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The View of the Family Education in Little Women

By Richard Wagner,2014-09-08 11:27
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    The View of the Family Education in Little Women

    Abstract: Good family education is closely related to children‟s overall growth, and even the future of our country. In order to make the children have access to nice education and cultivation and let family education become the endless source in children‟s mind, parents need to know about the nature of education, seek for appropriate education methods and exploit potentialities by grasping education opportunities. The novel Little Women, to some extent, provides valuable suggestions

    and effective examples for our current generation. Mrs. March, a respectful mother in Little Women, helps her daughters live a successful and happy life. The novel Little

    Women depicts the disturbances and vexations which the girls experience, and then presents us how they overcome those difficulties and get success in the end. According to this clue, the thesis will study the family education from the following aspects, namely what concepts Mrs. March uses in children‟s education, how Mrs.

    March educates her children, and what effectiveness of the family education for the children are. It makes a conclusion: Family education plays an increasingly important part in children‟s growth. It suggests that parents should guide their children and help

    them grow healthily and happily with proper ways.

    Key words: Little Women; family education; educational concepts

    《小妇人》中的家庭教育观

    杨华萍

    【内容提要】:良好的家庭教育与孩子的全面成长(甚至与我们国家的未来是密切相关的。为了使孩子们获得良好的教育和培养,让家庭教育成为孩子心中无尽的源泉,那么父母需要了解教育的本质(寻求适当的教育方法,并且把握教育机会来开拓孩子的潜力。在某种程度上(《小妇人》这部小说为我们当前一代提供了宝贵的建议和有效的例子。《小妇人》中受人尊敬的母亲--马奇太太(帮助她的女儿过着幸福美满的生活。《小妇人》这部小说描写了女孩子所经历的烦闷和烦恼,然后为我们呈现她们是如何克服那些困难,并最终取得胜利的。根据这一线索,论文将从以下几个方面研究家庭教育,即马奇太太在孩子的教育中运用了哪些观念,如何教育她的孩子,马奇太太的家庭教育对孩子们产生了怎样的效果。最后,得出了一个结论:家庭教育在孩子的成长中发挥着越来越重要的作用。父母就应该用恰当的方式引导孩子,帮助他们健康快乐地成长。

    关键词】:《小妇人》;家庭教育;教育观

    CONTENTS

    I. Introduction ................................................................................................... 4 II. About Little Women .................................................................................. 5

    2.1 The introduction of Little Women .......................................................... 5

    2.2 The characteristics of Mrs. March and four girls ............................... 5

    2.3 Influence of Little Women....................................................................... 6

    ?. The reflection of family education of Mrs. March ...................... 7

    3.1 The concepts of Mrs. March‟s family education ................................ 7

    3.1.1 Being diligent and responsible ............................................................. 8

    3.1.2 Being optimistic and contented ............................................................ 8

    3.1.3 Being charitable and independent ........................................................ 9

    3.2 The ways of Mrs. March‟s family education ...................................... 9

    3.2.1 Creating a nice family environment ..................................................... 9

    3.2.2 Experiencing by themselves .............................................................. 10

    3.2.3 Having good communications with them ............................................ 11

    3.3 The effectiveness of Mrs. March‟s family education ....................... 11

    3.3.1 For Meg ............................................................................................. 11

    3.3.2 For Joy .............................................................................................. 12

    3.3.3 For Beth ............................................................................................ 13

    3.3.4 For Amy ............................................................................................ 13 IV. Conclusion .................................................................................................. 14 References ......................................................................................................... 15 Acknowledgements ........................................................................................ 16

    The View of the Family Education in Little Women

I. Introduction

    Good family education is closely related to childrens overall growth, such as

    qualitybehavior and manner, and related to the future of our country. In order to make the children have access to nice education and cultivation and let family education become the endless source in children‟s mind, parents need to know about

    the nature of education, seek for appropriate education methods and exploit potentialities by grasping education opportunities. Little Women provides effective

    suggestions and examples of family education for our current generation. And I believe we can make good use of the valuable experience.

