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What is Mother Culture?

Updated: Jul 7

Thank You, Miss Mason

If you’ve spent much time in the homeschooling realm, you’ve no doubt come across the name Charlotte Mason. Charlotte Mason was a British educator from the late 1800’s, and her philosophy of education resonates with homeschooling parents to the present day. While she herself did not coin the phrase “mother culture” (it first appeared in a PNEU Article in 1892, by an author called “A”), it is still considered a Charlotte Mason idea.

“There is no sadder sight in life than a mother, who has so used herself up in her child’s childhood, that she has nothing to give them in their youth.” –Volume III, no. 2 The Parents’ Review

Your Own Educational Investment

So, what exactly is mother culture? Mother culture is the idea that mothers, as the primary caregivers and education facilitators, should continue to invest in their own education by reading as often as possible. Learning is a lifelong process and as such, should never end. While home educators tend to find this especially beneficial, all mothers and their children can benefit from mother culture. As our children age and begin to encounter more complex ideas, we must be able to continue to offer them our insight. In the realm of Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy, "Mother Culture" stands as a profound concept, emphasizing the importance of mothers—or educators—nurturing their own intellectual and emotional growth alongside that of their children. Rooted in the belief that a well-rounded education encompasses more than just academic subjects, Mother Culture encourages mothers to cultivate their own minds, interests, and passions. Mother Culture, as articulated by Charlotte Mason, goes beyond the mere execution of homeschooling tasks. It embodies a commitment to continuous learning and personal development, recognizing that an educator who is intellectually engaged and fulfilled serves as a more effective role model for their children. This concept encourages mothers to pursue intellectual pursuits, hobbies, and self-care practices that enrich their lives and expand their horizons.

Challenge Yourself

Developing our abilities to read critically and analyze deeper subject matter will not only enable us to help cultivate these same abilities in our children, it will enrich our lives and bring us more fulfillment. While you can certainly still indulge in a romance novel every now and again, reading the classics and other stories we know our children will later encounter will be much more helpful in this regard. With our e-readers and audiobooks, mothers of today have a much easier go at this than those trailblazing pioneers of the 1800s! Central to Mother Culture is the idea that mothers should engage in meaningful reading, exploration of the arts, and deepening their understanding of various subjects. This not only enhances their own knowledge base but also allows them to bring fresh perspectives and enthusiasm to their homeschooling endeavors. By fostering a love for learning within themselves, mothers model a lifelong pursuit of knowledge for their children. Beyond intellectual pursuits, Mother Culture emphasizes the importance of emotional resilience and self-care. Homeschooling can be demanding, and mothers often juggle multiple responsibilities. Taking time for self-reflection, relaxation, and pursuing activities that bring joy and fulfillment are crucial aspects of maintaining emotional well-being. A balanced and emotionally healthy mother is better equipped to create a nurturing and supportive homeschool environment.

You Are Still a Person Too!

In addition to cultivating our minds through our reading, mother culture also encourages us to spend a little time developing ourselves. Remember the old saying “you can’t pour from an empty pitcher?” Well it certainly applies here! You must be willing to spend a bit of your time pursuing your own talents and interests. Want to learn to play an instrument? Do it! Want to try your hand at knitting? Why not? The primary objective is to continue to pursue your own goals and be an example to your children as a lifelong learner. After all, isn’t that what we want for them as well?

Practical Steps to Embrace Mother Culture

  1. Reading and Reflection: Set aside time each day or week for reading books that inspire and challenge you intellectually.

  2. Creative Pursuits: Engage in creative activities such as painting, writing, gardening, or music, fostering a sense of personal expression and fulfillment.

  3. Community and Support: Seek out communities of like-minded individuals, whether in person or online, to share ideas, experiences, and encouragement.

  4. Self-Care: Prioritize self-care practices such as exercise, meditation, or simply quiet moments of reflection to recharge and maintain emotional balance.

Impact on Homeschooling

The benefits of embracing Mother Culture extend far beyond personal growth. Educators who actively cultivate their minds and spirits contribute positively to the homeschooling environment. They bring enthusiasm, creativity, and a love of learning that naturally inspires children to embrace their own educational journey with curiosity and joy.

Mother Culture in Charlotte Mason's philosophy represents a holistic approach to education—one that values the intellectual and emotional well-being of the educator as fundamental to the success of homeschooling. By nurturing their own growth and passions, mothers not only enrich their lives but also create a vibrant educational atmosphere where children thrive academically, creatively, and emotionally. Embracing Mother Culture is not just a philosophy but a transformative practice that empowers educators to lead with wisdom, compassion, and a lifelong love of learning.


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