“I am, I can, I ought, I will.”
From the beginning of my journey with the Charlotte Mason method, I have been aware of this Children’s Motto. It is the duty put before parents by Miss Mason to instill it’s principles in our children, “saving them” from great sorrow in life.
At a recent book club meeting, we briefly went through the motto and it came to my mind that I have never actually taught my kids what it is. Have we implanted these values in our home? Yes. But I have read that the children in the Ambleside schools wore the motto as little badges, so they knew what it was and from some writings of her pupils we read that they knew what it meant.
Here is a version of the motto written by Michael A. E. Franklin, one of her students, in a memorial letter about Miss Mason:
“I am, I can, I ought, I will.” This was the motto she gave us. I am a human being, one of God’s children; I can do right by my fellowmen and by myself; I ought so to do and God help me, I will so do.
This motto is key to our children’s minds being connected to God and to us. This connectedness comes not in the ability to recite the little saying, but in the knowledge of the depth that it has for their character, the magnitude that it carries in all aspects of living in service to others and to God out of respectfulness and love.
In adding her methods over the years, I have not taken on the challenge of implementing the motto itself into my curriculum. Now’s the time, although I believe that it will take years of living for the children to fully grasp the meaning. I am challenging myself to have my children commit this motto to memory. We’ll do it slowly through copywork and recitation, and if I plan well, through devotions to reinforce the meaning behind the motto. In my idealistic world, we would do some handicraft that shows off the motto and would hang it in a special spot in our house. I’ll let you know if we get that one in!
Here is a little more from Ambleside Online on the Children’s Motto.