    There are a considerable number of academic researchers about Little Women

    from different points of view: from the perspective of interpretation of American traditional culture; from the perspective of the war; from the comparison with others‟

    studies; from the perspective of the study of children‟s education; even from the humanistic psychologist Erich Fromm‟s theory of personality organization‟s point of view. Most of the current feminist research focused on women‟s pursuit of

    independence, equality and freedom and self- consciousness on women.

    Rarely study on the Family Education, which I think plays the most important role in four girls‟ success and remains fairly consistent throughout their life. The

    novel Little Women depicts the disturbances and vexations which the girls experience, and then represents us how they overcome those difficulties and get success in the end. According to this clue, the thesis will study the family education from four aspects, namely what concepts Mrs. March uses in her children‟s education, how Mrs. March educates her four children, and what the effectiveness of the family education for the four children are. At last, it makes a conclusion: Family education plays an increasingly important part in children‟s growth. It suggests that parents should guide their children and help them grow healthily and happily with proper ways.

II. About Little Women

    Little Women Before I read this book, I had watched a TV series made by Korea. So I have strong interest on the original. Little Women, a great novel, narrates an

    ordinary story about four sisters of Marches. They are different girls not only in

    appearance, but in their characters, behavior, hobbies, and ideality (Santoro, 2010:6).

    Now, I must make some introduction of this novel and the characteristics of Mrs. March and the four girls, as well as the influence of Little Women.

    2.1 The introduction of Little Women

    Little Women concerns the lives and loves of four girls growing up during the American Civil War. “It was based on Alcott‟s own experiences as a child in Concord,

    Massachusetts. More than that, however, Little Women is a morality tale (Alderson,

    1994:5).” Each chapter not only contains the lives and adventures of the four girls, but also the lessons on how to be a good and mature person, and how to achieve happiness in life.

    The March family was a warm and fragrant American family. Mr. March was at the Civil War battle front, so Mrs. March became the back born of the family. “In order to help their mother to support the family, Jo and Meg work outside to earn some money to increase the daily necessities for the family (Janis, 2003:2).” For her

    girls, mother is the moral role model. “Four sisters, in spite of quite different characters, all become independent and optimistic under the guidance of their mother (Allyson, 2010:35-36).”

    2.2 The characteristics of Mrs. March and four girls

    Mrs. March: the mother of the four March sisters, also the guide of the family. She appears to have infinite wisdom and patience, and an exceptionally charitable nature. She wants nothing more than her daughters‟ happiness and knows how to teach them the lessons they need to achieve for the happiness. “Once asked about whether she plans to marry one of her daughters to Laurie, she knows that there is more to life than riches, and lives off her family love not money (Alcott, 2003:255).”

    Meg: the oldest of the March sisters. Plump and beautiful, sweet and good

    tempered, Meg has a penchant for pretty things. She likes to sew, and does her best at running a household, although sometimes she has trouble. She battles with being poor, but she adores her family and her husband later.

    Jo: the main heroine of the book, as the second oldest sister and a tomboy. She adores any kinds of writing and plans to make her fortune with her pen. Although she is quick-tempered, she tries hard to be nice and pleasing to her parents. She takes Laurie under her wing and helps to raise him into the man he becomes. “She is often self-sacrificing, and has a strong maternal connection over her sister Beth who she adores. She is exceptionally dependable and acts as the man of the house when their father is away (Cui, 2010:5).”

    Beth: the quiet sweet-tempered angel of the family, Beth does everything she can to make the house a happy place. She is shy, and adores playing the piano and singing. She loves cats and dolls and takes care of both with a fever.

    Amy: the youngest of the March sisters, Amy is at first selfish and spoiled. To become a nice Lady, Amy concentrates on making herself better in their poverty-stricken life. She is an artist who loves to portray beauty in all things. As time goes on, she tempers her nature and becomes a mature woman, who puts away her greed for money and helps poor people.

