Monday, December 19, 2016

Reflections from Consider This - Chapter Three...

Continuing on from Chapter Two, assuming my view of man affects the way I educate my children, should that education be separated from moral development? This idea of whether or not to separate education from moral development is the premise of Chapter Three in Consider This, Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass.

Again, as in the Introduction, we see Glass hearken back to why vs. how.  She reiterates as we continue to look at what the "superior intellects of the past" did, we need to ask why they did what they did.
When we understand what motivated their educational efforts, we will see that there is a sharp difference between the historical, classical approach to education and our modern one. (p. 18)
Therefore, we should seek not only their method (how) but also their purpose (why).  So next one must ask, what was the purpose for classical education?

Based on considerations of Norms and Nobility written by David Hicks, Glass asserts that virtue was the goal of the classical educators.
Both Plato and Aristotle, who give us the oldest writings on education that we have, linked knowledge to action or behavior.  It was their desire to teach children not only to know what was right, but to love what was good, true and beautiful so that their conduct would reflect their wise understanding. (p. 18) 
Charlotte Mason was familiar with the thinking of both Aristotle and Plato, and reiterates their idea as part of her own philosophy. (p. 19) 
knowledge + action = virtue

The problem today is this idea that education is a process of developing character and virtue rather than developing intellect.  It is a paradigm shift for many modern day educators who have divorced education from moral development. Classical educators did not separate character training from the teaching of school subjects such as grammar and mathematics.
The classical educators did not make such a distinction.  All areas of education  were brought into service for this single goal - to teach children to think and act rightly. (p.19)
What the educators of history have to tell us is that education is about developing a vision of goodness and virtue, and then - most importantly - bringing that knowledge to bear on actual conduct.  Right thinking is an important step toward that end, but knowledge alone without conscience or virtue was never an object. (p. 20)
The development of intellect was meant to serve in formation of character.
We learn to know in order that we many know how to act rightly, not merely to take tests...The classical education of history, as well as Charlotte Mason, consistently link intellectual and moral development. (p.21)
[Charlotte] "brings a distinctly Christian understanding to what it means to make virtue or character the aim of education." (p.22) 
On the other hand, one could argue that right thinking does not always lead to right action.  However, Glass states, "it was the guiding motivation for the classical educators."  After reading Chapter Three of Consider This, I'm chewing on the assertion that classical educators sought virtue as their guiding motivation. That they did not separate character training from academics. and that they brought all areas of education into service. Therefore, I am under the assumption that if I view my children as born persons then my desire to educate should not be separated from their moral development.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 KJV)

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