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Education in the New Age - Chapter I - Some Questions Answered
Some Questions Answered

I will now attempt to deal somewhat with three questions on education asked by one of the students. I can but indicate the ideal, and in so doing I run the risk of producing an effect of being so visionary that any approach under our present system might be regarded as impossible.

In answer to the first question, the prime function of all educators is twofold:

1. To train the brain to respond intelligently to impressions coming to it via the sense apparatus and so carrying information about the outer tangible world.

2. To train the mind so that it can fulfil three duties:

  1. Deal intelligently with information relayed to it by the brain. [8]
  2. Create thought-forms in response to impulses emanating from the physical plane; to emotional reactions set in motion by the feeling-desire nature; to the thought world, in which the man' environment is found.
  3. Orient itself to the subjective spiritual self, that, from a condition of potentiality, the self may emerge into active government.

In this formulation of the function of the apparatus with which all educators have to deal (the mind and the brain), I have indicated the answer to the second question asked, which was:

"Are there definite types of activities, changing with the growing years and based on the phases of the growth process in the individual, that make for his best all-around development?"

I differ somewhat concerning the periods indicated by such occult teachers as Steiner, for though the seven year cycles have their place, the division is apt to be over-applied. I would also suggest ten year cycles of development, divided into two parts: seven of learning and three of application.

In the first ten years of a child's life he is taught to deal intelligently with information coming to him via the five senses to the brain. Observation, rapid response, and physical coordination as the result of intention, must be emphasized. The child must be taught to hear and see, to make contacts and to use judgment; and his fingers must then respond to creative impulses to make and produce what he sees and hears. Thus are laid the elements of the arts and crafts, of drawing and of music.

In the next ten years the mind is definitely trained to become dominant. The child is taught to rationalize his emotional and desire impulses, and to discriminate the right from the wrong, the desirable from the undesirable, and the essential from the non-essential. This can be taught him [9] through the medium of history and the intellectual training which the cycle of his life makes compulsory under the laws of the country in which he lives. A sense of values and of right standards is thus established. He is taught the distinction between memory training and thinking; between bodies of facts, ascertained by thinkers and tabulated in books, and their application to the events of objective existence, plus (and here lies a thought of real importance) their subjective cause and their relation to the world of reality of which the phenomenal world is but the symbol.

At the age of seventeen the study of psychology will be added to the rest of the curriculum and the nature of the soul and its relation to the World Soul will be investigated. Meditation along suitable lines will be part of the curriculum. It should be noted here, however, that the religious implications of meditation are needless. Meditation is the process whereby the objective tendencies and outgoing impulses of the mind are thwarted, and it begins to be subjective, to focus and to intuit. This can be taught through the medium of deep thinking on any subject - mathematics, biology, and so forth.

The tendency of the newer education should be to make the subject of the educational experiment the conscious possessor of his equipment; it should leave him standing clear-eyed before life, with open doors ahead of him into the world of objective phenomena and relationships; it should have brought him to the knowledge of a door leading into the world of Reality and through which he may pass at will and there assume and work out his relation to other souls.

This second question - relating to the type of experience which would aid the child to round out his development and bid, supplementary to the compulsory state curriculum - is well-nigh impossible to answer, owing to the wide differences in human beings and the practical impossibility of finding those teachers who work as souls and as minds. [10]

Every child should be studied in three directions. First, to ascertain the natural trend of his impulses: Are they towards physical expression, towards manual labor, in which one would include such a wide range of opportunity as that of the mechanical factory worker and the trained skill of the electrician? Is there a latent capacity for one or other of the arts, a reaction to color and form, or a response to music and rhythm? Is the intellectual caliber one that should warrant a definitely mental training in analysis, deduction, mathematics or logic? Then perhaps as life goes on our young people will be graded into two groups: the mystical, under which heading one would group those with religious, artistic and the more impractical tendencies; and the occult, which would include the intellectual, scientific and mental types. By the time a child is seventeen the training given should have enabled him to strike his note clearly, and should have indicated the pattern into which his life impulses will most probably run. In the first fourteen years, opportunity should be given to experiment in many fields of opportunity. Pure vocational training should not be emphasized until the later years of the educational process.

The time is coming when all children will be studied in the following directions.

1. Astrologically, to determine the life tendencies and the peculiar problem of the soul.

2. Psychologically, supplementing the best of modern psychology with a knowledge of the Seven Ray types, which colors Eastern psychology (see pages 18-23).

3. Medically, with special attention to the endocrine system, plus the usual modern methods in relation to eyes, teeth and other physiological defects. The nature of the response apparatus will be carefully studied and developed.

4. Vocationally, so as to place them later in life where their gifts and capacities may find fullest expression and enable them thus to fulfil their group obligations. [11]

5. Spiritually. By this I mean that the apparent age of the soul under consideration will be studied, and the place on the ladder of evolution will be approximately noted; mystical and introspective tendencies will be considered and their apparent lack noted. Coordination between:

  1. Brain and the response apparatus in the outer world of phenomena,
  2. Brain and desire impulses, plus emotional reactions,
  3. Brain and mind and the world of thought,
  4. Brain, mind and soul,

will be carefully investigated so as to bring the entire equipment of the child, latent or developed, into functioning activity and to unify it into a whole.

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