A Programme to Fit the Child

I recently heard a very liberating discovery dug up in the May 1914 edition of L'Umile Pianta. But before I mention it here's part of Redeemer's description of the 'magazine':

In 1895 the House of Education Old Students’ Association was formed to provide current and ‘old’ students who were scattered abroad, opportunities to keep in touch and provide mutual support. In 1896 they began publishing the magazine, L’Umile Pianta, named after a plant growing near Ambleside which Charlotte Mason admired for its ability to bend without breaking. This plant was also pictured on the House of Education’s medal, with the motto “For the Children’s Sake.”
"...for it's ability to bend without breaking."

I tried to find an image of it to see what CM admired about it. It is a simple rush, 'the humble plant'. The juncus species. Humble, flexible, yet unbreakable... are we? For the children's sake.

And so here is the liberating tidbit found in the L'Umile Pianta that was likely in our conscience all along. Miss Kitching, I believe, was a good friend of CM's. 

Miss Kitching’s introduction to the discussion of this subject involved the following points:

(1) That the P.U.S. time-table is intended to serve simply as a guide to the teacher in making her own, for it stands to reason that no two schoolrooms are identical as regards the work done, or the time allotted it.

(2) That in making her own time-table the teacher must be careful that no two lessons requiring the same mental effort, follow one another in close proximity.

(3) That it is better to leave the term’s work unfinished, than to rush the pupils through for the sake of having finished the work set.

The general outcome of the discussion was to the effect that some modification of the programme and time-table is absolutely necessary, each teacher using her own discretion in the matter. Somebody very wisely remarked that Miss Mason intends the programme to fit the child, and not, as some wildly imagine, the child to fit the programme.
 And there you have it!

But wait! Before you use this as a reason to throw out Parables from Nature, Pilgrim's Progress, Kidnapped or anything else that you think is too hard for your kids, please read what Jeanne has to say about it here: http://ohpeacefulday.blogspot.com/2012/10/on-substituting-ao-books.html


  1. It is an interesting article, isn't it? I believe, though, that while it encourages leaving a lesson unfinished if circumstances mean it is taking longer than usual and taking it up at later time, that it does not advocate dropping whole books or whole sections of work from the curriculum. The end of year exams would have examined on the whole expected term's work, not just on the parts that the child had actually completed. I believe that the article is talking about the exception, rather than the rule here. Certainly each classroom is different, just as your homeschool is different from mine, but I do think that if my daughter were dropped into your home for a while (!!) that she would be able to continue with very similar work, even if it were presented differently from the different teacher. We should try that sometime ;)

  2. I agree Jeanne. It is speaking more to the avoidance of a rushed and stessed atmosphere in relation to the time-table. We can keep this in light of CM's thoughts on underestimating the ability of the child.
    We should try that! I'm sure Jemimah would fit right in :)


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