Part I Some Studies in Treatment
1. The Philosopher At Home pg. 3
The case study of Guy Belmont, a little boy with a violent temper. He could be pleasant one minute, then something would set him off and his rage would affect the whole family.
His father, Mr. Belmont, went to see a friend, Dr. Weissall, who shared his interest in scientific experiments. In one of these experiments, Mr. Belmont had fed birds every morning at the window. Even after he stopped leaving food, the birds continued to come to the window at that same time every day, not even disappointed at the lack of food. Their habit of making a stop there had been set. In another experiment, he wanted to train his dog to stop chasing and barking at carriages. The bad habit was replaced by putting a newspaper in the dog's mouth when a carriage came by so that the dog began to associate carriages with retrieving the newspaper and forgot to bark and chase them.
Dr. Weissall agreed that Guy's temper was probably inherited, but could be cured. They talked until two in the morning and laid out a plan: Mother, Father and Nurse were to keep a close eye on Guy. At the first sign of ill temper, before he lost control, they were to immediately distract him by cheerfully giving him something pleasant to do––helping Father in the garden, tidying Mother's work-box, anything to take his mind off his anger. Since his loss of temper wasn't premeditated naughtiness, it didn't need to be punished, Guy just needed to learn to distract himself.
The next morning, Guy, who was mad about eating his porridge with a less-favored spoon, was sent to his father before his ill feelings had had time to vent into rage:
"'Well, boy, so you've come to help me garden? But I've not done breakfast. Have you finished yours?"
'No, father,' with a dropping lip.
'Well, I'll tell you what. You run up and eat your porridge and come down as soon as you're ready; I shall make haste, too, and we shall get a good half-hour in the garden before I go out.' Up again went Guy with hasty, willing feet. 'Nurse' (breathless hurry and importance), 'I must make haste with my porridge. Father wants me directly to help him in the garden.'
Nurse winked hard at the fact that the porridge was gobbled. The happy little boy trotted off to one of the greatest treats he knew, and that day passed without calamity."
This worked for a week, but then one morning Nurse lost patience with Guy and Guy responded with a tantrum, and the week's work in building a new habit was lost. Since punishment that might clear the air and result in a pleasant day seemed almost like rewarding the tantrum, it was decided that his parents would act estranged from him for the rest of the day if Guy had a tantrum. The first time they did this, Guy was sad and repentant––and anxious not to repeat his bad behaviour. He asked his father for help. Mr. Belmont suggested that Guy should be alert enough to know when his anger ("Mr. Cross-man") was coming, which Guy could recognize by a hot feeling, and then he should physically get up and run around the yard four times in an effort to outrun Mr. Cross-man.
Between the distraction of watching for Mr. Crossman and the running, Guy ceased having tantrums. Like the dog who learned to associate carriages with newspapers instead of chases, Guy began to associate his hot feeling with the game of avoiding Mr. Cross-man instead of raging––and in a way that made Guy feel like a superhero battling an enemy. As he had more and more victories over his foe, his temper became only a memory.
2. Inconstant Kitty pg. 24
The case study of Kitty, a little girl whose habit of attention was so lacking that she flitted from one thing to another, never finishing anything. Kitty's mother wrote to her aunt for advice.
Kitty's great-aunt agreed that Kitty should be cured because flightiness may be charming in a child, but turns to fickleness in a girl and results in a giddy old woman who never accomplishes anything. Kitty needed to learn how to engage her mind fully in whatever she was doing.
Very short, interesting, varied lessons were suggested so that Kitty would be less prone to boredom and begin to feel a sense of accomplishment as small tasks actually got finished. Lessons were mixed up so that Kitty was using her hands, then ten minutes later her feet, so that she never had time to dawdle over schoolwork. If she didn't complete her work in the ten minutes, she could not make it up but had to feel the loss of the lesson. These steps would encourage her attention at school, and that would carry over into her play––but, even in play, she was to be encouraged to stick to a game for a little longer before flitting off to something new:
"What! The doll's tea-party over! That's not the way grown-up ladies have tea; they sit and talk for a long time. See if you can make your tea-party last twenty minutes by my watch!"
The virtue of constancy was to be extolled in Kitty's hearing, and old friends praised, lost friends mourned to help Kitty see the value of steadiness in relationships.
3. Under A Cloud pg. 33
The case study of Agnes, a hyper-sensitive little girl who silently sulked at every minor grievance to her. Her parents knew that childhood faults get uglier in adulthood, so they decided to try the method of Dr. Weissall and change Agnes's habit.
The next morning, Agnes began to show sadness at not being served first. Her father bid her hold up her pinafore so he could put crumbs in it to feed the birds, at which she forgot her hurt and became cheerful again. The sulking was averted.
This distraction tactic worked when her parents were available to keep a close watch on her, but that wasn't always possible and Agnes continued to have black spells of sullenness. It would be impossible to avoid sullen outbreaks long enough for cheerfulness to become a habit.
So they enlisted Agnes's cooperation by showing her how ugly her behaviour was. Next time Agnes had a sulky day, her parents didn't comfort her, they left her alone. At the end of the day––
"'So my poor Agnes has had a very sad day?'
'Yes, mother,' with a sob.
'And do you know we have all had a very sad day––father, mother, your little brother, Nurse––every one of us has felt as if a black curtain had been hung up to shut out the sunshine?'
The child was sympathetic, and shivered at the sight of the black curtain and the warm sunshine shut out."
Her mother told Agnes that it was her own black mood at a perceived offense that had shut out her beloved family. Agnes cried in remorse at her selfishness and vowed not to prefer herself to others by noting every slight. From then on, it only took a look of sadness from her parents to remind her and bring her out of her sullen moods.
4. Dorothy Elmore's Achievement pg. 41
The case study of Dorothy, a young woman who was the joyful light of her family's lives except for long mysterious periods of sullenness that came from nowhere and disappeared just as suddenly, while her family would be wrought with worry about what might be wrong with poor Dorothy.
When her little brother complained that "Dorothy is in a sulky fit again," her parents decided that the problem couldn't be ignored any longer. Was Dorothy pining for a young man? Did she need a vacation?
Her mother remembered how, as a newlywed, she used to resent any attention her husband paid to anything other than her, even if it was just to read the paper, and she would sulk for days. Her husband, who had no idea why she was so pallid, pitied his poor ill wife, and his love and her devotion to their new baby––Dorothy––finally brought her out of that behaviour. But Dorothy had apparently inherited the tendency to be resentful and sulky.
A family friend, Dr. Evans, was consulted. He was a pupil of Dr. Weissall's. He removed any guilt the mother might have felt for passing on her fault by saying that temperament is not a moral failing. But moral failings should be replaced with good habits.
Dorothy should have been cured long ago, when she was a forlorn little girl sulking at childish slights. Now Dorothy had become a slave to black thoughts that she hated, but couldn't resist dwelling on. It would now be a more difficult battle for her to gain mastery over her moods.
Dr. Evans spoke with Dorothy. He described her feelings of pity for herself when she was slighted, and the dark mood that resulted, moods that made her not only sulky, but feeling remorse about what a horrible person she must be to feel so sullen. Her attempts at repressing the ugly thoughts had failed. Dr. Evans suggested an opposite tactic––instead of willing herself not to think black thoughts, she should instead think of something pleasant, even exciting. Then her mind wouldn't have room to dwell on the dark thoughts ("Where you tend a rose, a thistle cannot grow.")
Dorothy vowed to change her thoughts and lived happily ever after. She married her sweetheart and had a baby girl that she named after her sister.
5. Consequences pg. 68
Life is full of consequences, often unfair. Children are often the helpless victims of adults who lash out in quick anger. As proof, even in their play, children are harsh when they play at the role of teacher or parent.
A normally kind nurse has an impatient moment and hits a child; the incident seems minor, but the child remembers the blow. A father loses his temper when his four-year-old plays with some valued books, and, in his anger, he wounded the child's feelings and deprived him of a beloved pastime as punishment.
Even indulgent parents abuse children by wielding authority over them that they aren't entitled to. Children don't belong to parents and parents have no right to lord it over their children, even in a permissive way. Parents have no more right to spoil their children than they do to be harshly abusive with them.
All of us, both parents and children, have desires for companionship, knowledge, esteem and must learn self-control to prevent our tendencies from getting out of hand until they become vices. Unchecked curiosity can turn to nosiness, desire for society can turn to worship of an idolized person––and ambition can turn to tyrannic control that causes even a conscientious parent to physically abuse a child. Any of us is capable of such things if we don't control our impulses.
We must never forget that we are capable of losing control, and that a harsh word or blow is wounding to a child. Even a hasty word of rebuke can leave a scar that a child never forgets. Yet we must not let our fear of abuse keep us from disciplining our children, either.
It is true that children kept happily occupied will generally be good, but we must not contrive to make them happy to the extent that we shield them from real life. A child will have his share of bad treatment in the world, and will be unprepared for it if we are dishonest to him for fear of being unkind. If a child is wrong, he needs to know.
If we remember that our children are given in trust and that God sees our every action and hears our every word, we will be more likely not to err on the side of being too rough or unnaturally easy on children.
6. Mrs. Sedley's Tale pg. 77
The case study of Fanny, a timid little girl who fabricated false accounts of her daily events for no perceivable reason. Fanny would say that the cook couldn't make jam because the fruit had not come, that her friend pushed his sister off the curb, that she met Mrs. Butler at the park and had a conversation with her, that her brother misbehaved at school––all untrue, but apparently with no malicious intent. When caught in a lie, Fanny would look bewildered rather than guilty.