    2.3 Influence of Little Women

    Little Women is an everlasting classic work in American history. It is May Alcott‟s best-known novel. Little Women is also a morality tale. It is one of the most

    agreeable juvenile novels in American history and has been popular for over 100 years. It has been translated into dozens of languages and sold millions of copies throughout the world (Cui, 2010:5). It has been filmed into movies, TV series, and cartoons in many countries. From the Little Women publishing to now, more than one

    century have passed, and the book Little Women has never been out of date, and lose

    its charm. On the contrary, the book likes a huge magnet which attracts every generation and contact different generations. Most people are attracted to the shiny images of four girls in Little Women, while we cannot overlook their mother Mrs.

    March. Mrs. March is not only a specialist in education, but also a real educational art executor.

    Ruth MacDonald argued that “Louisa May Alcott stands as one of the great American practitioners of the girls‟ novel and the family story.” In the 1860s, gendered separation of children‟s fiction was a newer division in literature. Joy Kasson wrote that “Alcott chronicled the coming of age of young girls, their struggles with issues such as selfishness and generosity, the nature of individual integrity, and, above all, the question of their place in the world around them.” Girls were able to relate to the March sisters in Little Women along with following the lead of their

    heroines by assimilating aspects of the story into their own lives.

?. The reflection of family education of Mrs. March

    It is no doubt that family education plays an important role in children‟s overall

    growth. Large number of parents and schools have created and summarized lots of successful and valuable experience for the family education. Even some parents study the knowledge of family education initiatively. Therefore, a profound change has occurred to the family education. Mrs. March is not only a specialist in education,

    but also a real educational art executor (Xu, 2009:6). So I will discuss some concepts

    and ways Mrs. March uses in children‟s education, and the effectiveness of the family

    education for the children.

    3.1 The concepts of Mrs. March’s family education

    Family is the most influential factor for children‟s overall growth. Children

    cannot distinguish from the right and the wrong and most of the time they stay with their parents whose behavior has a great effect on children‟s future. Therefore, parents should set a good example for children by their deed and let them have a basic understanding of morality. Moreover, parents need to observe and concern children in their process of growing and have prompt and proper communication with children. Only in this way can they cultivate children‟s abilities at the highest level and let them

    become adaptable for the society. Thus their future will be better and promising. Little

    Women is just a very good “parenting book”, which helps parents to educate their children. Almost at the end of each chapter, Mrs. March gives correctly meaningful guidance and earnest teachings to the four girls when they are faced with various problems.

    3.1.1 Being diligent and responsible

    Mrs. March guides her girls to have awareness of the importance of being diligent and responsible. In chapter 13, the four girls spend a week‟s time without any

    work except joy. However, unsettled feeling processes everyone. Without any interest and delight, the resting and reveling process even becomes a burden for them. At last, the four sisters get aware of the dullness and shame in the free and leisure life. Finally, Mrs. March tells them the little lesson in this trial: only by helping each other and having daily duties can we make leisure sweet when it comes; home may be comfortable and lovely if we bear and forbear; work is wholesome and there is plenty of for everyone, giving a sense of power and independence better than money or fashion. Meanwhile, let the children not go to the other extreme and delve like slaves; have regular hours for work and play and make each day both useful and pleasant. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success, in spite of poverty.

    3.1.2 Being optimistic and contented

    Life is full of a series of ups and downs, and will become easy if faced with smile. Everyone feel very sad about their father‟s illness. Mrs. March calms down after a while and arranges all things. Before she leaves, she tells her daughters: “I am anxious that you should take this trouble rightly. Don‟t grieve and fret when I am

    gone, or think that you can comfort yourselves by being idle and trying to forget. Go on with your work as usual. Hope and keep busy, and remember that you never can be fatherless no matter what happens (Alcott, 2003:255).” There are a lot of troubles and

    temptations in our lives, but we can overcome and outlive them all if we have firm belief.

