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Mondays with Miss Mason–On Mission and Motto

March 21, 2011

Note: this post is part of an ongoing series. For more information on Charlotte Mason and Mondays with Miss Mason, please read the first post.


Charlotte Mason’s schools had a wonderful motto or mission statement:

I am. I can. I ought. I will.

She explains this statement in Book 1, Part VI as:

‘I am, I ought, I can, I will.’––’I am, I ought, I can, I will’––these are the steps of that ladder of St. Augustine, whereby we

“rise on stepping stones
Of our dead selves to higher things.”

‘I am’––we have the power of knowing ourselves. ‘I ought’––we have within us a moral judge, to whom we feel ourselves subject, and who points out and requires of us our duty. ‘I can’––we are conscious of power to do that which we perceive we ought to do. ‘I will‘––we determine to exercise that power with a volition which is in itself a step in the execution of that which we will.


Ambleside Online also captures this description of the motto from the Memoriam to Charlotte on her death:

“I am, I can, I ought, I will.” Miss Mason chose your inspiring motto.  You can say,
“I am the greatest thing in God’s creation: a human being with a spark of God’s divine spirit in my body.  Because I belong to the human family I can do the great things that other human beings have done. I have powers of doing, thinking and loving.
“I can use these powers. I can change my thoughts from things that harm me and that worry me to the beautiful things I have learnt in my School: I can know the ways of activity, I can think kindly thoughts of God’s creatures in the past and in the present, in this and other countries, of people who do not think as I do in religion and politics.
I ought to do these things: I owe it to my God, my parents and my School.
I will forget myself, and live up to the ideals of my School.
God is on the side of those who will, and with His help we will all go on working as Miss Mason hoped we would.
(By the Hon. Mrs. Franklin, from In Memoriam)

One of the many things that I love about my church is that it is very intentional about its mission and vision. At every service it is taught:

The mission of Transformation Church is to be a multi-ethnic, multi-generational mission shaped community that loves God completely (Upward), loves ourselves correctly (Inward) and loves our neighbors compassionately (Outward).

Upward | Inward | Outward

It is a powerful message and the continual teaching and reminder of this mission is transforming lives. Even the children know it and the whole church says the “Upward, Inward, Outward” part (complete with hand motions!) before we depart.

I have not been teaching my children about Charlotte’s motto, but it will be part of our training next year.  For it to really get into my children’s hearts and minds, it must not just be text on a wall or words mentioned every once in a while. It should be a vital and important part of our education just like my church uses its mission to focus people on the unique expression of God’s church that she is.

How do you use the motto in your homeschool? Do you have a different motto or mission?




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