â€œTeacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?â€Matthew 22:36-40
Jesus replied,Â â€œâ€˜You must love theÂ LordÂ your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.â€™ This is the first and greatest commandment.Â A second is equally important: â€˜Love your neighbor as yourself.â€™ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.â€
My wife has decided that our homeschool curriculum must include secondary languages starting with Spanish. I’ve often stated I wanted to learn both Spanish and German but I’ve never made any honest attempt beyond downloading a few free apps and spending a week or less before quitting the efforts. But Stephanie refuses to quit and has really made advances with the kids.
Part of her resolve has been based on the teachings of Charlotte Mason, an educator around the turn of the 20th century. Stephanie has shared several quotes from Mason and I have found them often to be profound. Most recently she shared this quote:
â€œWhat shall we teach our children? Is there one subject that claims our attention more than another? Yes, there is a subject or class of subjects which has an imperative moral claim upon us. It is the duty of the nation to maintain relations of brotherly kindness with other nations; therefore it is the duty of every family, as an integral part of the nation, to be able to hold brotherly speech with the families of another nations as opportunities arise; therefore to acquire the speech of neighbouring nations is not only to secure an inlet of knowledge and a means of culture, but is a duty of that higher morality (the morality of the family) which aims at universal brotherhood, therefore every family would do well to cultivate two languages besides the mother tongue, even in the nurseryâ€Mason, Parents and Children, Volume 2, pg 7
I had to read the quote a couple of times just to understand it. Her writing style reminds me of one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis. The sentence structure is complex and if you notice, most of that quote is a single sentence. I’m told that’s a sign of higher level thinking. For me, it’s a sign that I’m going to need a couple passes at it before I get it. I digress…
As I read Mason’s assertion that we have a moral imperative to engage in brotherly kindness with families from other nations and doing so would be better in the native language of the other family, I remembered another rather famous quote:
â€œIf you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.â€Nelson Mandela
Connecting the dots here, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor while Mason states we have a moral obligation to engage with our national neighbors in their language and Mandela enlightens us to the fact that doing so allows us to connect on a deeper level. I don’t think I have ever considered the idea that learning a second language is a valid expression of loving our neighbor as ourselves.
I feel a strong sense of obligation now to learn another language and although I would honestly rather learn German first, I’m going to tackle Spanish with the family. Now the struggle is to follow through with what I believe to be the right thing to do…