Manual Teaching with Reverence: Reviving an Ancient Virtue for Today’s Schools

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It is of no use to season the agate; it is vain to try to polish the slate; but both are fitted, by the qualities they possess, for services in which they may be honoured As he saw it, men would do better in endeavoring to fill their appointed positions in society worthily, than in scrambling to get out of them.

In a society governed by the laws of Human Economy that Ruskin envisioned, a Law of Help would prevail, each individual contributing to the successful operation of the whole society, resulting in a balance dependent on helpful fellowship rather than on equality.

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For John Ruskin, reading is useless without the moral grounding necessary for accurate, thoughtful understanding. Instead, John Ruskin proposes a more pragmatic approach, in line with his commitment to active learning: children should be given small incomes in reward for due labor, by which means they will more readily learn the value of money, orderly habits, and the practical as opposed to merely mechanical application of sums see Hannah More for an earlier variant of this orientation in the context of Sunday schooling.

Ruskin proposed to use such an approach in his Schools of St. And similarly every bit of science the children learn shall be directly applied by them, and the use of it felt, which involves the truth of it being known in the best possible way, and without any debating thereof. He proposes that children should learn, through active effort, that which will best fit them for their position in life, as well as that which will make them knowledgeable of the world around them.

His Schools of St. George were to be provided with gardens, playgrounds, cultivable land, laboratories, and workshops to facilitate active learning. In Fors Letter 50 John Ruskin takes direct aim at contemporary secular and religious education.

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What to admire, or wonder at! Do you expect a child to wonder at—being taught that two and two make four— though if only its masters had the sense to teach that , honestly, it would be something —or at the number of copies of nasty novels and false news a steam-engine can print for its reading? What to hope? Yes, my secular friends—What? That it shall be the richest shopman in the street; and be buried with black feathers enough over its coffin? What to love—Yes, my ecclesiastical friends, and who is its neighbour, think you? And how would I meet them myself? Simply by never, so far as I could help it, letting a child read what is not worth reading, or see what is not worth seeing; and by making it live a life which, whether it will or no, shall enforce honourable hope of continuing long in the land—whether of men or God John Ruskin believed that modern education offered only a hotchpotch of knowledge.

How many if arranged in a circle, instead of in a straight line? I am bound to state that I could not answer any one of these interrogations myself, and that my readers must therefore allow for the bias of envy in the expression of my belief that to have been able to answer the sort of questions which the First of May once used to propose to English children,—whether they knew a cowslip from an oxlip, and a blackthorn from a white,—would have been incomparably more to the purpose, both of getting their living, and liking it John Ruskin countered the modern approach by urging the importance of the unity of knowledge, one of his central educational principles.

In a letter to the Reverend Frederick Temple later Archbishop of Canterbury dated September 5, , Ruskin had outlined what he considered the ideal method, as he saw it, of integrating art education into general education. For example, Ruskin writes, an ideal examination paper in Botany would require a student to possess not only botanical knowledge, but a sound knowledge of other studies as well, such as geography, drawing, mathematics, chemistry, political economy, and literature.

Questions regarding, among other things, the mythological symbolism of a particular plant, its influence on civilization, and its commercial value in London would demand an awareness of the ways in which the various branches of knowledge work together. In The Ethics of the Dust , he demonstrated that the study of crystallography might teach social reform, political economy, and virtue as well as science. To this end, he combines assorted readings in literature, including Marmontel, Gotthelf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante, Plato, and others; readings in English history Froissart , Greek history and mythology, and heraldry; studies in art, including Carpaccio, Botticelli, Giotto, and Holbein; studies in natural history; sketches of the lives of great men; commentary on current events often accompanied by excerpts from contemporary newspapers or books; and criticism of nineteenth century social and political economy.

The letters are marked by a persistent comparison of past to present, the past unfailingly signifying ideals either decaying or abandoned in the present. Excerpts of biography, myth, fiction, and history, representative of the virtues of bygone ages, are juxtaposed with contemporary newspaper extracts, letters, and anecdotes illustrating the vulgarity, cruelty, and faithlessness of the nineteenth century.

And a method of education shown to be possible in virtue, as cheaply as in vice! John Ruskin often relieved the sternness of his teaching with humor, frequent digression, and self deprecation, creating a feeling of intimacy with his audience or readers, and the bitterness and vituperation that alienated many critics of Fors is balanced by an appealing humor and playfulness. While Ruskin alternately provokes, stimulates, puzzles, and even berates his readers, he often teases them as well, laughing with and at them.

