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Education is An Atmosphere

“Education is an atmosphere-that is, the child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives” (Vol 2, p247)
“Education is an atmosphere” can be a difficult concept to translate into words.  We comprehend the tangible and yet this foundation word for Charlotte Mason’s approach to education is not something so easily concrete.
In our search for the tangible we may initially assume that Charlotte Mason could be referring to the physical environment.  Sometimes as home educators we feel if only we had; the perfect room, the perfect circumstances,  a thriving education would ensue.  Whilst it is true that a little organisation can go a long way to help facilitate, education can thrive under all sorts of conditions.   For three years we lived and learnt as a family of 10 in a 90sq metre home, with the majority of our books packed away.  It wasn’t ideal but much education still occurred. We have friends who lived in a tent for three years and successfully continued to homeschool.
Atmosphere refers to the family environment that our children are nurtured in, more easily explained as Family Culture; every family has their own unique culture, a culture that reflects what is ‘near and dear’ to them.
For some families this translates as an atmosphere full of arts and crafts, or an emphasis on nature and hiking, a family focused on sports.  Our own home environment is a book environment, we are surrounded by thousands of books, and yet this isn’t the ‘full picture’ of our family culture.
Certainly our book and movie loving and sharing has a definite influence on our family culture; the characters we ‘adopt’, the plots enjoyed, the lines quoted, which have all become entwined in our culture.  The word and board games we play, the interest in vocabulary, these are all a unique part of our family.  Underpinning all this though is our (PC & my)  intentional goal for our family.  (Well our goal firstly is spiritual but that’s another post).  Our goal is for our children to be thinkers and communicators; to challenge and analyze ideas met, to not just accept the status quo because ‘society says.’   To be able to communicate effectively both in the written and spoken language.  The curriculum choices we make reflect this goal.  Mostly though our educational atmosphere consists of conversations; conversations about ideas met, knowledge gained, conversations designed to encourage a love of learning and a quest for thoughts.
This post is part of the CM blog Carnival. Be sure to pop on over to read other posts, you are in for a real treat.
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  • Nancy

    Very lovely post. Your comments made me think of what Mason called "thought-environment" in regards to atmosphere. It certainly is much more than surroundings.

    Sursum Corda,


  • Barb-Harmony Art Mom

    We are a book family too and they are so much a part of our learning environment. I am seeing more and more as the boys get older and they are doing more self-educating that they are turning to "instant" answers from the internet. They all still enjoy a good book though and I do my best to have something interesting for them to read at all times.

    Thank you for your kind comment on my blog and I always enjoy my visit to your blog. 🙂

  • Nadene

    I love your staement, "our educational atmosphere consists of conversations." I can imagine the wonderful conversations in your home!

    I really enjoyed browsing through your blog. I am inspired by your posts and the photos – especially all those books!

  • rachaelnz

    I like the way you describe your family's atmosphere as you "family culture". That's a great way of putting it. We too, believe it is important not just to train our children to think, but to communicate also.

  • Erin


    Thank you, you made me smile:)


    First love is books but yes we also google at times. I am honoured to have you at my blog, so glad you enjoy visiting:)

    Thank you, you are welcome to visit any time. I also enjoy popping over to your blog from time to time. Lots of conversations here:)

    A Neighbourly visit! I find a great part of thinking is communicating, it is when we strive to articulate our thoughts they are more crystalized.

  • amy in peru

    I too was struck by the 'family culture' term… LOVE that way of thinking about it, especially as my kids are TCKs (third culture kids) surrounded by many more cultures as well.

    When we work on improving our 'family culture' we're also bettering our educational atmosphere as one stems from another…

    thanks for all you work to add to the conversation, your comments are such an encouragement! 🙂

    amy in peru

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