It appeared that Fanny was having trouble discerning truth from lies; although her confusion wasn't vicious, it still amounted to lying and had to be dealt with. Her parents consulted clever Aunt Emma. Emma praised the child's imagination, but suggested teaching Fanny truth little by little. Fanny's reasons for lying seemed to come from a combination of fear of people thinking less of her, and an imagination that seemed real to her. Emma recommended that her parents assure Fanny of their unconditional love, but let her know how her lying hurt them. Her need for fancy should be fed daily with fairy tales as an outlet for her imagination, while she learned to be exact in telling details by having tasks asked of her: deliver a message to cook with no errors, report accurately on a scene seen at the window, and reward her with kisses when she is fully truthful. In this way, Fanny filled her appetite for fancy while learning the difference between fact and fiction, and avoided becoming like a neighbor gossip whose words could never be trusted.
7. Ability pg. 89
The case study of Fred Bruce, a boy prone to forget things. Though a likeable child, Fred would forget to pass along messages, take his book to school, complete an assignment––yet he had no problem remembering tasks having to do with his cricket team, so his problem couldn't have been medical. His problem was a lack of training.
Fred needed to learn to fix his whole attention on something to help him remember it. This habit should have been trained into him while still a baby by encouraging him to take interest in playthings for another minute longer with coaxings and talk to prolong his interest in the same thing for awhile, but Fred's parents had neglected to do so.
Even geniuses amount to little if they're scatter-brained and can't hold their thoughts to a specific problem. The ability to intensely concentrate on the matter at hand is what makes businessmen and lawyers successful. An intellect thus trained is within the grasp of everyone, and parents should cultivate this ability in their children early.
Fred had proven with his experience with his cricket club that the power of attention and remembering worked just fine in him. Since Fred was no longer a baby, his cooperation was necessary in curing his tendency to forget. He had to want to improve, and then he would have to work on putting his attention entirely on a subject. One possible game suggested to help was to list how many times in one day he remembered things, and how many times he forgot––until the 'remember' list became longer than the 'forgets.'
8. Poor Mrs. Jumeau! pg. 98
The case study of Mrs. Jumeau, who suffered from sudden unexplained spells of illness that stressed her whole family. She, the unselfish mother, would be cheerful and helpful one day, and then too sick to move the next day, but she would recover just as suddenly with none of the usual signs of weakness that accompany normal recuperation.
Doctors had been unable to pinpoint a specific cause, and had prescribed rest, nourishment, and time. Nothing helped, and the poor mother would lie in bed pale, weak and sad at the ordeal her illness was putting her family through. By evening, she would be her old self again. It was a mystery.
Sometimes illness can be a matter of the mind getting the better of an unwitting person. A clergyman lost his voice and was sent on vacation to recuperate; a woman couldn't speak until she was in a house fire (in Dynasty, Pamela-Sue Martin's character was confined to a wheelchair until her toddler ran towards the pool and she leaped up to rescue him, and the mother on The Waltons, bedridden with polio, jumped out of bed when awakened by a dream in which her child was calling to her...) These were all kind, intelligent people who were not deliberately pretending to be sick.
If Mrs. Jumeau's case was psychosomatic, what might help? All people are born with the need for esteem. For a woman (especially in the past), her only source of esteem came from the affection of her family. Mrs. Jumeau's subconscious mind so craved the attention of her family that her body was reacting with sickness to obtain what she needed.
Once Mrs. Jumeau was made aware of the cause of her spells, she was able to gain victory over it by her own efforts.
9. "A Happy Christmas To You!" pg. 109
A mother was both excited and anxious about Christmas vacation. Her children would be coming home for the holidays from boarding school. One might easily understand her joy––but why the anxiety? It was because her children had displeasing habits––one could be sullen, one had a quick temper, one was argumentative, one not always truthful. How could she keep the peace so that their holiday was enjoyable?
Distraction with amusements is helpful, but can often lead to disagreements that bring out her children's worst tempers and faults. The secret is to dispel rivalry and jealousy by convincing the children of her unconditional love. Resentment and pettiness about fairness can be the result of the children's insecurity in parental love. Children often feel unlovely and persuade themselves that their parents are kind out of duty, but can't possibly love someone as naughty as them.
Doting on the baby may unwittingly carry an unspoken impression that older siblings are loved less, especially because they may seem too old for physical affection. Children adore and worship their parents, and their esteem is based on how much they feel that their parents love them. Parents must make children feel loved while replacing good habits for bad ones. They must get rid of the bad habit while not devaluing the child (love the sinner, hate the sin).
Mothers with children home for the holidays must take time to hug their child (but not in public if it embarrasses the child) and find quality time to talk because children desperately need their parents' love.
Part II Parents in Council
1. What A Salvage! pg. 121
This chapter details the conversation of a dozen parent educators at a meeting in which they dream big and envision great possibilities for the future.
Mr. Henderson remembered how his son was thrilled while looking at the night sky and asked his father questions about the stars––but the father didn't know enough to satisfy his son's thirst for knowledge.
Parents must have a collection of common information about nature to educate their children. Mr. Withers commented that parents could not have time to be experts on everything, but they could read books that would not only give facts but fire their own enthusiasm for nature.
Mr. Morris had taken his family to South Downs on summer vacation and let his children become intimate with the hills of the area which were made of chalk. They learned what blackboard chalk was, where it came from, and all its wonders––simply by being allowed to spend their summer with it. Their mother encouraged them to close their eyes and describe mental pictures of the view. They would never lose their fascination or familiarity for the Downs or chalk all their lives because of this experience. Mrs. Tremlow speculated on the implications of a family going to a different geological area every summer––imagine how many different environments their children would know!
Sites could also be explored for historical possibilities by telling thrilling stories of events that happened in that place, or of famous people who lived there. The first-hand experience of being there will always be a part of the child.
In this way, vacations would become object lessons––but not lectures. The parent should not be constantly talking. Indeed, parents wouldn't know enough to satisfy the child's curiosity about a place, not even parents as smart as the Merediths or the Cloughs. But parents might form a club, bringing their own specialized field of interest and expertise to share with other parents at focused meetings so that all parents would know the basics, 'the ABC's,' of many subjects and be more qualified to teach their children.
This idea of salvaging children's natural life experiences by turning them into educational opportunities with the help of other parents was the beginning of Charlotte Mason's PNEU schools. Thus, this chapter serves as a bit of history about the CM movement in its infancy.
2. Where Shall We Go This Year? pg. 131
It is natural to consider carefully where we will vacation. The first few days in a strange scenic place are fun, and new experiences enlarge the minds of children who have been enclosed behind school walls all year. The stimulus of foreign countries is wonderful, but who can afford a trip overseas?
Perhaps fun, new sights and sounds, and fresh air can be had by staying home. Pretend you are visitors to your home town. Look up the local history and sights, find a hotel in town to really feel like it's a vacation, and plan what to do and see. Really knowing your own area (in Charlotte's world, this would have been Hampshire, England) is a fascinating education in itself. "A month spent thus in gathering the lore of a single county is more educative than five terms of vigorous school work." Every place has its specific geological make-up, plantlife, historical buildings; school-age children will learn without effort (although children under six must not be taught, but should have free time.)
It may seem exotic and novel to discover new places, but it is even more important to love and appreciate the familiar. Learning about one's own place and its history will develop pride and patriotism for a person's own people.
3. The A-B-C-Darians pg. 136
"Education, like charity, begins at home..."
In olden days, mothers followed tradition, relying on older mothers for advice on child-rearing. But now, with the discoveries of science, we realize how little we really know about the child mind. We are alarmed with the way today's children are lazy, disobedient and irreverent, yet we are afraid to harm the child's delicate psyche by limiting his passions with discipline. A new mother feels the weight of responsibility for training her precious new baby and doesn't know where to turn for guidance. Psychologists always have some new revelation and are constantly changing rules about what is best, which only makes the mother more anxious.
The solution is to teach mothers some child physiology so that, by knowing the "why" behind what to do, she can make some intelligent choices herself instead of being at the mercy of the latest expert advice. What kinds of things must the mother learn for the health and happiness of her children? "...diet, clothes, sleep, bedroom, sunshine, happy surroundings, exercise, bright talk, a thousand things must work together to bring about this 'happy-making' condition." But she must not be limited to physical concerns; there is too much emphasis on that as it is, what with boys being so sports-minded that they tend to over-exert themselves and damage their bodies. Even more importantly, she must learn the basics of "the child's mind, his moral and religious potencies."
But "we want to know how mind and moral feelings are to be developed?" We must teach children good habits. "The habits a child grows up with appear to leave some sort of register in his material brain, and, thus, to become part of himself in even a physical sense. Thus it rests with parents to ease the way of their child by giving him the habits of the good life in thought, feeling and action, and even in spiritual things. We cannot make a child 'good'; but, in this way, we can lay paths for the good life in the very substance of his brain. We cannot make him hear the voice of God; but, again, we can make paths where the Lord God may walk in the cool of the evening. We cannot make a child clever; but we can see that his brain is nourished with pure blood, his mind with fruitful ideas."
But how do we fill such a tall order? By learning all we can about how human nature is affected by physiology, psychology and moral science, by making devotional life a daily habit for our children, and trusting God's power to help us and to fill in the gaps.
4. "Die Neus Zeit Bedarf Der Neuen Schule" (A School-Master's Reverie) pg. 144
A man was moving with his wife and children to become headmaster of a grammar school, where they would be taking boarding students. As the train took him to his new job, he reflected on Switzerland, where he had been working, and the mishaps that he had learned from.
When he had first arrived, he felt confident and enthusiastic enough to revolutionize the whole educational system with the new idea that education was for a whole lifetime. But he was intimidated by experienced teachers and was afraid to rock the boat.
