In 1835, Amos Bronson Alcott and Elizabeth Palmer Peabody opened the doors of the Temple School in Boston, Massachusetts. Their goal was to provide an ecumenical Christian education, relying on the belief that religion must have a transformative effect within the individual psyche. Both believed children to be quite capable of philosophical insight and Alcott, in particular, sought to connect education to the spiritual life of the child-in his words, 'To teach with reference to Eternity.' For a portion of every day, Alcott hosted what he called Conversations. Most often he began with a reading from the Gospels, which was followed by a discussion with the children, more 'soul to soul' than adult to child. How Like an Angel Came I Down
is the record of these conversations, written down by Ms. Peabody and touching upon all matter and manner of human and spiritual experience. Evidence of consciousness, inspiration, gestation, chastity, malignity, piety, self control, humility, regeneration, courage, holiness, self-indulgence, and discipleship only touch upon the subjects here. While Alcott goes to the extreme in considering the entire external world as metaphor and symbol of the inner one, his understanding of the teacher and the parent as 'curators of souls' touches on the crisis of education today. To quote a review by Joseph Pearce: 'Until the spiritual dimension of the child is recognized and honored, the crisis can only grow worse.' 336 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
"A book all of us who work with children ought to read carefully and "visit" often." -Robert Coles, author of The Spiritual Life of Children "It is sheer reading pleasure, enlightenment, insight, the discovery of a side of children many of us never see, a side of ourselves generally masked, a glimpse of history our school texts never touch, and an enrichment of our own spirit." -Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of The Magical Child Every now and then the past yields up one of its lost treasures. This book is just such a gem. Bronson Alcott, friend and sometimes mentor to Emerson and Thoreau in Concord, was also a visionary educator who believed that the psyche of a child already carries within it the imprint of spirit and wisdom. At his school in Boston in the 1830s, he held this extraordinary series of conversations on such themes as spirit, consciousness, conscience, love, humility, the Holy Ghost, and the knower.