    Sometimes, we feel unhappy because we expect something more. If we are contented with what we have, we are the happiest. When Christmas draws near, Jo,

    Meg and Amy complain their family is so poor that they have nothing while some girls have plenty of pretty things. “Poverty is nothing, we‟ve got father and mother and each other, that‟s enough (Alcott, 2003:1).” Beth says contentedly. Mrs. March

    use two stories to tell them: when you feel discontented, think over your blessings, and you will feel happy. So be grateful for life.

    3.1.3 Being charitable and independent

    Helping others is a nice virtue and can make ourselves feel happy. Four little

    women all bear beautiful minds. Poor as they are, nothing can stop their pace to help others. On Christmas morning, hearing the news that not far away from their house there is a poor woman with a little newborn baby and her six children without fire and any food, the sisters have sacrificed their entire breakfast. On the one hand, one should be independent on economy. On the other hand, one ought to have independent judgment on the issues of marriage. In chapter 14, Joy excitedly declares her first successfully published work to her family. At that moment, Joy is excited and burst into happy tears because to be independent and earn the praise of those she loves are the dearest wishes of her heart.

    Concerned with the girls‟ marriage, Mrs. March tells her daughters that they

    should not feel obligated to find husbands, but should seek fulfillment on their own. Under her influence, the sisters all keep independent judgment when they face their respective marriages, and find their ideal husbands and live happy lives later. 3.2 The ways of Mrs. March’s family education

    With an infinite wisdom, she can make children easily accepted and willing to correct when they make mistakes. Her preaching is integrated into their daily lives, which does not just tell to them, but patiently demonstrates with kindness and love. She always guides the girls take the right path to do good things, and also gives them the potential of their choice and freedom so that they can determine their own life accordingly.

    3.2.1 Creating a nice family environment

    A nicer and better family environment means that it is rich enough to afford

    some basic necessities and everyone cares for each other and loves each other, from which people can have a sense of warmth and harmony. A rich family can provide better conditions for the children‟s growth, while the spiritual family environment has increasingly great influence on children especially their personality. Mrs. March organizes the family well, creates a good family environment, and forms a unity and harmony of the family atmosphere in their daily life.

    In chapter 1, Mrs. March comes home after a whole day‟s work, finding her girls rehearsing. With a „can I help you‟ and truly delightful look, she greets girls cheerfully: “Glad to find you so merry, my girls” “Dearies, how have you got on today? Has anyone to called, Beth? How is your cold, MegJo, you look tired to

    death. Come and kiss me, baby (Alcott, 2003:11).” In the eyes of children, she is the

    most splendid mother in the world. These cheery voices and maternal inquiries make the family immediately filled with deep warmth and also infect each person. The girls fly about, trying to make things comfortable in their own ways.

    3.2.2 Experiencing by themselves

    It is reasonable and right to let children make some mistakes because they will easily accept the lessons and actively aware of what is right and what is wrong after they suffer many setbacks in practice and in person. What‟s more, “parents should use a scientific and rational way to guide the children so that children can receive education profoundly to keep their physical or mental healthy and make the children sensible (Xu, 2006:12).‟

    In Chapter 11, hoping to impress the lesson more deeply after the trail of „all play and no work‟, Mrs. March resolves to finish off the trial in an appropriate

    manner that they must not only do their usual little chores, but also the work they do not even yet know how to do. Mrs. March instructs them on the value of work which is a means of cultivating self-discipline and order in one‟s inner life as well as one‟s physical environment. “I want you to see how the comfort of all depends on each doing her share faithfully. While Hannah and I did your work, you got on pretty well, thought I don‟t think you were very happy or amiable; so I thought, as a little lesson, I would show you what happens when everyone thinks only of herself (Alcott,

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