As you guide your children through their school days implementing the Charlotte Mason method, you will notice how wide and generous the curriculum is!
Her program is not just the three Rs, not only vocational work, not the latest trend in education, and certainly not test preparation.
No, her philosophy of education
encourages us to establish
the vast science of relations for our students
by putting them in contact with many different subjects
found within the knowledge of God,
the knowledge of man, and the knowledge of the universe.
I consider it such a blessing and a privilege to be able to walk alongside my children in the variety of subjects that we have experienced over the years: things like geology, geography, picture study, handicrafts, sloyd, nature study, composer study, Shakespeare, Plutarch, etymology, and more.
But just think about the topics yet to come as you chart out year after year of home educating. Your wide curriculum will certainly be the first step in unlocking the door of knowledge and entering the large room where you want their feet firmly planted.
Charlotte Mason and the Large Room forms a lovely word picture.
What a lovely word picture
the term “large room”
forms in our mind!
Charlotte uses the phrase many times, and it never seems to be far from her thoughts. We read, on page 171 of School Education:
"Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Thou hast set my feet in a large room; should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul… The question is not, – how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education – but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”
Later she states,
“Our aim in education
is to give children vital interests
in as many directions as possible –
to set their feet in a large room –
the crying evil of the day is,
it seems to me,
Charlotte takes this concept from Psalm 31:8. The verse reads, “And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.” (KJV)
Here, we have David running for his life, away from Saul, and he ends up in a cave. Yet, despite where he is – hidden, in peril, in a tight place – he can utter these words of praise.
How can he say this when he clearly isn’t in a large room? He’s in a narrow cave! And this narrowness signifies sorrow and peril; while largeness signifies comfort and peace.
He can say this because of his relationship with Almighty God. And you can say it, too, no matter where you live or what your circumstances may be in life.
Charlotte Mason and the Large Room offers the idea of a place of grace and liberty.
God will give you grace and liberty to live in this large room
if you know Him.
As we think about this large room, we think of the wide variety of studies, the freedom to explore the world, and the genuine interest in our surroundings that lead to a full life. But there is a caveat to all of this. It’s found in another mention of the large room, and beautifully reflects the comfort mentioned in Psalm 31:8. Without it, we are in danger of having our student become a “free thinker, an agnostic.”
“But once the intimate relation,
the relation of Teacher and taught
in all things of the mind and spirit,
be fully recognised,
our feet are set in a large room;
there is space for free development in all directions,
and this free and joyous development,
whether of intellect or heart,
is recognised as a Godward movement.”
So what I have come to realize is that this large-room concept applies not only to the children, but also to the mother and father.
Are your feet set in a large room? Have you realized an intimate relation with Jesus Christ? Are you amazed at all there is to know and see in the knowledge of God, the knowledge of man, and the knowledge of the universe?
How can you expect your own children to be found in a large room if you aren’t living there yet?
Charlotte Mason and the Large Room tells us to set our feet in this special place.
One can see
That the Large Room
Is the Place we Want to Set Our Feet.
Part of it is the wide curriculum we celebrate in a living education. But all these subjects and interests should help our students expand their science of relations and, ultimately, to move them towards a closer relationship with our Creator.
Once a person understands
his relationship to God,
there is comfort, safety, and freedom.
Oh, that all children could have the opportunity and joy of setting their feet in that large room – that place where both their heads and hearts are directed towards God, and they can explore their world as it truly is.
Charlotte Mason and the Large Room:
Enter It in Your Homeschool!
Nancy Kelly lives in a little town on the prairie called Windom, Minnesota. She and her husband Kent have home-educated their six children for over 25 years using the principles and practices of Charlotte Mason. After meeting and listening to Susan Schaeffer Macaulay speak on education at the 1994 L’Abri Conference in Rochester, MN, she decided to wholeheartedly pursue this Gospel-based way of learning and living. Nancy has helped build a thriving educational community in southwest Minnesota through book discussion groups, the Truth, Beauty, Goodness Co-op, and the Living Education Retreat, now in its 16th year. She is a sought-after educational consultant and mentor through individual sessions and group lessons online in her Living Education Lessons. She is a book rescuer and has republished several inspiring texts important to the CM community. You can read her blog and other doings at her website, Sage Parnassus. She enjoys family, ‘bright eyes,’ flower gardening, exploring the flora and fauna of new places, and, of course...books. Contact her at [email protected].
Find a complete list of the workshops Nancy and other inspiring speakers will be presenting on our Conference Speakers & Workshops web page.
Read more about the Charlotte Mason homeschooling style, along with other common teaching styles, in our "What's Your Style" blog post.