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This week we “Take the Fifth” with a peek into Part II of Formation of Character. Anne is up first with “Education is the Maker of Character”:
Thinking This Way Could Start a Movement
After Part One, which dealt almost exclusively with matters of character, the beginning chapters of Part Two (“What a Salvage!” and “Where Shall We Go This Year?”) seem to take a shift in subject. The first conversation begins at a dinner party, in about 1890, with the confession by a father that his lack of knowledge on subjects like astronomy is embarrassing. Others agree that they don’t know enough natural history to answer their children’s questions. It is suggested that, as a remedy, families could take extended holidays and discover the counties of England, one by one; that they could research their trips a bit beforehand; and that they could really get to know and appreciate each region of their country, including geology, plants, castles, and so on.
One of the mothers, “Mrs. Henderson,” says, “All this is an inspiring glimpse of the possible; but surely, gentlemen, you do not suppose that a family party, the children, say, from fifteen downwards, can get in touch with such wide interests in the course of a six weeks’ holiday?” (Wouldn’t many employees today–or even in 1890–envy such generous vacation time? But perhaps six weeks of “holiday” was not such a treat for mothers.) “Mrs. Henderson” points out that parents might not be well-versed enough in history and nature lore to make such attempts practical. Both then and now, adults could graduate from school without knowing any more astronomy than the Big Dipper, or without recognizing any leaf beyond a maple and an oak, or any butterfly other than a monarch. Continue reading…