The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Education of a Child: From the Wisdom of Fenelon, The Review by Karen Houston

EditedEdited by Mark Hamby
Lamplighter Publishing

Hearken, all ye classical and Charlotte Mason educators! Are you EVER in for a real treat - and so is everyone who has children! Gather your children, say, ages nine and up. Collect your hot tea or coffee, and sit down at the open book with the net ready to peruse at or search under "Musee de Versaille et Trianon". Be ready for an interactive journey that is marvelous (and well-lit!). We have "gone" to cathedrals in Spain, castles in Ireland, Pompeii, and the newly uncovered Atlantis, but THIS is GREAT! The French castle has done the best job, by far. The panning is very steady, slow, and interactive room by room. You may choose from several vistas, the front lawn, the back gardens, the Queen's rooms, and they're all beautifully done.

Fenelon lived at that time (late 17th century) in France. His name and titles are quite long, but suffice it to say the morals of courage, temperance, liberality, magnanimity, honor, gentleness, truthfulness, wittiness and justice (Aristotle, Nichomachean ethics) comprise the ancient classical approach to children's education. This methodology originated from the beliefs of Egyptians, Hebrews, and Greeks. Fenelon rejected the crafty and disguised spirit of cunning and deceit (and remember, he's writing in 1687!). He likewise despised and eschewed the vain flattering of ornamentation (shock me again) and idolatry surrounding pursuit of pleasures and adorations as worldly and not honoring to our Creator. Fenelon speaks at great length against indifferent, superficial, and ill-conducted education of a child, saying this is neglect of the child and causes the child confusion, contradictions, and disputes. He notes modeling as the largest contributor to education, as opposed to mere rhetoric or dull, harsh drill and repetition. He speaks against adulterated representations and vanities, in favor of simple virtues and a mild, charming Godly spirit.

"Is it not imputing a false honour to ourselves, to desire a good education for our children, without choosing to take the trouble of it; or to subject ourselves to the rules necessary for it?" he asks in his chapter "Our Governesses." He concludes with our Lord's description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. Madame de Maintenon wrote to Francois de Fenelon requesting he educate her daughter. Fenelon responds with his "Epistle to a Lady," extolling the importance and lasting influence brought about by a loving, Christian mother.

In an incredible sequence of events (are you SITTING DOWN?), King Louis XIV, yes, you read correctly(!), amidst much apology and dismay for not having done it sooner, beseeches Fenelon to take charge of educating his grandson in preparation for the throne of France! I don't know about you, but this simply STUNNED me - what a testimony to Fenelon's character that King Louis XIV would do such a thing!

Mark Hamby from Lamplighter Publishing does note that in this edition, he omits Fenelon's writings on other issues not having to do with education of the child.

We have heard then what happens, but Fenelon's writings are easily found in classical collections, as they are well thought of. As Fenelon himself states, it would be good to read what he has written several times along with your older child and those who share in their education with you. You may or may not agree with what is written, but it helps immensely to put his writings in perspective by remembering how things were in France at that time.

The web site at Chateaux de Versailles is a terrific adjunct to reading this book, interactive and unparalleled. There's only one small catch - do you speak French well enough to get around? If not, live dangerously - it's breathtaking, and it brings Fenelon's book alive for yourself and your children! Excellent for the study of French architecture, lessons on Napoleon and Josephine, King Louis XI-XIV, etc. Fenelon's book alone would be a great study for an older child on how our surrounding political world affects our religious or educational beliefs!

-- Product review by: Karen Houston, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine