My Living Education Lessons – Season 5 are digging deep into habits and it is amazing to see what a small community can do to encourage one another and build each other up! I found a short little article in the Parents’ Review that succinctly addresses some of the main ideas around habits. In this podcast, I mention how habits in my life have been like compound interest. Here it talks about habit as capital that furnishes interest of peace, joy and order. Yes! I totally agree.
An important step in cultivating good habits in our children is spreading the feast so that the idea is caught, a subtle art on our part. The excerpt that I am sharing with you today mentions two lovely examples: ideas from Plutarch forming the habit of physical and mental courage and the idea of the Fatherhood of God introducing habits of reverence and prayer. It’s also interesting to note that ages 8-12 are the prime time to cultivate habits in our children’s lives.
Teaching from peace,
“The years from 8-12 are the habit forming period.”
When a habit is formed certain physiological disturbances are taking place in the substance of the brain. Some forcible idea has entered the mind, acting upon its organ, and the brain has modified the shape of certain cell masses. The actions which result from this idea, often repeated, by means of the constant waste and repair of the brain substance produce concrete impressions-as it were ruts or tracks-which when firmly established produce a habit. During the age from 8-12 the mind is especially receptive of ideas and quick to form lasting habits, and for this reason we should make good use of this time. It is the power of forming habits, as well as the number of good habits already formed, which secures liberty and power of mind. Good actions performed by habit leave the mind free to think in other regions and unexhausted by petty decisions. There are many physical habits which should be formed before the the age of eight – (habits of cleanliness, neatness, punctuality) and the formation of moral and intellectual habits should have been started (obedience, service, truthfulness; observation and attention). But between 8 and 12 these habits must be secured and made a lifelong possession and others must be added. In moral, intellectual, spiritual and physical life alike, the presentation of ideas and the formation of habits go hand in hand. The idea of the beauty of courage, which a child in Form II. might receive from reading one of Plutarch’s lives, may form the basis of a habit of physical and mental courage. The idea of the Fatherhood of God may introduce the habit of reverence, of prayer. Now is the best time for forming the habit of paying full undivided attention and of thinking, habits which are acquired with far greater labour in later years. Habits are a form of capital which furnishes interest of peace, joy and order, and it is during the years from 8-12 that our children make these sure investments with greatest ease. -E.C.
From PR Vol. 30, 1919, p. 829, “Stray Notes on the Theory of Education” by students of the House of Education.