Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Real Scoop on KIC

From time to time, someone will alert me or one of my Keeping It Catholic (KIC) list moderators to another blog, board or list discussion which only serves to obfuscate others about KIC’s mission or its stance on certain topics. Although I’m made aware of most of these exchanges, I refrain from involvement with them. However, after a decade of hearing of the same old misconceptions, I decided it was best to clear the air – at least once.

The subject was Catholic Homeschooling, discovered on another board, and the very first message introducing the topic also brought up erroneous ideas [stated as fact] about KIC:

What does this [e.g. - Catholic homeschooling] mean to you? All texts being Catholic? Catholicism infused into every subject? God's truth in all things? There is great debate in the Catholic homeschool movement over this. Some (like Keeping it Catholic) state that everything must be Catholic in text and content) and recommend programs such as OLV and Seton. Others say using your own style (and your child's) is fine and take a much more relaxed approach, pulling in books from all sources and making sure to include God's truths in all areas. I know Keeping it Catholic also proclaims things such as Charlotte Mason homeschooling is heretical along with Montessori homeschooling and are to be avoided. What is your take?

A few posts followed – including two from a KIC list moderator who corrected the misconceptions aired about KIC. At that point, I decided it was time that I also enter the discussion.

For future reference, the following clarification was my response:

As the founder of Keeping It Catholic (KIC), I appreciate the opportunity to respond to what appears to be some common but erroneous assumptions in regard to our apologetics on the Christian education of youth.

As the KIC home page at states: “Our general mission is to share and defend the Catholic Church's perennial teachings, especially those in regard to marriage and education. KIC's special focus is Catholic education at home, also known as Catholic homeschooling. Because we are faithful Catholics, our philosophy is the authentic philosophy of the Catholic Church - that is, it is scholastic. KIC imitates the Catholic Action apostolate of old, adopting its motto as our own: Pray. Study. Act.”

With that said, please note that it is not KIC’s intention to share opinions in regard to the noble task of Catholic education. Rather, KIC is guided by, and consistently points to, Divini Illius Magistri (1929), which teaches and expands upon the Church’s doctrine on Christian Education.

In regard to the first entry’s remark about KIC on Charlotte Mason:

One of KIC’s web pages, entitled “ ‘
Catholicizing’ Charlotte Mason
features excerpts from one of my books (Keeping It Catholic's Home Education Guide, Vol. 1), in which ten or more pages outline Mason’s errors. To elucidate further, Divini Illius Magistri and other papal teachings collectively make clear various truths as well as condemned errors (e.g., heresies). A great number of the latter form the basis of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy.

Divini Illius Magistri (#18) declares that “every form of instruction, no less than every human action, has a necessary connection with man’s last end, and therefore cannot be withdrawn from the dictates of the divine law, of which the Church is guardian, interpreter and infallible mistress.”

In opposition to this doctrine, Mason claimed her educational methods (which were, in truth, an entire system of child upbringing and education) were based on natural law, which was unfortunately subjected to her personal opinions and interpretations. Mason’s Educational System covered almost everything - how a child should be brought up, how to train children in habit, how to clothe a child, with what materials a child should be clothed, how much free time a child should enjoy, and how to give the child various opportunities.

In reality, Mason was expounding on her philosophy, which was rife with various heresies, including – but not limited to - the heresy of rationalism (which is the false belief that reason is sufficient without the truth of the Catholic faith), the heresy of pantheism (which is the belief that God is somehow immanent in Nature and NOT to be sought outside it), the heresy of naturalism (which denies that which is not evident to the senses), the heresy of humanism (the advancement of the human race without need of God.), and, last but not least, the heresy of Romanticism (which denies absolute truth but relies solely on an exaggeration sentimentalism or affectation).

As for an educational system based on naturalism, the Church is also clear:

“Hence every form of pedagogic naturalism which in any way excludes or weakens supernatural Christian formation in the teaching of youth, is false. Every method of education founded, wholly or in part, on the denial or forgetfulness of original sin and of grace, and relying on the sole powers of human nature, is unsound. Such, generally speaking, are those modern systems bearing various names which appeal to a pretended self-government and unrestrained freedom on the part of the child, and which diminish or even suppress the teacher's authority and action, attributing to the child an exclusive primacy of initiative, and an activity independent of any higher law, natural or divine, in the work of his education. (#60, Divini Illus Magistri) In this one paragraph alone,
Mason’s entire philosophy of education is revealed as “false” and “unsound.”

Mason’s notions on “mother culture” issues not from the Church’s teachings on the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony, but from Protestant and secular worldviews. (For more on this topic, please see the KIC blog entry entitled “
Charlotte Mason – For Whose Sake?”)*
In truth, the parental vocation to beget and educate children for God’s sake is attained only by the means of supernatural grace, which come from the Sacraments of the Church, our Mater et Magistra (Mother and Teacher).In other words, those supernatural graces help Catholic mothers and fathers raise their children with supernatural "mother culture"!

