For most of us, the idea of attending a Great Books school, such as St. John's or even Biola University, is the farthest thing from our minds. Our lives are rich and full with home, children, and other ministry obligations. College studies are behind us and now we earnestly seek to prepare our children for such things. Yet the desire to continually learn and grow is God-given and is always before us. What role does education play in the lives of mothers? Are we to forgo new studies and simply concentrate on helping our children learn? This moderator believes that the role of education for a mother is of vital importance and that our job to nurture, to train, and to raise Godly children will only be enlarged when we undertake the task to study along side of them.
Mrs. Alfred Booth offers the following commentary on the subject of "The Influence and Teaching of the Educated Mother," in a paper given at the Bristol Conference of Women Workers, 1893/4:
What, then, is education? Who is the educated mother? What ought her teaching and influence to be?She continues with...
What is education? We are apt to think we know very well what education is, and when asked this question give an answer which we hope will satisfy ourselves and others. When, however, we begin to think seriously on the subject we are surprised to find how dim and hazy our opinions are, and we cannot be satisfied until we try to classify them and arrive at some definite conclusions. Speaking of education therefore in reference to women as mothers, I should venture to say its first and prime object ought to be to make women think, and that all education which does not tend to make thinking easy and natural fails of its object and is not education.
The original meaning of the word educate is to draw forth; education should therefore aim at drawing forth all the different powers of human beings. True education should train the intellect, establish principles, and regulate the heart. In answering the question, what is education? --especially in reference to girls --I would strike this threefold cord, believing that if the intellect is trained to habits of thought by the development of its faculties, the conscience to the perception of the reasonableness of principles founded on intelligible moral laws, and the heart to a wise regulation of its spontaneous action, we may hope for results which will be most likely to prepare women for the particular duties and responsibilities which motherhood brings.
Who, then, is the educated mother? The educated mother is pre-eminently a woman who thinks, and the results of her regulated thought will be seen in the daily administration of her home.and concludes with the following remarks:
The educated mother must, however, be much more than a nursery machine and a technical instructress. Realising that the children of to-day will rapidly develop into individuals keen to learn and be taught, she will always be alive to the necessity of cultivating her own mind, and the work of self-education and improvement will go on for her while life lasts. It is absolutely necessary a mother should know how to care for the small bodies, but it is equally important she should understand and satisfy the unfolding intellects of her children. It is a painful spectacle, that of a mother who has allowed her children to outstrip her as thinking beings, and can no longer keep pace with them in their pursuits and interests.
The educated mother knows this, and will keep well in touch with all the interests of life. Religion, politics, social and philanthropic problems are all of absorbing interest to her, and she recognises she can keep her children's confidence, some of whom probably are cleverer then herself, only by habits of thoughtful interest in all which concerns humanity. Beyond this the educated mother will seek to prepare her sons and daughters for that trying period in their lives when, emerging from childhood, they stand on the threshold of woman and manhood, oppressed often by new, bewildering thoughts, and open to guidance in a peculiarly sensitive and receptive manner. For this critical period the mother has already prepared herself by her knowledge of laws human and divine, and she earnestly endeavours to be herself the guide of her developing children.
In conclusion, the influence and teaching of the educated mother is all for righteousness; and the formation in her children of character, based on self-control and self-sacrifice, the daily object of her life.It is therefore our desire to enable mother's to continue to educate themselves through a classical study program. With the advent of the Internet the canon of Western thought is now readily available to everyone regardless of their physical location. There is therefore no reason for a mother to not be able to continue to enrich and enlarge her education for any reason: whether cost, inconvenience, or lack of companionship.
The Influence and Teaching of the Educated Mother By Mrs. Alfred Booth [Paper read at Bristol Conference of Women Workers. Reprinted by kind permission of Bristol Ladies' Association for the Care of Girls.] 1893/4 Parents Review Volume 4 pgs 081-090
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