Thursday, February 28, 2013

Homeschooling: Keeping It Catholic

To my dismay, Marianna Bartold, of the blog "Keeping it Catholic" (, and author of the Keeping It Catholic Series home education guides, has written a great deal regarding the philosophical reasons why Catholic homeschoolers cannot, in good conscience, employ the methods of either Maria Montessori or Charlotte Mason! There is also the website. Since I do want to keep my homeschooling Catholic, I ordered her Volume I book from Amazon so I can read in depth about why she has red flagged these two educators, especially considering that Montessori was Catholic. In regard to Charlotte Mason, so far I have gathered that Bartold believes that because Mason's philosophy was heretical, and because her methods would naturally lead back to her heretical worldview, then no good can come of using anything in her method. I don't know that Charlotte Mason was indeed heretical, but at any rate, does Bartold draw a logical conclusion?

Let's first consider that the Catholic Church teaches that while Catholicism contains the fullness of the Truth of the Christian faith, other Christian branches and other religions contain portions of spiritual Truth, and that all Truth comes from the Holy Spirit. While we don't want to fall into religious indifferentism and conclude that all traditions are equal, we can still learn something from the beliefs and practices of others. I can see no way in which the CM practices of using living books and narration or keeping a nature journal, for example, would be inherently heretical. I can't imagine agreeing completely with any one educator, no matter how brilliant, except for the One Great Master, Jesus. (And because of her complete unity with the Holy Spirit, Mary would also qualify as a source of perfect Truth.)

Today I also found a website called Mater Amabilis: a Charlotte Mason style curriculum for Catholics (  Their discussion forum says, "Mater Amabilis and this group are 100% faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church."  Bartold argues that the Charlotte Mason method cannot be morally "Catholicized".  Who is right?  I'll have to read Keeping It Catholic before I weigh in on this.  But I can't see how implementing the educational style of Miss Mason could be immoral as long as one holds fast to the Tradition of the Catholic Church.  Even if as an Anglican Christian some of her religious beliefs were in error, it does not hold for me that all of her educational ideas and practices would therefore need to be avoided at all costs.  If a theory and practice are sound and work for your child, shouldn't you feel confident in using them? More on this to come...

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