Education of an Imagination – Part One
What does it take to educate an imagination that changes her generation, her nation, her era, her world? During the great 19th century campaign to end the British Slave Trade one woman did so through her pen. Novels, poetry, and inexpensive pamphlets flowed furiously from the imagination of Hannah More. But like all children Hannah’s lively imagination had to be nourished and history has left us very excellent snippets into how it was done.
Gathering Reading Sheaves
Like many girls in her day, Hannah received most of her education at home. The fourth of five daughters, she surprised her mother at the progress she made in learning to read by listening to the instruction her older sisters received. I have observed the exact same thing in homeschooling families as well. Never underestimate, Mom, the benefits of training your older children in the hearing of your little ones.
Tell Me the Story…In English Please?
While Hannah would master all literary genres in her long life, poetry was the diamond in her crown. As a wee thing she begged her nurse to tell her stories about the English poet John Dryden, which the elderly lady had ample fodder for having once worked in the poet’s home. What might this nurse had thought if she could have known her stories were bequeathing hope to one of the greatest poets for liberty and human dignity? Dear old nurse wasn’t the only story-teller though. Hannah’s father, Jacob More, seems to have possessed an eager mind himself, often taking eight-year-old Hannah on his knee to recount the history of the Greeks and Romans. To give color to the ancient narratives, he first told them in their original languages and then translated them into English for his attentive daughter.
Teaching Two for the Price of One
Hannah’s parents apparently were far-sighted individuals in addition to possessing a great respect for the past. Their eldest daughter, Mary, was sent to a French school in Bristol with the hope she would be enabled to run her own boarding school and thus be able to support herself. Mary reciprocated in kind by teaching her sisters a synopsis of what she had learned each week, which gifting the young Hannah with a fluent understanding of the French language.
At the age of twenty-one Mary opened her school and twelve-year old Hannah became one of her pupils. The school would go on to be quite the success with Hannah herself eventually becoming one of the foremost teachers.
Letters to Learning
In addition to these experiences, Hannah also visited several lectures during her teen years and kept up a fertile correspondence with great thinking minds of her day, including an astronomer who opened the world of science to her. In later years, her “pen pals” would include names such as Samuel Johnson, David Garrick, and William Wilberforce.
Kenzi Knapp is a follower of Christ, homeschool graduate and student of history. A fourth generation Missourian she enjoys writing about daily life enrolled in Gods great course of faith and His story throughout the ages at her blog, Honey Rock Hills.