The late Indian scientist, Jagadish Chandra Bose (a real Renaissance Man, I might add), was a pioneer and expert in many fields, from archeology to science fiction. He had this to say about plants:
"A plant carefully protected under glass from outside shocks looks sleek and flourishing but its higher nervous function is then found to be atrophied. But when a succession of "blows" (electric shocks) is rained on this effete and bloated specimen, the shocks themselves create nervous channels and arouse anew the deteriorated nature. Is it not the shocks of adversity and not cotton wool protection that evolve true manhood?"
Charlotte Mason, in her assertion that "Education is an Atmosphere", takes this quote from Bose to make an argument against artificial and overly protected environments in the raising and education of our children. She warns against the "...hot house atmosphere, fragrant but emasculating, in which children grow apace but are feeble and dependent." Vol. 6 p.99
I suppose this could mean everything from having only child-size furniture and tools to making sure you only have certain classical sculptures and masterpieces for decoration. But it could also mean teachers or parents who aren't sincere or who sugar-coat and shield excessively. Truth and sincerity should be paramount in any school. Here is a favorite quote on what a school atmosphere should be:
Isn't that refreshing? Freeing, even? Interestingly enough, she chastises both home and classroom situations in their violations of this principle. Here's the goal:
"What if parents and teachers in their zeal misread the schedule of their duties, magnified their office unduly and encroached upon the personality of children? It is not an environment that these want, a set of artificial relations carefully constructed, but an atmosphere which nobody has been at pains to constitute. It is there, about the child, his natural element, precisely as the atmosphere of the earth is about us. It is thrown off, as it were, from persons and things, stirred by events, sweetened by love, ventilated, kept in motion, by the regulated action of common sense. We all know the natural conditions under which a child should live; how he shares household ways with his mother, romps with his father, is teased by his brothers and petted by his sisters; is taught by his tumbles; learns self-denial by the baby's needs, the delightfulness of furniture by playing at battle and siege with sofa and table; learns veneration for the old by the visits of his great-grandmother; how to live with his equals by the chums he gathers round him; learns intimacy with animals from his dog and cat; delight in the fields where the buttercups grow and greater delight in the blackberry hedges." Vol. 6, p. 96
"we may not keep them in glass cases; if we do, they develop in succulence and softness and will not become plants of renown." Vol. 6 p. 97