Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hints on Child Training

I just finshed reading Hints on Child Training by Clay Trumbull, the great-grandfather of Elisabeth Elliot.  I wanted to evaluate how closely his recommendations meshed with those of Charlotte Mason.  In many respects, the two authors come from the same perspective.  Both encourage us to respect the personhood of the child, to train rather than break the will, and to value the role of imagination in the child’s life, just to mention a few places where the two are in agreement. 

However, there are significant areas of disagreement as well.  Trumbull mentions habit formation but never focuses on this key Mason element.  Trumbull also assumes a level of parental control that differs from Mason–he suggests that playmates need to be carefully screened for suitability, where Mason recommends gently training the child to choose suitable playmates for himself so as not to push him toward unsuitable ones merely by forbidding them.  Similarly, Trumbull’s suggestions for choosing reading material do not reflect a love of literature in the way Mason’s do and completely fail to acknowledge the importance of feeding the child a mental diet of great ideas.

If you are already familiar with Mason’s recommendations for child training, Trumbull’s book can be useful to flesh out some of her advice and to highlight some areas she omits or glosses over.  If you are not already familiar enough with Mason’s recommendations to recognize areas where the two differ, I suggest you start by reading Mason, specifically Volume 2 and then Volume 1 if your children are young or Volume 6 if they are older.

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