Education Is A Discipline – Staying On The Rails
“By this formula we mean the discipline of habits formed definitely and thoughtfully whether habits of mind or of body.”
Charlotte Mason’s teaching on habits reaches far beyond the educational realm. She emphasises how important it is to “lay down the rails” of good habits in our children’s lives (and our own).
In this chapter Charlotte talks about the habits that we need to instil into our children to ensure that they develop good habits in their educational pursuits and personal lives.
We have lost sight of the fact that habit is to life what rails are to transport cars. It follows that lines of habit must be laid down towards given ends and after careful survey, or the jolting and delays of life become insupportable.
Establish good habits! It sounds simple but it is not easy. The will is often present but the ability to implement these good habits can elude us.
If we fail to ease life by laying down habits of right thinking and right acting, habits of wrong thinking and wrong acting fix themselves of their own accord.
Identify the Habit
When we identify a new habit that we want to establish we then need to work at that habit. Charlotte wisely encourages us to only work on one habit at a time. I do agree that too many habits worked on at once leads to failure but as a mother I do work on more than one at a time. My two current ones for the children are, put your plate in the dishwasher after you use it and clean up the bathroom after you have a shower. For school work with one child I am teaching them not to dawdle over their maths. I sit with them encouraging them to keep pressing on with the sums and I am keeping the lesson short.
A major goal for me as a parent is to lead my children into a strong relationship with God—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is a relationship and I don’t want it to become a mechanical habit absent of true communion with God. But there are spiritual disciplines that I know will help them in this relationship. Bible reading, prayer, devotion, worship, giving and church attendance are all habits that need to be established for an effective Christian life. Therefore I make sure these habits are practiced in our home.
I have tried to set up chores in my house so that the children can have success. There is no point trying to set up a habit that has a slim chance of accomplishment.
This is hard in the early years before they can read but once they can read for themselves they need to start coming in to contact with the books themselves so that they can perform the act of knowing.
I used to wonder how to do this. How could I organise their day in such a way that they did the work for themselves? In the early days of homeschooling everything was so dependent on me and if I fell of the rails so did everyone one else. Since I have been using the workbox system I have found it so much easier to keep them going when I was off on a needed detour.
This encompasses personal habits plus exercise. I need to work on the physical exercise one!
Habits of the Mind
It is as we have seen disastrous when child or man learns to think in a groove, and shivers like an unaccustomed bather on the steps of a new notion. This danger is perhaps averted by giving children as their daily diet the wise thoughts of great minds, and of many great minds; so that they may gradually and unconsciously get the courage of their opinions.
Allowing our mind to stretch and digest new ideas. This will be covered with my next post Education is a Life.
A more modern speaker on this topic is Steven Covey. Here is an interview he did for homeschool.com. Seven Habits of a Highly Successful Homeschooler
Again I have been challenged by the power of setting up good habits in my family and homeschool. We do have many established good habits already in our home that I am pleased with, but there are still many more to work on.
” Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
*Quotes unless otherwise stated are from Charlotte Mason “A Philosophy of Education Volume 6”.
Professional Development Resource for Homeschool Teachers
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Inspired by Charlotte Mason will familiarise you with Charlotte Mason the educator and her core beliefs so you can understand how to implement her ideas and make them suit your homeschool.