He pulled out a pamphlet that declared "knowledge is power." And society will admit that men have a right to knowledge which will ensure them a job––but what about their right to knowledge and learning that bring joy to the stifled world of a factory worker? A person born with genius––what about his right to escape that kind of a life and get a real education? Too often, gifted children of the poor must quit school early to support their families. The law had deemed a certain standard of reading and writing that one must have to be employable, and that assured children a certain amount of time for school, and a child may have been privileged to have parents who let him stay in school and get a scholarship to higher education––but only a few poor children were so lucky. In remote areas, it was nearly impossible for a child to have this kind of luck.
Many seek truth and go on quests to find it. The thirst for truth is great, therefore, children should receive truth in their education. They do receive religious instruction at school (at least, they did in CM's day!), but what do they receive of other subjects? Not living books with truth, but twaddly readers and textbooks that don't touch the soul!
Biblical knowledge as well as the latest scientific discoveries (in CM's day, that included Darwinism) should be taught and the students trained to discern truth from both science and religion, although youths like to choose sides and label one good and the other bad as a matter of loyalty. Students must not go into the world ignorant of even secular knowledge, because the world has so many problems that they will need to be prepared to deal with. And their natural tendency to have strong loyalty should be channeled towards loyalty to integrity and honor. A personal relationship with God will protect him from lies about religion because he will know first-hand who God is. Other controversies that come up he can settle for himself in his own mind.
How can we prepare students for the time they will need to face controversy on their own? We must make sure that their religious knowledge covers a wide area and goes deep. We must start at the beginning and be sure to cover God's dealings with the Jewish nation. Some take Bible stories literally, some take them as allegories, but all must take them as divinely inspired and receive the truth in them.
We have a hard time reconciling a loving God with the command to wipe out entire nations of Canaanites and to tragedies and death that are apparently within God's will. We can only know that our suffering isn't as great as Jesus' on the cross.
Schoolteachers must prepare students for this kind of difficulty and other life questions. So we teach the Bible by focusing on its people rather than events. Its divine style makes right and wrong apparent in its characters, without outright spelling out for us which actions were right and wrong. It just tells the straight narrative and the characters appear to us as living, real people with sins like us. We, too, have faults, but are inspired to do better, especially when we understand the impact that our educational efforts can have on the next generation. Yet as we progress in new educational theories, let us not throw away what is still useful from the past (including religious teaching.)
5. A Hundred Years After (At The Cloughs' Dinner-Table, Sept. 10, 1990) . . . . . . pg. 158
The Cloughs gave a celebratory dinner commemorating the 100th anniversary of starting the Fathers and Mothers Club (FMC). Invited were a schoolmaster and his wife, a doctor and a head-master.
The club had started a process that revolutionized education. Mr. Clough said that their progress had been so great that education had totally changed since the last 100 years, but the head-master praised the old classics and traditional way of schooling. But Mr. Clough had been talking about the improvement in training character rather than the curriculums used. Back then, it was thought that math provided all the mental discipline a student needed, although the tempers of some mathematicians prove otherwise!
But modern education now provides tools for the real training of character. Even the head-master had to admit that his students were better disciplined today than they had been 100 years ago. But, one of the group asked, shouldn't evangelism have been added to the goals of education? Well, yes, the advances made through education had only been done as they had been done depending on God's strength.
The head-master listed the changes he had seen in students: they were brighter and more apt to learn, although they worked for shorter amounts of time. They had a real thirst for knowledge. The improvements seemed mostly due to improvement in students' ability to focus their attention better, and that ability was largely taught at home. Whatever a person fully puts his attention on becomes fixed in his mind and he will never forget it. The attention learned at home combined with a child's natural curiosity works like a magic charm in teaching children; all the teacher has to do is plant the seeds of knowledge. School days need only four hours, yet more work gets done! And the students become self-motivated to learn for themselves, even surpassing their teacher in their special field of particular interests! One boy knew the name of a moth that his teacher couldn't even classify correctly, and another student recognized bird calls that his teacher couldn't identify. Children are so receptive to knowledge! They love finding things out and collecting things on their own.
This astounding improvement in students was attributed to the mothers who taught the children to be observant and appreciative of nature before they had reached school age.
These children weren't orderly, submissive clones––they were real children who required diligent watch to help them maintain their good habits.
The doctor added a comment of his own. People wondered why this kind of education works. It was because the brain molded itself to its tasks early in life. If a child is trained young to have diligent attention, his brain will grow to accommodate that need. Whoever gets the child first has great power to train him, and what a child learns first will stay with him because his mind becomes molded to that shape. This truth can be used for propaganda, or it can be used for the child's good to replace bad traits with good habits. Knowing that science has demonstrated the certainty of brain-shape evolution, parents can be confident and know the importance of not letting habit training slip even for a day, because diligence will give guaranteed results. Science proves it! And good habits give the students integrity and character, making the teacher's job easier and more effective.
Who knows but that ideas that take root and inspire people aren't real, living things, perhaps spiritual organisms?
Other changes since implementing this new, improved education: With the improvement in education, the church had become reformed as students who had been educated and trained had higher standards for their religious life. Even ministers had had to set higher goals for themselves to keep up!
In health, students had learned good habits in diet and exercise, and this had made them sick less often, so that doctors spent less time curing the sick and had more time to study and teach preventative health.
And all of this was a result of educational reform!
Part III Concerning Youths And Maidens
1. Concerning The Schoolboy And Schoolgirl pg. 176
A child's first day of school begins a new life for him; from that point, he has two lives--a private life at home and a public life at school. There are outside influences that weren't there before. The influences aren't just those introduced by their teacher, but from peers as well, and parents choosing a school for their children need to consider not only the teacher and lessons, but public opinion about the kids who go there. Every school will have one or two incorrigible students, but the student body as a whole is a good indicator of the kind of influence your child will be faced with daily at that school. Are the incorrigible students swaying the other students, or are they individual exceptions?
At home, the child had his own rightful place and role; at school, he must compete with 30 other students his age for place and rank. This competition can be exciting and beneficial if it motivates the student without usurping his love for knowledge and excellence.
Getting the top grade in the class can be an effective motivator for all students to do their best, and, combined with regular habits of diligence and promptness, makes a better person. All students benefit from regular work, both physical and mental (even girls!) But, to students who are not used to good habits of daily work, exams compel them to cram right before the exam, and that pressure is not good. Preparation for exams should be done all year, not condensed into a few weeks. Students with proper study habits will be prepared for any exam.
But instead of teaching properly, schools have put the cart before the horse and have created a test, and they plan their teaching around the test; in our own day, we hear of schools "teaching the test," and that's exactly what Charlotte was referring to. Rather than educating the whole child, schools narrowly focus on teaching to pass an exam––if it's not going to be on the test, it's not necessary to learn it. With a syllabus (curriculum) created for one narrow purpose, the role of the teacher to inspire students is less important and schools become more homogenized (using similar curriculums since they all teach for the same test) rather than distinguished by gifted teachers.
Individuality of students suffers because students are expected to learn to pass the same tests rather than encouraged to branch out and learn what interests them. Since individual interests and opinions are untestable, they are deemed unnecessary. The only thing that counts is memorizing facts. Schools make facts the focus of education rather than character training. Obviously, students educated like that aren't encouraged to be cultured and to reflect with any depth. School becomes a tedious routine to be rushed through as painlessly as possible.
So then, should exams be banned? No, because there does need to be a way to assess progress and determine which children are worthy of scholarships. Exams that test intelligence (presumably essay-type narrations) are better than current tests, but schools are not likely to change overnight. In the meantime, parents will have to accept schools for what they are, use them where they're beneficial, but not depend on school to teach culture or morals.
When children begin school, parents tend to abdicate their training even of morals and manners. This is especially true when children are sent to boarding school and only come home for the holidays––they come home as visitors, rather than familiar family members (a concept I can't even imagine!) Parents lose confidence in their own judgment when faced with, "but all the other kids get to do this!" School takes up all of the child's being––even his play is relegated to the school's competitive sports teams. Sports is great for learning teamwork, endurance, leadership and physical skill and strength. Team sports build character.
School work and team sports play on natural desires to be the best, and they can motivate children to do fairly well, but they aren't effective by themselves in instilling a sense of duty, discipline, loyalty and culture because they work on a system of outward rewards, like that of using candy to bribe a child to behave. It gets the desired behavior, but doesn't change the inner person. Schools can't work on individual character flaws in students, they can only control mass behavior. Schools can turn out fairly successful young men who don't read and think. Schools, in teaching children morals, may introduce the thoughts about the very evils they intended to teach against! Once impure thoughts are introduced, only a busy mind can hope to resist them (much like the parable Jesus told about the soul, freed of evil spirits, that was empty as a result and therefore attracted even more evil spirits.) Students need fascinating studies to occupy their minds and keep them from being empty.
Since most schools lack so much in character training, parents need to fill in the gap with supplemental training at home.
Girls' schools are even worse than the boys'. They don't have team sports, and girls, though capable of deep friendships, can be sensitive and fussy and prone to silly gossip. A group of pure, noble girls can influence other girls to be the same way, but girls can just as often be empty-headed and shallow. Their sensitiveness makes them liable to be jealous and cliquish, which can limit their exposure to nicer girls. They tend to admire one girl above the rest, which is fine if the girl they admire is a good girl, but that's not always the case. A teacher who is fine and noble is a wonderful thing to inspire young girls, but such teachers are rare. But that's okay, because it's better for girls to admire their parents than an outsider anyway.
Charlotte envisioned a world where great strides and improvements would take place in public schools; she never intended homeschools to replace public schools. Homeschooling for girls is great when done by a conscientious mother or trained tutor with high standards, but is not so great when done by an untrained governess.
Schools are valuable for learning discipline, but training is done at home. Parents have to be willing to supplement whatever is lacking in school education.
