11 April, 2007

Nature and Habit - part one

I have tried to carve out time every day or two to read and to order my thinking. My book club is reading Part III in CM's volume 1. I tend to grab onto one phrase and work backward...or from the middle of the chapter to the beginning! Is that Habit or Nature? (grin)
That's not the best way to plan a discussion! Today, I've tried to settle in since I have a larger chunk of time while half my kids are studying and discussing Worldviews of the Western World with other homeschooled students.

Nature is what we come into this life with, and is the sum of our genes from previous generations within our family.

I have a 1927 dictionary that defines Nature this way:

Natural constitution or character, nature, The particular combination of qualities belonging to a person or thing by birth or constitution; native or inherent character or disposition (as "To weep was not in Lady Kew's nature," (from Thackery's Newcombs). "It is my habit, I hope I may say, my nature, to believe the best of people," (G. W. Curtis' "Prue and I). Lastly, it can be seen as a primitive, wild condition; an uncultivated state; the moral state as unaffected by grace.

I love the distinction made here.

CM says on page 103:

"The will of the child is pitifully feeble, weaker in the children of the weak, stronger in the children of the strong, but hardly ever to be counted upon as a power in education.

The nature of the child––his human nature––being the sum of what he is as a human being, and what he is in right of the stock he comes of, and what he is as the result of his own physical and mental constitution––this nature is incalculably strong."

page 104:
Divine Grace works on the Lines of Human Effort.––In looking for a solution of this problem, I do not undervalue the Divine grace––far otherwise; but we do not always make enough of the fact that Divine grace is exerted on the lines of enlightened human effort; that the parent, for instance, who takes the trouble to understand what he is about in educating his child, deserves, and assuredly gets, support from above..."

"...what too many Christian parents expect: they let a child grow free as the wild bramble, putting forth unchecked whatever is in him––thorn, coarse flower, insipid fruit,––trusting, they will tell you, that the grace of God will prune and dig and prop the wayward branches lying prone. And their trust is not always misplaced; but the poor man endures anguish, is torn asunder in the process of recovery which his parents might have spared him had they trained the early shoots which should develop by-and-by into the character of their child.

Nature then, strong as she is, is not invincible; and, at her best, Nature is not to be permitted to ride rampant. (emphasis mine) Bit and bridle, hand and voice, will get the utmost of endeavour out of her if her training be taken in hand in time; but let Nature run wild, like the forest ponies, and not spur nor whip will break her in.

so CM's answer:

pg 105

Habit May Supplant 'Nature'

'Habit is ten natures.' If that be true, strong as nature is, habit is not only as strong, but tenfold as strong. Here, then, have we a stronger than he, able to overcome this strong man armed."

That's hopeful! Most of us know how difficult it is to create one new habit, much less multiple new habits. But to harness the effectiveness of developing just one new positive habit in order to train (retrain!) a negative trait within our 'nature' is worth the mental and physical effort. In fact, she says the payoff is that the habit will be ten times stronger than 'nature.'

Most of all, I appreciate that CM included the power of God's grace in the training of ourselves and our children. Without it, and by human effort only, our days might be so mechanical, perhaps even exhausting. The word picture I imagine in relation to this is that of pushing a broken-down bulldozer uphill in order to make use of said piece of machinery.

How has positive habit formation been helping in your family and your home? Does anyone have a practical example they'd like to post?

...who has had to edit this three times already for spelling errors. Argh!


Birdie said...

The establishment of good habits was the very first thing we undertook when we started homeschooling. I think it may help me even more than my children! Now that a couple of my children are older, our little homeschool can seem to almost run itself during crisis moments!

keri said...

I finished Charlotte's Volume I.
I read it over twice!
I am starting Volume II.
There is so much to digest.
This is pretty simple...
lately I have been teaching my children to come when I call them.
Not yell "What?" Bad habits ARE hard to break!

Mother Auma said...

Okay. After our book club discussion last night, I had this thought that I did not want to prod the children anymore. But how to implement it? I can't just sit around and wait for them to develop initiative!!

So I realized I need to wait until they have not done the thing they are supposed to do, and then let them know they are forgetting something. The burden of remembering falls on them, thus encouraging the habit of attention.

It did work somewhat today, but I have to be careful not to overuse the tool-- the girls got a little frustrated the fifth time I called out cheerfully, "There's something you are forgetting!"

Can you see any errors in this plan, Javamom?