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"We need to adopt forms of moral pedagogy that are faithful to the ancient and true vocation of the teacher -- to make persons into mature and whole human beings, able to stand face to face with the truth about themselves and others, while desiring to correct their faults and to emulate goodness and truth wherever it is found." - Vigen Guroian, Tending the Heart of Virtue

That phrase, forms of moral pedagogy, struck me. Pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching - the art. Forms that are faithful to the ancient and true vocation of the teacher? - Forms that make our children into mature and whole human beings. Make as in form, like play-dough, fashion. So as my own children's teacher I am responsible for shaping them morally and academically with math and with myth. 

"Able to stand face to face with truth and themselves and others." In this podcast, On the Importance of Adequacy,, Andrew Kern makes this statement towards the end about the need for children to perceive reality and not fight against it. That is a tough battle. I am finding I am surrounded by the desire to be more than average, normal, mediocre, or sub-par. And I don't mean any of these terms in the negative. There is nothing wrong with being average. But everyone wants to be olympian. I am an average singer, a slightly above average student, a sub-par cook. I can continue to hone my singing skills, but I will never make the cut of The Voice, let alone win the show. So what! In this YouTube, Facebook world, it is a battle our children will have to face to be average and not seek out attention by trying to be something they are not. 

Fairy Tales and myths often start with average or less-than-average people who have to face extraordinary circumstances with virtue and character. Moral virtue and spiritual character can belong to anyone whether then have talent or physical beauty. Guroian explains about Belle in Beauty and the Beast that because of her great character, she could perceive the excellence of the man inside the monster. 

I'm trying to recover my own sense of wonder and character through Faerie

How do you in-form young students with these ideas? What practices do you use?

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Charlotte Mason speaks to this quite a lot. I just finished a joint blog series in which my friend and I were going over her most neglected volume, Formation of Character. The primary piece of advice she has is to let the story/book/painting/musical piece do the forming. If you "point the moral" in everything, it becomes tedious and children tend to reject that kind of didactic approach. So our part is to choose the material well, and then to join our children in appreciating and learning to love knowledge.

She admits it's a risk (some kids might prefer to emulate the 'bad guys'), but she also points out that this is the way the Bible is written--the stories are given to us straight, without direct teaching and application. Healthy servings of wholesome reading we offer up like healthy meals, but the children have to taste, chew, swallow, and digest, and no one can do that for them. It's like sitting at the table and visibly enjoying the vegetables, and hoping they catch the hint (vegetables can be delicious). One might argue that forcing them to swallow a few mouthfuls will provide the nutrition, and they don't have to like it, but if you set up a lifelong antipathy to that food (I myself despise peas to this day), they will miss out on the goodness that food has all their lives. So we don't want to create a distaste for literature, art, music, etc, with the pedagogical methods we use. I think Augustine's concept of "ordering our affections"--learning to love what it good, and despise what is despicable--is the right approach (CM version: Education is the science of relations).

It's similar to the principle behind "give a man a fish and feed him for day; teach him to fish and feed him for life." If we are heavy handed and didactic about the "moral" behind what is good, and true, and beautiful, we might influence the outward conduct of our children for a proverbial day, but if we want to shape their character--their internal moral compass--for life, we need a different approach.

And wisdom begins in wonder, as you suggested. In practice, we read and narrate great books. And sometimes moves and TV shows.

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On 2/22/2019 at 3:07 AM, KarenG said:

Charlotte Mason speaks to this quite a lot. I just finished a joint blog series in which my friend and I were going over her most neglected volume, Formation of Character. The primary piece of advice she has is to let the story/book/painting/musical piece do the forming. If you "point the moral" in everything, it becomes tedious and children tend to reject that kind of didactic approach. So our part is to choose the material well, and then to join our children in appreciating and learning to love knowledge.

This is an important principle for the study of history as well. Years ago our high school students used a textbook by a Christian publisher that was constantly moralizing about the people it was describing, throwing in semi-related Bible verses for every occasion. Pretty much everyone, including the best students (which is what alerted me to the problem), found it grating and pedantic. We were using books by the same publisher in our high school science classes, and got the same reaction.

For instance: these sections describe the French Revolution and the end of the Cold War:

LokNyqyMxuIh_d2v46ygWl58Al4WEfp9q7FV5LTf7FS5H6GASubSL8oH6yOFYzWs9z6993thA8_AUSYtpCdNVP1c1IZVxCz4rcrlqHbVVCR6T-2jaTmdDTJwwuS_vkiutYF6swGNDSMUOvMYmNZUg_WU7pUbSAOiGhZNIoPQnkd3XjpbbndCL-vbpmIbqT7_tcu7o1d5BVAQNtR_0j4k8Ap1nn43Iwk9OXd1V-nApOsl-WP9vjudFLnduEh5qUu1AdGNPtbibQ4kHS5fr95dtFj6DBjnNm9433kmxDE8dj_TuOJsm7jTfQp6UUCa_6BoQrz53uhayT6mSVtwWYsH8q0sWkGkWHKlLyU2Pcf4c7RsqTS1vuhNlD6V-shYuYlPWOHSmvYjccZR-JxkMoZLEaCZlS33zZQ53wiYcIh6v8nvUt_vWxGp9Ac0QbYHib26w_PwbDmacd8VxRlsYwlQpcPMJ-IiGGrs40f5G_7uHgrhhvDy51GwP1uIC7AA7htEPi33KO0459XOYn_WTP4mhuv3MTV1WKryalG9m0fJAKK4IFo46JvHBueyMzCa1Z9v-bCGCo4tFeF9iW0-dbQcimY9snCpuRB025dkmObe72dsS5jYn_dBInbzRMLbAvwFE7HAT-LAtFpjl5V2WlrOns_T2Fr6z5s=w854-h640-no

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Personally, I wouldn't necessarily shy away from finding ways to apply Scripture to these sorts of historical events altogether, but I'd very much prefer to start by posing questions to the students, and then see if we can make these connections through a Socratic discussion, rather than simply assert them as facts in a book for students to memorize.