Boys usually get physical training at school, but girls may be limited to dance, mild gymnastics and calisthenics (at least they were in Charlotte Mason's day). Physical sports are sometimes considered risky for their delicate bodies, and there aren't enough tennis courts to go around. So parents must encourage their daughters to go for walks, practice archery and play "skipping-rope, shuttle-cock, rounders, cricket, tennis, and hockey" at home. Charlotte understood that finding time would be difficult, so she suggested a schedule allowing 5 hours for (public) school, an hour for homework, an hour for piano, two hours for meals, an hour for personal care, which left 3 and a half hours free, of which she suggested using two and a half for "physical culture and amusement," leaving exactly one hour a day for pure leisure. Careful planning should ensure that children have a sense of "carefree leisure" rather than rush during the day(!) Younger girls had more free time to work with. It is important, if such a tight schedule is to work, that good habits (attention, promptness, etc.) be maintained so that each task doesn't drag on but gets done right the first time. Free time will be quickly eaten up if dawdling and daydreaming are allowed, and a student trained in good habits will be more efficient at school, too. If the mother firmly enforces good habits at home and sticks to a tight schedule of work and meals, there will be time for everything, including some free time.
Intellectual training for school children is up to the schools and not within the influence of the parents. But they can enhance the school experience by being aware and interested in what the child is learning. If a subject is dry, they can make it more interesting by discussing it at dinner. When parents show interest in school work and can discuss what the child is learning intelligently, it makes the child more interested in his work and makes him respect his parents for being able to keep up intellectually.
Parents must teach children their duty to their parents because this is how a child learns the concept of authority, which will be directed towards teachers, bosses, laws, and ultimately God. Parents don't have a choice about expecting obedience and respect, they have a duty to God to instill these in their children. Americans tend to be too lenient for fear of robbing childhood of its fun and infringing on the child, who is often seen as inherently wiser in his innocence than the grown-ups. These children arrive at school at a disadvantage, and schools can only do so much with them.
How does a parent get respect and still have an affectionate relationship with his children? By accepting the role of provider and teacher rather than just being a pal. Parents may feel unworthy if their children are educated in the latest methods and seem more sophisticated than they are, but they should remember that their role and position as parental authority is a divine appointment and backed by God Himself. Parents can be confident in taking the lead and be the source from whom the child receives love and affection along with parental authority. Children who see everything they need come from their parents, and who understand that God put those parents over him, will trust, honor and admire their parents.
There comes a time when a child feels a conflict of loyalty between school and home. It should be the respect of his parents that drives his school success and motivates him to do well; good habits and proper respect are learned at home before he ever starts school, and those are best taught with love and understanding rather than harsh rule. "It is in the force of all-mighty gentleness that parents are supreme."
Children naturally take parental care and sacrifice for granted, but a comment on how much time was spent doing a task for a child out of love will foster gratitude. "If ever it is necessary to pinch, to do without things for the children's sake, let them know it; but do not reproach them with it; do not treat it as a hardship, but as a pleasure, for their sakes. That is, it is lawful for parents to bring their good deeds before their children as a child offers a flower to his mother, as a show of love, but not as a demand for service."
Encourage children to do spontaneous acts of kindness. Love is more than words, it is the way we treat others. Let them know how courtesy and thoughtful deeds please you, and how neglect of trivial kindnesses and coldness hurts others. A habit of loving kindness learned at home will be shared with the world, and it is good for children to know the power that they have to bring others joy or hurt.
The Awkward Age
When adolescents first realize that they have rights, they can become preoccupied with whether they're being treated fairly or slighted. They focus on their rights more than their duties, on what is owed them instead of what they owe the world. This is not a bad thing; it's simply an exaggerated sense of justice––and understanding the rights of others as well as their own is the cure. Be fair about giving children their share, and don't use enough force to push a child to stubbornly refuse you so that you're butting heads. The child already loves his parents and is loyal to them; this should help parents in getting him to comply.
Impress upon children their role and responsibility to help the family run smoothly and happily instead of spreading discord with sullen attitudes and ugly tempers. The friendliness, interest, and help of family members every day is what makes family life good, and our children should understand their part in that. Children who are happy will find it easier to act considerate and loving, so let children have joy wherever possible. That can create a happy cycle as a child's kind deeds bring loving responses which make him feel happy and he does more nice things, which bring loving responses, and so on. Feeling loved and having a sense of justice will make a child empathetic, able to put himself in another's shoes and feel another's suffering, which will not allow him to see someone else treated unfairly and will help him to have patience and forgiveness when others are in bad moods. Parents should direct their children's attention to the needs and situations of others and not instill an attitude of looking out for number one.
We too often settle for mediocrity in a child's spiritual life because we don't realize they are capable of more, but there are some wonderful examples of spiritual children and they should be our standard. Most conscientious mothers already do the things Charlotte suggests here.
Let children begin each day with 20 minutes of scripture reading, prayer and reflection when they are fresh. New goals and things to pray for should be given every week to keep the child's spiritual life from getting stale. Charlotte recommends her church's leaflets to give focus on steps to spiritual growth, but these kinds of readings should supplement, not replace, the Bible.
Sundays should be set apart as restful, pleasant days––not for the sake of legalism, but because it is special and refreshing. Stimulating talk, poetry, readalouds can be nice yet restful enough to allow ourselves to hear God's direction and keep our thoughts on God. Books should be pleasant but not too exciting––character studies that inspire, even if they aren't religious stories, are good. "It is inadvisable to put twaddling 'goody-goody' story-books into the hands of the young people," as that may make children dislike religion altogether. Singing hymns is also a good Sunday activity.
Children get information at school, but they get culture at home. Culture is "the power to appreciate, to enjoy, whatever is just, true, and beautiful in thought and expression." The person who can appreciate art will find various joys and delights that enhance and enrich his life. But appreciation must be taught and most schools don't teach it; they're too focused on utilitarian knowledge rather than pleasure. So parents must be the ones to cultivate culture.
Many people's reading is limited to light, shallow fare––magazines, amusing stories, anything entertaining to pass the time. It begins in childhood with gifts of books that please the eye but offer no food for the mind. Therefore, parents must "guard the nursery; let nothing in that has not the true literary flavour; let the children grow up on a few books read over and over, and let them have none, the reading of which does not cost an appreciable mental effort. This is no hardship. Activity, effort, whether of body or mind, is joyous to a child." Children should have a few classics rather than shelves full of light books that make no lasting impression. "The endless succession of story-books, scenes, shifting like a panorama before the child's vision, is a mental and moral dissipation; he gets nothing to grow upon, or is allowed no leisure to digest what he gets."
Telling stories can also be fun, especially if told with flair and artistic details. Parents should have a few stories they can re-tell themselves so that they are not the middlemen between book and child, but have something to offer themselves. Don't explain stories; let the child's mind reflect for itself. But this is for young children; the goal is for children to eventually do their own reading.
Preschool is a good time to teach children to use exacting descriptions. They should know more adjectives than "nice" and "pretty."
The ability to write sparkling, charming letters is a lost art, but can be cultivated. Children should use every opportunity to write "detailed, animated letters."
Children are too busy with school interests and peers to care about cultivating fine taste, but parents can sneak in classic literature with family readalouds, an hour a couple times a week. Children will accept a book they may otherwise find dry or dull if it is read aloud to them. Reading and talking about the story gives an opportunity for family bonding. But the habit must be kept up consistently before family members begin to prefer reading twaddle on their own instead. The reader must be loud, clear and interesting, and children should have a turn at reading as this may be a child's only chance to learn to read aloud with skill. Encourage children to read, and to read well, knowing that the family's pleasure is in his hands. And give plenty of opportunities to practice! Charlotte offers some tips on page 221 to help enunciate better.
The Book for the Evening Lecture
Rather than compile a booklist for 'family lectures,' Charlotte gives principles to help us make our own selections. Intellectual knowledge is not the goal for family lectures; helping children develop a taste for quality literary works is. Therefore, books are selected for more than their entertainment value, although they should be interesting enough to captivate the attention. Since the children have been doing schoolwork all day, this is not the time to read something so challenging that they must work at it; that should be reserved for schoolwork. Novels such as Sir Walter Scott's are wonderful because they entertain while they give examples of noble character, and they are excellently written. Well-written travel books, biographies detailed enough to really get to know the person, essays that are written with style are also good choices. Take some time to really savor the book––it is better to leisurely share a few great books than to try to cram in a lot of them. Although from time to time, you may want to share a new book, most selections should be an opportunity to introduce children to standard classics and to enjoy family discussion about them.
Poetry as a Means of Culture
"Poetry takes first rank as a means of intellectual culture." The evening lecture should include an offering of poetry. Charlotte says not to read collections, but to stick to one poet and really get familiar with his work. She suggests Cowper, Goldsmith, Wordsworth, Browning, Tennyson, Spenser's Faerie Queen, and Milton, although he is less accessible. Shakespeare plays should be read throughout our lifetimes, not just once. Children may not understand all of Shakespeare, but who does? We don't know which poet will appeal to which of our children, so read from all of them and let each listener hear and decide for himself what he likes.
Evening readings should be an enjoyable pastime, not too hard for children to enjoy. But they should also make use of long evening hours to cultivate appreciation for greatness.
Evening reading will naturally be part of your family's talk around the dinner table. Mealtime discussion is also an opportunity to influence the opinions of our children. Children should be expected to participate in talk and to be pleasant, but other than those two rules, the atmosphere should be relaxed and children should feel free to bring up whatever is on their minds––this may be a good time to find out what your children are concerned about. It's good for children to bounce their own ideas off their parents, and parents should offer input, but they must not demand that children accept their opinions. Everyone needs to weigh all the facts and come to their own conclusion, and children who are not given space to do that will either go head to head with their parents, or else will keep their thoughts to themselves. In fact, it is those parents who withhold their own opinions who find that their children want them even more! But be prepared for harsh judgment, because children forming opinions tend to divide people and opinions into black and white until they sort their own thoughts out and get a little more mature so that they're able to put things into a gray area. At the same time, they feel compelled to have an opinion about everything.
