Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the late 1800s, brought popularity to the term “Mother Culture.” Her teachings show us that “education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”
Years ago, I stumbled upon Charlotte Mason’s literature and philosophies. I had no idea she would change my education style and how I view much of my own life today.
Although Mason herself didn’t coin the phrase “mother culture” (it first appeared in a PNEU article in 1892, by an author simply called “A”), mother culture is still a Charlotte Mason idea.
What is Mother Culture?
“There is no sadder sight in life than a mother, who has so used herself up in her child’s childhood, that she has nothing to give them in their youth.” – Volume III, no. 2 The Parents’ Review
Mother culture is the idea that mothers should continue to invest in their own education, by reading, as often as possible. Learning should never stop. Mother culture is beneficial for homeschooling mothers, but all mothers can adopt this idea. As our children age and face harder ideas, we must be able to offer them wisdom and insight.
Reading is the key to mother culture. As our kids get older, we must be ready to dive into harder subjects and classic books. Instead of reading books such as The Farmer Boy, your child will read The Odyssey and Beowolf. These stories require a deeper ability to critically read and analyze topics. You can develop those abilities by reading more on your own.
If our children are grappling at these topics, we must be in the trenches with them. However, it is even better if we have fared the difficulties ahead of them. As homeschooling mothers, reading more than romance and mystery novels allows us to answer the hard questions our kids will have.
Mother Culture in the 21st Century
“ ‘I always keep three books going – a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel, and I always take the one I feel fit for.’ “ – Volume III
Adopting mother culture into your own life isn’t so hard. We have the luxury of eReaders and audiobooks, which our ancestors never imagined. Now, you can listen to a classic while preparing dinner or driving to the store.
Mother culture helped me to notice gaps in my education I never knew existed. It’s a joy to find an interest, sparked by a book you picked, and be able to pursue that interest. You might find a desire to learn more about certain historical periods or find an author who speaks to your mind.
Above all else, reading encourages our children to read. We cannot encourage our kids to become readers if we are not readers ourselves. If you want your child to devour the books on the shelf, you must constantly have a rotating stack of your own. Education must be a lifestyle, for all to live, despite the age of the person.