Charlotte Mason’s Principle #2

Children are Not Born Either Good or Bad, but with Possibilities for Good and for Evil

In this Principle, Charlotte is simply saying that each one of us has a good inclination and a bad inclination.

She points to the various areas where parents need to be watchful. And she shows us ways in which we can help develop the “possibilities for good” in our children as well as diminish the “possibilities for evil.”

Her definitive writing on this Principle is Chapter 3 of Volume 6, A Philosophy of Education. You can download the whole chapter for free as a PDF below.

There are 5 sections in chapter 3:

  • Well-Being of Body
  • Well-Being of Mind
  • Intellectual Appetites
  • Misdirected Affections
  • Well-Being of Soul

I would also like to point out that over the many years in which I have been homeschooling with the CM method and discussing the Principles with other parents, this Principle always seems to trip people up.

People are usually shocked by it and I’ve consistently seen two different reactions to this Principle, depending on a person’s worldview. But both reactions are incorrect! She isn’t talking about what most people tend to assume she’s talking about!

This is where historical context comes into play when reading Charlotte’s original volumes! This is why we are annotating all of the original volumes – because it’s so important to understand the time and culture in which she lived if you want to understand her writing! 

I discuss the historical context (and more) in the video, so be sure to watch!

Video for Principle #2

Charlotte Mason's Principle 2
Play Video
Finding Your Way with Charlotte Mason's 20 Principles
PDF Download for Principle #2


Be sure to read Chapter 3. Then, over the next two weeks, keep this Principle foremost in your mind.

Try to discern the GOOD inclinations and the BAD inclinations in each of your children and how you might help develop the good and lessen the bad.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them here or in The Plenary Facebook Group.

Tell me what you think about this Principle! I would love to hear your perspective! Chatting about it with the Plenary Tribe is the BEST part! And if you are enjoying this study, please share it with your friends.

I hope to chat with you soon!


Other Posts in This Series:
Finding Your Way with Charlotte Mason's 20 Principles

Principle #9
Principle #10
Principle #11
Principle #12

Principle #13
Principle #14
Principle #15
Principle #16

Principle #17
Principle #18
Principle #19
Principle #20


  1. This was immensely helpful!!🌷🌷 Thank you so much.

    1. Author

      Nicole, you are most welcome! I’m glad you found it helpful! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.