Mom’s Copywork

January 28, 2006 @ 11:49 am | Filed under: Quotes from this week's reading

Passages that jumped out at me from this week’s reading:

From Charlotte Mason’s A PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION (which I was inspired to re-read by a train of thought related to the Tidal Homeschooling posts):

“If we ask in perplexity, why do so many men and women seem incapable of generous impulse, of reasoned patriotism, of seeing beyond the circle of their own interests, is not the answer, that men are enabled for such things by education? These are the marks of educated persons; and when millions of men who should be the backbone of the country seem to be dead to public claims, we have to ask,—Why then are not these persons educated, and what have we given them in lieu of education?”
—Introduction, p. 1

“I inferred that one of these [desires], the Desire of Knowledge (Curiosity) was the chief instrument of education; that this desire might be paralysed or made powerless like an unused limb by encouraging other desires to intervene between a child and the knowledge proper for him; the desire for place,—emulation; for prizes,—avarice; for power,—ambition; for praise,—vanity, might each be a stumbling block to him. It seemed to me that we teachers had unconsciously elaborated a system which should secreure the discipline of the schools and the eagerness of the scholars,—by means of marks, prizes, and the like,—and yet eliminate that knowledge-hunger, itself the quite sufficient incentive to education.”
—p. 11

[Think and write more on this. Does it not sum up our (Scott’s and my) primary reasons for educating our children at home?]

“…we all know that desultory reading is delightful and incidentlally profitable but is not education whose concern is knowledge.” [Query: would unschoolers agree? Do I agree?] “That is, the mind of the desultory reader only rarely makes the act of appropriation which is necessary before the matter we read becomes personal knowledge. We must read in order to know or we do not know by reading.”
—p. 13.


From ONE MAN’S MEAT by E.B. White:

“I believe television is going to be the test of the modern world, and that in this new opportunity to see beyond the range of our vision we shall discover either a new and unbearable disturbance of the general peace or a saving radiance in the sky. We shall stand or fall by television—of that I am quite sure.”
—written in July 1938

[Interesting to read in conjunction with DHM’s series of posts about television this week.]

Same essay:

“When I was a child people simply looked about them and were moderately happy; today they peer beyond the seven seas, bury themselves waist deep in tidings, and by and large what they see and hear makes them unutterably sad.”

[And this long before cable and internet news. And yet, is not much of my frustration over current events connected to the way so many people insulate themselves, either deliberately or through apathy, from knowledge of what is really happening in this country and others? What Charlotte Mason described in the quote above as an apparent inability to “see beyond the circle of their own interests”?]


From Chesterton’s biography of Dickens:

“And, behind all this nine years’ wonder that filled the world, behind his gigantic tours and his ten thousand editions, the crowded lectures and the crashing brass, behind all the thing we really see is the flushed face of a little boy singing music-hall songs to a circle of aunts and uncles. And this precocious pleasure explains much, too, in the moral way. Dickens had all his life the faults of the little boy who is kept up too late at night. The boy in such a case exhibits a psychological paradox; he is a little too irritable because he is a little too happy. Like the over-wrought child in society, he was splendidly sociable, and yet suddenly quarrelsome. In all the practical relations of his life he was what the child is in the last hours of an evening party, genuinely delighted, genuinely delightful, genuinely affectionate and happy, and yet in some strange way fundamentally exasperated and dangerously close to tears.”
—CHARLES DICKENS, THE LAST OF THE GREAT MEN, p. 21-22 (1906)


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Comments

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  1. Fine food for thought. CM’s writing are so meaty, and I often find myself wrestling with her when I’m tempted to just let the kids totally unschool.
    This passage is from School Education p. 241

    “I have often spoken of ‘Relations’ and not of ‘Interests,’ because interests may be casual, unworthy, and passing. Everyone, even the most ignorant, has interests of a sort…”
    and she goes on to say,
    “But the defect in our educational thought is that we have ceased to realise that knowledge is vital; and, as children and adults, we suffer from underfed minds.”

    I don’t think she would support the philosophy of radical unschooling. She often wrote of laying a feast for the children (with many living books and much time outdoors) and then inviting them to eat. But, I don’t think she would ever stop the car in front of the grocery store and say, “Out you go, then kids! See if you can find something that looks appetizing. See you later!”

    What is the difference between having “interests” and having an “education”?

    Fascinating stuff, that.
    ~Ann

  2. “…we all know that desultory reading is delightful and incidentlally profitable but is not education whose concern is knowledge.” [Query: would unschoolers agree? Do I agree?] “That is, the mind of the desultory reader only rarely makes the act of appropriation which is necessary before the matter we read becomes personal knowledge. We must read in order to know or we do not know by reading.”
    —p. 13.

    I find this quote intriguing. I had never really thought of it before, but I do think I agree. There is a real difference between mindlessly flipping through a magazine, for example, and “reading to know”. And I don’t think reading to know is reserved for non-fiction, though that is the most obvious form. What about novels? Well, we could say we are reading them to know the story they tell, or to absorb the beauty of the language.
    However, even if we are just flipping through that magazine, when we do come across something that truly interests us, doesn’t our mind sort of shift into that “reading to know” mode? Perhaps this would coincide with how an unschooler might see the learning process. The child’s mind will naturally shift into “reading to know” mode when he comes across what he needs or wants to know.
    I also think that is why it is so much easier for a child to retain that which he learns because of his own interest. He is “reading to know”, rather than reading because it is assigned him. This is one of the arguments for delight-directed education.
    Interesting quote.