This period of life when children do this is a critical stage; if parents aren't the confidante and influence in their children's lives, someone else will be. Youths don't like being preached at and they don't like dogmatic rules. Parents hoping to remain an influence in their children's lives "should be liberal, gentle, just, inclined to take large kindly views, to praise rather than to blame, but uncompromising on questions of principle, quick to put his finger on the blot, ready to forgive, but not to excuse; and, at the same time, ready to allow virtues to the man who exhibits one vice." The last thing is very important, because youths who find some good in a person their parents labeled as bad will begin to doubt their parents' judgment and not believe anything they say. Better to be honest and admit that a person may be bad, yet does have some good characteristics.
Mealtime is not the only time to talk to children; every casual opportunity should be taken. But mealtime can be the most reliable time when children are ready to talk. Parents might keep a mental note of topics to bring up (but don't keep a written list––that's too contrived and kills spontaneous discussion!) Topics should include current events: "who has made a weighty speech; who has written a book, what its merits and defects; what wars and rumours of wars are there; who has painted a good picture, and what are the characteristics of his style." Resist the temptation to do all the talking; let your children toss their ideas back and forth with you and form an opinion of their own (with your subtle guidance.) Since so much of their school books are classics and history, current events will be a breath of fresh air.
Taste is a personal preference and expresses our individuality. A room may be the latest fashion in decorating and yet display no taste. Parents wishing to cultivate a sense of taste in their children should decorate with care, not slavishly according to trend, but with a few ornaments of real beauty. Teach children that buildings, furniture and clothes must be efficient, blend well, and be lovely. It's better to have too little than too much. A few well-chosen pieces by one artist are better than collections by all different artists because children will be able to compare his works and get to know him and his theme well. And better to have one wonderful work of art than lots of mediocre ones. Don't worry if you can't afford much art; it's not such a great loss if a child's only landscapes are the fields outside his house. The best art education is teaching children to practice the habit of really seeing, whether it's their surroundings, or painted pictures.
Music is presented the same way––and it is better for children to become really familiar with a few works of the best composers than to listen casually to all kinds of music.
2. Concerning The Young Maidens At Home pg. 235
In Charlotte Mason's day, girls usually came home from school earlier and boys continued on to higher education. Charlotte warns that, unless parents take an active role in their daughter's life after she returns home, she will have few worthwhile interests and her opinions will be based on trivial emotions. Some girls tend to give their loyalty to outsiders and their devotion to religious causes, while all the time neglecting their own family, or they may dream of doing great deeds and all the while not take care of their small tasks at home. Other girls value nice things above their service and duty to others. Parents must not think that, when a girl comes home, her education is finished! She still needs some training if she is to be a worthy lady who is controlled, cautious and gracious.
Girls need to develop character. They must know what their less worthy tendencies are, how to be better, and then they must be given opportunity to choose to act on that. Girls tend to be fascinated by their own thoughts and feelings and, sensing noble impulses within themselves and at the same time seeing others not acting nobly, they may conclude that others don't have noble impulses and that they are therefore better than others. They may also be self-conscious. Left on their own, such girls may grow into women who are irritable, petty and critical.
Girls must learn that all people have desires to do great deeds, but only those who act on those desires achieve greatness. Noble impulses should be channeled into service to others instead of being allowed to be frittered away on misguided loyalties to unworthy friends or causes. Once they see that everyone has noble impulses, they will not judge others so harshly and will take care not to allow their own impulses to die before acting on them. Very few women ever do great deeds of fame, but every girl can achieve a great character by developing good habits.
Charlotte recommends her own book, "Ourselves," as a help to explain to girls the possibilities and dangers that are in them and the importance of keeping a watch over their minds and maintaining good habits. When girls know that they are not unlike everyone else in their feelings and temptations, they will welcome the help of their parents in making the most of their own tendencies.
A mother can best give guidance, not by telling her daughter what she's not allowed to do or making decisions for her, but by explaining principles on which to act. The girl must learn to choose for herself and the mother must teach her what to consider when making a decision. For instance, when buying a dress, the girl must know to look for something pretty, flattering, a proper fit, appropriate for the occasion and within a certain price range. Then she must eliminate everything that doesn't meet all of the requirements. Then there will be no temptation to buy something else, and less time faltering between choices.
Some mothers are so efficient at managing and scheduling that their daughters never have unplanned time for themselves and they begin to steal a few minutes between tasks until dawdling becomes a habit. But a nearly grown daughter must take responsibility for herself and even if dawdling has become a habit, it's too late for the mother to do any more than persuade the daughter to change her own habits. The mother must give her daughter time and space to make her own mistakes. She can express sorrow for her daughter and offer encouragement, but must not punish or shame her. Punishment may cause the daughter to hide her failings, which could lead to lying to cover up. Besides, she is no longer a little child to be disciplined.
Girls must learn the importance of truth, and that even to mislead someone in fun is a lie. The mother must set a good example by not saying she is fine when she has a headache, and not promising to be done in a minute if her task will take longer. She must give her daughter the benefit of the doubt by trusting her. Page 245 gives the differences between veracity (accuracy in even trivial details), simplicity (telling something as it is, without embellishing to make yourself sound important), sincerity (not withholding information that may not be to your advantage), frankness (being open with those we live with), fidelity (keeping our trust in matters small and big.)
Liberty and Responsibility
A girl must have freedom to decide how to use her time, what to read, who to have as friends, how to spend her money, but her mother should be aware of the choices made. A girl should have her own allowance for clothes, and money for her own pleasure and to buy gifts for others. It is good for girls to experience the joy of giving.
Girls should be taught about caring for themselves; books about nutrition, health and hygiene will help. She should understand that keeping herself healthy, well-rested and fit is her duty. The natural consequence for disregarding the laws of bodily stewardship are ruined health, and can cause permanent damage.
She should learn to observe courtesy and kindness to extended family and friends by keeping in touch with calls, letters and little gestures of friendship.
Most people desire to do right, but don't follow through and put their motive into action. Girls must learn, not to just want to do right, but to think and control themselves. Proper conduct shouldn't be slack at home because, by making it a habit wherever you are, it becomes second nature when you're in public. Girls should know how to behave (subdued, calm) so that they don't attract attention. A girl should be pleasant and polite with strangers, and no less so to blue-collar workers who labor so hard.
Girls formally entering society should be willing to pay respect to others in her society, and be assured of her own worth and her right to their respect in return. A mother should not tell her daughter that she is pretty, charming, clever, etc., as that may make the daughter feel superior. A mother should teach her daughter, instead, that she deserves respect because all ladies should be respected.
Pleasure and Duty
How much of a girl's time should be planned for service, and how much should be leisure time?
Too much play may threaten habits (attention, effort, promptness) that took her years to obtain and will be difficult to re-learn now that she is no longer a child. The stimulus of events and society may threaten habits of reading and quiet evenings bonding with family. Too little play is no better. Young girls crave the society of other young girls and they should not be deprived of their youth.
It is best to plan wisely for both. Girls must have some duties that take precedence over fun, and one or two nights out a week should be allowed, while the rest are reserved for home activities. As each family is different, every mother should set parameters that are best for her own daughter.
People tended to think (at least in Charlotte's day!) that a woman's opinions about important things didn't matter since she was just a homemaker. But Charlotte says that her opinions do matter––even if she isn't influencing her children for the next generation, she is leaving some kind of mark on the world which will be based on her worldview.
Parents should ask their girls what they think of subjects and talk about them, encouraging them to think through their opinions. As well, a girl should have clear opinions about certain subjects. Since she will be dealing with people, she should know how to judge character. Girls can be so easily swayed by others that they should be careful about who they follow. She should know how to apply her own mind instead of accepting what everyone else thinks.
She should know enough about politics and current events not to give simplistic answers to complicated issues of the day. Charlotte recommends the book Political Economy for Beginners by Fawcett. This will also give her something to talk about with her husband and brothers; maybe even to help them see the other side of an issue. Women can be great mediators and peacemakers, but they can't convince and be helpful if they are ignorant about what's going on. Now that women have the rights they fought so long for, they can't excuse their own political ignorance. It may be that women will be able to get changes made without the bloodshed that so often accompanies revolution.
Christianity is threatened by evolution, secular ideas and other religions, and women need knowledge if they are to keep their faith in the face of convincing arguments and still be an effective witness. Faith is built on knowledge, not emotion, so girls need books that will give them intellectual food.
Charlotte bemoans the notion that actions matter, but belief doesn't. What if everyone didn't believe in marital fidelity or integrity? How could they behave properly? What people believe does matter because belief influences action. On matters of little doctrinal importance, girls should learn tolerance, but on matters of fundamental Christian beliefs, they must not waver.
Pursuits and Occupations
Girls should know how to run a household––cook, clean, shop, sew, care for children, etc. A girl should take detailed notes of how to do everything, from cleaning a floor to making an omelette, and she should make her own book of these instructions. Whether she does her own housework or has a housekeeper she must oversee, such a book will be a valuable thing for her to have later. She should learn to make clothes in various sizes and she should do an hour of needlework every day.
Girls should start each day with an hour or two of stiff reading from history and great literature, including French and German in their own language. She should keep a copybook of quotes that strike her fancy, or her own thoughts and poems. Such a book is a valuable possession for anyone. She should be outside playing or walking for a couple of hours every afternoon and record nature impressions in a book with words or paints.
