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Beauty in the Word – Ch. 1 Child, Person, Teacher

Beauty in the Word – Ch. 1 Child, Person, Teacher

This is part of the ongoing discussion with Cindy at Ordo-Amoris.

Stratford Caldecott devotes this chapter to describing the nature of the personhood of the child and how teacher and child interrelate with one another and with God.

Child-Centered vs Teacher-Centered Approach to Education

Caldecott points out fairly the devastating effects of over-emphasizing either the child or the teacher/method/curriculum. “[Romantic] educators believe that too much rote learning and compulsion will turn children against education altogether—and in Catholic circles away from the church. Whereas, too much child-centered education results in “such absurdities as pupils being given certificates of recognition for ‘future achievements’ that may never happen and refusal to award low grades or admit failure…[resulting in] narcissism, overconfidence, and vacuous sentimentality” (19).

So how do we find a new balance, a new approach that does justice to the positive in both of these methods of education? (20)

For Caldecott, the answer lies in attending to a specifically Christian definition of what it means to be a child. This is why the public school system can never get education right.  It’s not just a middle-ground between child- or teacher-centered education we should seek, it’s that government bureaucrats can only define the child in psychological, social, or developmental terms, certainly never spiritual.  Caldecott says the child shows the image of God better than the adult–a sort-of more pure form of human. “It is the central image of man, a sign and pointer towards his origin and the purity of his original being” (27).

At first, I was skeptical of this claim, being a firm believer that children are sinners just like the rest of us.  Anyone who’s ever parented through the terrible-twos can clearly see how ungodly even the cutest of children are.

Caldecott, thank goodness, says “This is not to romanticize or idealize childhood, but to understand it in the light of a new fact: the Incarnation of the second person of the divine Trinity” (26).  That Christ came to us in the form of a child–a fetus no less–shows us that even that bit of humanity is redeemed and within reach of the eternal, ever-loving God of the Universe.  The Lord of Heaven and Earth humbled himself to the point of total dependence on earthly parents.  Yikes.

But children do have a strange way of seeing the world.  Call it innocence, call it purity, call it trust.  In all our work to form them into adults like us, sometimes we fail to realize how different children really are from us.  We must pay attention to the fact that there is something inherent in childhood that Christ wants us to imitate, when He said, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:15).

I love what Cindy said about “the way we really learn in sprints and spurts and rests,” and, “Learning is ALWAYS individual because of the nature of growth.”  This is a radical idea even to homeschooling parents.  Don’t we “need” to be doing 5 lessons per week, for X number of weeks, to “stay on track?”  No, there’s nothing wrong with hitting benchmarks on the way to long-term goals, but LIFE happens, and people aren’t machines.

I also like the way the veteran journalism teacher says it in this new HSLDA video on Common Core.  “They’re not apples, they’re people!”  That is, they’re not objects to be traded or consumed, or pushed along an assembly line toward a college degree and successful career.  They are living beings with hearts and dreams, who trust easily and are purer than ourselves.

So how shall we teach such beings?  I’m sure Caldecott will spend the rest of the book fleshing this out but he says, “If attention to the child is the key to the teacher’s success, it is the child’s own quality of attention that is the key to the learning process” (30).

The teacher’s purpose is to help the student “attend” to truth.  “Attention is desire: it is the desire for light, for truth, for understanding, for possession” (30). If the nature of a child is to trust and believe more easily than us, we simply need to direct their trusting and belief toward truth.

We’ll see what Caldecott has in store for us in Chapter 2.

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.


