Saturday, October 15, 2011

Natural Bents

In the homeschooling circle we speak of enabling a child’s natural bent. What I mean is if he talks about cars constantly, teach him to change oil. If she shows an interest in crafts, get her the materials to create. (Sorry if that sounds sexist, but those are mini-portraits of my first two children.) One of the reasons I like homeschooling is that children have more time to follow their natural bents.

Several 1800’s figures showed inclinations at early ages toward their life works. Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886), who was born and raised near Philadelphia, commanded troops during the Civil War. First of all, his father and mother named him after another famous general, Winfield Scott. Second, in his early years at school he persuaded fellow students to practice marching and organized a company which named him captain.

Elisha Kent Kane (1820-1857) born in Philadelphia is another example of this. As a child, he liked to try new things and especially loved a physical challenge. He also enjoyed the outdoors. What did he become? World known explorer! He visited Rio de Janeiro, the Andes Mountains, Bombay, Ceylon, Macao, Persia, Syria, Egypt, Greece, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Africa. Kane became most famous for his travels to the Arctic regions, but he also ventured into the crater of a volcano in the Philippines.

A third nineteenth-century man showed his abilities early. Edwin Forrest (1806-1872) loved to recite for friends of his family. He was apprenticed at the age of ten to merchants, but still practiced his speaking and acting. He belonged to a Thespian society at the age of eleven and played the parts of children in plays. At fourteen he played a part that received requests for more performances. At seventeen, he began to act in New Orleans, where at nineteen he starred as the Shakespearian King Lear. He became very rich and famous performing in many major cities of the United States and in London, England.

So watch for your children’s natural abilities and encourage them. Who knows? You may be raising the next famous general, space explorer, or actor. Thinking about natural bents reminded me of song, “The High Chair,” by Steve and Annie Chapman.

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