Thursday, September 3, 2015

{From My Commonplace}

Sharing two selections today from my recent commonplace entries...

First, Charlotte Mason quotes John Stuart Mill's words on patriotism in Volume 6, and it has had me thinking about how we present heroes to our children:

"Of course there is a great deal to criticise in any country, and I should be the last person to suggest that the critical faculty should not be exercised and trained at school. But before we teach children to criticise the institutions of their country, before we teach them to be critical of what is bad, let us teach them to recognize and admire what is good. After all life is very short; we all of us have only one life to live, and during that life let us get into ourselves as much love, as much admiration, as much elevating pleasure as we can, and if we view education merely as discipline in critical bitterness, then we shall lose all the sweets of life and we shall make ourselves unnecessarily miserable. There is quite enough sorrow and hardship in this world as it is without introducing it prematurely to young people."

-- John Stuart Mill quoted in Charlotte Mason's A Philosophy of Education, p. 126

And this next quote from Volume 3 made me feel oh so much better about my boisterous, "rough-and-tumble" household!

" is questionable whether the conception of children as cherished plants in a cultured garden has not in it an element of weakness. Are the children too carefully tended? Is Nature too sedulously assisted? Is the environment too perfectly tempered? Is it conceivable that the rough-and-tumble of a nursery should lend itself more to the dignity and self-dependence of the person and to the evolution of individual character, than that delightful place, a child-garden? I suppose we have all noticed that children show more keen intelligence and more independent thought in home-play and home-talk than one expects of the angelic little beings one sees at school."

-- from Charlotte Mason's School Education, p. 56-7


  1. This is great! So many times in the spirit of being 'balanced' we become so critical, I think. The first quote reminds me of Anthony Esolen's chapter on Patriotism in 10 Ways to Destroy ...

    And helicopter parents much? Charlotte Mason thought and wrote about everything!

    1. Ooo, great connection with 10 Ways. I'm going to have to reread that section...

      And I know what you mean--the more I dig into the volumes, the more I realize how much she had to say and how all her suggestions and arguments seem to just fit together seamlessly. I love that about her.

  2. Love the Mill quote. Maybe the mainstream is listening...a little. The US History AP has recently added back some positivity! You know I always think it is so unfair to human beings - so unChristitan really - to make history about their faults. We all have them! Why start with that when there are many good things to say? Isn't what inspires us to act in a good way the GOOD actions of others? Dwelling on the bad can breed hopelessness - a sense that the world is so bad there is nothing you can do.

    1. I love that way of putting it, Barbara--yes, we do all have our faults, don't we? :) And I think this critical attitude does indeed bring hopelessness, particularly in children and in some personalities. That is why so many of us have to stay partly away from the news--I'm not a particularly sensitive person, but I can't read too much too often or else I get a feeling of either desperation or anger, depending on the topic.

    2. Oh gosh, me too. My husband is always telling me to stop reading the news. I used to never read it. Then after 9/11 I got obsessed with it. Thank you for this reminder. (Right, I ignore my husband but will listen to you. LOL) I took a break last winter from all news for a month. It was really awesome. I've been thinking recently about doing it again.