Charlotte Masom- Children are born persons

Baby, You’re not an Oyster! Episode 2

Today’s episode is all about babies! While we often think about providing our children with a Charlotte Mason education, the philosophy can also inform how we view and raise our infants. After all, children are born persons.

“But is the baby more than a 'huge oyster'? That is the problem before us and hitherto educators have been inclined to answer it in the negative. Their notion is that by means of a pull here, a push there, a compression elsewhere a person is at last turned out according to the pattern the educator has in his mind.

“The other view is that the beautiful infant frame is but the setting of a jewel of such astonishing worth that, put the whole world in one scale and this jewel in the other, and the scale which holds the world flies up outbalanced.”

Towards a Philosophy of Education

What does it mean that a child is born is person? Understanding the nature of a baby is going to have a big impact on our parenting, so it's an important idea to consider.

To put it in a nutshell, a baby is born complete. They have all their fingers, all their toes, and, crucially, they have everything they need to learn.

When Charlotte Mason was writing, there was an idea that you become a person at some point after birth. You aren’t born that way. While we’ve moved on from this to some extent as a culture, today we often view babies as needing to be stuffed with information and knowledge. We are focused on stimulating our baby, providing stimulating toys, and doing all the ‘right things’, even before our babies turn one.

But with this principle, Charlotte Mason is saying that babies are born with the capacity to learn. We can trust them to learn and grow at their own pace, because they are born with the motivation and ability to learn.


Show notes

Babies are People Too: This is a book referred to by educationalist Alfie Kohn, although Leah has not been able to locate the actual book. 

Parents and Children

Towards a Philosophy of Education

Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect by Magda Gerber

Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish


About the author

Thinking Love co-host and a self-certified education enthusiast

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