A few months ago I finished Chapter 4, Authority and Docility, of A Philosophy of Education. This is Volume 6 from Charlotte Mason’s writings. Many times I have sat down to write up this post, but the words would not come. Naturally in the middle of the night when I could not sleep I wrote many eloquent thoughts on this chapter. Sadly, I was never motivated to get up and jot those words down.
So today I sit and I write. Being me, I can’t move ahead in this book until I get this post somewhat completed. The book sits on my desk and taunts me daily. This rainy afternoon presented the perfect opportunity.
“Every king and commander, every mother, elder sister, school prefect, every foreman of works and captain of games, finds that within himself which secures faithful obedience, not for the sake of his merits, but because authority is proper to his office.” p69
I wrote a really long blog post this afternoon. And I just deleted it. I’m not sure how I could elaborate on Chapter 4 without feeling redundant. I loved what this chapter had to say. I have quotes written down in my Commonplace Book. I have thought much about this chapter; about authority and docility. I find myself agreeing with Miss Mason on so much here.
I had a long conversation with my husband about the words authority and docility. On authority, we tend to have a natural reaction to resist it? I tell my toddler that standing on the table is not acceptable. He stands on the table. i discipline him. And he does it again. We can say that he is “testing his boundaries”. But if I, as his authority, have set those boundaries then he is resisting my authority.
Authority as defined in Websters Dictionary 1828 – Legal power, or a right to command or to act; as the authority of a prince over subjects, and of parents over children. Power; rule; sway
That in no way sums up the chat I had with my husband. My point is that I think we must train our children and ourselves to embrace the beauty and order that authority gives to us. It is a blessing. I love what Miss Mason had to share on those who are in positions of authority and how that responsibility it to be handled.
“The same two principles work in every child, the one producing ordered life, the other making for rebellion, and the crux in bringing up children is to find the mean which shall keep a child true to his elliptical orbit.” p70
Then we have docility. I do not know about you but this word is not a part of my daily vocabulary. This is the attitude that we would desire for our children (and ourselves). This spirit or attitude that is open to instruction and learning.
Docility as defined by Websters Dictionary 1828 – Teachableness; readiness to learn; aptness to be taught
This is why I am reading through Charlotte Mason’s volumes. This is why I read my Bible throughout the week. An attitude of docility is why my book stack never gets smaller. I yearn to know more; to be taught more about so many things! As I look at myself as a parent and an an educator, I see that I can better handle and respect the responsibility of authority I have been given if I also have docility. They are a beautiful pairing, are they not?
“The conditions are, – the teacher, or other head, may not be arbitrary but must act so evidently as one under authority that the children, quick to discern, see that he to must do the things he ought; and therefore the regulations are not made for his convenience. (I am assuming that everyone entrusted with the bringing up of children recognizes the supreme Authority to whom we are subject; without this recognition I do not see how it is possible to establish the nice relation which should exist between teacher and taught.)” p73
If you have any thoughts to share on this volume or this particular chapter, I would love to hear them. If you have not read this chapter before, go read it and then come back and share. (If you do not own a copy of A Philosophy of Education, you can access if for free and read Chapter Four here. Hopefully I will be more aware of the attitudes of my children and myself with is comes to authority and a willingness to learn.
“They regard children as inferior, themselves as superior, beings; -why else their office? But if they recognized that the potency of children’s minds is as great or greater than that of their own, they would not conceive that spoon-feeding was their mission, or that they must masticate a morsel of knowledge to make it proper for the feeble digestion of the scholar.” p75
So now on to Chapter 5: The Sacredness of Personality!
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