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.
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:
- Physiology and health (with an emphasis on caring for children)
- Mental and moral science and education
- 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!
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.
Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp
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.
Homeopathic Treatment of Sports Injuries by Lyle W. Morgan II
Homeopathic Medicine: First Aid and Emergency Care by Lyle W. Morgan
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?
After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Third Edition by Alasdair MacIntyre
On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books by Karen Swallow Prior
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.
Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues by Martin J. Blaser
A Gardener’s Latin: The Language of Plants Explained by Richard Bird
The Tree Book: For Kids and Their Grown Up by Gina Ingoglia
Want more book ideas? Try my past MEC lists:
- Mothers’ Education Course 2018
- Mothers’ Education Course 2017
- Mothers’ Education Course 2016
- Mothers’ Education Course 2015
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