Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

Montaigne Readalong Week Seven

The Montaigne Readalong is a year long project in which I try to read over 1,000 pages of Montaigne's essays. Every Monday I write about the essays I read for the week. You can share your thoughts or join the readalong if you'd like, just check the Montaigne Readalong schedule. You can read several of these essays for free on Google Books or subscribe to Montaigne's essays on Daily Lit.

Essays Read this Week:
1. On educating children

Favorite Quotations:
"In the case of those who wish to hide their borrowings and pass them off as their own, their action is, first and foremost, unjust and mean: they have nothing worthwhile of their own to show off so they try to recommend themselves with someone else's goods" (On educating children).

"My aim is to reveal my own self, which may well be different tomorrow if I am initiated into some new business which changes me" (On educating children).

General Thoughts:
This essay brought up a lot of the same things last week's On schoolmaster's learning brought up. Montaigne talks about problems with educating, particularly with exams well, regurgitation, "Spewing up food exactly as you have swallowed it is evidence of a failure to digest and assimilate it; the stomach has not done its job if, during concoction, it fails to change the substance and the form of what it is given." Montaigne believes education should allow you to know yourself and school should be where you form yourself. He thinks teachers give students quotations and books to read in an attempt to make the students believe those are the last words on everything. In this way students never learn how to speak for themselves. They simply say what others have already said.

"I sometimes hear people who apologize for not being able to say what they mean, maintaining that their heads are so full of fine things that they cannot deliver them for want of eloquence. That is moonshine. Do you know what I think? It is a matter of shadowy notions coming to them from some unformed concepts which they are unable to untangle and to clarify in their minds: consequently they cannot deliver them externally."

I really love the idea of learning to form yourself. I've gotten bad grades in some classes but walked out with information that really shaped my thoughts on the class topic. I've gotten A+ in some classes that I remember nothing from. These are obviously extremes, but I've often thought about going back to the professors of classes and showing them how much I actually did learn in their class-- even if it wasn't what I supposed to learn for an exam.

1. What do you think education is for?

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Montaigne Readalong Week Seven + TIME