A girl with this kind of schedule of cultural learning and household duties will have little time to read cheap novels or dawdle. She should also be involved in some kind of ministry––teaching Sunday School, visiting the elderly, feeding the homeless. Every woman's life should be a life of service. A girl might also be trained as a teacher or nurse, but even if she is not, she should have the basic training to do what all women do.
Objects in Life, Value of Special Training
Many girls, between the time they come home from school and the time they marry, enjoy some time for leisure and socializing with only a few chores and lessons. This is nice for awhile, but after a year or so gets old. The girl begins to want something to do. Her mother is not willing to turn the management of the house over to her, and lessons scheduled just to fill boredom won't satisfy. She needs an outlet for her energy. She needs a job.
All girls should have some kind of training––in Charlotte's day, girls could learn the skills of art, teaching, nursing or being a governess. Charlotte saw a need for teachers and governesses who were trained and able to influence the next generation using her methods of education and discipline. A girl who is training or working will not get lazy from a life of leisure and will be active and thus more attractive to men who might marry her. A busy girl will not be underfoot at home and will not let her habits become slipshod.
Part IV "It Is Written" Some Studies In The Evolution Of Character
1. Two Peasant Boys pg. 273
Charlotte talks about two books, Jorn Uhl, by Gustav Frenssen (1901), and Sartor Resartus, by Thomas Carlyle (online here) and she mentions Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship by Goethe which is here.)
Jorn Uhl was the son of farmers. His mother died when he was four so he and his siblings were cared for by a friend of the mother's. His life was difficult and he was poor, and the story shows how he developed a life for himself under these circumstances. He had a delightful childhood on a farm. He was a bit neglected, but being alone gave him time to reflect. We tend to think we must make the most of a child's time by teaching him facts and drilling him, but children instinctively know that it is more important to play and discover things in the world around them. Jorn was left alone, so he played all the time. Later, Jorn played with his little sister and the son of a dishonest farm worker who tells wild tales. These tales are the sort that make parents cringe, but children are individual people who may turn a bad circumstance into something useful by God's spirit.
Jorn's father saw his son's intelligence and bragged about it at the alehouses. He planned for Jorn to get a good job with his talents and bring in lots of money, so he sent him to school. Jorn knew enough to see that his father was a drunk with no integrity, but his older brothers were fools who never learned from their mistakes.
Diogenes (Gneschen) Teufelsdrockh (Sartor Resartus, by Thomas Carlyle) was another poor peasant boy. His father had been a soldier and schoolteacher and talked about the wars a lot. He was more noble than Jorn's father. His parents were loving and looked upon Gneschen as a gift from God, a loan, to be raised properly. He learned from nature, tales told by the adults around him, and play that honed his creativity better than mechanical toys that stifle imagination.
He heard history related first-hand, but Jorn had learned what little history he knew from seeing evidence of his ancestors' souvenirs in the house, and geography from an uncle who had traveled and now lived in poverty.
Gneschen watched the post wagon and realized when he was eight that it went different places, and this opened his mind to the idea of geography. He learned that the swallows flew from Africa (more geography) and watching them taught him some nature study and the ways of the world. Jorn had wide open places to watch the seasons, too, and learned something of the seasons that way.
Both boys had their sorrows, but Gneschen had love and guidance and learned to do his duty. Jorn submitted to his duty as a necessary evil of life/school. His sister thought love was the best thing in the world, but Jorn had learned that work is better because slothfulness made a home unfit to live in and brought in no money for food. And Jorn determined never to step into an alehouse after living with his drunken father. He figured these things out on his own because he had no one to teach him. Gneschen was taught obedience from loving parents.
Jorn had no guidance, yet he was able to figure things out on his own. From this we see that children were made to learn, and their minds can figure things out for themselves; they aren't useless and incapable without us to put information into their minds. But a place where they can be free to be children, such as an attic or garden, is needed to give them freedom to grow. And, from Jorn's example, we learn that religion is best caught by example, rather than talked about but unseen. Seeing the parents one respects most in the world loving and worshiping God says more than any sermon. Jorn had no example and had no relationship with God as a result.
Jorn was sent to school where he did well and learned a foreign language (English!) Jorn overheard his teacher saying that his (Jorn's) father was having financial trouble, but, when he confessed what he overheard, his teacher told him of the fine example of his earlier ancestors and gave him encouragement to be like them rather than be discouraged about his father. So Jorn did. He started managing his family farm carefully while still keeping up at school. Yet his education lacked just one credit in Latin to qualify him to go further in his schooling. Likewise, his religious instructions had taught him that he only had to have faith and not commit crimes, so when he went to his confirmation class and heard the rest for the first time, it sounded strange and he could not grasp it. So he concluded that Christianity was not for him. He ended as a discouraged farm-hand for whom intellectual training was of no use.
Gneschen's life was very different. He could already read when he started school. He loved to read, but learned more at home and from his free-time books than school, although he was an admirable student. And it is true of most people that they learned more from their own reading than they did from school textbooks.
"How seldom do we hear of a famous man who got that food for his mind which enabled him out of his school studies! And how often, on the other hand, do we read of those whose course of life has been determined by the random readings of boyhood! We go on blindly and stubbornly with our school curriculum, as if this were a fact of no significance, because, say we, the boy will have chances after his school-days to get such pabulum as he needs; but life is not long enough to afford the waste of some dozen years, its freshest and most intelligent period. And, what is more, the boy who has not formed the habit of getting nourishment out of his books in school-days does not, afterwards, see the good of reading. He has not acquired, in an intellectual sense, the art of reading, so he cannot be said to have lost it; and he goes through life an imperfect person, with the best and most delightful of his powers latent or maimed. Why in the world should we not give children, while they are at school, the sort of books they can live upon; books alive with thought and feeling, and delight in knowledge, instead of the miserable cram-books on which they are starved?"
Gneschen was homesick at school and the boys were too rough for him. He found the school lessons useless, and learned more from watching craftsmen he observed and his own free reading. He learned that he was different from the other boys, an individual. The tendency for most youths finding this out is to feel superior to others: "I'm different, I'm special, so I must be better than everyone else!"
Gneschen went on to the university where it seemed he was to forever go on with tedious lessons, and his father died. The school prided itself on rationalism to the exclusion of all things spiritual, which resulted in the students being either skeptics or conceited intellectualists. Wonderful books were read, not for the delight of the story, but to pick apart and analyze. Gneschen's faith was undermined because he had been pressured to criticize everything instead of taught to simply receive knowledge. But Gneschen found the mind food he needed at the library and enjoyed reading on all different subjects.
Jorn found a book about astronomy and took interest in a telescope and recording the skies. So both Gneschen and Jorn became educated, but in spite of, not because of, their schooling.
Jorn did end up in the alehouses, and got in trouble with women until he learned chastity from a woman older than himself. Gneschen experienced much heartbreak with love. Their education had not trained them to keep out of trouble. Jorn had a satisfactory life, thanks to his marriage to a good woman who set him straight. But how sad that school failed both of these men.
2. A Genius At "School" pg. 299
This chapter discusses Goethe's book, Wilhelm Meister, which he admits contains some insights into the author's own experiences in the same way Pendennis reveals something of Thackeray.
Goethe's mother was cultured, emotional and joyful. She loved everyone and accepted them as they were, leaving God to reform them. She refused to hear of anything unpleasant––no neighborhood crimes, no family illness, no wars. Her servants were required to conceal bad news from her. Goethe learned from her not to involve himself in crises even to help; she taught him not to care, so, when his country really needed his gifted wisdom, he couldn't be bothered to help. This is the danger of educating and developing culture for its own sake. Every mother should be sure that the goal of education is to make her children fit for service, and she should impress this on her children.
Goethe could not endure ugliness as a child, not even ugly playmates. He didn't learn to accept circumstances or people, but was allowed to wallow in his sensitivity.
He liked to play with his sister in their grandmother's attic and discovered, to his mother's chagrin, some puppets. He found he loved outfitting them and making up stories for them. That sparked the idea that evolved him as a writer of plays (Faust) as a man. All children love to act out, and parents should be assured that role playing and putting on plays is educational and can be a form of narration. But they shouldn't be indulged with a real puppet theatre, real props, etc. because they might get obsessed with the concept of being on stage rather than the stories themselves. It is better to let them use their imaginations and be resourceful with what they find around the house.
Goethe's father taught him German, Latin, Greek, and French. He only went to school once during a house remodel, and didn't like it. Home was more predictable. It may have been his public school experience that gave Goethe his ambivalence for his fellow man.
He disliked the arbitrary rules of grammar and, like Herbert Spencer, preferred to make up his own rules. He found human nature fascinating, such as why each schoolboy found his own poems better than anyone else's, regardless of their quality. He was baffled about the human tendency to appear different than we really are, and to deceive ourselves about what we are––this is where hypocrisy comes from.
Goethe was a genius, yet even genius children love the same books that all children do––Robinson Crusoe, folk-tales and fairy-tales. He loved the historical places around Frankfort, and liked to imagine what it was like way back when, and thinking about all the famous people who had lived there––Charlemagne, Rudolf of Hapsburg, Charles the Fourth, Maximilian. (Charlotte laments here that, because of focus on education only for utilitarian uses, British children don't have the love of national history and heroes like children of other countries). Walking around left impressions of town that stayed with him his whole life, yet it seems that he only had the freedom to do this during the house remodeling.
Goethe's father, who loved Italy and all things Italian, had decorated one room with pictures of Rome and didn't mind explaining them to young Goethe and showing him souvenirs he brought from there. So Italy became a second homeland. We can learn from this that children should be surrounded with simple, monumental pictures (such as Millet paintings) and landscapes that are detailed enough to allow the child's imagination to picture himself there.
