"It is our duty to form opinions carefully, and to hold them tenaciously in so far as the original grounds of our conclusions remain unshaken. But what we have no right to do, is to pass these opinions on to our children. We all know nothing is easier than to make vehement partisans of young people, in any cause heartily adopted by their elders. But a reaction comes, and the swinging of the pendulum is apt to carry them to a point of thought painfully remote from our own. ... Children are far more likely to embrace the views of their parents, when they are ripe to form opinions, if these have not been forced upon them in early youth when their lack of knowledge and experience makes it impossible for them to form opinions at first hand." SCHOOL EDUCATION : Charlotte Mason p 42-43.
A child forming their own opinions is another area where parents "would do well to practice a wise 'letting alone'," as presented in the previous 4 posts in this series.
There is a huge, diverse quantity of questions and opinions on innumerable subjects today. It is impossible to keep up with all thoughts and perspectives in a world filled with increasing fields of study every year.
ERRORS IN HOW TO FORM OPINIONS ~
When we freely give our opinions with the intention that our children take on these same opinions, we treat them as though they were empty buckets that need ready-made opinions poured in. If we give them our opinions instead of ideas to feed on, they will not go through the process of weighing things up, thinking issues through and are likely to dump the views and opinions of their parents as they enter adulthood.
As the first sentence in the quote states, opinions take time to be formed. Commonly people firmly and passionately throw around comments which are presented as thought out opinions when they are simply ideas recently picked up. If the conversation continued long enough it would prove that there was no depth of opinion being shared.
HOW DO YOU FORM OPINIONS THAT ARE WORTH HAVING ~
The author of the quote gives 3 suggestions.
1. "We must have thought about the subject and know something about it, as a gardener does about the weather." This requires we spend time, personal experience, gather information and make observations ourselves. It is tested thought.
2. "it must be our own opinion, and not caught up as a parrot catches up its phrases;" Our opinions are not to be a copy or regurgitation of others around us.
3. "it must be disinterested, that is, it must not be influenced by our inclinations." It is not wise to hold opinions which are completely influenced by our personal tastes, likes and wants. If we do our wishes will drown our judgement or watered it down, and the opinion that results is not worth having.
A BACKGROUND FROM WHICH OPINIONS CAN BE FORMED ~
Childhood is the time where a variety of knowledge, experience and observation, listening and considering, take place. The point is that if a child is exposed to diverse material and situations, they are given the opportunity to be trained to think. (I will need to describe what this idea actually means at a later date in another post) Children need to be given opportunities so they see processes of how opinions are formed in the real world. Books and movies that tell stories of true or historical people in struggles or leadership, can be examples which present opinions being formed. Books and movies which are fantasy based do not give such help.
"As a fact, the books that make us think, the poems which we ponder, the lives of men which we consider, are more use to us than volumes of good counsel."
"and it seems to be a law in the things of life and mind that we don't get anything for our own unless we work for it."
WE MAY CHANGE OUR OPINION IN TIME ~
I have changed my opinion on various matters in my life. The quote's first sentence indicates changes of opinion do happen. In reading a particular article, watching a certain movie, hearing someone communicate their view, our opinion on a matter can be changed in a moment.
As Charlotte Mason says, "No wise person, however old, is sure of their opinions. ... The word opinion literally means 'a thinking'; what I think with modesty and hesitation and not what I am certain-sure about."
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ The opportunity is there while children are growing up, to look, think and assess the exciting world they have been born into. Parents should never be afraid or daunted by the huge amount of ideas and views to be heard. Children need access to a large variety of views and time to watch and consider if they 'stand up' in the lives of the people around them.