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Latest Posts


  • One of the things I most love about #homeschooling is the freedom it allows us to love books. It is 9:30am. We just finished breakfast after getting up late because last night we had troop meetings for our scouting groups. The kids are all well-fed and well-rested. But before we start on reading the books I’ve assigned them, we’re taking some time to read our own choices.
When I was a kid, we had plenty of books in the house, but I never really read for pleasure. It didn’t matter that my mom was a librarian and teacher. I wanted to be outside. I thought reading was for school hours and school work.
I carried these thoughts through high school and college, where I read a lot of really great books, but not many that I chose for myself.
My kids will have a totally different experience. Not saying mine was bad, but I am saying that I missed out on worlds or great books and thoughts from great authors in my younger years that I am only discovering now as an adult: the middle books of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Arthur Conan Doyle, Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter, Harry Potter, and many more.
My kids have the TIME FREEDOM to get to know the thoughts of authors they CHOOSE. I don’t care how you school, all kids deserve this opportunity. All kids DESERVE to believe that books can be FUN and INTERESTING and MYSTERIOUS and LOVELY.
What can you do today as a homeschooling/private schooling/public schooling parent to help your kids love reading? Make no mistake: if ALL our kids take from their educations is a habit of reading widely and enjoying it, they will stand a great chance of becoming great adult humans.
#amreading #readaloudrevival #bravewriterlifestyle #homeschool #schoolchoice #charlottemasonirl
  • FINALLY! Everyone is well (enough) that we are back to school. No one is in bed with a fever #winning . Instead, we get to spend our morning with the Scottish Play. I 💛 me some Shakespeare and #MorningTime !
#homeschool #homeschooling #family #amreading #shakespeare #bravewriterlifestyle
  • Fact: The #Navy wife life will kill you if you don’t find support somehow.
Fact: That support will almost 100% of the time be the females around you.
Fact: Our whole family got the flu literally THE DAY Jake’s boat pulled out.
Fact: This little @theglorioustable ditty about crashing our proverbial banana trucks posted the same day. God has a sense of humor. Link also in profile. (
The fact that I am just now getting around to posting about it tells you the extent to which the flu knocked me on my ass. I was in bed for three days straight. I am NEVER this sick.
Fact: If it weren’t for strong, kind, generous WOMEN around me, I probably would have ended up in the hospital and my kids may or may not be alive. The menfolk care too, they just weren’t here. Couldn’t support. Had their own work to do. The mission does not stop for sick families.
Find yourself a tribe if you want to survive. You HAVE to have someone to call. Even if, like me, it’s your mom (who will--wisely--tell you to ask for local help even though you don’t want to be a bother.) I needed prayers, sure, but more than that, I needed local people to literally come to my house and feed my kids and put food in my fridge, be here while I went to the doctor, and put my kids to bed when I was too sick to stay awake a minute longer. A virtual community CANNOT do those things. It can try, but a local community has power a virtual community will never have.
Another post on this topic here: (
#community #Navywifelife #momlife #sisterhood
  • Happy New Year and all, but more importantly, today we got to watch our @wyo_football win the Arizona Bowl. (With a freshman QB starting for the 1st time ever, btw 😮😮😮💪🏻) Way to go Pokes! #theWorldNeedsMoreCowboys #OneWyoming #GoWyo
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  • Morning Time Details! E. (12), S. (almost 8), and L. (6). Our Morning Time morphs as the kids grow and change. It usually includes a combination of memory work and reading aloud. We try to cover a WHOLE LOT of things: Shakespeare, Bible, poetry, catechism, hymns, timeline, art study, composer study, and Ambleside selections for nature study, tales, and church history. This term I’m adding Plutarch.
The hard part is figuring out where I want to aim, with the 5-year gap between E. and S., and then L. being a newbie to full-on school. Having moved twice in 2019, I nixed MT and just focused on individual work. That came with costs. Shakespeare, Plutarch, art study, and composer study suffered. Memory work barely happened at all. I was BUSY. We missed out on discussing things together. Now that we’re settled, it’s time to restart MT.
This term I’ve decided to aim Shakespeare and Plutarch at the oldest, while the girls listen in and do handwriting/drawing/fine motor. I won’t ask them for much narration. Our reading schedule for these is AMBITIOUS. Maybe crazy. Then we’ll do all the memory & read aloud stuff that suits everyone. These lessons are SHORT. Then E. will go do his individual work while I read aloud w/ just the girls.
Also, “Morning Time” is a misnomer, considering we break it up throughout the day. It should really be called Morning/Lunch/Nap Time. I need a new name. Circle Time? Except we don’t sit in a circle. Together school? Except we’re together doing school all day. I don’t think English has the word I’m looking for. Maybe Tertulia or Salon?
Our actual coursework is: the Scottish Play, Plutarch is Alexander the Great’s life, our artist is Gustave Courbet, composer is Paganini, Bible memory is Psalm 46, Hymn is Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me, read alouds will rotate from Burgess Bird Book, Trial and Triumph, Blue Fairy Book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Vanderbeekers, & picture books. Timeline is from Classical Conversations. Poems are Charge of the Light Brigade, Winter Night by Teasdale, and The Land of Nod.
Whew! It’s gonna be a fun term! What do you guys do for Morning Time?

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