Curricular Compulsion

Roger Ascham, The Scholemaster:

Yes forsothe: as wise as they be, either in other mens opinion, or in their owne conceite, I will bring the contrarie iudgement of him, who, they them selues shall confesse, was as wise as they are, or else they may be iustlie thought to haue small witte at all: and that is Socrates, whose iudgement in Plato is plainlie this in these wordes: which, bicause they be verie notable, I will recite them in his owne tong, ouden mathema meta douleias chre manthanein: οὐδὲν μάθημα μετὰ δουλείας τὸν ἐλεύθερον χρὴ μανθάνειν. οἱ μὲν γὰρ τοῦ σώματος πόνοι βίᾳ πονούμενοι χεῖρον οὐδὲν τὸ σῶμα ἀπεργάζονται, ψυχῇ δὲ βίαιον οὐδὲν ἔμμονον μάθημα: in Englishe thus, No learning ought to be learned with bondage: For bodelie labors, wrought by compulsion, hurt not the bodie: but any learning learned by compulsion, tarieth not long in the mynde: And why? For what soeuer the mynde doth learne vnwillinglie with feare, the same it doth quicklie forget without care.

And lest proude wittes, that loue not to be contraryed, but haue lust to wrangle or trifle away troth, will say, that Socrates meaneth not this of childrens teaching, but of som other higher learnyng, heare, what Socrates in the same place doth more plainlie say: Μὴ τοίνυν βίᾳ, εἶπον, ὦ ἄριστε, τοὺς παῖδας ἐν τοῖς μαθήμασιν ἀλλὰ παίζοντας τρέφε, that is to say, and therfore, my deare frend, bring not vp your children in learning by compulsion and feare, but by playing and pleasure. And you, that do read Plato, as ye shold, do well perceiue, that these be no Questions asked by Socrates, as doutes, but they be Sentences, first affirmed by Socrates, as mere trothes, and after, giuen forth by Socrates, as right Rules, most necessarie to be marked, and fitte to be folowed of all them, that would haue children taughte, as they should.

And in this counsell, iudgement, and authoritie of Socrates I will repose my selfe, vntill I meete with a man of the contrarie mynde, whom I may iustlie take to be wiser, than I thinke Socrates was. Fonde scholemasters, neither can vnderstand, nor will folow this good counsell of Socrates, but wise ryders, in their office, can and will do both: which is the onelie cause, that commonly, the yong ientlemen of England, go so vnwillinglie to schole, and run so fast to the stable: For in verie deede fond scholemasters, by feare, do beate into them, the hatred of learning, and wise riders, by ientle allurements, do breed vp in them, the loue of riding. They finde feare, & bondage in scholes, They feele libertie and freedome in stables: which causeth them, vtterlie to abhore the one, and most gladlie to haunt the other. And I do not write this, that in exhorting to the one, I would dissuade yong ientlemen from the other: yea I am sorie, with all my harte, that they be giuen no more to riding, then they be: For, of all outward qualities, to ride faire, is most cumelie for him selfe, most necessarie for his contrey, and the greater he is in blood, the greater is his praise, the more he doth excede all other therein. It was one of the three excellent praises, amongest the noble ientlemen the old Percians, Alwaise to say troth, to ride faire, and shote well: and so it was engrauen vpon Darius tumbe, as Strabo beareth witnesse.

    Darius the king, lieth buried here,

          Who in riding and shoting had neuer peare.

But, to our purpose, yong men, by any meanes, leesing the loue of learning, whan by tyme they cum to their owne rule, they carie commonlie, from the schole with them, a perpetuall hatred of their master, and a continuall contempt of learning. If ten Ientlemen be asked, why they forget so sone in Court, that which they were learning so long in schole, eight of them, or let me be blamed, will laie the fault on their ill handling, by their scholemasters.

Roger Ascham - Project Gutenberg eText 12788.png

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