Interview with Leah Boden on her book 'Modern Miss Mason'

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Interview with Leah Boden on her book 'Modern Miss Mason'

Ruth Clemence speaks to author Leah Boden about her new book, Modern Miss Mason

Leah Boden has championed the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education for over fifteen years. She has experienced first-hand how ideas from a British, late-19th century educationalist and reformer can transform learning today. Her brilliant new book Modern Miss Mason captures the beauty and freedom of a Charlotte Mason education for the 21st century.

What is a Charlotte Mason education?

Charlotte Mason saw education as ‘an atmosphere, a discipline, a life’. Leah shares: ‘She became this voice, not only into the education system at the time, but into a generation where children were seen and not heard. If they had money, they could get an education. If they didn’t have money they went into trade, they went down the [coal] pits, they went into factories. She wanted education for all. She wanted every child to have a wide and varied education.’ Charlotte presented children with a ‘feast’ of subjects, encouraged them to engage with the world around them, and express what it means to them in their own words.

Charlotte believed that ‘children were born persons’. Leah explains: ‘We get to draw out of them who God has made them to be. When you believe that a child is already whole, it changes the way you set up life around them.’ Although Charlotte was an Anglican whose faith influenced her teaching, her methods have a global reach, appealing to families of every background, of all faiths and none.

Leah’s journey to home education.

Both Leah and her husband Dave were traditionally educated in school, and both worked in the school system. Leah was working with children on the verge of exclusion as a behavioral and educational family worker and learning mentor before she embarked on home education.

The seed had been planted to home-educate when Leah spent a year at Bible college in the States after graduating from university. She met a group of very polite children, who looked her in the eye and had a well-rounded conversation with her. After her friend explained they were home-schooled, she was intrigued.

Leah’s heart to home-educate began to take root after walking her eldest daughter to school. She reflects: ‘I remember the first day walking her to school, holding her hand and that memory of that seed in the States. I remember feeling I didn’t want to do this. She began her journey after more research, meeting another home-educating family to discuss possibilities, and discovering the world of Charlotte Mason.

There is often a conviction for home educators who wonder if they can home-educate, even for a few years, to ‘be that primary voice’ in their child’s life. For those considering home education, Leah explains: ‘Here in the UK, currently we have complete freedom and choice to home-educate our children. If your kids have never been to school, you can just start homeschooling. If your children are in school, you have to deregister them from the system and then you start whatever you want to do at home.’

Some parents may feel forced into it because of a child bullying or SEN (Special Educational Needs) situation. Many parents remember having their children at home during lock-downs. Leah said that ‘pandemic schooling’ was extremely challenging for parents, more like ‘crisis-management’ as it was effectively ‘school-at-home’. However, there is real freedom and distinctiveness in home education.

Modern Miss Mason gives courage to mothers, children and educators.

The heart behind Modern Miss Mason is to ‘put courage in other mothers and help them on their own learning journey, as well as give them confidence to bring their children along with them’. A big part of her work involves coaching to encourage, champion and come alongside others, especially mothers who are figuring out motherhood and their identity after having children. She believes it is important to ‘stay intellectually alive’ and continue to learn, even with children in tow. Her book brings a fresh perspective to parenting, childhood and education that reflects Charlotte’s motto: ‘for the children’s sake’.


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Products mentioned in or related to this blog post
Modern Miss Mason (Paperback)
Ainsley Arment, Leah Boden
Retail price: £15.99
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