I am currently reading Elizabeth Elliott's A Chance to Die The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael. I am finding it very interesting that her greatest missionary endeavor became her "work" as mother to hundreds of orphans. She started with girls, but wound up having boys in her compound at Dohnavur, in the Southeast part of India.
Here is an excerpt from the book describing some of her thoughts on educating the children. I find them quite remarkable and they really mesh with some of the same goals and objectives that Jeff and I have for our own children. There is a lot to consider. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Amy Carmichael's aim: to lead children out of themselves and into service for others, "untarnished by earthly thoughts."
This meant that Dohnavur workers must be of one mind about at least eight things:
following the Crucified;
loyalty towards one another;
continuing to be a family, not an institution;
being on guard against the foes of keenness and spiritual joy;
counting it an honor if they were made a spectacle to the world, to angels and men;
asking the Lord to mark His cross on natural choices;
unreserved renunciation of everything human beings generally love, and desire for what the Lord Jesus Christ loved;
willingness to be "set at nought."
Truth, loyalty, and honor were put first. "Truth once given form becomes imperishable," but let the edges of truth be blurred, and that pure form is very difficult to recover."
Work was always mixed with play, even for toddlers. The smallest child could learn to tidy the bungalow or help peel palmshoots. Others husked rice, picked tamarind fruit, cleaned rice vessels. Songs helped:
Jesus, Savior, dost Thou see
When I'm doing work for Thee?
Common things, not great and grand,
Carrying stones and earth and sand?
I did common work, you know,
Many, many years ago;
And I don't forget. I see
Everything you do for Me.
This concept made the children "particular about the backs of places." "A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a very great thing."
Amy Carmichael offered no prizes. Why should a child receive a prize for what her patient teachers had given her? "The great reward was to be trusted with harder, more responsible work."
Nobody ever received a tip. If nothing else had ever done so, this would have put the Dohnavur Family in a class by itself. Everybody heard that they would help even those who had no money at all. People knew they could count on "not being fleeced in private."
Amy hated things cheap and nasty. No toy, no picture book reached the hands of her children without prior scrutiny. "Remove silly objects" was one of the watchwords, so anything that might pervert or even perplex was eschewed.
Music was never an accompaniment for conversation. The children were taught to sing, play, and listen. They learned the lesson of Eccleasiasticus from the second century B. C., "Hinder not musick. Pour not out words where there is a musician, and show not forth wisdom out of time."
Scripture and hymn memorization was an important part of the education. Amy took her cue from Arnold of Rugby: "It is a great mistake to think they should understand all they learn; for God has ordered that in youth the memory should act vigorously, independent of the understanding-whereas a man cannot usually recollect a thing unless he understands it.' On Monday mornings everyone repeated together 1 Corinthians 13, the "Love Chapter," in Tamil and English. At least one child knew nineteen stanzas of Rutherford's hymn, "The Sands of Time Are Sinking," and several whole chapters of the Gospel of John and the book of the Revelation. The children had opportunity from time to time to teach Hindu children, by the Eastern method of sing-song repetition, what they had learned. There was power, they found, in "the merest thistledown of song."
The children had their own vegetable, fruit, and flower gardens. They sold the produce for the going market price to the housekeeper, kept the coppers in their own little clay banks, and once a year these were ceremoniously smashed in the presence of all, the contents counted, and a collective decision made about whom to give it to.
Remembering the long prayer meetings of her childhood, and her devices for passing the time (counting up in the hymnbook, for example, all the things a dying soul is supposed to say at the exact moment of departure), and the "firstly, secondly, thirdly, finally and in conclusion" of those long Irish sermons, Amy arranged to spare her children such pains. Meetings, she decided, would be short. "The space of half an hour" sufficed in heaven for "the ultimate act of adoration" - -silence-- which followed the opening of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1). It would suffice, here, for "the human soul should not be drawn out like a piece of elastic and held so for too long at a stretch."