On a gentle hill nestled on the Minnesota prairie, a group of like-minded home educators gathers annually to discuss the nature and direction of their children's education. They focus on a philosophy built on a clear view of God, the importance of relationships, and the practical realities of teaching and learning. These educators are participating in the the Living Education Retreat (LER) at Shalom Hill Farm in southwestern Minnesota.
The profoundly Christian educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) is the focus of this two-day event. Mason said, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life." By an atmosphere, she means much more than the child's physical surroundings. She is referring to the child's relationships and thought-environment. By a discipline, she is referring to the wide range of habits necessary for successful, full living - intellectual, moral, spiritual and physical. By a life, she refers to the abundant life in Christ and all the ideas and richness that accompany such a life.
Charlotte Mason's educational ideas are just as important today as they were when Mason first wrote them approximately 100 years ago. Sharing these ideas is why Karla Taber and Nancy Kelly organized a local conference that would be different and unique. They wanted to bring in experts, yet keep it accessible to everyone. Karla and Nancy both used Mason's methods in their homeschools and were eager to share and discuss with others. In 2006, God led them to organize the first Living Education Retreat. Each year has seen the event improve and grow, meeting the needs of homeschoolers and other educators.
*This article was written for the June/July 2010 issue of The Paper MACHE