When Ideas are Lacking

Dear Reader,

Charlotte Mason tells us that we must provide ideas as the food for our children’s minds. This sounds like novel language in our day, but I have been reading through Oliver Wendell Holmes’ Autocrat of the Breakfast Table and find similar notions:

“Now, when a gentleman’s brain is empty or ill-regulated, it is, to a great extent, his own fault; and so it is simple retribution, that, while he lies slothfully sleeping or aimlessly dreaming, the fatal habit settles on him like a vampire, and sucks his blood, fanning him all the while with its hot wings into deeper slumber or idler dreams. I am not such a hard-souled being as to apply this to the neglected poor, who have had no chance to fill their heads with wholesome ideas, and to be taught the lesson of self-government  . . . But body and mind often flag, – perhaps they are ill-made to begin with, underfed with bread or ideas, overworked, or abused in some way.” (p. 106)

Notice a few similarities with Charlotte’s thought

  • Ideas are to the mind as bread is to the body.
  • Without its proper food, the mind will atrophy and other, unwanted, things will creep in.
  • There are two things that are needed: a healthy diet of ideas and “the lesson of self-government,” i.e. habit training.

Nebby

 

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