Parents and Children
Preface to the Third Edition
Our conduct is the outcome of our principles, even if these be only such as––’It does not matter’; ‘What’s the good?’
Every office implies the observance of certain fundamental principles in its discharge.
These two considerations lead me to think that a careful examination of the principles which naturally and necessarily underlie the office of parents may be of some little use to those who take their great work seriously.
Believing that the individuality of parents is a great possession for their children, and knowing that when an idea possesses the mind, ways of applying it suggest themselves, I have tried not to weight these pages with many directions, practical suggestions, and other such crutches, likely to interfere with the free relations of parent and child. Our greatness as a nation depends upon how far parents take liberal and enlightened views of their high office and of the means to discharge it which are placed in their hands.
The following essays have appeared in the Parents’ Review, and were addressed, from time to time, to a body of parents who are making a practical study of the principles of education––the ‘Parents’ National Educational Union.’ The Parents’ Union exists to advance, with more or less method and with more or less steadfastness, a definite school of educational thought of which the two main principles are––the recognition of the physical basis of habit, i.e., of the material side of education; and of the inspiring and formative power of ideas, i.e., of the immaterial, or spiritual, side of education. These two guiding principles, covering as they do the whole field of human nature, should enable us to deal rationally with all the complex problems of education; and the object of the following essays is, not to give an exhaustive application of these principles––the British Museum itself would hardly contain all the volumes needful for such an undertaking––but to give an example or a suggestion, here and there, as to how such and such a habit may be formed, such and such a formative idea be implanted and fostered. The intention of the volume will account to the reader for the iteration of the same principles in various connections. The author ventures to hope that the following hints and suggestions will not prove the less practically useful to busy parents, because they rest on profound educational principles; and also, that they may prove in some degree, suggestive and inspiring to teachers.