Let us now hear Coleridge* on the subject of those definite ideas which are not inhaled, as air; but conveyed, as meat, to the mind:––
"From the first, or initiative idea, as from a seed, successive ideas germinate."
"Events and images, the lively and spirit-stirring machinery of the external world, are like light, and air, and moisture to the seed of the mind, which would else rot and perish"
"The paths in which we may pursue a methodical course are manifold, and at the head of each stands its peculiar and guiding idea."
"Those ideas are as regularly subordinate in dignity as the paths to which they point are various and eccentric in direction. The world has suffered much, in modern times, from a subversion of the natural and necessary order of Science . . . from summoning reason and faith to the bar of that limited physical experience to which, by the true laws or method, they owe no obedience."
"Progress follows the path of the idea from which it sets out; requiring, however, a constant wakefulness of mind to keep it within the due limits of its course. Hence the orbits of thought, so to speak, must differ among themselves as the initiative ideas differ."
Have we not here the corollary to, and the explanation of, that law of unconscious cerebration which results in our "ways of thinking," which shapes our character, rules our destiny? Thoughtful minds consider that the new light which biology is throwing upon the laws of mind is bringing to the front once more the Platonic doctrine, that "An idea is a distinguishable power, self-affirmed, and seen in its unity with the Eternal Essence."
The whole subject is profound, but as practical as it is profound. We must disabuse our minds of the theory that the functions of education are, in the main, gymnastic. In the early years of the child's life it makes, perhaps, little apparent difference whether his parents start with the notion that to educate is to fill a receptacle, inscribe a tablet, mould plastic matter, or, nourish a life; but in the end we shall find that only those ideas which have fed his life are taken into the being of the child; all the rest is thrown away, or worse, is like sawdust in the system, an impediment and an injury to the vital processes.
Emphasis mine. What would be the difference between an education designed to fill a bucket and one designed to nourish a life? Look at your methods and practices at home, your educational tools, the information you have chosen to impart and the way you have chosen to impart it. Does it look like you believe you are shaping clay or nourishing a life? What ideas, if any, are you feeding your child, setting before him in the great buffet of life?
This is, perhaps, how the educational formula should run: Education is a life; that life is sustained on ideas; ideas are of spiritual origin; but,
'God has made us so'
that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another. The duty of parents is to sustain a child's inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food. The child is an eclectic; he may choose this or that; therefore, in the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand, for thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.
The child has affinities with evil as well as with good; therefore, hedge him about from any chance lodgment of evil suggestion.
The initial idea begets subsequent ideas; therefore, take care that children get right primary ideas on the great relations and duties of life.
Ideas have consequences.
For sale, proceeds support my family's work:
$5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal, Buy Now! Feed Your Mind! This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science.
$3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.
$3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One! Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation. Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.