A Few Words from Mark Van Doren

Education is the science of relations, says Charlotte Mason. Children are born persons, she asserts.

In his book Liberal Education, Mark Van Doren (who perhaps never heard of Charlotte Mason), suggests the same idea, as well as echoing her thoughts about a person’s responsibility to understand and govern his soul.

The individual has no relation to anything except the state or society of which he is a member, and to which he is relative. But the person is not a member. He is the body of himself, and as such is always to be understood as an end, not a means. As a ruler, he has first ordered his own soul. As the ruled, he likewise orders his soul. And this is something which he is unique among creatures in knowing how to do, even though he may never do it perfectly.(Liberal Education, p. 39, emphasis mine)

The powers of the person are what education wishes to perfect. To aim at anything less is to belittle men; to fasten somewhere on their exterior a crank which accident or tyrants can twist to set machinery going. The person is not machinery which others can run. His mind has its own laws, which are the laws of thought itself. (Liberal Education, p. 40)