Authoritarian vs. Authoritative

It might be difficult for some to distinguish the difference between the words authoritarian and authoritative.  At first glance, they’d seem to be quite similar.  However, after truly studying their differences, it has become quite clear with which word a parent, or teacher should aim to demonstrate at home, or in the classroom.

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately and am encouraged by the following resources.

First, an exceptional video entitled “The Teacher and the Atmosphere”, is available at the Ambleside Schools International.  Quite frankly, it is THE BEST source for learning the difference between these two words.  A “must view” if there is any struggle in this area.

A “picture” of authority becomes clear in Sonya Shafer’s article, “The Fence of Authority“.  In it, Mrs. Shafer clearly shows how God-given authority acts as a blessing for children (and ourselves) by allowing for Masterly Inactivity to even become a possibility.  The disciplined use of time by being authoritative in our daily routines allows for this “free” time to become a fruitful pursuit.

Many other wonderfully helpful CM parents and teachers have written on this topic.  Each shares insight into what can seem to be a struggle and how the development of beautiful habits establishes the joyful security children find within an authoritative atmosphere at home, or school.

It Begins with Authority,” by Jennifer Mackintosh

How Authority Behaves,” by Brandy Vencel

Authority and Habits ala Charlotte Mason,” by Barb McCoy

Charlotte Mason Principles:  Authority and Docility,” by Michelle Morrow

My hope is that I become more authoritative and less authoritarian to bless my children with a joyful home learning atmosphere.

For a look at Charlotte Mason’s words on this subject, visit her volumes online at Ambleside Online.

Volume 1.

Volume 3



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