Monday, April 20, 2015

Children Are Born Persons

Charlotte Mason's first principle is "Children are born persons," meaning that children are people when they are born; they do not become people.

The fact is, we undervalue children. The notion that an infant is a huge oyster, who by slow degrees, and more and more, develops into that splendid intellectual and moral being, a full-grown man or woman, has been impressed upon us so much of late years that we believe intellectual spoon-meat to be the only food for what we are pleased to call 'little minds.' (Mason Vol. 3, pg. 172)

What is the historical context for Mason's principle?
In SAGE Directions in Educational Psychology, Salkind writes about educational psychology at the turn of the 20th century...
...In conversations surrounding public schooling (which is the focus here), more indirectly in teacher training, the idea that schools and lessons should be built around the child's developmental stages as opposed to the organization of classical content was a radical one...
...The child, instead of being perceived as a subject that would fit around the order of knowledge in the school, was newly positioned as the central subject around whom knowledge should be ordered. The teacher, rather than looking for true knowledge in the classics, was now to look into the child, via science, for true knowledge of development...
...Genes were thought to constitute the child's nature and the child's potential for good and evil. The judgement of potential, of nature, would subsequently determine how the child should be treated and how the environment surrounding the child should be organized...
.. Educators contesting developmentalism's rise, in a variety of forms, often protested on the grounds of its lock stepping the child, its predetermined view of what labor a child would perform in adulthood, and its neglect of the classics...
Is the goal of education to turn out students who are "career and college ready" (the public school phrase-o-the-week), or more?

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