Authority and Obedience | Principle #3

In today’s episode I’m talking about the third principle of Charlotte Mason’s Twenty Principles. “The principles of authority on the one hand, and of obedience on the other, are natural, necessary and fundamental.”

The word authority sometimes elicits a strong emotional response. The same could be said for the word “obedience”. But in her sixth volume, A Philosophy of Education, Charlotte Mason begins her chapter on authority by stating that every society requires order. She writes that “order is heaven’s first law; and order is the outcome of authority. Without order, there would simply be chaos. And without order, we can’t have obedience!

Leading Thoughts

  1. Adults have to answer to authority too.
  2. We must take care to teach the habit of attention.
  3. Don’t spoon-feed or water down the books or lesson material.
  4. Use unabridged versions whenever possible, and do not repeat readings.

Listen to the podcast above to hear more!


“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands…” -2 John 1:6 (NIV)

“Our chief concern for the mind or for the body is to supply a well-ordered table with abundant, appetising, nourishing, and varied food, which children deal with in their own way and for themselves” (A Philosophy of Education, p. 71-72).

“…see that he too must do the things he ought; and therefore that regulations are not made for his convenience. (I am assuming that everyone entrusted with the bringing up of children recognises the supreme Authority to Whom we are subject” and she goes on to say that “without this recognition I do not see how it is possible to establish the nice relation which should exist between teacher and taught). (A Philosophy of Education, p. 73).

The sense of must should be present with children; our mistake is to act in such a way that they only seem to be law-compelled while their elders do as they please” (A Philosophy of Education, p. 73).

Our part is to regard attention, too as an appetite and to feed it with the best we have in books and in all knowledge.”

“Attention we know is not a ‘faculty’ nor a definable power of mind but is the ability to turn on every such power, to concentrate, as we say.”

Educated mothers know that their children can read anything and do not offer explanations unless they are asked for them.”


Home Education by Charlotte Mason

A Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason (pages 68-79)

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Article written by a former headmistress of a P.N.E.U. school in 1961 on Obedience

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Sunday Reading:

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (unabridged)

Parables From Nature by Alfred Gatty

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Charlotte Mason Motherhood podcast. Thank you so much for listening!

  1. Mason, Charlotte. Home Education. Simply Charlotte Mason, LLC, 2017.
  2. Mason, Charlotte. A Philosophy of Education. Simply Charlotte Mason, LLC. 2017.

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