But Mason, a Protestant enraptured with Jean Jacques Rousseau and other heretical philosophers, cared nothing for the true Church. In fact, there is compelling evidence that she despised it. Her desire was for a set of her own followers, for she wrote: “No man sets himself up for a following of disciples who does not wish to indoctrinate these with certain principles or, at the least, maxims (rules of life). He who would draw disciples does not trust to force but to these three things: to the attraction of his doctrine, to the persuasion of his presentation, and to the enthusiasm of his disciples.”

Mason knew how to attract and persuade in her own time but, unfortunately, her false doctrines are still met with enthusiasm today. She developed her own maxims, which she called her “18 Articles of Education,” and which our contemporary Protestant adherents call Mason’s “18 Articles of Education Faith” (my emphasis). To provide just one example: In Mason’s 17th Article of Education, she insisted children must be taught that their chief responsibility is the acceptance or rejection of initial ideas. Compare that to the Church’s doctrine that our chief responsibility as Catholics is to accomplish the will of God.

It is no mere coincidence that Charlotte Mason chose words like “disciples,” “indoctrinate” and “doctrine.” She had her own reasons for her educational “doctrine,” but they were not to bring children to God. No, Mason had another god – the god of SCIENCE.

Mason looked to science as the arbiter (e.g. - the final judge) of all truth. In fact, Mason often mentioned what she called “the science of relations.” What she meant by science was mere human reason. In her view, the human mind was the final judge of everything. It could not be corrected by anyone, not even God or the Church, but only by itself. Of course, a person who views science in such a skewed way will never look to the Church in order to submit his opinions to Divine Revelation.

Need I say that Mason’s philosophy neither includes Catholicism nor does it allow any room for it, much less Catholic character training, or an educational curriculum permeated with the Catholic faith and the Catholic conscience of history?

When all is said in regard to the Church’s doctrine and Charlotte Mason (and there is much more that could be said), the question is very simple and straightforward: Which should Catholics choose - the pure, clear source of Divine Revelation, which God entrusted to the Church, or the muddied philosophy of Charlotte Mason, a Protestant whose own philosophy was imbued with those of various heretics?

If that question does not pinpoint the real problem, please allow me to ask just a few more. Why would Catholics willingly follow a Protestant ideology when we have the rich educational doctrine of the Catholic Church? Would we exchange diamonds for dust, or trade a mess of pottage for our birthright?

To respond to a few other remarks – e.g., that KIC holds “everything must be Catholic in text and content” or, as implied, that we recommend only Seton or OLVS, or that we favor a “workbook” only approach – I will clarify. To those Catholic parents who wish to use the services of a home study program, we do recommend that parents seek only Catholic sources. However, KIC has never insisted that “homeschoolers must use these programs…believing that these methods are the be-all and end all of Catholic education.” Neither is KIC opposed to eclectic homeschooling (e.g. – customizing or designing a Catholic curriculum) but, again, we always recommend first seeking out Catholic sources. (For more information on these topics, please see “
How to Keep Your Homeschool Catholic
or “Building Your Own Catholic Curriculum” or our “FAQ” page.

KIC encourages our fellow Catholics to “keep it Catholic” in the homeschool because the Church teaches, “Religion must not be taught to youth only during certain hours, but the entire system of education must be permeated with the sense of Christian piety. If this is lacking, if this holy spirit does not penetrate and inflame the souls of teacher and pupil, small benefit will be derived from any other sort of education; instead damage will be done.” (Militantis Ecclesia, 1897)

On the other side of the same coin, KIC also warns against heavy reliance on heretical sources of programs, books, and ideologies because the Church, in her official capacity, teaches thusly:

“…there can be no ideally perfect education which is not Christian education.” (#7, Divini Illius Magistri)

“…it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school, and its teachers, syllabus and textbooks in every branch, be regulated by the Christian spirit, under the direction and maternal supervision of the Church; so that Religion may be in very truth the foundation and crown of the youth’s entire training; and this in every grade of school, not only the elementary, but of the intermediate and higher institutions of learning as well.” (#80, Divini Illius Magistri)

Lastly, the person who initiated this discussion began it with the following question: “What does this [Catholic homeschooling] mean to you?” Truly, this question is the heart of the division within the Catholic homeschooling movement. My dear sisters and brothers in Christ, Church doctrine is not a matter of opinion or personal meaning but a matter of loving obedience to God and His Church’s Magisterium. For that reason, I ask my fellow Catholics who wish to know, love and defend the Church’s doctrine on the Christian education of youth to often read and study the Church’s encyclical – Divini Illius Magistri, 1929.

In the love of Christ and His Virgin Mother,
Marianna Bartold
We’re “Keeping It Catholic” on the Net


FYI: Here’s the direct link to the discussion, as it took place then

*The previous link to the article, Charlotte Mason: For Whose Sake? which was first posted on the original Keeping It Catholic - with Marianna Bartold blog has been replaced with a new link to the same article, which is also placed on this blog.

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