Monday, March 21, 2011

Educational Foundations

"The Teacher" by Jocob Abbott, 1844. From p. 64:
There are three kinds of human knowledge which stand strikingly distinct from all the rest. They lie at the foundation. They constitute the roots of the tree. In other words, they are the means, by which all other knowledge is acquired. I need not say, that I mean, Reading, Writing and Calculation.
Teachers do not perhaps always consider , how entirely and essentially distinct these three are from all the rest. They are arts; the acquisition of them is not to be considered as knowledge, so much as the means, by which knowledge may be obtained. A child, who is studying Geography, or History, or Natural Science, is learning facts, --gaining information; on the other hand, the one who is learning to write, or to read, or to calculate, may be adding little or nothing to his stock of knowledge. He is acquiring skill, which, at some future time, he may make the means of increasing his knowledge, to any extent.
This distinction ought to be kept constantly in view., and the teacher should feel that these three fundamental branches stand by themselves and stand first in importance. I don not mean to undervalue the others, but only to insist upon the superior value and importance of these. Teaching a pupil to read, before he enters up on the active business of life, is like given a new settler and axe, as he goes to seek his new home in the forest. Teaching him a lesson in history, is, on the other hand, only cutting down a tree or two for him.”

Do you agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?


Lillian said...

Readin' writin' and 'rithmetic that's what we learnt in school!

Actually I do agree with this. Without the basis of those things we can only go so far with the others. The very first foundation, reading, is simply the most important because without this ability we cannot do anything else.

Kash said...

I absolutely agree. Now, of course, the content that is in the books that are read, for instance, is certainly an opportunity to learn, but the books are also teaching a deepening of the skill of reading. I just got back from the Southeast Homeschool Convention, and one of the things that one presenter said /really/ struck me--that colleges say that they are getting students who don't know how to read non-fiction. Even if they can read literature, it is all the majority of them can read. What an observation! So even when I am selecting books for history or science or geography or what have you, I do try to keep in mind that the books are important for both the content of the books but also the skill of reading non-fiction at ever increasing levels. And, of course, the content of what we read and hear can lead towards becoming better writers as we attempt to imitate that with which we are familiar. I try to keep in mind that the content is in service to the skills.

LaughingLioness said...

Lillian- exactly. If you can read, you can learn anything!
Kash- thank-you for pointing out the problem with reading non-fiction. An excellent observation!