Monday, September 10, 2012

Home Education Part 4

Today has been interesting. It's been a test of seeing just how far I could push myself. I wanted to quit so many times. I was tired, exhausted, drained, worn out, depressed and just generally ho-humish. But every time I started to think about sitting down, I would press on with my mental list of things to do. It took all day but I did manage to get the house picked up and the laundry finished. I didn't deep clean the bathrooms (and have no plan to do so today, at this point) but that's ok. I substituted that for mowing the front and back yards and taking a shower. Tomorrow, perhaps, I'll clean the bathrooms and it will be much easier to get that accomplished with a house that's starting out picked up and a day that will only require one load of laundry. There are some really neat things that I want to show you but my back can only hold out for one post tonight. And Part 4 takes first place.

Home Education Part 4

" The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children."

It seems too daunting to think of all the habits that my four children need to form. One child, perhaps, seems doable, but four?!! Miss Mason reassures the reader not to feel overwhelmed. "Here again, is an illustration of that fable of the anxious pendulum, overwhelmed with the thought of the number of ticks it must tick. But the ticks are to be delivered tick by tick, and there will always be a second of time to tick it in." So, everyday I will press forward, making mistakes no doubt, but pressing forward non-the-less, ticking my ticks.

Miss Mason starts the chapter with the habit of attention. For me, focusing on one habit at a time is very hard. There are so many things that need attention and I want to get to them all, right now! (Maybe I should work on the habit of patience first, huh?)  But- one tick at a time.

Habit of Attention:

Even infants can (and ought!) to be taught the habit of attention. As they are playing, they tend to flit from one toy to another. The parent should pick up the item they just threw aside and draw their attention back and talk about the item, keeping their attention for a full minute or two. Miss Mason gives an example of this using a discarded daisy. The mother picks it up and shows it again to her daughter while talking about its color and shape and then tells a delightful little story about why the flower has the name, "daisy". It just takes a minute or two, but at the end of the discussion, the child holdsthe flower closer, perhaps giving it a little kiss (Eily would do something like that) and then goes about with her playing.
Next comes the transition of habit of attention from things to words. This starts in the schoolroom. Miss Mason admonishes us not to let the child dawdle or moon over a lesson. Immediately put it away and do a lesson that is completely unlike the one before. If course, you eventually have to go back and finish the lesson, but do it with a " bright and fresh mind."
What is attention exactly? "Attention is hardly even an operation of the mind, but is simply the act by which the whole mental force is applied to the subject at hand."
The parent may help form this habit by means of a sufficient motive so that as they are older, the child is "brought to bring his own will to bear; to make himself attend in spite of the most inviting suggestions from without."

"It is impossible to overstate the importance of this habit of attention. It is, to quote words of weight, within the reach of every one and should be made the primary object of all mental discipline; for whatever the natural gifts of the child, it is only in so far as the habit of attention is cultivated in him that he is able to make use of them."

-concerning overpressure-

" is not the things we do, but the things we fail to do, which fatigue us..."

Wow. That really hit home. It reminded me of a story I heard once. A man was going through the handshake line at a church and said to the preacher, " That was a good sermon, preacher. You really stepped on my toes." The preacher replied, "Then move them."  My days flow with such ease and calmness if I give proper attention to the first things on my "to do" list and get those items done correctly on the first attempt. If I don't, I always feel pressured and rushed in my other tasks and complete them hurriedly and sloppily so that I can get back to the uncompleted tasks. 
The above quote can easily be applied to the student, If they have ten minutes to write six perfect "c's"and they dawdle and don't get it done in time, they will feel rushed in other tasks to get back to finishing that task.

Miss Mason goes on to talk about the habits of application, thinking, imagining, remembering and perfect execution. She also talks about the habits of obedience and truthfulness.

"First, and infinitely the most important, is the habit of obedience. Indeed, obedience is the whole duty of the child, and for this reason- every other duty of the child is fulfilled as a matter of obedience to his parents."

She says to train the child to obedience not with the motive being - to do this because I said so-and-so or because this will happen, but because the Bible says, "Obey your parents in the Lord for this is right." This is no small feat. Nine times out of ten, I say" Obey me or..." and then name a punishment. I am training them to obey, yes, but I am training them to obey with the wrong motive.
"...the poor children are simply bullied into submission to the will, that is the willfulness, of another; not at all 'for it is right'; only because it is convenient."  Ouch!

"To secure this habit of obedience, the mother must exercise great self-restraint; she must never give a command which she does not intend to see carried out to the full. And she must not lay upon her children burdens, grievous to be borne, of command heaped upon command."

There are so many more wonderful quotes I could add and thoughts I could try to express but I will just encourage you to read the book for yourself. It will not be time wasted.

Dont forget to visit Jamie's blog and read her post about Part 4.


JCrew Mama said...

All the things she had to say about obedience were very convicting!!! Great post, Bekah!

AIMA said...

GREAT self restraint: "she must never give a command which she does not intend to see carried out to the full." Hmm. It requires mother to think before she speaks. If it is important enough to command, it is important enough to insist on obedience. The point is not how important the task is. The point is obedience.