"Can you know excellence if you've never seen it?" - - The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
I just re-read one of my favorite Newberry Award winning books and was struck by this statement. How do we expose our children to excellence? If they don't see it in our home, can we guarantee they'll see it outside in the world? I don't think so. We can hope. We can surround ourselves with greatness and let it filter down to our children. But ultimately we need to show immerse them in excellence in our homes. How can we do this?
I recently read this quote from Arthur Henry King on another blog I freqently visit:
Every single object in a room is of relevence to our education and to the education of our children...Children are affected from the beginning by what they see and hear within the walls of their home. Their environment creates their taste"
I like that, "Their environment creates their taste."
Elder David B. Haight once said that every home should have three things: a piano, great books, and love. That's it! How do we expose our children to greatness?
Beautiful music. Uplifting music. Sometimes in our home we're in the mood for good ol' dance music. Other times we need the classical works of Mozart. On the Sabbath we particularly enjoy listening to spiritual music (i.e. the Mormon Tabernacle Choir). Thanks to Pandora, we are blessed with all these types of music in our home. We also love the Suzuki piano CD's. Something else I would put in the beautiful music category are the great musicals of our time: The Sound of Music, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, State Fair, Annie Get Your Gun, Singin' in the Rain, etc. We also just recently watched The Magic Flute performance, exposing my children to the sounds of opera. So many ways to bring in greatness through music!
Classic literature. There's always so much out there about classic literature. From another post I read a great description of why we need to read classics, and what constitutes a classic. She wrote:
EVERY TIME I read [classics] I am recommitted to ... principles.... So, I may be wrong, but I think truly to be a classic it must not only change us because we learn, grow and have a different perspective, BUT we must truly come closer to God by reading it. The book must give us courage and strength and righteous desires, and virtue, knowledge and ability to BE better. To be more like God is. It should help us see ourselves and others for who we truly are and who we truly must become. It should leave us wanting more...not because we wish the story would not have ended, but because we have been spiritually edified.
Note: I do believe there can be great modern literature that could be placed in the classics category. Classics do not only need to be those "difficult to read and understand" works of literature. :-)
All they need is love. One of my favorite quotes, by Avi, says, "If you can convince your children that you love them, you can teach them anything." We can expose our kids to all the greatness in the world, but what greater lesson than teaching them how to love. One of my favorite sciptures, my motto scripture as mother is found in Mosiah 4:14-15:
"And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another (bold added)."
So. These are the things I think about when I try to surround my children with excellence. Music. Literature. Love. How hard can it be? :-)