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Annotation of Learning to Read and Write

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Douglass writes that he used to give essays of Piety to the girl (Monaghan 129). Here, he used to assign those to her from time to time. Then, he used to ask Creasy about the meaning of life (Monaghan 129). However, who knows the meaning of life? Then, he says that he used to write as distinct answers as he could (Monaghan 129). What can one write distinctly about life? Furthermore, he clarifies that Mather used to make the children write agreeable and valuable things about life into their books (Monaghan 129). Wonder what they would be used to writing in their books as young children about such intricate subject as agreeable and valuable things in life.

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He also provided them with reading material for the writing which was even scientific (Monaghan 129). This appears to be a good learning exercise, especially for children. He also determined that his daughters should learn shorthand (Monaghan 129). Nothing is better! He clarifies that it was liked by devout as it was used in writing and recording of sermons (Monaghan 129). Well, learning shorthand is good anyway.

It is also mentioned that Abigail, who remained busy in pregnancy and child births, was not included in any of the literacy activities (Monaghan 129). This leaves a question on her literacy and the need for the same. Did they not find her with the need to become literate like all others? It is also mentioned that her mention in the diaries only comes when she dies (Monaghan 129). Well, she should have been discussed more frequently as she was no less important than any other figures in the literary writing. Mather also believed that it was better for Elizabeth to take notes on the sermons (Monaghan 129). This is indeed a right suggestion for Elizabeth. However, Mather was not very forceful on this suggestion (Monaghan 129). But there was no need for Mather to have any qualms on that as she was as talented as others. Then, he also looked for books of piety for her throughout the year so that she could say her prayers with the scriptures (Monaghan 129). This was indeed a good action of Mather for the betterment of Elizabeth.

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Mather reevaluated his life on another birthday approaching (Monaghan 129). It is always good to get a rebirth at every birthday. Mather was intelligent. He thought he was not being as diligent about the literacy of his family as he should be (Monaghan 129). Of course, such thoughts were necessary for him to take relevant actions for the literacy of his family. Still, Mather was also convicted of grave sins, like that of laziness (Monaghan 129). It is in fact true that laziness is a great sin and everyone must be active. His diaries had detailed plans for the literacy of his children (Monaghan 129). This shows his studiousness.

Mather wanted Creasy, who was now thirteen, to read aloud from Paterna, which was his autobiography (Monaghan 129). This was indeed a great part of his teaching his children how to read. However, Mather was not concerned much about Sammy who was already doing well (Monaghan 129). Perhaps, he was more concerned with Creasy who was younger and more dear to him. Sammy had already improved much and Mather wanted to reward him (Monaghan 129). Rewarding is the key to productivity and future better performance! Sammy also learned rhyming couplets in English and Latin and was doing well (Monaghan 129). This shows the power of rewards. Mather was accurately worried about rewarding his children with money or little gifts instantaneously which was not superior to appraise which is given from the tongue (Monaghan 129). Of course, praise and applause is a better, lasting and more effective reward than any other small monetary or monetized reward.

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Mather also ensured that his three elder daughters learned and grew and were literate. These three daughters were Katy, Nibby and Nancy (Monaghan 129). This shows his concern and doting for his daughters. He believed that copying was good and a learning exercise and accordingly made them transcribe good and virtuous women from one of the books he had given them (Monaghan 130). This was the perfect deed of him and no other action could be better. He also made them hear a sermon from Mr. Vincent and also narrate the gist to their father (Monaghan 130). This was another better learning exercise. He also wanted to teach them Hebrew (Monaghan 130). Well, Hebrew is not a bad language to learn.

Cotton had additional plans for the literacy of his family (Monaghan 130). This was better to supplement spiritual nourishment. He gave them blank books in which they were to write what they had chosen for themselves in contrast to what their father had chosen for them (Monaghan 130). It was good to empower them. He wanted them to transcribe passages that they were most influenced by (Monaghan 130). This gave them good leeway in making their own literary choices. They were also mandated to show those blank books to their father every Sunday evening (Monaghan 130). Not a bad time to check the progress! Weekly progress reporting is necessary. He also provided his children with books every week that were either his own or written by his father (Monaghan 130). He should have given them books by other authors as well. He also took a price from them and wanted them to write a passage from the new book which was assigned to them (Monaghan 130). This shows how much Mather believed in the utility of transcription.

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