Saturday, May 11, 2013

You'll Be a Man, My Son: The Way of the Will (2 of 4)

"We who teach should make it clear to ourselves that our aim in education is less conduct than character; conduct may be arrived at, as we have seen, by indirect routes, but it is of value to the world only as it has its source in character.

"For, let us consider. What we do with the will we describe as voluntary. What we do without the conscious action of will is involuntary.

"The will has only one mode of action, its function is to 'choose,' and with every choice we make we grow in force of character.

"From the cradle to the grave suggestions crowd upon us...

"and such suggestions become part of our education because we must choose between them. But a suggestion given by intent and supported by an outside personality has an added strength which few are able to resist, just because the choice has been made by another and not by ourselves, and our tendency is to accept this vicarious choice and follow the path of least resistance.

"No doubt much of this vicarious choosing is done for our good, whether for our health of body or amenableness of mind; but those who propose suggestion as a means of education do not consider that with every such attempt upon a child they weaken that which should make a man of him, his own power of choice."
Earlier in this chapter, Charlotte Mason wrote, "The use of suggestion as an aid to the will is to be deprecated, as lending to stultify and stereotype character. It would seem that spontaneity is a condition of development..." 
Spontaneity?  In other words, we cannot (or should not!) program will-development.  It is not something that can be placed into a child in sequential, planned, tiny doses.

If (academic) education is the lighting of a fire and not the filling of a pail, so is moral and character education.

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