09 February, 2008

The Family and Learning Languages

I wanted to share something I stumbled upon while reading some of the writings of Charlotte Mason today. I am a big believer in the power of the family (for better and for worse in some cases!) as the microcosm of training and prep toward larger society; how we function within our family(ies) and how I believe it is the primary training ground for our children and how they will approach larger life outside of the home as they grow older and engage with society more and more and eventually strike out on their own. I hope to provide for our own kiddos the sensitivity and understanding toward being loving, citizens of the world. Please don't make any assumptions of my politics based on those words, which tend (unfairly) to be loaded in the rhetoric of our political and religious evangelical landscape in which we find ourselves. What I mean is that they will be Christ to ALL others and not just be America-centric.

Anyway...I found this ~

Upon discussing the different ways in which the family unit is the unit of the nation, Charlotte Mason states in Volume 2, Parents and Children, pg. 7 the following:

"Let us ask the question: Has this, of regarding all education and all civil and social relations from the standpoint of the family any practical outcome? So much so, that perhaps there is hardly a problem of life for which it does not contain the solution. For example, what shall we teach our children? Is there one subject that claims our attention more than another? Yes, there is a subject or class of subjects which has an imperative moral claim upon us. It is the duty of the nation to maintain relations of brotherly kindness with other nations; therefore, it is the duty of every family, as an integral part of the nation, to be able to hold brotherly speech with the families of other nations as opportunities arise; therefore to acquire the speech of neighboring nations is not only to secure an inlet of knowledge and a means of culture, but is a duty of that higher morality (the morality of the family) which aims at universal brotherhood. Therefore, every family would do well to cultivate two languages besides the mother tongue, in the nursery.

Again; a fair young Englishwoman was staying with her mother at a German Kurhaus. They were the only English people present, and probably forgot that the Germans are better linguists than we. The young lady sat through the long meals with her book, hardly interrupting her reading to eat, and addressing no more than one or two remarks to her mother, as

(pg 8)

'I wonder what that mess is!' or, 'How much longer shall we have to sit with these tiresome people?' Had she remembered that no family can live to itself, that she and her mother represented England, were England for that little German community, she would have imitated the courteous greetings which the German ladies bestowed on their neighbours."

What do you all do about this dilemma? Have you ever traveled to another country and noticed or been saddened or embarrassed by your fellow countrymen at how they behaved in public in someone else's country, totally ignoring the cultural differences and acceptable mores within the given society in which they were visiting?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have experienced this many times in a number of countries. The (adolescent) American attitude that the world revolves around us comes through loud and clear when you watch Americans overseas. It is so embarrassing. It has been with a mixture of confusion and relief that I have often received the question, "Are you Canadian?" I have for years maintained that Americans should be required to travel and be required to do so in a way that is useful, mind expanding, sensitivity enhancing way. Leslie