Charlotte Mason + Math
Workshop Notes
Thank you for joining me on the journey of
homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason Method
Below are the notes + resources from the workshop
“Never are the operations of Reason more delightful and more perfect than in mathematics…By degrees, absolute truth unfolds itself. We are so made that truth, absolute and certain truth, is a perfect joy to us; and that is the joy that mathematics afford.” (Vol. 4, p. 63)
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What do you know about the CM Method? In one sentence how would you describe it?

Charlotte Mason Method:

Method, not a system

Atmosphere  What was your favorite class in school and why?

Discipline  look at how you were parented? Did you experience trauma during your school years?

Life  living books  What was your least favorite and why?

Narration

Nature Study

Personhood of the Child  what does this mean to you? Not judging a child’s worth/value based on their output. CM wrestled with the cultural stigmas of her time  Amy Carmichael  all wisdom comes from God and we are made in his image, so every child should have access to the Full Feast 

Holy Spirit is the Supreme educator  20. 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.

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We do not merely give a religious education
because that would seem to imply the possibility
of some other education, a secular education, for example.
But we hold that all education is divine,
that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above,
that the Lord the Holy Spirit is the supreme educator of mankind,
and that the culmination of all education
(which may at the same time be reached by a little child)
is that personal knowledge of and intimacy with God
in which our being finds its fullest perfection.
Charlotte Mason
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Mason’s Principles of Mathematics

Concrete before abstract and move from simple to complex  start with what the child knows and can observe before you start talking about quantum appplications

General to specific  start with the big picture and whittle down the information (ie: story problems)

Concept based vs. mastery  they need both

Imagery  picturing things and describing them (mental math)

There is a captain idea (rule) in every math problem

“Now, a child who does not know what rule to apply to a simple problem within his grasp, has been ill taught from the first, although he may produce slatefuls of quite right sums in multiplication or long division.” (Vol. 1, p. 254)


This is the ONE subject in Mason’s paradigm that DOES rely strongly on the teacher NOT the textbook

“Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the textbook and few subjects are worse taught; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas, what Coleridge calls, the ‘Captain’ ideas, which should quicken imagination.” (Vol. 6, p. 233)

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Goal and Structure of Math Lesson
“Therefore his progress must be carefully graduated; but there is no subject in which the teacher has a more delightful consciousness of drawing out from day to day new power in the child. Do not offer him a crutch: it is in his own power he must go. Give him short sums, in words rather than in figures, and excite him in the enthusiasm which produces concentrated attention and rapid work. Let his arithmetic lesson be to the child a daily exercise in clear thinking and rapid, careful execution, and his mental growth will be as obvious as the sprouting of seedlings in the spring.” (1/261)
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“Therefore his progress must be carefully graduated;

Do not rush him!

Math is incremental and to move them faster than they understand is setting them up for failure.

Don’t compare math progress from child to child  they HAVE to move at their own pace.


but there is no subject in which the teacher has a more delightful consciousness of drawing out from day to day new power in the child.

Math is beautiful

Spider analogy with nature studies  don’t scream


Do not offer him a crutch: it is in his own power he must go.

Don’t give him the answers

Don’t assume he knows it and skip ahead

Narration is the work of the child's education, so if he must move in his own power (take ownership of his education), he needs to be able to describe (narrate) the Captain ideas of math.


Give him short sums, in words rather than in figures, and

"Care must be taken to give the child such problems as he can work, but yet which are difficult enough to cause him some little mental effort.” Home Education, p. 255

Work on mental math

Presenting it in a way that makes sense.


excite him in the enthusiasm which produces concentrated attention and rapid work.

Absolute attention is necessary  but short lessons are integral

Students need to feel successful


Let his arithmetic lesson be to the child a daily exercise in clear thinking and rapid, careful execution,

Don’t correct the math problem (in life, there are no redos)

“Arithmetic is valuable as a means of training children in habits of strict accuracy, but the ingenuity which makes this exact science tend to foster slipshod habits of mind, a disregard of truth and common honesty, is worthy of admiration! The copying, prompting, telling, helping over difficulties, working with an eye to the answer which he knows, that are allowed in the arithmetic lesson, under an inferior teacher, are enough to vitiate any child; and quite as bad as these is the habit of allowing that a sum is nearly right, two figures wrong, and so on, and letting the child work it over again. Pronounce a sum wrong, or right––it cannot be something between the two. That which is wrong must remain wrong: the child must not be let run away with the notion that wrong can be mended into right. The future is before him: he may get the next sum right, and the wise teacher will make it her business to see that he does, and that he starts with new hope. But the wrong sum must just be let alone.” (1/260261)

NOT fixing the math problem  if it’s wrong, have them talk through how/why they got it wrong. TALK through the problem and have them see if they can articulate where it’s wrong.

Talk through the infraction. This is discipleship.

DO the next problem


Manipulatives and concrete objects

Mental math (unpacking the numbers)

Using math slates, books and notebooks


his mental growth will be as obvious as the sprouting of seedlings in the spring.”

Math is not about narration, but it IS about understanding, which necessitates that they can articulate the big ideas of math

“…the use of the study in practical life is the least of its uses. The chief value of arithmetic, like that of higher mathematics, lies in the training it affords to the reasoning powers, and in the habits of insight, readiness, accuracy, intellectual truthfulness it engenders.” (Vol. 1, p. 254)
2. You’ll see growth not just in memorization, but in making connections
Daily Lessons by Form
Form 1 (grades 13)
 20 minutes  number and sums, manipulatives
Grade 2+3 built tables  spent 5 minutes quizzing facts
Extensive work with money
Form 2 (grade 46)
 30 minutes, daily lessons
5th+6th  started practical geometry and read number stories from long ago by Smith
Started dual streams of math
Form 36 (grade 7+)
30 minutes, arithmetic (business math), algebra and geometry
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Analyzing Curriculum
“Arithmetic, Mathematics, are exceedingly easy to examine upon and so long as education is regulated by examinations so long shall we have teaching, directed not to awaken a sense of awe in contemplating a selfexisting science, but rather to secure exactness and ingenuity in the treatment of problems.” (Vol. 6, p. 231)
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There is no living book for math  it’s a symbolic language so not like the criteria that we look at for living books

Does the book allow narration of principles (can you explain this to me?)

Does it have story problems? Application problems?

Does it allow for mental wrestling or is it just pure memorization/fill in the blank?

Does it allow the child to self pace within their own ability?

Is there enough practice that they can secure knowledge without being too extensive.

Is it user friendly?

What is realistic?
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Resources + Ideas
Children and Arithmetic (Parent's Review)
Math Activities to Always Keep on Hand
Number: A Figure and A Step Onward (Parent's Review Article)â€‹
BOOKS
Strings, Straight Edge and Shadows
Copy article and have for attendees;
http://www.inference.org.uk/sanjoy/benezet/
http://amblesideonline.org/PR/PR01p345ChildrenAndArithmetic.shtml
Mental math  https://archive.org/details/p069136PRv8n2/p112118PRv8n2/page/n1/mode/2up?view=theater
https://www.adelectableeducation.com/wpcontent/uploads/2020/07/Math_AttheReady_Ideas.pdf
https://charlottemasonpoetry.org/numberafigureandasteponward/
Resources
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Habit Training (A Delectable Education)
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Habit Training Q+A (Simply Charlotte Mason)
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