By Study and Faith is a volunteer project aimed at supporting families wishing to utilize the classical education methods and philosophy outlined by Charlotte Mason. We hope to assist parents as they seek to carry out the Savior’s charge to “be instructed more perfectly in… things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms (D&C 88:78-79).” The project’s name is drawn from the admonition to use the best books to educate ourselves and our children “by study and also by faith (D&C 109:7).”
Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) was an English educator and author, teacher trainer, and co-founder of the Parents’ Educational Union, which provided resources to parents teaching their children at home. She taught that education is more than just an activity that children do; the PNEU’s motto was “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.” In a day when the prevailing view of children was rather fatalistic (i.e. children of criminals can’t help but grow up criminal), Miss Mason believed that children are born persons, with potential for both good or evil that needed to be developed and guided. She advocated for a full and generous curriculum, with plenty of ideas as “food” for the growing minds of the students.
Miss Mason’s philosophy and methods are extremely compatible with the teachings and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She advocated for an education that is thoroughly Christian saying, “[T]he knowledge of God is the principal knowledge, and the chief end of education.” This is reminiscent of Brigham Young’s instruction to Karl G. Maiser, “You must not attempt to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God.” Wilford Woodruff also spoke along these same lines when he said, “Our children should be indoctrinated in the principles of the Gospel from their earliest childhood. They should be made familiar with the contents of the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. These should be their chief text books, and everything should be done to establish and promote in their hearts genuine faith in God, in His Gospel and its ordinances, and in His works.” Miss Mason said, “We allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and spiritual life of children, but teach them that the Divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their continual Helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life. (A Philosophy of Education, p. xxxi)”
Towards these ends, the materials and recommendations provided on this site are provided free of charge, in the hope that they will be useful to parents as they seek to teach their children the things necessary for them to return to their Heavenly Father at the close of this life’s mission. Those with a good understanding of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy who wish to volunteer to assist with future projects for this site should apply for membership in the LDS Charlotte Mason Project on Facebook.
We put a great deal of thought and prayer into the recommendations that we make, however, it is unlikely that they will be a fit for every family. Please feel free to tweak, to pick and chose, and to adjust to fit the particular needs of the particular children you have been entrusted with. We encourage parents to make all decisions about their family’s education in partnership with the Master Teacher, Jesus Christ.