Charlotte Mason and the Crazymakers

I saw a young man on the subway platform yesterday carrying the book The Artist's Way under his arm.

I wondered if he thought what I thought when I read the book:

We are surrounded by crazymakers.

The author of The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron, defines a crazymaker in her book, but I define the word in my own way.

My definition of crazymaker: A person who gets between you and your self-confidence and/or who stands in the way of you accomplishing the work you want to do.

As homeschoolers, we're vulnerable to crazymakers who undermine our enthusiasm and decisions.

Examples of crazymaker talk:
  • Are you qualified to homeschool your children?
  • I heard about a lady who homeschooled. She ended up drowning her kids.
  • I read about a homeschooling family. All the kids sailed around the world on boats they made themselves and then went to Ivy League schools before they were teens. So, what do your kids do? 
  • I could never homeschool. I don't have the patience, and my kids like to have friends.
  • Are you home all day? It's abusive to keep kids locked up all the time. 
  • It must be nice to spend afternoons at the park or to go grocery shopping in the morning, but shouldn't your kids be at their desks learning?
  • Only the elite are rich enough to homeschool.  
  • Only the uneducated are dumb enough to homeschool. 
  • Instead of abandoning the school system, homeschoolers should help fix it.
  • Homeschoolers ruin their kids by giving them free rule of every decision. The kids will never make it in the real world.
  • Homeschoolers dictate everything their children think and don't allow the kids any freedom. The kids will never make it in the real world.
  • Homeschoolers are right-wing wackos.
  • Homeschoolers are left-wing nuts. 
  • I would be bored out of my mind if I homeschooled. I didn't go to college just to stay home with my kids. 
  • What about socialization? What about chemistry labs? What about sports? What about your career? What about getting into college? What about cutting the apron strings? What about fitting in? What about algebra? What about prom? What about the real world? What about getting along with peers? What about testing? 
And so on, and so on.

Sometimes we are the crazymakers.

Sad to say, even homeschoolers can be crazymakers with each other. If you feel inadequate or defensive after spending time with other homeschoolers, chances are good there is a crazymaker or two in the group.
  • You use that curriculum? You use curriculum? You don't use curriculum? 
  • My kids taught themselves to read at three years old. All kids are capable of doing that if parents provide the right environment.
  • My child didn't read until after she was 12 years old, and the first thing she read was the encyclopedia from A to Z followed by the entire Harry Potter series in one weekend. Reading at an earlier age is only the result of parental coercion.
  • You might want to know that the snack you just gave your child is poison. We don't eat like that in our family.
Okay, I'm exaggerating, but let's curb the crazytalk in our homeschooling community.

Charlotte Mason has advice.

Charlotte didn't use the term crazymaker in her writing, but even so, she did offer a way for us to deal with crazymakers.

If you're familiar with Charlotte, you know what I'm talking about when I say Mother Culture. For those who don't know, Charlotte urges mothers to constantly keep learning, and creating, and exposing ourselves to new ideas - just like we encourage our children to do. By nourishing our own growth, we keep crazymakers at bay. It's not 100% effective, but it's very good.

When you spend time with your own hobbies, think about new ideas, breathe fresh air, visit new places, read good books, you gain perspective. Then, when a crazymaker starts doing the crazy-making things that crazymakers do, you'll recognize the antics for what they are and either avoid them or patiently tolerate them without offense. When you are filled up with Mother Culture, you have it within you to do that.

The tricky bit with Mother Culture is that it requires self-motivation and self-discipline. You can't wait for your husband or child or anyone else to say, "Take care of yourself." Take care of yourself on your own like the big girl that you are.

What eventually happens is not only do you reap the benefit of whatever you're doing for Mother Culture, but you hone those good habits of self-motivation and self-discipline. You will become fulfilled and strong, attributes that are antidotes against crazymakers.

Not only that, but by learning new things, you'll become flexible. In my opinion, flexibility helps us from becoming offended by opinions that differ from our own. And, it might make us open enough to consider a differing opinion and change our minds once in awhile. After all, sometimes a person isn't a crazymaker but someone who is simply different than ourselves. If we're willing, we might even learn something new by being challenged, as crazy as that sounds.

(For people who have read The Artist's Way: I happen to think Charlotte Mason's idea of Mother Culture is very similar to Julia Cameron's idea of Artist Dates. Do you see the similarities?)


  1. What a great post. I haven't even officially started homeschooling yet, and I'm already experiencing the comments of crazymakers here in India--most people have never even heard of homeschooling in our city. I love Charlotte Mason's antidote for this...infinitely more helpful than getting hurt and resentful...and I love your quote: "In my opinion, flexibility helps us from becoming offended by opinions that differ from our own." Thanks for giving me this practical advice!

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed this post -- I had just been checking out a few of my favorite CM blogs for a little inspiration, as I've had a trying day. Your homeschool crazymaker quotes made me laugh out loud -- even if they were a bit exaggerated. Also, I had not heard of the Julia Cameron book before, so I'm going to reserve copy at our local library. Many thanks! Long live Mother Culture!

    1. I'm hitting reply to tracy's comment, because I could not find the way to leave a comment otherwise. Anyhow, I'm with Tracy. You made my day! Long live MC! :) I love that, Tracy.
      I think whenever I'm sidetracked and not focused on my personal growth, I start acting totally crazy... and I start to be critical on and of others who don't need or deserve it in the very least.
      Like Julie, I also say, I love your quote. There is a similar one I forgot, about education being when you are able to listen to anything and not raise your voice or get irritated by them.(That surely humbles me).

      Thanks, friend, always witty and wise.

  3. A very timely post! I have one "friend" who feels it neccessary to tell me (while staring at the piles of nature journal sketching projects and other books on the dining room table) how anyone can keep their house tidy if they're just organized and disciplined enough.

    Please note that this is unsolicited and that we refer to the piles of books as our 'decorating style'.

    This friend also has no children at home during the day and does not work outside the home. :) I just smile and let it wash over least until she's gone.

  4. "You might want to know that the snack you just gave your child is poison. We don't eat like that in our family."

    HAHA!! I've heard this so many times...not exactly but close enough. And also was catching myself in this post- I say some of these things.

  5. This post was great especially the poison one. My kids are always eating something others would think was junk and I am used to the look from other moms. lol

    1. I'm repyling, too, because I can't comment the other way.

      Thank you for this post. Sometimes I AM my own crazy-maker!

  6. I'm stopping in for the first time (from Explorations in Learning) and I'm glad I did! This is so, so funny. I find most my crazymakers are virtual friends. So, I quit Facebook and read very few blogs. Head. In. The. Sand! HA HA

  7. I too am a Charlotte Mason homeschooler in the city, dealing with crazymakers everyday. Looking forward to following your tidbits. =)

  8. Wow. This is EXACTLY the post i needed to read right this very minute. Thank you!!

    I'm totally making-crazy for myself at the moment ;)