Friday, September 25, 2015

A Simple Way To Help Children Do Their Chores Well

Our children are often employed in our garden with chores and odd jobs. They mow the lawn, feed the chickens, water the plants, and weed the garden beds. They saw off loose branches, prune bushes, and start bonfires. In short, we put them to work.

The way in which my wife manages this work does a little to prove that beauty is linked to goodness, and that it is, to a large and shared degree, objective. Not that beauty or goodness are one monadic thing that all must acknowledge, but that beauty can be appealed to as an objective standard of morality.

Quelle grande philosophie, non?

You, as a dad, know that children can be as lazy and laissez-faire as you and I. We are constantly checking on their work, chivvying them to finish their chores well, asking them to take pride in their work.

"Look at that, son. Does that look like a good job?"

My wife has been using a line on the kids when they work in the garden that I think is gold. Its application in the garden makes perfect sense, but I'm going to try to expand its use into dishwashing and math homework as well. When the kids come in to report that a job is finished, Kimberly asks them:

"Does it look beautiful?"

More than once that question has sent the children scurrying back to the garden, possessed of the knowledge that their mother would not accept their work until it was beautiful, regardless of whether a chore checklist had been met or not. And the kids know what beauty is. They don't ask "Do I need to prune this particular branch to make it beautiful?" They know. There's a universality to the question that, if one is raised in a family that strives for Trinitarian aesthetics, is grasped even without being formulated.

Beauty: the best practical measure of good work we've encountered yet.

1 comment:

  1. Amen! That's what I find so frustrating in teaching college. Yes you technically did your homework. But is it beautiful?.... Very rarely do the students, even the good ones, get that.

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