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Parents’ expectations matter. – Quintilian on ability

Quintilian might be my favorite author in this book so far.

The Great Tradition: Classical Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being is a collection of the writings about education from Plato to the modern era, the writings that have informed the development of western civilization and classical education.

CH069: Imagination & Expectation: Quintilian on Education

As I read oh so slowly through this book, I’d love to get some discussion going about what it means to carry on this tradition of meaningful, human education.

The entire environment, the entire life, matters in education.

Quintilian begins his principles of education by talking about the parents’ expectations. He contradicts the opinion that Charlotte Mason also faced: some children are not cut out for education. To the contrary, he writes:

Reasoning comes as naturally to man as flying to birds.

It is mishandling that kills the love of learning, not a lack of initial aptitude, he says. Therefore, it is the father’s responsibility to see to his children’s education, and that “seeing to” begins from the very first, for

It is the worst impressions that are most durable. For, while what is good readily deteriorates, you will never turn vice into virtue.

Bad habits start early.

Do not, therefore, allow the boy to become accustomed even in infancy to a style of speech which he will subsequently have to unlearn.

It is best and easiest to begin how we mean to go on – to start on the path we want to finish – rather than meander aimlessly and then think we can backtrack or fast track to where we want to be later on.

Next week I’ll share more Quintilian – on what to do and not to do during the early years! Should we delay academics? The common practice he comments on appears to be starting school at age 7, which he indicates is not necessarily the best.

Is he urging early academics? I read the section over three times and came to my conclusions – he has multiple valid points.

Make sure to come back next week for that conversation. :)

Learning what classical education really means from primary sources.

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