Charlotte Mason was a British educator and philosopher at the turn of the twentieth century. She was a teacher for ten years at Davison School in Worthing, England. During these years, Mason developed her vision for “a liberal education for all.” English children during the 1800s were educated solely according to their social class. Families who were poor were taught a trade. The richer class was taught through literature and the fine arts. Charlotte envisioned a generous and broad curriculum being provided for all children, no matter their social class.
Mason went on to teach for five years at the Bishop otter Teacher Training College in Chichester, England. There she gave a series of lectures about the education of children under nine. These lectures were later published as a book entitled Home Education.
A year later, in 1887, she co-founded the Parents’ National Educational Union (PNEU) with Emeline Steinthal. The organization provided resources to parents who were educating their children at home.
Between 1890 and 1892, Mason developed a close relationship with Henrietta Franklin. It was considered that meeting Mason was the “inspiring experience” of Franklin’s life.
In 1891, Mason moved to Ambleside, England and established the House of Education. The school trained governesses and others working with young children.
In 1892, Henrietta Franklin opened the first school in London that was based on Mason’s educational philosophy and methods. It was called the Parents’ Review School and later became Parents’ Union School.
During the years that followed, Mason wrote and published other books explaining her educational theories. The books would eventually be known as Charlotte Mason’s Education Series, which included Home Education, Parents and Children, School Education, Ourselves, Formation of Character and Towards a Philosophy of Education. The books were written over a forty-year time period. Some of her methods and principles changed over the years. Her most recent revisions were included in Towards a Philosophy of Education.
Charlotte Mason focused on respecting each child as a born person and providing a broad education that was available to every child.