This book was written at the turn of the 20th century for Catholic teaching nuns. It is called The Catholic Teacher’s Companion – A book of Inspiration and Self-Help by Rev. Felix M. Kirsch, O.M.C. (1924). The lessons between the covers are valuable for parents, educators and all who work with children.
TEACHING THE ART OF STUDY
The scholar who cherishes the love of comfort, is not fit to be deemed a scholar. —CONFUCIUS
All teachers agree with Janet Erskine Stuart that children do not know how to learn lessons when the books are before them, and that there is a great waste of good power, and a great deal of unnecessary weariness from this cause. If the cause of imperfectly learned lessons is examined it will usually be found there, and also the cause of so much dislike to the work of preparation.
Children do not know by instinct how to set about learning a lesson from a book, nor do they spontaneously recognize that there are different ways of learning, adapted to different lessons.
BOOKS ALONE ARE NOT ENOUGH
It is a help to the children to know that there is one way for the multiplication table and another for history and another for poetry, as the end of the lesson is different.
They can understand this if it is put before them that one is learnt most quickly by mere repetition, until it becomes a sing-song in the memory that cannot go wrong, and that afterward in practice it will allow itself to be taken to pieces.
They will see that they can grasp a chapter of history more intelligently if they prepare for themselves questions upon it which might be asked of another, than in trying by mechanical devices of memory to associate facts with something to hold them by; that poetry is different from both, having a body and a soul, each of which has to be taken account of in learning it, one of them being the song and the other the singer.
Obviously there is not one only way for each of these or for other matters which have to be learnt, but one of the greatest difficulties is removed when it is understood that there is something intelligible to be done in the learning of lessons beyond reading them over and over with the hope that they will go in.
In his Collationes in Hexaemeron St. Bonaventure, the Seraphic Doctor, gives some helpful directions concerning the art of study.
Our study must, first, be orderly. In the second place, it must be persevering. St. Bonaventure finds desultory reading a great hindrance, for it betrays a restless spirit, which makes no progress, nor does it permit anything to take root in the memory. We learn to know a person minutely by looking at him often and by studying him, not by a mere glance.
In the third place, we must study with pleasure. God has proportioned both food and taste, so that both must correspond if the food is to be wholesome. He who finds the food distasteful, as did the Israelites with the manna, experiences but one taste. Spiritual men, however, find therein the sweetness of every taste.
Finally, says St. Bonaventure, our studies must remain within proper bounds, and must be prudent. We must be discreet and moderate, and not attempt a learning beyond our strength. The exact limit for every student is drawn by his talents. Beyond this he should not seek to go, nor should he remain below it.
The Seraphic Doctor concludes his directions with an illustration from St. Augustine. Those who do not carry on their studies in an orderly manner are like colts which gallop hither and thither, while the useful beast of burden plods securely on, and arrives at its destination, because it proceeds steadily and perseveringly.
The teacher cannot give too much attention to the subject of teaching her pupils the art of study. Any student of waste in education realizes that the greatest source of waste is found in unintelligent methods of the pupils’ work.
One of our most needed reforms is found in this field. Much would be gained if all teachers could be brought to realize that, the formation of habits, rather than the acquisition of facts, is the dominant purpose of the school.
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Establishing clear-cut family rules requires complete agreement between father and mother. Few things disturb a child more than when his father establishes one standard of conduct and his mother makes continuous exceptions to it. Once a father and mother agree, neither should change the rules without consulting the other, or the child will not know what is expected of him. And both father and mother must share in enforcing them. – Rev. George Kelly, 1950’s
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We live in an age characterized by agitation and lack of peace. This tendency manifests itself in our spiritual as well as our secular life. In our search for God and holiness, in our service to our neighbor, a kind of restlessness and anxiety take the place of the confidence and peace which ought to be ours. What must we do to overcome the moments of fear and distress which assail us? How can we learn to place all our confidence in God and abandon ourselves into his loving care? This is what is taught in this simple, yet profound little treatise on peace of head. Taking concrete examples from our everyday life, the author invites us to respond in a Gospel fashion to the upsetting situations we must all confront. Since peace of heart is a pure gift of God, it is something we should seek, pursue and ask him for without cease. This book is here to help us in that pursuit.
Reverend Irala here addresses ways to promote mental and emotional well-being to help increase one’s health, efficiency and happiness. He speaks on topics such as how to rest, think, use the will, control feelings, train the sexual instinct, be happy, and choose an ideal. Included are also many practical instructions on dealing with mental struggles of all kinds. This book is most useful in our present times of worldly confusion.
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“the formation of habits, rather than the acquisition of facts, is the dominant purpose of the school.” this is very interesting, thank you! 🙂