Books & Reading, Mother's Education

Mothers’ Education Course: Summer 2019

May 14, 2019 by Brandy Vencel

It’s that time of year again! In preparation for summer, I always post two book lists. This year, I’m doing the Mothers’ Education Course list first. The MEC is always the more intense of the two lists, so listen up: if you just had a baby, you’re super tired, or you Just Can’t Hardly these days, please don’t feel like you even need to look at this list.

a modern version of Charlotte Mason's Mothers' Education Course ... for summer 2019

Building these lists is a joy for me, but I never mean it to feel like pressure on you. I didn’t read the way I do now when I had small children, so you have my full sympathies if your Bible and a novel is about all you’re capable of.

But … for those of you up for the challenge, let me briefly explain the Mothers’ Education Course. The MEC was a three-year (and later a two-year) program Charlotte Mason put together to educate moms. (If you want a more detailed history of the program, read this.)

Charlotte Mason assigned books in four subject areas:

  1. Divinity
  2. Physiology and health (with an emphasis on caring for children)
  3. Mental and moral science and education
  4. Nature lore and the elements of science

I’m offering my own list of books in these four subject areas. If you want to simply be inspired by the MEC, you can just add some books from this list (or books you choose yourself that fit into these categories) to your reading stack. If, however, you want to read books from this list in a truly MEC way, you need to buckle up, buy a giant stack of books, and read about 25 pages in each subject area per week. I also highly recommend keeping a commonplace and/or reading notebook, as well as narrating to yourself.

Charlotte Mason offered examinations, but I promise not to quiz you on these books.

As usual, these titles are pulled from my personal reading lists. I have either already read these books, or plan to read them in the near future. (I never recommend books I wouldn’t spend money on myself.)

So let’s get to the fun part: the lists!

Divinity

Today, we use the word theology. Theology and divinity mean basically the same thing. Charlotte Mason’s divinity assignments attempted to answer basic questions about biblical history and theology, as well as questions about passing on the faith to our children. I try to choose books that do the same — understand, though, that the “basic” questions I’m thinking of aren’t the basic questions from Charlotte Mason’s day. Rather, the basic questions of our time are what I’m interested in exploring.

Physiology and health

Mothers once took care of most of the family’s health needs. We didn’t need to run to the doctor for every little bump, bruise, and concern because we were competent. Mothers used to know how to care for a child with the measles (hint: give him cod liver oil).

I’m not saying doctors weren’t or aren’t necessary. I’m just saying that in Miss Mason’s day, women were more likely to read books like these because they had a responsibility to nurse their children.

Beyond this, nothing wastes time in a homeschool day like running to the doctor for every cough, sneeze, and earache. The focus of these books is to be able to understand the body and brain well enough to offer basic care in an independent way. Study in these subjects takes years, but every book read moves us in the right direction.

My chosen area of study has always been homeopathy first, but I’ve tried to provide a couple other options as well.

Mental and moral science and education

Charlotte Mason’s goal for this category was to show the principles of education, as well as methods based on these principles. Charlotte Mason, of course, assigned parts of her own books here. But I know you already know about these. The question is what else she would assign. Often, her focus was on the best of educational thought throughout history. The number of pages she devoted to the history of classical education was astounding!

In this year’s selections, I’m focusing on the “moral” component of the category. What is morality? What is the moral imagination? How are we shaped as persons?

Nature lore and the elements of science

Mothers who know about nature and science can talk more naturally with their children as they walk along the way — no stopping for Google required. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with saying “I don’t know” and looking things up together, this part of the MEC curriculum was trying to offer moms an understanding of the world around them. In this category, you can read about flowers and rocks, or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. It depends on what your children are like and what they harass you about, I suppose.

Want more book ideas? Try my past MEC lists:

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9 Comments

  • Reply Christina August 30, 2019 at 7:03 am

    I am so glad to have found this today! I have never heard of MEC, it is not widely talked about in the CM community I suppose. Thank you for sharing these.

  • Reply Chelsea Nardella July 2, 2019 at 11:06 am

    Wow! This is fabulous! Thank you so much. I’m eager to begin. I’ve been on my own motherhood educational journey, but your suggestions are so well-rounded and will stretch my inclinations.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 2, 2019 at 11:16 am

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Chelsea! ♥

  • Reply Jennifer Meyer June 22, 2019 at 9:18 am

    I am just diving into the whole idea of a “mother’s schole” and wondering…is the idea to choose ONE book from each catergory? Or to read all of the books in each category? I am grateful for your amazing blog, by the way. It has really helped assist me along my CM path 🙂 <3

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 25, 2019 at 9:03 am

      Ha. The original article recommends having a book going in each category, so I assume that means one. I have one of those metal rolling carts and each SHELF represents a category. I have problems! 😉

  • Reply Rebminn May 14, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Dr. Mendehlson’s other book, “confessions of a medical heretic” is one of my all time favorites. The man is genius and the book is chalk full of theology and how western medicine has systematically destroyed the family unit.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 14, 2019 at 7:58 pm

      I have never gotten myself a copy of that, but your review is so compelling! I’m going to have to buy one stat! Thank you for telling me. ♥

    • Reply Elissa May 23, 2019 at 8:15 am

      I read How Have a Healthy Child. . . a long time ago and I have found a lot of wisdom. When my oldest was a baby, we went to a pediatrician who was quite well known in the area. He told me that he thought most young parents in the suburbs had ” more money than brains”. He gave me a lot of advice very similar to Dr Mendehlson’s. It has worked very well over the years!!!

      By the way Brandy, my daughter just moved to CA with her 4 homeschooled children and alternative ideas. I worry about her being out there but you make me feel better about it ?.

      Looking forward to great summer reading!

      • Reply Brandy Vencel May 23, 2019 at 10:53 pm

        There is actually a lot of both homeschooling AND alternative ideas here! I think she’ll do fine. ♥

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