This month our Charlotte Mason book study will complete reading and discussing Volume 4. It has been fruitful to discuss together the triumphs and trials of our lives- both our personal lives and our working these topics out in our families. Our group is blessed to have mothers in different stages of life with children of every age which added richness and depth. Volume 4 was a unifying bridge reaching to each on the same human journey, helping us towards higher goals.
One recurring thought that I heard over the course of the Volume was, “I wish I had known this long ago”….or “why didn’t I know this?” There is so much to strengthen our character in Volume 4. It is a work not to be overlooked.
We added some new participants to our group for this Volume – two of our teenage daughters. In the preface of Volume 4, Charlotte Mason writes
“The teaching in Book I. is designed for boys and girls under sixteen. That in Book II. should, perhaps, appeal to young people of any age; possibly young men and women may welcome an attempt to thrash out some of the problems which must needs perplex them.”
It was special to have them join our discussion. It was new territory for me to have a daughter participating with me in an adult discussion group. Personally, I valued the input my daughter received from the other women in the group. These teens have life coming on them quickly now, large decisions to make, and paths to forge on their own. Hearing and discussing this real life Volume with other women will be a blessing to their lives.
If you are new to Charlotte Mason’s Volumes and are struggling to comprehend her wording, try Volume 4. It is a bit more conversational and as beings with flesh and soul, we can all easily relate to what she is describing. You will find many nuggets that you can absorb and apply. Book two has some ‘thicker’ parts, but keep at it if you get bogged down. It picks up again. You won’t want to miss the sections on Conscience and Will.
I find Volume 4 to be Charlotte’s most positive, encouraging Volume. She doesn’t let us get stuck in the mire of our ineptness and failures. She reminds us we have great worth and a work to do.
“But we need not despair, even about our hateful Pride. He is but an encroacher, an usurper; the Lord of the Heart whom he displaces is Humility; and a true conception of this true Lord, who is within us, is as the shepherd’s stone against the giant.” – Ourselves Volume 4 p.129-129
“…taken a bird’s-eye view of the riches of Mansoul, of the wonderful capacities there are in every human being to enter upon the world as a great inheritance.
All its beauty and all its thought are open to everyone; everyone may take service for the world’s uses; everyone may climb those delectable mountains in the recesses of his own nature from whence he gets the vision of the city of God.” – Ourselves Volume 4 Book II p.1-2
“Our concern with life is to be fit, and according to our fitness come the occasions and the uses we shall be put to.” – Ourselves Volume 4 Book II p. 142
In Volume 6, Charlotte Mason refers back to Volume 4 three times. The first two times Ourselves is mentioned, she is directing the reader back to Volume 4 for added explanation of a particular concept. In her third reference to Volume 4 she tells us that this Volume was used extensively in her schools.
“Ourselves, our Souls and Bodies (by the Writer) is much used in the P.U.S., as I know of no other attempt to present such a ground plan of human nature as should enable the young student to know where he is in his efforts to ‘be good’ as the children say. The point of view taken in this volume is, that all beautiful and noble possibilities are present in every one; but that each person is subject to assaults and hindrances in various ways of which he should be aware in order that he may watch and pray. Hortatory teaching is apt to bore both young people and their elders; but an ordered presentation of the possibilities and powers that lie in human nature, and of the risks that attend these, can hardly fail to have an enlightening and stimulating effect.” – Charlotte Mason A Philosophy of Education Volume 6 p.189
It can’t be summed up better than that. Might I add, though, it is valuable for the young student as well as the…. ‘older students’. There is something in it for everyone. It will be a life-changer. Don’t miss Volume 4. It just might turn out to be your favorite.