Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday with Words: Mind to Mind, The Way of the Will

I am reading through the Karen Glass version of Charlotte Mason's 6th volume Towards a Philosophy of Education.  Her version is called Mind to Mind and edits out some of the more dated parts of the book (references to CM contemporaries) and leaves the rest intact.  I did read through the original once before with Cindy Rollins when she did a book club YEARS ago.  I am more willing to sit under instead of debate CM this time - I am learning.

This volume doesn't talk about "strong" versus "weak" willed people as much as other volumes do - but it does introduce the idea of will versus logical thought.  In case you are wondering, she turns our common phrasing on its head.  The "weak willed" is the person who does whatever they want; meanwhile, the "strong willed" person chooses the good over their own wants - they will instead of following their own whims.  So in her estimation having a "strong willed child" is our goal - one who chooses the right and does it.  

In Volume 6 she focuses on the will as being more important than logical thought.  The idea is well explained in this podcast.  Essentially, once we will something we can always find logical reasons to support your thinking.  Reason follows the path of the will.  That is why Mason is adamant that we must help students choose wisely the ideas that they keep and reject because eventually this guides their will.  

She claims that "to fortify the will is one of the great purposes of education."  She encourages us to point out the character and willfulness of people in stories and history that we read.  She wants children to realize the outcome of the thoughts and ideas of individuals and how their will plays into that.  Will, not reason, reigns supreme.  As she says more than once, "that reason is their servant, not their ruler, because well-reasoned arguments are brought into play for a wrong course as for a right."  

She is not rejecting reasoning and fallacy detection - she just wants them put in their proper place.  As she explains
But the one achievement possible and necessary for every man is character; and character is as finely wrought metal beaten into shape and beauty by the required and accustomed action of will.  We who teach should make it clear to ourselves that our aim in education is less conduct than character, conduct may be arrived at, as we have seen, by indirect routes, but it is of value to the world only as it has its source in character. 
For her, character is formed as the individual chooses to will the thing that he does not want but chooses the harder way because it is in service to God, others and ultimately himself in the long run. Character is formed as we choose the "I will" over "I want".   Essentially it is the marshmallow test - but 100 years earlier.    
Right thought flows upon the stimulus of an idea, and ideas are stored as we have seen in books and pictures and the lives of men and nations; these instruct the conscience and stimulate the will, and man or child chooses.  
What ideas are your children exposed to?  Are they willful or governed by will?  Do you agree that logic should take a back seat to the will?

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.

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