Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Clothing of Thought

I'm working through my daughter's YR4 AO schedule, and I noticed that in The Story Book of Science, a book I'm really looking forward to after hearing Kristine rave about it, Chapter 19 titled 'The Book' is skipped entirely.

Well, curiosity does kill the cat doesn't it?

I nosed through it and here's a snippet:

"I am sorry, my dear child, but I must undeceive you. Grammar cannot teach one to write. It teaches us to make a verb agree with its subject, an adjective with a substantive, and other things of that kind. It is very useful, I admit, for nothing is more displeasing than to violate the rules of language; but that does not impart the gift of writing. There are people whose memories are crammed with rules of grammar, who, like you, stop short at the first word.

"Language is in some sort the clothing of thought. We cannot clothe what does not exist; we cannot speak or write what we do not find in our minds. Thought dictates and the pen writes. When the head is furnished with ideas, and usage, still more than grammar, has taught us the rules of language, we have all that is necessary to write excellent things correctly. But, again, if ideas are wanting, if there is nothing in the head, what can you write? How are these ideas to be acquired? By study, reading, and conversation with people better instructed than we."

The clothing of thought...

A lovely way to put it isn't it? And I couldn't help but notice how this rings of CM.

Before they are ten, children who have been in the habit of using books will write good, vigorous English with ease and freedom; that is, if they have not been hampered by instructions. It is well for them not even to learn rules for the placing of full stops and capitals until they notice how these things occur in their books. Our business is to provide children with material in their lessons, and leave the handling of such material to themselves. If we would believe it, composition is as natural as jumping and running to children who have been allowed due use of books. ~Vol. 1, p. 247

I wonder why AO chose to skip it.

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