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I came across the following phrase:

Father's chief Maxim was always to keep the boy above his work. And for this reason he did not wish him to learn Latin till he was twelve years of age, when he might easily acquire it.

What is the correct way of understanding aforementioned expression in this context?

  1. Father's work has lower priority than the boy.
  2. The father doesn't want the boy to struggle academically.
  • Are you sure the quote is correct? The beginning sounds strange. Please add to the question the source of the quote (a book - title, author; a website - link...) – virolino Mar 25 at 10:17
  • I'd be surprised if that were a modern text... – SamBC Mar 25 at 10:23
  • I will keep that in mind next time. Thanks alot. – Initforthekids Mar 25 at 10:47
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    Why did you type "sb" in the title? Can you click edit and insert an actual word thanks. – Fattie Mar 25 at 11:22
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The correct quote, from "Pascal" by Principal Tulloch is:

Detecting the remarkable powers of the boy, his father had formed very definite resolutions as to his education. His chief maxim, Madame Perier says, was always "to keep the boy above his work." And for this reason he did not wish him to learn Latin till he was twelve years of age, when he might easily acquire it.

The expression "keep the boy above his work" means that the work given to the boy would always be beneath him - not above his current abilities.

His father evidently believed that twelve years of age was the optimum age to learn Latin, and that learning it before then would be too difficult. So rather than giving him work that would stretch his abilities he gave him work that would be achievable and appropriate for his age.

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    Thank you for your detailed explanation. – Initforthekids Mar 25 at 10:46

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