Yet Ruskin also offers in Fors a blueprint for an ideal educational program, intended for use in the projected schools of Saint George. In Letter 8, August , in which Ruskin formally begins the St.

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The children of the Guild,. Then, as they get older, they are to learn the natural history of the place they live in,—to know Latin boys and girls both,—and the history of five cities: Athens, Rome, Venice, Florence, and London And finally, to all children of whatever gift, grade, or age, the laws of Honour, the habit of Truth, the Virtue of Humility, and the Happiness of Love.

One such alternative, derived from Plato, centers on a belief in the wholesome and moral effect of music. Believing geography to be among the most important subjects of study, John Ruskin decries what he considers the inaccuracy and inadequacy of modern maps. The hand-coloring of these maps would then form part of the drawing curriculum, reinforcing the involution of studies. Thus all three subjects would teach the child how to see and understand the world clearly. Similarly, instruction in writing should be carried out in connection with study in drawing and geometry, and should be aided by the finest examples of illuminated writing intended to guide and stimulate clever children to imitation.

Zoology and botany, John Ruskin holds, should be taught with the aid of quality illustrations by respected naturalists and botanists, which he proposed to obtain using funds from the Guild of Saint George. Lastly, needlework and dressmaking, which symbolized for Ruskin the social responsibilities of women, as demonstrated in The Ethics of the Dust should also form a part of the curriculum for girls.

Churton Collins. These men were among a group of individuals, including such figures as J.

Teaching With Reverence Reviving An Ancient Virtue For Todays Schools

Schools continue to honor Ruskin today. Its influence also spread to Korea, Japan, Vietnam and many other Asian countries. Confucianism reached its peak of influence during the Tang and Song Dynasties under a rebranded Confucianism called Neo-Confucianism. Confucius expanded on the already present ideas of Chinese religion and culture to reflect the time period and environment of political chaos during the Warring States period. Because Confucius embedded the Chinese culture so heavily into his philosophy it was able to resonate with the people of China. This high approval of Confucianism can be seen through the reverence of Confucius in modern-day China.

Confucius taught both positive and negative versions of the Golden Rule. The concepts Yin and Yang represent two opposing forces that are permanently in conflict with each other, leading to perpetual contradiction and change. The Confucian idea of "Rid of the two ends, take the middle" is a Chinese equivalent of Hegel 's idea of "thesis, antithesis, and synthesis", which is a way of reconciling opposites, arriving at some middle ground combining the best of both.

Confucius heavily emphasized the idea of microcosms in society subunits of family and community success's were the foundations for a successful state or country. Confucius believed in the use of education to further knowledge the people in ethics, societal behavior, and reverence in other humans.

With the combination of education, successful family, and his ethical teachings he believed he could govern a well established society in China. However, in Taoism it refers more often to a meta-physical term that describes a force that encompasses the entire universe but which cannot be described nor felt.

All major Chinese philosophical schools have investigated the correct Way to go about a moral life, but in Taoism it takes on the most abstract meanings, leading this school to be named after it. It advocated nonaction wu wei , the strength of softness, spontaneity, and relativism. Although it serves as a rival to Confucianism, a school of active morality, this rivalry is compromised and given perspective by the idiom "practise Confucianism on the outside, Taoism on the inside.

Therefore, it is better to strive for harmony, minimising potentially harmful interference with nature or in human affairs. Philosopher Han Fei synthesized together earlier the methods of his predecessors, which famous historian Sima Tan posthumously termed Legalism. With an essential principle like "when the epoch changed, the ways changed", late pre- Han Dynasty reformers emphasized rule by law.

What has been termed by some as the intrastate Realpolitik of the Warring States period was highly progressive, and extremely critical of the Confucian and Mohist schools. But that of the Qin dynasty would be blamed for creating a totalitarian society, thereby experiencing decline. Its main motto is: "Set clear strict laws, or deliver harsh punishment".

In Han Fei's philosophy the ruler possessed authority regarding reward and penalty, enacted through law.


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Shang Yang and Han Fei promoted absolute adherence to the law, regardless of the circumstances or the person. Ministers were only to be rewarded if their words were accurate to the results of their proposals. Legalism, in accordance with Shang Yang's interpretation, could encourage the state to be a militaristic autarky.

In its early days, this theory was most strongly associated with the states of Yan and Qi. In later periods, these epistemological theories came to hold significance in both philosophy and popular belief. This school was absorbed into Taoism's alchemic and magical dimensions as well as into the Chinese medical framework.

