Monday, May 30, 2016


Original Notions on the Subject of Education

Letter to the Editor of the Germantown, Pennsylvania, Telegraph (December 2, 1890), rpt. in The Critic, Vol. XV n.s., No. 367 (January 10, 1891) 22, partially rpt. from The Critic in Daniel Shealy, ed., Alcott in Her Own Time: A Biographical Chronicle of Her Life, Drawn from Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2005), p. 27:
Some weeks since I observed a query in the Telegraph as to the location of the house in Germantown in which Miss Alcott, the authoress, daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott, was born. As no one has answered it, I take the liberty of offering the subjoined reply:—

Louisa May Alcott, authoress of 'Little Women,' and other stories, was born Nov. 29, 1832, in a house somewhat retired from the main street, and known as 'The Pinery,' or 'Pine Place,' owing to its being surrounded by pine trees, and situated where the Post Office now stands, a few doors northwest of St. Luke's Church. Here her father taught school, composed of children of tender age. Mr. Alcott had original notions on the subject of education, and part of his system was to fortify his pupils against all surprises and to prepare them for all emergencies. One of his means of achieving this end was to walk stealthily behind them, when absorbed in study, and, without warning, suddenly kick the chair from under them. Whether this heroic practice answered the end desired or not I am unable to say, but I am able to say that it was far too advanced a method for the latitude of Germantown, where but one house had been built in forty years, and the risk of breaking the children's heads too great to commend it to their parents. So, after experimenting for a year or two, Mr. A., in despair, shook the dust of the stagnant old town from his feet, and didn't draw rein until he had reached Boston, in whose intellectual atmosphere his 'advanced thought' probably met with greater sympathy.
Above from The Critic.

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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