CH061: Classical Education Demands Habit Training

Season 10: Classical Thoughts on Why We Teach

Certainly we are to watch and train the habits of our children and our household, but that is not all the work to be done. The confirmation of the habit into a character is work done by the person himself when he is independent.

The test of character comes when each person is an adult – will he confirm the habits he was brought up to? Will he practice what he has been taught?

It is not enough for people to receive the right nurture and discipline in youth; they must also practice the lessons they have learnt, and confirm them by habit, when they are grown up.

Some studies, he writes, “can be of no benefit to us after we have mastered them unless we have elected to make our living from this source”; however, they still “help us while we are in the process of learning.”

Such impractical, abstract studies he calls “gymnastic of the mind” which will “increase their aptitude for mastering greater and more serious studies.”

For while we are occupied with the subtlety and exactness of astronomy and geometry and are forced to apply our minds to difficult problems, and are, in addition, being habituated to speak and apply ourselves to what is said and shown to us, and not to let our wits go wool-gathering, we gain the power, after being exercised and sharpened on these disciplines, of grasping and learning more easily and more quickly those subjects which are of more importance and of greater value.

Habit training begins in childhood, but is confirmed in adulthood.

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Classical Education Demands Habit Training

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Simple Sanity Saver: Teaching Shakespeare

Of course the best way to engage with Shakespeare is to be the one performing it. There are several ways to do this without being a drama person (I am most definitely not).

Knowledge comes from doing

Personally, I am the sort very tempted to leave off the hands-on activities like this. I like the meat and acting out a scene or two seems like fluffy fun that can easily be dispensed with.

However, in this case, that is not true.

True knowing and understanding comes when we make the material our own, when we recreate or represent it in some sort of personal expression. In history or grammar that might involve writing or speaking, but the most natural way to add personal expression with Shakespeare is to be the actor the play is directing.

Be creative in the theatrical options

Although it would be valuable, you don’t have to have costuming and rehearsals in order to give your children the chance to act out Shakespeare. Here are some other low-key, low-commitment ways to add doing to your studies:

  • Duplo or LEGO scenes & characters (try recording it for your own movie production)
  • Illustrated comic book versions of selected scenes
  • Monologues dramatically delivered like at a try-out
  • Puppets – handcrafted, popsicle stick, finger puppets, paper dolls – can be recorded to make a movie.


If you are interested in staging a scene, an abridged play, or simply delivering monologues with your kids or with a group, check out how these homeschool moms have done so in their homeschools:

Download the lesson plans and memory sheets:

How to have fun with Shakespeare for kids simply and easily, even if you think it's too hard – it's not!
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