Habit Training, or discipline is...
Taking care to guide our children in good habits to the end that the child is a delight to God, to self and to others.
When we use a GOOD curriculum, if intellectual habits do not develop properly almost on their own, it certainly is done without a great deal of trouble. You just see if it isn't true. Try a few confucian style* lessons out on your kids and afterwards, hand them a couple of living books on China and just see which is easier for them to apply their full attention to.
Let the lessons be of the right sort and children will learn them with delight. The call for strenuousness comes with the necessity of forming habits; but here again we are relieved. The intellectual habits of the good life form themselves in the following out of the due curriculum in the right way.
Some habits that make the way easier in education...
Attention. This is numero uno. Without it, the road is weary, filled with pot-holes and lined with jeering crowds. It is impossible to advance and the way is very unpleasant, until the habit of attention is cultivated.
Fitting and ready expression. Being able to put thoughts into words (spoken or written) is SUCH a valuable skill. Can I just say that twice? The ability to communicate ideas on any given subject, but especially one relevant to the current conversation, is VERY useful.
Obedience. This comes in super handy, when it comes to learning. A student must obey his teacher in order to improve. Must.
Good-will. And this of course makes it all pleasant. Can this be cultivated? A resounding yes. See CM's 5th volume, Formation of Character for more.
Impersonal Outlook. A person who reads widely and becomes familiar with a lot of subjects, is more likely to be a useful citizen. I think this is what is meant by Impersonal Outlook. Here's a contrasting example: Have you ever heard anyone say that North Americans are generally self-absorbed? Well, sad to say, it's probably often true. Too many times, we know nothing about the world, and care only for our local economies and personal comforts. A good education helps eradicate that by developing an appreciation for culture and the world we all live in.
We have lost sight of the fact that habit is to life what rails are to transport cars. It follows that lines of habit must be laid down towards given ends and after careful survey, or the joltings and delays of life become insupportable. More, habit is inevitable. If we fail to ease life by laying down habits of right thinking and right acting, habits of wrong thinking and wrong acting fix themselves of their own accord.
...a certain strenuousness in the formation of good habits is necessary because every such habit is the result of conflict. The bad habit of the easy life is always pleasant and persuasive and to be resisted with pain and effort, but with hope and certainty of success, because in our very structure is the preparation for forming such habits of muscle and mind as we deliberately propose to ourselves.
Habit is like fire, a bad master but an indispensable servant.
'Sow an act,' we are told, 'reap a habit.' 'Sow a habit, reap a character.' But we must go a step further back, we must sow the idea or notion which makes the act worth while.Some habits that make the way easier for persons...
When we train ourselves to think of others first, many rules of personal and social etiquette suddenly become sensible, palatable, and therefore more easily remembered and practiced.
Consider how laborious life would be were its wheels not greased by habits of cleanliness, neatness, order, courtesy; had we to make the effort of decision about every detail of dressing and eating, coming and going, life would not be worth living.Seriously. Life. Would. Not. Be. Worth. Living. If we had to think about everything before it got done: roll over in bed, take a breath, open eyes, pump the heart 3 times, breathe again, rub eyes, pump the heart again, breathe, pull back the sheet, breathe, pump heart, pull self to sit up, breathe, stretch, pump... by the time we actually got out of bed and dressed, we'd be exhausted. Okay, so the illustration is not exactly realistic, but seriously, there are so many things we do habitually that make our lives easier. We do them without thinking.
Neatness. Developing neatness demonstrates respect for ourselves and for others.
Order. This is what makes it possible to live with others. In the same way that music is played or sung to time, so that everyone can sing or play along, we cultivate orderly lives in order to be able to coordinate and live harmoniously with others.
*We read Pastor Hsi, in which he details normal lessons for the typical young Chinese scholar. Very intense, immense quantities of memorization, which is attempted daily in a room full of chanting boys all chanting different portions. Um, yeah. Give me some living books, please. :)
This has been another 'thinking out loud' post, along the lines of chapter 6 of CM's Homeschooling Series, Volume 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education.