CMP Review 2022-12-27

CMP Review 2022-12-27

December 27, 2022

When I was a young man, I was led to believe that teenage rebellion was axiomatic. It was as natural, I was to suppose, as that spring turns to summer, and that summer turns to fall. Perhaps it was even a good thing. Perhaps only the young man who rebels has the spunk to make him a real man.

Then I met a homeschooling dad for the first time. I didn’t have children yet, but he was already telling me about his parenting approach. He talked about the relationship he cultivated with his children by teaching them at home. He said that the relationships started strong and never grew sour. In short, he told me there was a better way.

In the early 20th century, a German thinker named Friedrich Wilhelm Förster explored the question of authority and rebellion in young people. On the one hand, he agreed “with the Rousseauists that the rigid, blind obedience fostered by the repressive system of the past is a bad thing.” On the other hand, he argued that “Authority is the fundamental ethical requirement.” In this way, he struck a “via media between the old cult of repression and the more modern cult of indulgence.”

Like that homeschooling dad, Förster pointed to a “better way” where authority is exercised in a way that never prompts rebellion: a way that respects the personhood of the child. The ideas were too close to the views of Miss Charlotte Mason to escape her notice. In the February 1915 issue of The Parents’ Review she published an article on the topic. “We have seldom had a more valuable paper to publish,” she wrote. I can see why, and so today we share the article with you. Find it here.