Having said that, I always thought this type of book might work out all right for younger kids, and that leads me to pose this question: Is there an age at which it is appropriate to take a more moralistic approach to the subject-matter, in order to train students to later come to those conclusions on their own? What is heavy handed for a 15 year old might not be heavy handed for a 5 year old.

Or, to pose the question in a way that comes back to Cheryl's original post: how do we adapt our forms of moral pedagogy to the age and maturity of the student?

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On 2/23/2019 at 9:46 AM, Patrick Halbrook said:

 

For instance: these sections describe the French Revolution and the end of the Cold War:

LokNyqyMxuIh_d2v46ygWl58Al4WEfp9q7FV5LTf7FS5H6GASubSL8oH6yOFYzWs9z6993thA8_AUSYtpCdNVP1c1IZVxCz4rcrlqHbVVCR6T-2jaTmdDTJwwuS_vkiutYF6swGNDSMUOvMYmNZUg_WU7pUbSAOiGhZNIoPQnkd3XjpbbndCL-vbpmIbqT7_tcu7o1d5BVAQNtR_0j4k8Ap1nn43Iwk9OXd1V-nApOsl-WP9vjudFLnduEh5qUu1AdGNPtbibQ4kHS5fr95dtFj6DBjnNm9433kmxDE8dj_TuOJsm7jTfQp6UUCa_6BoQrz53uhayT6mSVtwWYsH8q0sWkGkWHKlLyU2Pcf4c7RsqTS1vuhNlD6V-shYuYlPWOHSmvYjccZR-JxkMoZLEaCZlS33zZQ53wiYcIh6v8nvUt_vWxGp9Ac0QbYHib26w_PwbDmacd8VxRlsYwlQpcPMJ-IiGGrs40f5G_7uHgrhhvDy51GwP1uIC7AA7htEPi33KO0459XOYn_WTP4mhuv3MTV1WKryalG9m0fJAKK4IFo46JvHBueyMzCa1Z9v-bCGCo4tFeF9iW0-dbQcimY9snCpuRB025dkmObe72dsS5jYn_dBInbzRMLbAvwFE7HAT-LAtFpjl5V2WlrOns_T2Fr6z5s=w854-h640-no

XHKtrj7z8PL0q_upLynjnge1-iUZ8RECo-2JfBsR8F-VzNw2yvsECHC12-T-qv7pP4HR-st-Ih3c0DDJyC0UYqwEO5bgAziospTjT4IbW9uFYnJcjCnsrsWGOOFTWVBbPgpjmOk8lRoCUeJofbz0O_uxaqkbND46R3DEqyqgjzr5xOmPP41SgIJ7AFn3MyrD5UuBY7NAa9XGCNvePxEDC74hO1hkJlNWUk1_ggAxwBFxBHoOTMyX7eczcGrmzOueFBUD9oZW5GOiKII22s2je0Je0VfBbUknH7bzCwiKZ7_ijWYWE5RsMR48_XbTKBKk89zQKPKuze6UNlS_ClbZrItVKlZwV8wAf4RxTIdxEvecxdBr1TATeU0aCyH_NnE_FaVYQ_n6O2ISGJP1WjnETifprmJMTgpAkbiv3wN5yXjw29_WxuKS-7RcutSE-tbOZV7j4L4VQVko2ruqV2svLTHnrm7YY4Dpdrthvvhj_qts_srVzQW1WBAExSDbJT72xykG-1b0I1svLWdUYwXfvx0G8_z_yi43spxSCA1Yfyudhl4ct9BUbvVuoBikjMQyZpG-M20Rj83l5Pr498OOmwcHlRGRyQo3mK4kV86njQqlM-_8yXlRNSKryXt8WBvbJmPykyy_itoSIZ8HfWRI92q7kVIReTg=w854-h640-no

 

Personally, I wouldn't necessarily shy away from finding ways to apply Scripture to these sorts of historical events altogether, but I'd very much prefer to start by posing questions to the students, and then see if we can make these connections through a Socratic discussion, rather than simply assert them as facts in a book for students to memorize.

Having said that, I always thought this type of book might work out all right for younger kids, and that leads me to pose this question: Is there an age at which it is appropriate to take a more moralistic approach to the subject-matter, in order to train students to later come to those conclusions on their own? What is heavy handed for a 15 year old might not be heavy handed for a 5 year old.

Or, to pose the question in a way that comes back to Cheryl's original post: how do we adapt our forms of moral pedagogy to the age and maturity of the student?

1) I'm sad your excerpts aren't showing - at least for me. 2) I don't know how necessary it is past 5 or 6 to be heavy handed with morals. I definitely train my babies and toddlers with maxims - No, we don't touch that. Use your words not your tears to tell me. Take a breath. We don't throw fits. Touch soft on the baby (Not grammatically correct, but morally sound). When I began to read Harry Potter, with fear and trepidation that I was going to ruin my kids with magic (I know, I know), I asked my children - why do we read fairy tales - and my then seven-year-old son said, "To know what is good". I thought, Oh, we're going to be fine."  

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On another thread in the forms a question was asked about poems of virtue. It made me remember a few years ago we memorized a couple of poems as a family, John Donne's sonnet 19, on his blindness, and Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. We had also been memorizing old hymns. My children combined the melody of A Mighty Fortress with Frost's poem! lol

Do you think poetry - it's form and it's content - is a type of moral pedagogy - does it teach forms of morality within its structure as well as it's content?  

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