Monday, February 09, 2009

Additional Thoughts on Chapter 2

Poetic Knowledge p. 11-21

We begin to see what we want. Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Thou hast set my feet in a large room; should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking––the strain would be too great––but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy. The question is not,––how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education––but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him? I know you may bring a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink. What I complain of is that we do not bring our horse to the water. We give him miserable little text-books, mere compendiums of facts, which he is to learn off and say and produce at an examination; or we give him various knowledge in the form of warm diluents, prepared by his teacher with perhaps some grains of living thought to the gallon. And all the time we have books, books teeming with ideas fresh from the minds of thinkers upon every subject to which we can wish to introduce children. (CM Series Vol. 3 p. 170-171)

Somewhere I read that we ought to educate children using things (objects) and ideas. Where was that?

"We live, not by things, but by the meanings of things." Antoine de Saint Exupery

I'm thinking of the poetic mode, the passive and intuitive that precedes the scientific and active, as kind of like letting a kid just enjoy herself using paints, rather than directing her in how to do it. Which is fine as far as it goes, but I wonder how that fits in with the development of good habit? To develop good habits, you want to do a thing right the first time if at all possible, right? So if we are letting our children just experience the paint-ness of paint at first, then they aren't developing the skill at holding the brush, applying paint, etc.

Maybe he addresses this later in the book. Or maybe I am thinking about it wrong. If you have the love and trust of a child, correcting her in the midst of a new process does not have to take away pleasure.


Tim's Mom said...

"Somewhere I read that we ought to educate children using things (objects) and ideas. Where was that?"

I think the quote is "things and books" - maybe in vol 3?

I'm printing out your posts on ch 2 to take to bed. They're too long to try and skim from my computer.

And then - it's on to chapter 3!

Katie said...

I think you're right-- it must be in Vol. 3.

I wish my posts weren't so long, but I don't have time right now to pare down my notes. I'm only barely halfway through the chapter at this point. I will probably still be on ch. 2 at the end of this week. I am having a pretty hard time understanding it.

Katie said...

Found it:

Children can be most fitly educated on Things and Books. Things, e.g.––
i. Natural obstacles for physical contention, climbing, swimming, walking, etc.

ii. Material to work in––wood, leather, clay, etc.

iii. Natural objects in situ––birds, plants, streams, stones, etc,

iv. Objects of art.

v. Scientific apparatus, etc.

The value of this education by Things is receiving wide recognition, but intellectual education to be derived from Books is still for the most part to seek.

Vol. 3 p. 214, "An Educational Manifesto"

Tim's Mom said...

Don't wish your posts were shorter - it gave me something fun to take to bed. ;)