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AmblesideOnline's Patio Chats:
35. Personhood, One More Time

Many weeks ago, we said, "Your child is neither a lump of clay to be molded, nor a plant in a greenhouse, nor an empty mind to fill with whatever you want." We're going to revisit that thought.

There are some schools of thought in the educational world that treat children like an empty mind to fill with whatever they want. Perhaps what they want to fill the mind with is good stuff, and for the child's own good -- it doesn't matter, it's a wrong way of looking at a child. His mind is not empty and waiting for someone to come along and fill it up with a load of stuff, no matter how worthy the stuff might be.

Your child was born with a mind of his own. He was checking things out, and testing the limits, and seeing what he was capable of way before he reached school age. He was expressing himself, forming opinions about his surroundings, and showing a decided preference for some things way before starting school. Doesn't it seem arrogant to proclaim, "the child's mind is just an empty place to fill with stuff" or "the child's mind is like a blank slate to write on"?

Your child was born with a mind of his own, thank you very much. His mind is active and growing and working on its own, and would continue to be that way even if no educator ever interfered to try to teach him. Perhaps he's not memorizing the capital cities of the world, but what he IS learning may be even more important -- how to treat his sister, how to be brave in the night, how to be a good neighbor.

What does your child's mind really need? Something really interesting to think about. So . . . fill his mind with great ideas, and then get out of the way of the learner! ;-)

Are you enjoying this trip through Charlotte Mason's 20 Principles? Do you want to hear more? AO Auxiliary member Brandy Vencel of "Afterthoughts" did a 45-minute podcast with Cindy Rollins. Listen to it at

[Today's patio chat comes from Principle 9]

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