“Stealing is no art. It’s deception, manual dexterity. Presto, and the stuff is gone! That’s how the gypsies were.” Then he [Martin Luther] spoke about children and said that they should not be allowed to commit thefts. “However, one ought to observe reasonableness. If only cherries, apples, and the like are involved, such childish pranks ought not to be punished so severely; but if money, clothing, or coffers have been seized it is time to punish. My parents kept me under very strict discipline, even to the point of making me timid. For the sake of a mere nut my mother beat me until the blood flowed. By such strict discipline they finally forced me into the monastery; though they meant it heartily well, I was only made timid by it. They weren’t able to keep a right balance between temperament and punishment. One must punish in such a way that the rod is accompanied by the apple. It’s a bad thing if children and pupils lose their spirit on account of their parents and teachers. There have been bungling schoolmasters who spoiled many excellent talents by their rudeness. Ah, what a time we had on Fridays with the lupus and on Thursdays with the parts of Donatus! Then they asked each pupil to parse precisely, according to Donatus, legeris, legere, legitur, and even lecti mei ars. These tests were nothing short of torture. Whatever the method that’s used, it ought to pay attention to the difference in aptitudes and teach in such a way that all children are treated with equal love.” (Luther’s Works, v. 54, p.234, No. 3566A: Children Must Be Disciplined with Understanding, Between March 28 and May 27, 1537)
Posted in 2019 Teaching Children.