Susanna Wesley was the mother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.
She gave birth to 19 children, 10 of which survived beyond childhood.
She taught all her children herself. As soon as they were all one year old (and some even younger), they were taught to fear the cane and only to cry softly.
Susanna believed that to create the right thinking minds in her children she first had to conquer their will, and make them obedient in all things.
She believed that if this did not occur then the children would become stubborn and full of obstinacy.
She often spoke of parents as being cruel if they allow their children to develop bad habits which they know must afterwards be broken if the child is to be able to lead a goodly life.
As soon as Susanna’s children had learnt to speak they were taught to say The Lord’s Prayer, which had to be said by them every day as soon as they awoke and at night before they went to bed.
As they grew older they were expected to say short prayers for their parents and recite some pieces of scripture.
Susanna taught them that if they cried they would receive nothing.
Her children were never allowed to talk loudly and were expected to study for six hours every day.
She wrote that it is almost incredible what a child may be taught in a quarter of a year, by vigorous application, if they have a tolerable capacity and good health.
In a letter to John Wesley dated 24th July 1732 Susanna Wesley wrote:-
There were several by-laws observed among us…..
- It had been observed that cowardice and fear of punishment often led children into lying, till they get a custom of it, which they cannot leave. To prevent this a law was made, that whoever was charged with a fault, of which they were guilty, if they would ingenuously confess it, and promise to amend, they should not be beaten. This rule prevented a great deal of lying.
- That no sinful action, as lying, pilfering, playing at church, or on the Lord’s day, disobedience, quarrelling, etc. should ever pass unpunished.
- That no child should ever be chid or beat twice for the same fault; and that, if they amended, they should never be upbraided with it afterwards.
- That every signal act of obedience, especially when it crossed upon their own inclinations, should always be commended, and frequently rewarded, according to the merits of the cause.
- That if ever any child performed an act of obedience, or did anything with an intention to please, though the performance was not well, yet the obedience and intention should be kindly accepted; and the child with sweetness directed how to do better for the future.
- That propriety be inviolably preserved, and none suffered to invade the property of another in the smallest matter, though it were but of the value of a farthing or a pin…
- That promises be strictly observed; and a gift one bestowed, and so the right passed away from the donor, be not resumed, but left to the disposal of him to whom it was given…..
- That no girl be taught to work till she can read very well.
Where has today’s society gone wrong?
Nearly 283 years ago the methods adopted by Susanna Wesley when educating her children had many positive results. Her children, of course, included John Wesley, who founded the Methodist Church and one of his brothers, Charles Wesley, who wrote more than 3,000 hymns.
Perhaps we should introduce Susanna Wesley’s teaching methods into the present educational curriculum!!!!
With many peaceful blessings