Wednesdays with Words: Good Principles

I continue reading Karen Glass’ Consider This. This week, I read Chapters 2 and 3.  Early in Chapter 2, Glass gives us a vision of how the answer to the question “what is man?” makes a huge impact on how we educate:

If we answer the question “what is man?” with “man is a living soul created in the image of God,” our educational task will be much different [from if we answer “a machine”], as we seek to discover all the potential in each child so that he can become everything that God meant him to be.  All that we can give him will not be too much nor go to waste. (pg 12, bracketed mine for clarity)

Glass then goes on to argue that

… care must be taken to lay a foundation of good principles and nurture them while at the same time helping the child to see and correct his own faults of character. Nothing may be taken for granted. (pg 16)

This argument is expanded upon and proved historically in Chapter 3, but what it did remind me of was Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice:

“I cannot give you credit for any philosophy of the kind. Your retrospections must be so totally void of reproach, that the contentment arising from them is not of philosophy, but, what is much better, of innocence. But with me, it is not so. Painful recollections will intrude which cannot, which ought not, to be repelled. I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. Unfortunately an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own. Such I was, from eight to eight and twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You shewed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.” (from Pride and Prejudice on; bold mine all other theirs)

 The goal of Darcy’s – certainly Classical education – was virtue.  He was well taught, but not well corrected.  This arrogance is something I do so hope to guard against as we delve into Classical Education as from my understanding it was not unusual.  I think this quote, however, proves the idea that Glass is trying to communicate.  And, hey, I get to quote Austen 🙂



    1. I was thinking about this before I got up this morning. Very much too early, and I think we could see quotes from the heroes and opposing quotes from the villains of Austen's writings to illustrate Glass' point. They all had a Classical Education (because that was just education and they were all trained as gentlemen – even Wickham) their use of it was what determined their actions. I think it has to do with the application of love to those principles – as Dr. Perrin would say, Learning to love that which must be done.

  1. Goodness, raising children is not for the faint of heart is it? Especially when our ultimate goal is to develope virtue and love and a love for God in our children.

    This makes me want to read Pride and Prejudice again! It's been several years. Consider This is also on my to-be-read stack; I've heard great things about it.

    1. Not for the faint of heart at all. So distressing to see how education has been mangled and educators mangled to think its right (I was an End major)

      Def time to read P&P again.

    1. I love in Mansfield Park how she shows Edmund teaching fanny through books … and how Fanny's mind and her love are what protected her from Henry.

  2. Your comments reminded me of the verse, 'Knowledge puffs up…' We just watched the BBC P& P for the nth time the other week.

    1. Yes! Glass follows these chapters, fittingly enough, with the idea that the only way to learn is to be humble enough to admit that you don't know.

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