I’ve been reading “Laying Down the Rails” and have been mulling over Ms. Mason’s philosophies. With some I agree wholeheartedly, and with some I’m not sure.
I found this quote to be particularly thought-provoking and wondered, in a society where children are largely without the habits of propriety once expected, if we would do well to consider being more diligent in habit-forming:
“Habit is ten natures. If that be true, strong as nature is, habit is not only as strong, but tenfold as strong. Here, then, have we a stronger than he, able to overcome this strong man armed.“But habit runs on the lines of nature: the cowardly child habitually lies that he may escape blame; the loving child has a hundred endearing habits; the good-natured child has a habit of giving; the selfish child, a habit of keeping. Habit, working thus according to nature, is simply nature in action, growing strong by exercise.“But habit, to be the lever to lift the child, must work contrary to nature, or at any rate, independently of her” (Vol. 1, p. 105).
“The extraordinary power of habit in forcing nature into new channels hardly requires illustration; we have only to see a small boy at a circus riding two barebacked ponies with a foot on the back of each, or a pantomime fairy dancing on air, or a clown behaving like an indiarubber ball, or any of the thousand feats of skill and dexterity which we pay our shillings to see—mental feats as well as bodily, though, happily, these are the rarer—to be convinced that exactly anything may be accomplished by training, that is, the cultivation of persistent habits.”