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Bishop Burnet Thoughts on Education

Bishop Burnett ‘s Thoughts on Education (part 2)

The next choice should be of the women that shall keep them after they are weaned, that they may be discreet and modest: for many base sluts learne children very early obscene talk and impure actions

How soon as a child can distinctly pronounce every word,  and understands all that is spoken, he should be taught to read, which is usually when they are four years old or five. Then should some of the seeds of religion be dropt into them, that there is a God, a Heaven, and Hell should be often told them, but chiefly the last, which they can best understand:  only the terrifying them with frightful stories or visars is a mighty error; for beside the present prejudice  it may occasion by their sudden startling and discomposure, it may nourish and breed in them a bogling humour, which may stick to them and trouble them at a riper age.


They should be also taught some very short forms of Prayers, the Lord’s Prayer, the Doxology, or the like, and be made to say them, not in their beds, but on their Knees, morning and evening, so that they may grow in them with their years a reverence of God


For their manners, so green an age is capable of few precepts, habitual lying should be well guarded against; for this base custom, once acquired in youth will not easily be driven away. The chief occasions of it in them are fear and malice. Severe parents or masters, by their rigorous punishing the faults of the little ones, teach them this slavish and hateful sin. The best ward against this hazard is to promise a child a ready pardon for the greatest fault if they candidly confess it: and indeed to teach an habitual ingenuity may well deserve a connivance at great escapes.  A humour also of telling ill of those whom they emulate doth also feed this custom of lying; which is the more to be guarded against, because it is coupled to another evil almost as bad, detraction and envy. This fault will also be best corrected by a constant pardoning the child accused, and a translating the punishment due to the fault upon the tattler


Swearing, Obscenity, and terms of Scolding are also to be looked to in Children; but a discreet choice in their servants and playfellows is the surest preservative against these vices.


To be continued