightful chamber. But it would take too long to investigate all these pleasant places and indeed you could label a good many of the doorways from the headings of your term's programme.
But you will remember that the School is only a ‘Door’ to let you in to the goodly House of Knowledge, but I hope you will go in and out and live there all your lives--in one pleasant chamber and another; for the really rich people are they who have the entry to this goodly House, and who never let King Alfred's ‘Door’ rust on its hinges, no, not all through their lives, even when they are very old people.
I have a great hope for all you dear Scholars of the P.U.S.; other people will be a little the better because you love knowledge, and have learnt to think fair, just thoughts about things, and to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven in which is all that is beautiful, good and happy-making.
At Charlotte Mason’s death there were over 40,000 children being taught with her programs in more than 117 secondary schools and 175 Elementary schools, with many hundreds of home schoolrooms all over the world.
In one of Mason’s final public addresses she proclaimed:
Life is more intense, more difficult, more exhausting for us than it was for our fathers; it will probably be more difficult still for our children than for ourselves. How timely, then, and how truly, as we say, providential, that just at this juncture of difficult living, certain simple, definite clues to the art of living should have been put into our hands….We look back at our small beginnings and thank God and take courage…May we each feel that we have a personal work to accomplish…and that each of us…has a duty of spreading the principles which seem to us so full of light…
We spread education, not for the fit only, but for all; all partake…; and we claim to send out contented citizens, capable of a right judgment in all things, religiously, morally, socially, physically, fit to take their due part in a happy ordered state. Again, the manner of our education differs; schools in general send forth scholars who have learnt 'how to learn'; (they rarely show that they have learned this art!) We send out scholars who have learned and do know and find knowledge so delightful that it becomes a pursuit and source of happiness for a lifetime.
Two thousand years ago it was said to a dozen undistinguished men, ‘Go ye out unto all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’; and they did. We too have, by the Grace of God, a fragment of this gospel to preach; we are vastly better provided…to spread this new Renaissance. Let us be up and doing; the enthusiasm perceptible in this room alone is enough to convert a world; how much more, to make our own people able to prefer (and to act) Shakespeare's plays rather than the trivialities of the Music Hall. Let us do battle…for ‘a liberal education’ [for all]. We know the way, we have the means, we see opportunities everywhere…
It is this rallying cry that the CMEC has taken up. We hope you will join us!
To Support the Work of the CMEC
As a nonprofit, the CMEC depends on donors like you to partner with us as we continue to expand our reach to families around the world. While donations of any size are much needed and greatly appreciated, we are particularly looking for founding partners to invest in our growing project.. As a non-profit public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States (otherwise known as an “IRS 501(c)(3) public charity”), all donations are tax-deductible.
For More Information
Read more about our Curriculum and Community Program.