Educating the Will

I have been thinking a lot lately about the principle of moral agency--the power to choose.  The ability to act for ourselves and not to be acted upon.  I believe it is an incredibly precious gift from God.
So I find it enlightening that two of my favorite "mentors"--Charlotte Mason and Rudolph Steiner--had much to say on this topic.  They both called it "Will," but it is the same. And schooling the will should be one of the fundamental goals of education.
Charlotte Mason noted that a child who is called "strong willed" because he always wants his own way has actually a weak will.  He does not have enough control to choose what is right when what he wants is wrong.  If a child is always choosing the easy way, it is a parent's job to help strengthen that child's will by giving him experience and practice in choosing right.
Rudolf Steiner believed that "thinking, feeling, and willing" are parts of the soul.  He, too, encouraged exercises for cultivating the will.  And Steiner's educational model (Waldorf) includes daily activities for not only head and heart, but the hand--where the will is manifest. (Notice that "will" involves action.) By exercising the will, we train it to choose right.
Charlotte Mason felt that good ideas are the best way to inspire the will.  Her recommendations for reading living books and for studying good art and music are both ways of nourishing the will.
I love Charlotte Mason's school motto: "I am, I can, I ought, I will."

No comments:

Post a Comment