Public events also left their impression on young Goethe. An earthquake in Lisbon that killed 6000 people brought questions to his mind about God, who allowed such tragedy. A terrifying hail storm made him wonder if God really protected mankind. Major events leave their mark on children even if they say nothing, so we must use them as opportunities to show children the mystery of God and explain that we are finite and cannot understand God's ways. Perhaps even death isn't as bad or final as we think and we must trust that God knows more than we do. We know He loves all people, even people in catastrophes, as much as he loves us, and He will be merciful.
Goethe became disenchanted with his religious teaching and decided to make up his own religion using his father's music stand as an altar and various natural things as sacrifices. But he used real fire to offer them and the 'altar' was burned, and that was the end of that game!
Because of his gift for languages, his father wanted to send him to school in Liepsic and then to Italy to travel. He learned history from Comenius' Orbis Pictus and Gottfried's Chronicle. He also read Ovid's Metamorphoses, fables and myths.
When Goethe was seven, a war broke out when Frederick II of Prussia invaded Saxony. Frederick II gave many convincing, logical reasons why he felt this was necessary, and men divided as to whether they agreed or disagreed with him, with families divided on both sides. Goethe's grandfather was on the side of Austria, and his father was on the side of Prussia, and there were bitter arguments about it. Goethe took the side of his father and idolized Frederick II because his mind liked the logic of Frederick's reasons; therefore, his visits with his grandfather became unpleasant as he had to listen to criticisms of his hero. This was difficult for him, as it drove a wedge between him and his beloved grandparents, and it made him doubt the wisdom of people if they could be so divided about opinions. This contributed to his indifference for mankind and got him used to distance between himself and those he loved.
How much should we involve our children in such debates when they confuse and disturb them? If we force our views on them, they may reject them later out of spite. It may be best to shield children from such controversies until they are old enough to form an opinion of their own based on fact. People tend to feel a sense of pride in their intellectual-founded opinions and are not easily swayed by emotional appeals. If we want to offer children our opinions, it must be with logical arguments. Children often appear arrogant in their own opinions because they haven't learned that equally intelligent people can have logical reasons for holding the opposite opinion.
As the war got closer to Frankfort, families stayed home more and Goethe put on more puppet shows, which he invited friends over to see and let them take part in, although he was frustrated with his writing ability. He read 'Jerusalem Delivered' and it inspired him to want to perform it.
At this time, Goethe went to school but the teacher was cruel and all he learned was how to bear pain without wincing. On one occasion three boys also beat him up, so he stopped going. He was friendly with his playmates, but didn't have the give-and-take and sense of humor it takes to get along well. Geniuses often have a hard time submitting to school; their minds are too busy with their own thoughts. This was the case with Goethe. This doesn't mean that parents shouldn't send their children to school; an attempt to add discipline to a young genius can only do good, and children have a knack for avoiding what they can't tolerate. A genius will naturally evade any part of schooling that compromises his talent.
A quote from Goethe here explains that a child goes through so many changes as tendencies are replaced and new interests are added that it is impossible to pinpoint all of the childhood influences that make a man what he is in adulthood.
The war made the town restless, but the cultured families (like Goethe's) continued to live quiet, unaffected lives for awhile. Goethe's father bought poetry books that his son enjoyed, including one by Klopstock.
In 1759, when Goethe was ten, and before the house remodel was complete, the French occupied the town and the Goethe family had to put up a Lieutenant and his soldiers. His father was depressed about this, but the children loved the excitement. The Lieutenant loved art, and young Goethe knew where the art museums were and loved art as well, so the two of them became friends. The Lieutenant hired artists to come to the house and paint pictures for him, and Goethe made friends with them, too. Perhaps he might have been an artist if he had not found success in poetry?
During this time, Goethe's mother and grandfather got him theatre passes and he went there every day. He learned the gestures of the actors and learned speeches from a book by Racine by heart, and delivered them with an actor's flair even though he didn't really understand them. He became best friends with a boy named Derones from the theatre, although he had to become fluent in French so they could communicate with each other. They had a mock duel and Derones won.
Then, Easter week of 1759, there was military action, a battle near Frankfort. The Lieutenant returned from the battle to the Goethe home in triumph, but Goethe's father was angry with him over it.
Goethe continued doing plays and then realized that he could write the kind of historical/mythological play that interested him. So he wrote one and showed it to Derones, but Derones suggested too many changes in it. So he showed it to his father, and his father was so impressed that he no longer begrudged his son's daily theatre visits. Derones' criticism disturbed him, but he read that all great writers have had to resist critics.
The Lieutenant left and was replaced by a Chancellor who had a mathematician brother who helped Goethe with math. His art teacher didn't really understand art and taught Goethe to copy drawings rather than draw real-life things. Goethe copied drawings all his life. Goethe had a friend who had a fun way of learning music lessons, and got Goethe interested. But when he began lessons, his teacher was dull so Goethe had another teacher, one who spoke French and whose enthusiasm was contagious.
He had a magnet sewn up in a scarlet cloth, but his curiosity to see what was inside made him open it and that ruined it; it was no longer useful after that.
The war brought hard times and his father tried raising silk worms to bring in extra money, but most of the worms died and Goethe and his sister were assigned to care for the remaining ones. They also had to keep a sheet moist over some engravings to transfer the pictures to another surface. They did not enjoy these tasks, but children need unpleasant chores to learn to do their duty when it would be more pleasant to skip it.
A teacher came to the area and offered to give English lessons for a modest fee for four weeks, so the Goethe family took lessons from him. For practice in all the languages Goethe learned, he devised a scheme where he made up international pen-pals and made them write to each other in their various languages.
Bible teaching is rejected as non-utilitarian by secularists, and only selectively taught by religious parents who use only those passages that will stir a religious impulse in their children. Modern skepticism makes parents wonder whether they should teach any Bible at all for fear their children will reject it for scientific biases.
Goethe's experience is a case in point. He knew a few languages and wanted to add Hebrew, so his father found him a delightful, though eccentric, teacher. The Old Testament was his study text. As he came across passages that confused him, he would try to involve his teacher in discussion, but his teacher laughed and refused to discuss it with him. He knew that students entertaining doubts don't want convincing answers, but only want to debate and strengthen their own doubt. He referred Goethe to a scholarly commentary to think over, since one can't argue with a book! The result was that the Old Testament gave Goethe a clear picture of the promised land and Biblical characters and stories. Parents need not fear teaching the Old Testament if it can do so much for a confirmed doubter like Goethe.
Goethe is quoted telling of the thread of faith and God's care and guidance as he takes a whirlwind tour of the Old Testament and speaks of the peace he received from reading it, although it never resulted in a desire for Christian salvation. The peace in his countenance was noted by the poet Heine, and Goethe attributed it to reading the books of Moses.
Our children need the Old Testament stories to show them God in all His attributes and form a foundation for the New Testament. If that causes them to have questions or doubts, we need not strive to convince them, we only need to direct them to a commentary to answer their questions.
And now we have seen how every childhood experience and book had a small part in shaping one man who happened to be a genius, and nothing he had as a man wasn't germinated in childhood. The ideas he received casually as a boy––Shakespeare, art, theatre, science, literature, language, even card-playing––all contributed to a life of full, rich and varied interests. Yet many Englishmen are untouched by formal education and have no residual interests inspired in their school years. They regard education as a tedious task to get through, and then put their books away forever.
We should also note that Goethe's lack of early training gave him bad habits that he never rose above, and caused permanent character faults in him. His lack of solid religious training made him a man of little moral integrity when he might have been great in more than intellect. Having the gift of poetry does not excuse a man from being noble.
Goethe was a man of enthusiastic and varied interests; he had been so from childhood. That proves that children are born with all the tendencies they will have in adulthood. We must not look at them as potential people; they already are complete persons with all the personality they will ever have already in them. Our job is to present the very best mind food so that our children have every opportunity to be the best they can be, not just intellectually, but morally and spiritually as well.
3. Pendennis Of Boniface pg. 364
Arthur Pendennis of the estate of Fairoaks is the autobiographical character of William Makepeace Thackeray. He was refined, cultured and fancied himself an elegant prince among mortals. Thackeray wrote that he was smart enough to accomplish anything he wanted, but he was too lazy to apply himself and was vexed when poor, badly dressed students out-ranked him in math and science. He liked classical literature but his class was dull and his classmates too slow. He became cynical and spent his school life maintaining an elegant lifestyle and running up debts which his mother and a lady named Laura rescued him from.
Good habits should have been learned at home. They weren't, and school did not make up for it. His parents made the common mistake of attributing his natural superior attitude to inherited leadership qualities. Pendennis grew up thinking he was better than others and that he was the center of the universe. He was allowed to think that the wonders of the world were all for him, rather than something to thank God for in humility. As he got older, his 'airs' evolved into cynicism. His parents should have realized that all children are gifted, and taught Arthur to use his gifts in service to others.
The influence of his relative Major Pendennis (probably a grandfather) didn't help. He encouraged young Arthur to desire a material life of fine society and high tastes. We may think children see beyond shallow values, but we are wrong. They are attracted to people who seem familiar with the ways of the world and they are easily led into temptation and bad company. The solution is to let them read good novels that offer a taste of the world and examples of the results of certain lifestyles. This doesn't include cheap novels of sensational escapades, romantic lust and sentimental drivel (much of this emotional twaddle is mistaken for good Sunday reading!), but great classics that inspire reflective meditation on noble characters. And it is no help to absorb many novels, it is better to have studied and know just a few of the best ones well, such as Pendennis, Waverley, or Jane Austen's books.
Pendennis, at one of his innocent nightly socials, was introduced to dice and developed a liking for the game.
