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Education in the New Age - Chapter II - Civilization and Culture
In the field of education united action is essential. Surely a basic unity of objectives should govern the educational systems of the nations, even though uniformity of method and of techniques may not be possible. Differences of language, of background and of culture will and should always exist; they constitute the beautiful tapestry of human living down the ages. But much that has hitherto militated against right human relations must and should be eliminated.

In the teaching of history, for instance, are we to revert to the bad old ways wherein each nation glorifies itself at the expense frequently of other nations, in which facts are systematically garbled, in which the pivotal points in history are the various wars down the ages - a history, therefore, of aggression, of the rise of a material and selfish civilization and one which had the nationalistic and, therefore, separate spirit, which has fostered racial hatred and stimulated national prides? The first historical date usually remembered by the average British child is "William, the Conqueror, 1066." The American child remembers the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers and the gradual taking of the country from its rightful inhabitants, and perhaps the Boston Tea Party. The heroes of history are all warriors - Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun, Richard Coeur de Lion, Napoleon, George Washington and many others. Geography is largely history in another form but presented in a similar manner - a history of discovery, investigation and seizure, followed frequently by wicked and cruel treatment of the inhabitants of the discovered lands. Greed, ambition, cruelty and pride are the keynotes of our teaching of history and geography.

These wars, aggression and thefts which have distinguished every great nation without exception are facts and can not be denied. Surely, however, the lessons of the evils which they wrought (culminating in the war 1914-1945) can be [46] pointed out and the ancient causes of present day prejudices and dislikes can be shown and their futility emphasized. Is it not possible to build our theory of history upon the great and good ideas which have conditioned the nations and made them what they are, and emphasize the creativity which has distinguished all of them? Can we not present more effectively the great cultural epochs which - suddenly appearing in some one nation - enriched the entire world and gave to humanity its literature, its art and its vision?

The war produced great migrations. Armies marched and fought in every part of the world; persecuted peoples escaped from one land to another; welfare workers went from country to country, serving the soldiers, salvaging the sick, feeding the hungry and studying conditions. The world today is very, very small and men are discovering (sometimes for the first time in their lives) that humanity is one and that all men, no matter what the color of their skin or the country in which they live, resemble each other. We are all intermingled today. The United States is composed of people from every known country; over fifty different races or nations compose the U.S.S.R. The United Kingdom is a Commonwealth of Nations, independent nations bound together into one group. India is composed of a multiplicity of peoples, religions and tongues - hence her problem. The world itself is a great fusing pot, out of which the One Humanity is emerging. This necessitates a drastic change in our methods of presenting history and geography. Science has always been universal. Great art and literature have always belonged to the world. It is upon these facts that the education to be given to the children of the world must be built - upon our similarities, our creative achievements, our spiritual idealisms, and our points of contact. Unless this is done, the wounds of the nations will never be healed and the barriers which have existed for centuries will never be removed.

The educators who face the present world opportunity [47] should see to it that a sound foundation is laid for the coming civilization; they must undertake that it is general and universal in its scope, truthful in its presentation and constructive in its approach. What initial steps the educators of the different countries take will inevitably determine the nature of the coming civilization. They must prepare for a renaissance of all the arts and for a new and free flow of the creative spirit in man. They must lay an emphatic importance upon those great moments in human history wherein man's divinity flamed forth and indicated new ways of thinking, new modes of human planning and thus changed for all time the trend of human affairs. These moments produced the Magna Charta; they gave emphasis, through the French Revolution, to the concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity; they formulated the American Bill of Rights and on the high seas in our own time they gave us the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms. These are the great concepts which must govern the new age with its nascent civilization and its future culture. If the children of today are taught the significance of these five great declarations and are, at the same time, taught the futility of hate and war, there is hope of a better and happier as well as of a safer world.

Two major ideas should be taught to the children of every country. They are: the value of the individual and the fact of the one humanity. The war boys and girls have learnt, from appearances, that human life has small value; the fascist countries have taught that the individual is of no value except in so far as he implements the designs of some dictator - a Mussolini or a Hitler. In other countries, some people and some groups - through hereditary position or financial assets - are regarded as of importance and the rest of the nation as of little importance. In still other countries, the individual regards himself of so much importance and his right to please himself of so much moment that his relation to the whole is entirely lost. Yet the value of the individual and the existence of that whole we call Humanity [48] are most closely related. This needs emphasizing. These two principles, when properly taught and understood, will lead to the intensive culture of the individual and then to his recognition of his responsibility as an integral part of the whole body of humanity.

In the schools of today (grammar or primary schools, high schools or secondary schools, universities or colleges, using terms in general use) there can be seen an imperfect and symbolic picture of the triple objectives of the new education: Civilization, Culture, Unification.

The grammar or primary schools might be regarded as the custodians of civilization; they must fit the child for citizenship, teach him his place as a social unit, and emphasize his group relations, thus fitting him for intelligent living and evoking the racial memory through the courses given, in order to lay the foundation for his human reactions. Reading, writing and arithmetic, elementary history (with the emphasis upon world history), geography and poetry will be taught. They must teach him certain basic and important facts of living, foundational truths, coordination and control.

The high schools or the secondary schools should regard themselves as the custodians of culture; they should emphasize the larger values of history and literature and give some understanding of art. They should begin to train the boy or girl for that future profession or mode of life which it is obvious will condition them. Citizenship will be taught in larger terms and the world of true values be pointed out and idealism consciously and definitely cultivated. The practical application of ideals will be emphasized. They should teach the youth of the world in such a manner that he will begin to fuse the world of appearances and the world of values and of meaning in his consciousness. He should begin to relate the worlds of objective outer living and of inner subjective existence. I am choosing my words with care. [49]

Our colleges and universities should be a higher extension of all that has been already done. They should beautify and complete the structure already erected and should deal more directly with the world of meaning. International problems - economic, social, political and religious - should be considered and the man or woman related still more definitely to the world as a whole. This in no way indicates neglect of individual or national problems or undertakings but it seeks to incorporate them into the whole as integral and effective parts, and thus avoid the separate attitudes which have brought about the downfall of our modern world.

The college or the university should in reality be the correspondence in the field of education to the world of the Hierarchy; it should be the custodian of those methods, techniques and systems of thought and of life which will relate a human being to the world of souls, to the Kingdom of God, and not only to other human beings upon the physical plane; not only to the world of phenomena but also to the inner world of values and quality.

Again I repeat, this fitting of a man for citizenship in the Kingdom of God is not essentially a religious activity, to be handled by the exponents of the great world religions. It should be the task of the higher education, giving purpose and significance to all that has been done. If this seems idealistic and impossible to you, let me assure you that by the time the Aquarian Age is in full flower, this will be the assured and recognized objective of the educators of that time.

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