Education is initiation

All I Survey: A Book of Essays (Essay Index Reprint Series)

All I Survey, by Chesterton, has many essays full of wisdom and humor by what shows himself as a kind man and author. This excerpt is from his essay entitled ON EDUCATION.


A book of Essays
First Published 1933
Reprinted 1967

Bookmarks were made inspired by her craft:
(They have amazing crafts. We also
painted with spices. I'll show that later).
Just contact paper, leaves, golden fabric, glitter
(you can put anything inside), and ribbon.
[pages 194-195-196] Another example is the tangle of education. In one sense, this is supremely the educational age. In another sense, it is supremely and specially the anti-educational age. It is the age in which the Government's right to teach everybody's children is for the first time established. It is also the age in which the father's right to teach his own children is for the first time denied (...)
But the practical difficulty of our present education is even worse. It is attempting to conduct a process, and yet it has produced a world which incessantly interrupts and reverses the process. Education is initiation; it is in its nature a progression from one thing to another; the arrangement of ideas in a certain order. A child learns to walk before he learns to skip; he learns his own alphabet before he learns the Greek alphabet. (...)

But the real life of our time reverses everything and has no reason for anything. The real world, that roars round the poor little gutter-boy as he goes to school, is an utterly anti-educational world. If the school is really giving any education, the world is certainly engaged day and night in ruining his education. For the world gives him things anyhow, in any order, with any result; the world gives him things without knowing that he gets them; the world throws things at him from morning till night, quite blindly, madly, and without meaning or aim; and this process, whatever else it is, is the exact opposite of the process of education. (...)
But I will not discuss my own remedies here, which would involve indecent allusions to a third thing called the Family; now never mentioned in respectable circles.[end of quote]

And I ask myself, is there anything wrong in aspiring to ignite ideas, in desiring to inspire in them that initiation of  true learning? Our goal it is to live life, not to rush through it. Our goal it is to grow as individuals, to lead our children by example in our conduct, our discipline, our work habits, our relationship with God, others, and the world around us. If my job were to just guide them through a prescribed schedule and curriculum where I were the dictator of it,  the boss making sure they go through every step, it would be difficult, but I'll be in control. Oh, and how I'd like knowing they are being shaped as I envision. However, I'm starting to understand my job as more than that, as an effort that encompasses a total submission to their own personalities (not to their whims). I can't (and shouldn't) change who they are. But I can nurture their good attributes, I can give them the tools to stop bad habits (at the same time I work on those myself). I want them to find and express their own voice (thanks Cori ;-)

Everyday we learn, I offer conversation that provokes ideas (not entertainment), and I have to refrain from pushing my agenda. Everyday I look for moments, books, simple things that bring forth ideas in them, and make them initiate their education, versus bombarding them with what I think they need to learn. Everyday I try to make my home a shelter from those things the world throws at them without consideration, a habitat of true values, and we harvest our routine, and we learn together to work as a family, to be kind, patient, to be obedient and respectful. And every day we fall. We are not perfect, actually, we are short tempered, impatient, we tend to cry, yell, protest, complain, but everyday we pray and we see fruits in all of us. There are initiated prayers before meals, obedient 'yes ma'am' being said, connections being made, compromises, Bible being read and discussed, crafts being done (that's an easy one here), but messes being cleaned together, and life goes on in this incredible and life changing adventure we call homeschooling (for lack of a better word for it).

9 opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

What truth. I also have been coming to understand the things that you mentioned in the second to last paragraph. I prayed just Monday that the Lord would help me build up their unique personalities. Thanks for sharing.

Ellen said...

"I want them to find and express their own voice." Fabulous point. That's one of the reasons we home educate. The herd mentality, so often found in both public and private school, squelches the very aspects of our personalities that make us unique.

Beautiful bookmarks, too!

Silvia said...

No ordinary me: I know that you are one of those moms who wants to give them their time and space to become who they are with their unique personalities.

Ellen:yes, so often schools crush their spirit. I know some 'survivors', and I know it's not the teachers' fault in many cases, but the way things work there are lots of damaging experiences in all aspects.

Amy in Peru said...

Oh Silvia, I LOVE GK Chesterson. Maybe my favorite? I have too many favorites ;)

education is a big deal isn't it... certainly, bigger than I ever thought! bigger than me... thankfully we have each other to inspire one another!

thank you for this post ;)

amy in peru

Anonymous said...


Mean Ol' Mama said...

So good to hear from you the other day. I would enjoy being your neigbor, too. What fun times we could have! Thanks for all your hard work in pursuing blessings for your family's education. I really admire that.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, Silvia. You have no idea just how timely this is for me! I just had a rather lengthly Facbook discussion with a scrooge on someone else's page (lol yeah I was helping my friend sort of). I'm going to email it to you. It perfectly demonstrates how the world and the attitudes interfere!! So very true, my friend. Thank you for posting this!

Silvia said...

Amy: why isn't it a surprise I like you a lot? :-) I'm so glad I've met you through your helpful blog.

Mean ol' Mama: Your blog also inspires us a lot.

wonderinthewoods: this happens to me a lot, I'm reading and researching about something, and everything starts 'talking to me' about the same topic. Your example was a perfect illustration of Chesterton's point. I'm admired that Chesterton wrote this in 1933, as Amy said to me. It's incredible how it reflects our era with accuracy as well.

Mean Ol' Mama said...

So good to hear from you the other day. I would enjoy being your neigbor, too. What fun times we could have! Thanks for all your hard work in pursuing blessings for your family's education. I really admire that.


Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Amazon Affiliates

Search Engine