Like Goethe, Arthur Pendennis was closer in age to his mother than his father was! They were friends and spent lots of time together. Pen inherited his mother's love for nature and prayer and said "in his wild way, that he felt that he was sure of going to heaven, for his mother could never be happy there without him." His mother seemed like an angel to him, free from faults, and he practically worshiped her. Yet it is often the children of neglectful mothers who have wonderful children, and devoted mothers have sons who grow up wild. It seems that near-perfect people suffer more for the one or two faults they do have than people who have lots of sins to overlook.
It was partly Pen's mother who allowed him to grow up proud and careless. She placed love above discipline, and doted on him so much that later, she lit his cigars while he read novels to her––and she detested smoking! He learned to place his love for her above doing his duty, and thus never learned "must" or "ought." He learned that religion is all pleasant emotional sentiment and holy beauty, but he never learned his duty to obey God.
Like Goethe, Pendennis got his education outside of and in spite of his schooling, but might have benefited from the discipline that school could have afforded him. Learning is in two stages––synthetic and analytic. Young children (synthetic stage) should come into contact with all kinds of ideas––nature, history, literature. Later (analytic stage) comes the more disciplined grind of math and analyzing that develops work ethic, judgment and ability to answer questions. Schools do well at these things and in instilling public spirit, but students don't always gain real knowledge. Rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, we should keep the discipline of public education, but make changes so that students learn for the love of knowledge. Instead of ticking off books as if volume is what counts, we must see that knowledge, like food, is offered a little at a time in regular portions. Education isn't a contest; it's the work of digesting what is read that builds character, not stuffing in knowledge like a glutton at a feast. Reading and studying with purpose allows the first and second stages of learning (synthetic and analytic) to work together as students study carefully from a wide range of books.
Arthur Pendennis did no better in college––he lacked moral discipline and a sense of his duty to mankind that may have inspired him to great deeds. He would not buckle down to tackle philosophy, and so wasted time in trivial studies without asking the important questions of life. Philosophy nurtures and develops the mind in the same way that medicine and exercise do the body. Philosophy teaches us right and wrong, and what is worth seeking. Religion does this, too, but on a higher level––and it enables us in addition to providing information. It is unfortunate that our philosophy/religious teaching is hit-or-miss. Students need to learn that their mind has appetites (power, imagination, love, etc.) that must be put under control every bit as much as their bodies to stay balanced and not get trapped in a materialistic way of thinking. Christianity will teach students the proper perspective of life.
4. "Young Crossjay" pg. 388
The Egoist by George Meredith
George Meredith gives us a lesson in how not to handle boys. Sadly, schools today are no longer places to learn wisdom, but places to collect facts. The Egoist has wisdom for us about education. Sir Willoughby Patterne admired his Marine cousin Lieutenant Patterne for heroism in China, but was then disappointed when his hero turned out to be less than extraordinary in real life.
Cousin Crossjay, his son, was a hungry twelve year old ordinary boy. Willoughby was an egoist and everybody revolved around him except Vernon Whitford, who helped him manage his estate. Vernon brought back young Crossjay after Willoughby rejected his father, and arranged for him to live with Laetitia. Crossjay resisted the school lessons that Laetitia and Vernon tried to give him.
Clara Middleton decided to find out what interested him. She learned that Willoughby didn't have the backbone to stand up to Crossjay, so Crossjay was allowed to do whatever he wanted. Parents may think it's loving to be too gentle and kind to discipline, but they do their children a great disservice. Clara found that Crossjay liked naval history and bought those kinds of books for him. And when he had books that interested him, Crossjay did not resist them. Boys actually do like learning, but they prefer reading about other times and places from brief, graphic books rather than hearing a dull lecture. Most teachers are not gifted speakers, but many authors are gifted. Once students are excited by a book, they should have access to an encyclopedia to find out more, but they should have real books to awaken their interest first rather than dull textbooks that give them the idea that knowledge is tedious.
Crossjay loved nature and knew lots about birds from his own trips through fields and looking at stuffed birds. He hadn't had formal lessons to teach him facts instead of how to see, so he still thought nature was a joy. His desire was to join the Navy.
Crossjay began to question Willoughby's rejection of Crossjay's father and to feel more loyalty to his father and Vernon than Willoughby. He was fond of Clara, too, and had a sort of reverence that prompted him to act with honor towards her. We must not be afraid to discuss honor and purity with our children, because they have a sense of chivalry and chastity before we bring it up. They already have the desire to do right inside them and we only need to encourage and inspire them and provide the knowledge they lack.
Willoughby would not commit himself to the inconvenience of having Crossjay live with him, and he made up for his guilt by being warm and affable to him and giving him money. But Crossjay, though he enjoyed Willoughby's good naturedness, wasn't fooled and remembered Willoughby's cold treatment of his father.
Willoughby knew that Crossjay wanted to join the Navy but preferred to keep him dependent on him, so he let the boy develop lax habits that wouldn't help him get in because it appealed to his own ego. Parents do this when they prefer to have their children's affection than to discipline them, and when they appeal to children's lower nature in order to buy their affection. Parents must put the good of their children above their own ego and be willing to do right by them even if it costs them some popularity.
5. Better-Than-My-Neighbour pg. 401
Socrates, when accused by Miletus of corrupting the youth of Athens with his ideas, commended Miletus for his wisdom in seeing that Socrates was not worthy to teach the youths.
When Euthyphro told him that he had prosecuted his own father for murder because he punished a servant and indirectly caused his death, Socrates challenged him about the justice of it. When Euthyphro said that he was doing it because piety and the gods demanded that he not prefer his own father to justice, Socrates challenged his ideas about piety and how much a man can presume to know about what the gods want. Euthyphro allowed one narrow aspect of justice to blot out love and loyalty to his father.
Many have their own legalistic ideas about what is right and then try to justify them by putting God's stamp of approval on them. Such men, if they try to lead, get followers who like to have someone else do their thinking for them. And we see it in people who stubbornly cling to habits and traditions for no logical reason.
When we accept a conviction we think is right for us and then expect everyone else to share our conviction, we become narrow-minded and judgmental of others. And when we fancy ourselves to be worse than everyone else with the most horrid sin, we separate ourselves from others who also have horridness and sin––we place too much attention on ourselves when the truth is, we are no more or less than anyone else and deserve no special focus, good or bad. To feel exceptional even in baseness is a form of pride.
Teaching children not to rely on their reason is necessary. Man can justify all kinds of bizarre things with faulty reasoning. Wide reading gives plenty of exposure to life with which to compare convictions and can help give children lots of examples to weigh their own opinions by.
It is easy to magnify one quality or conviction––even a good one––to the exclusion of all else, as Euthyphro did. When we focus on one virtue, such as temperance or thrift, while raising our children, we teach them to be 'cranks.' We must not neglect the other virtues, like kindness and grace. In the same way, when we make one subject the focus of schooling at the sacrifice of other subjects, our children suffer. Balance is necessary.
School curriculum must be varied enough to cover many topics. Don't worry about fitting them all in, people are able to do many things effortlessly in a day. It won't overwhelm your student as long as lessons are kept short. Short lessons are very effective if students focus their attention. In fact, keeping lessons short may prevent the habit of boredom: "Child or man, we spend half our time in being bored; and we are bored because our thoughts wander from the thing in hand––we are inattentive. When for a moment we do brace ourselves to an act of attention, the invigorating effect of such act is surprising. We are alive; and it is so good to be alive that we seek the fitful stimulus of excitement––to be the more listless after than before, because we have been stimulated and not invigorated. Being bored becomes a habit; we secretly look forward with longing to the end of every occupation or amusement . . . As it is, the best children pay attention probably for about one-third of a given lesson; for the rest of the time they are at the mercy of volatile thoughts, and at the end they are fagged, not so much by the lesson as by the throng of vagrant fancies which has played upon their inattentive minds."
Lack of balance in a slower child who is more easily obsessed with one thing can make him take such pride in a trivial characteristic, that he is looked down on by others as a prig. For instance, a slow child may realize that he can't be the best in reading, so he'll make himself superior in something easier––tidiness, for example––and then judge everyone else for their untidiness. Even slow children have a need to excel at something. So parents should stress the virtues of the heart––kindness, service––rather than outward behaviors, even when those outward behaviors are convenient for them. A child who is the only one to be always ready for church on time must not be allowed to feel himself better than everyone else because of it. The natural desire for distinction must not cause a child to seek praise or think himself better than others because of surface actions.
We see that children are complex and that it isn't easy to come up with a 'one-size-fits-all' method of raising them. Children have so many anxieties as they grow, and they need the peace of God and His unconditional acceptance. We can't give them God's peace, but we can give them free time and space (masterly inactivity!) to seek and find God, who alone can truly give them what they need.
6. A Modern Educator: Thomas Godolphin Rooper pg. 419
Charlotte uses the last chapter to honor a personal teacher friend who had died recently (this book was published in 1906; Rooper died in 1903.) He had been an enthusiastic supporter of Charlotte Mason's vision and work and worked to further her ideas for educational reform with no thought to advance or promote himself. He wrote essays, lectures and articles (many of which appeared in her Parents Review magazine and are online.) He gave all he had tirelessly to improve education. Charlotte notes two essays he wrote called "Lyonesse: Home vs Public School" and "Theory and Practice of Education." He loved reading and history, and liked to abridge history texts. He was also a gardener and a friendly man, though more apt to encourage improvement than heap praise. He was, in Charlotte's mind, a great man and a hero of education.
T. G. Rooper articles online:
Individualism in Education
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Rooper also wrote: Gaiety in Education; Don Quixote; Robinson Crusoe in Education; The Grammarian's Funeral.
2003 Leslie N. Laurio
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