Everyone must love each other equally and impartially to avoid conflict and war. Mozi was strongly against Confucian ritual, instead emphasizing pragmatic survival through farming, fortification , and statecraft. Tradition is inconsistent, and human beings need an extra-traditional guide to identify which traditions are acceptable. The moral guide must then promote and encourage social behaviors that maximize general benefit. As motivation for his theory, Mozi brought in the Will of Heaven , but rather than being religious his philosophy parallels utilitarianism. The logicians School of Names were concerned with logic, paradoxes, names and actuality similar to Confucian rectification of names.

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The logician Hui Shi was a friendly rival to Zhuangzi , arguing against Taoism in a light-hearted and humorous manner. This school did not thrive because the Chinese regarded sophistry and dialectic as impractical. Agriculturalism was an early agrarian social and political philosophy that advocated peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism. The Agriculturalists believed that the ideal government, modeled after the semi-mythical governance of Shennong , is led by a benevolent king, one who works alongside the people in tilling the fields.

The Agriculturalist king is not paid by the government through its treasuries; his livelihood is derived from the profits he earns working in the fields, not his leadership. The Agriculturalists supported the fixing of prices , in which all similar goods, regardless of differences in quality and demand, are set at exactly the same, unchanging price. The short founder Qin dynasty , where Legalism was the official philosophy, quashed Mohist and Confucianist schools. Confucianism and Taoism became the determining forces of Chinese thought until the introduction of Buddhism.

Confucianism was particularly strong during the Han dynasty, whose greatest thinker was Dong Zhongshu , who integrated Confucianism with the thoughts of the Zhongshu School and the theory of the Five Elements. He also was a promoter of the New Text school, which considered Confucius as a divine figure and a spiritual ruler of China, who foresaw and started the evolution of the world towards the Universal Peace. In contrast, there was an Old Text school that advocated the use of Confucian works written in ancient language from this comes the denomination Old Text that were so much more reliable.

In particular, they refuted the assumption of Confucius as a godlike figure and considered him as the greatest sage, but simply a human and mortal. The 3rd and 4th centuries saw the rise of the Xuanxue mysterious learning , also called Neo-Taoism. The main question of this school was whether Being came before Not-Being in Chinese, ming and wuming. A peculiar feature of these Taoist thinkers, like the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove , was the concept of feng liu lit.

Buddhism arrived in China around the 1st century AD, but it was not until the Northern and Southern , Sui and Tang dynasties that it gained considerable influence and acknowledgement. At the beginning, it was considered a sort of Taoist sect. Mahayana Buddhism was far more successful in China than its rival Hinayana , and both Indian schools and local Chinese sects arose from the 5th century.

Two chiefly important monk philosophers were Sengzhao and Daosheng. But probably the most influential and original of these schools was the Chan sect, which had an even stronger impact in Japan as the Zen sect. In the mid-Tang Buddhism reached its peak, and reportedly there were 4, monasteries, 40, hermitages and , monks and nuns. The power of the Buddhist clergy was so great and the wealth of the monasteries so impressive, that it instigated criticism from Confucian scholars, who considered Buddhism as a foreign religion.

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In Emperor Wuzong ordered the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution , confiscating the riches and returning monks and nuns to lay life. From then on, Buddhism lost much of its influence. Buddhism is a religion , a practical philosophy , and arguably a psychology , focusing on the teachings of Gautama Buddha , who lived on the Indian subcontinent most likely from the mid-6th to the early 5th century BCE.

When used in a generic sense, a Buddha is generally considered to be someone who discovers the true nature of reality. Buddhism until the 4th century A. D had little impact on China but in the 4th century its teachings hybridized with those of Taoism. They investigate consciousness , levels of truth, whether reality is ultimately empty, and how enlightenment is to be achieved. Buddhism has a spiritual aspect that compliments the action of Neo-Confucianism , with prominent Neo-Confucians advocating certain forms of meditation.

Neo-Confucianism was a revived version of old Confucian principles that appeared around the Song dynasty , with Buddhist , Taoist , and Legalist features. Authors: Rud , A. Reverence is a forgotten virtue in teaching and learning. When taken in a broader spiritual sense, it is often associated with a mute and prim solemnity. The essays gathered here examine reverence as a way to understand some of the spiritual dimensions of classroom teaching.

Author A. Rud: A. They believe reverence is the heart of the educational endeavor. Teachers might be intrigued by the promise of reverence but still wonder how to create it in their students. Helpfully, several of the essays are somewhat autobiographical, showing how some teachers have made the effort.

I hope teachers at all levels will pay attention to this important topic.