And this is the sense of the word "grammar" which our inaccurate student detests, and this is the sense of the word which every sensible tutor will maintain. His maxim is "a little, but well"; that is, really know what you say you know: know what you know and what you do not know; get one thing well before you go on to a second; try to ascertain what your words mean; when you read a sentence, picture it before your mind as a whole, take in the truth or information contained in it, express it in your own words, and, if it be important, commit it to the faithful memory. Again, compare one idea with another; adjust truths and facts; form them into one whole, or notice the obstacles which occur in doing so. This is the way to make progress; this is the way to arrive at results; not to swallow knowledge, but (according to the figure sometimes used) to masticate and digest it. (The Idea of a University, from "Elementary Studies")I think it's also good for teachers and homeschool parents to have a similar attitude. I've never thought that telling a child "I don't know" to a particular question was harmful in any way - particularly if it is followed up with a willingness to find the answer with your student/child or try to get back to them. This quote also suggests to me the necessity of humility and docility in learning.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Cardinal Newman on Learning Grammar
I think this applies to education in general as well (by the way, I may have quoted this before, but I'm not sure and as I stumbled upon it this morning, I thought I'd go ahead and post). This was written in the 1850s. It seems so simple and common sense and yet something which has been to a large extent lost in an educational system/culture that pushes for large quantities of accomplishments over understanding...