Charlotte Mason Thursdays- "I Am, I Ought, I Can, I Will"

Charlotte Mason’s motto: “I Am, I Ought, I Can, I Will”- It is rich and meaningful and could be pondered and discussed for quite a while.  I’ve decided that in August, when we transition into our “new school year,” we are going to take some time to discuss this.

In Volume One of Charlotte Mason’s books, she says: “‘I am’––we have the power of knowing ourselves. ‘I ought’––we have within us a moral judge, to whom we feel ourselves subject, and who points out and requires of us our duty. ‘I can’––we are conscious of power to do that which we perceive we ought to do. ‘I will‘––we determine to exercise that power with a volition which is in itself a step in the execution of that which we will.

The first time I read her works, I came away from them with the sense that I hadn’t read about good education so much as I had about good parenting.  One of the basic foundations of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy is the development of good habits.  And of course developing good habits is a key part of parenting.

Later in the same paragraph as the above statement is this bold thought: “Perhaps it is not too much to say, that ninety-nine out of a hundred lost lives lie at the door of parents who took no pains to deliver them from sloth, from sensual appetites, from willfulness, no pains to fortify them with the habits of a good life.

Of course as a Christian, I know that true change in a child (or adult) comes from a change in the heart through the work of the Holy Spirit.  But, I also believe that certain behaviors we desire to see in our children can be developed by changes of habit.  There are many things that truly are heart issues, and of course we should always seek to reach the hearts of our children, but there are some things that are simply developed by practice, practice, and more practice.

And so we are going to delve into Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of life in our homeschool this year: “I Am, I Ought, I Can, I Will.”  I will be sure to share some of our pondering.

~You can read the original Charlotte Mason volumes at Ambleside Online for free.

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