Saturday, August 7, 2010

What is "accomplished"?

In Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, Miss Bingley makes the observation that (for the early 19th century):

"No one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved."

"All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."

Joe Huffman follows the same train of thought, starting by talking about calipers and then segues into Jeff Cooper:

Before the young man leaves home, there are certain things he should know and certain skills he should acquire, apart from any state-sponsored activity. Certainly the youngster should be taught to swim, strongly and safely, at distance. And young people of either sex should be taught to drive a motor vehicle, and if at all possible, how to fly a light airplane. I believe a youngster should be taught the rudiments of hand-to-hand combat, unarmed, together with basic survival skills. The list is long, but it is a parent's duty to make sure that the child does not go forth into the world helpless in the face of its perils. Shooting, of course, is our business, and shooting should not be left up to the state.

Austen may seem silly compared to Cooper, but if a parent’s duty is to make sure their children are prepared to face the perils of the world, then Austen’s definition certainly made it more likely for a woman to “marry well” which was sort of the same thing at the time.

Considering "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading" is a given, what do you consider an essential skill to be considered one who greatly surpasses what is usually met with?


  1. Second the Survival Skills. If it is taught well, then it comes with critical thinking skills, an appreciation of the outdoors (and thus a disdain for sitting on your butt getting MSM'd), and a realization that things can go wrong (and thus a desire to learn more to be ready--which will lead to more reading and practice).

  2. It was on my blog but the post was actually by Lyle @ UltiMAK.

    Thanks for the link!

  3. You are a good mom to consider this. There are a bunch of Sheeple out there who think that there is either no need to teach our youth such things or the teachers themselves don't have a clue. The great Robert Heinlein put it best,

    "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

  4. And fix a fence. That's what I did today.