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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Home Schooling and Character Training Part 21:3-The Goal

Before I launch into my character and virtue training for young children, here is a review of some very basic definitions from the CCC. By the way, all of this is from my studies, research, meditation, and years of experience, based on the great minds of the Church and Dr. Montessori.

1833 Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good.

1834 The human virtues are stable dispositions of the intellect and the will that govern our acts, order our passions, and guide our conduct in accordance with reason and faith. They can be grouped around the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance

1804 Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.
The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.

1810 Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God's help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous man is happy to practice them.

1811 It is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain moral balance. Christ's gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and shun evil.

Now, one needs not define the virtues except in simple terms, such as looking at the life of Christ.

I am referring to 0-6 ages in this part of character formation, as I believe with the Jesuits, that one if basically formed by age five.

So, the first thing is to determine how all the virtues can be taught in daily actions of home schooling, as well as being taught. I would concentrate on the hidden life of Christ (do not use private revelations, please), but merely explain that Jesus, like any child, was obedient to his parents, reading the Finding of the Lord in the Temple at some point. But, because this is the longest process, I am showing you the goals before the process.

But, my emphasis is not on religious curriculum that is in a workbook but on daily life which forms character and enhances the virtues.

This is a mind-set. Now, Dr. Montessori in her forty years of experience and watching children noticed working patterns. These working patterns incorporated these observations-initial work,  false fatigue, great work and rest, in a phenomenon which happened to all children working in her environment. Now this pattern is connected to the normative child's capabilities, which I repeat here. Now, parents, bear with me as this part of the postings is long.........but let me get you started here. If this list shows the normal child's capacity, what is that list saying about the life of the virtues? About the child's character building? The first thing is to respect what God is doing in the child, in His child. These adorable creatures are only loaned to us.

What you are doing with the child is cooperating with grace.

I thank this site for the summary of these four Montessori traits from her books, as I do not have my Montessori books with me.

Now, these things will happen if the parent is setting up the optimum home schooling environment for character building. 

And, when I first studied these 40 years ago, I saw the overlap with Benedictism and the rule of Ora et Labora. 

I realized immediately the inspiration of the seeking of the knowledge, which I have written about much on this blog,and the pursuit of God. Remember this book is one I have read so many times it literally fell apart. 

Seriously, if someone would like to find me a new one, I would appreciate it. 

So what one is seeing is that there is an overlap of spirituality, which is a natural cause and effect, of finding God in work, in prayer and in study. When I set up home schooling, I chose the Benedictine model, although, as you saw in the list yesterday, one can choose the others-Jesuit, Dominican, Ursuline, Salesian and so on......I hope this character building through work and study is beginning to sink in. For this chart, I stop and write the main virtues connected to the character traits. But, I shall go more into details.

Now, I am showing you the end product, as it were; next posts will be on how to get there on how to make these grow.

I am adding the list of virtues to the skills of the normalized child. These are the goals of character building which the child is created to do by God in a natural process. One is not imposing, but guiding.

1) Love of work

The first characteristic of the process of normalization is love of work. Love of work includes the ability to choose work freely and to find serenity and joy in work (The Absorbent Mind, p. 202). 

And I add; virtues of love, honesty, wisdom, peace, diligence, patience, zeal, perseverance. prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, faith, hope, rectitude, obedience, reverence, humility.

(2) Concentration

To help such development, it is not enough to provide objects chosen at random, but we [teachers] have to organize a world of 'progressive interest' (The Absorbent Mind, p. 206)

And I add; virtues of peace, patience, diligence, temperance, purity of mind and heart, faith, hope, integrity, obedience, zeal.

(3) Self-discipline

After concentration will come perseverance . . . It marks the beginning of yet another stage in character formation . . . It is the ability to carry through what he has begun. The children in our schools choose their work freely, and show this power unmistakably. They practice it daily for years.(The Absorbent Mind p. 217) 

And I add; virtues of perseverance, honesty, diligence, temperance, justice, prudence, obedience, purity, courage (bravery), self-control, rectitude, integrity, love. 

(4) Sociability. 

There is only one specimen of each object, and if a piece is in use when another child wants it, the latter—if he is normalized—will wait for it to be released. Important social qualities derive from this. The child comes to see that he must respect the work of others, not because someone has said he must, but because this is a reality that he meets in his daily experience.(The Absorbent Mind, p. 223).

And I add; virtues of kindness, generosity, patience, , mercy, humility, compassion, forgiveness, selflessness, justice, charity, forbearance, integrity, bravery, love, faith, hope. 

By the way,  The Children's Book of Virtues, and The Book of Virtues are fantastic, but for older children, around six or seven. I just let my son read those on his own and we discussed some of the stories. These are a must for the home schooling family.

Next will be the practical steps on how to encourage this type of normal, Christian character in a child. I think some of you will see where I am going with this in the home schooling environment.