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Education in the New Age - Chapter III - The Present Transition Period

2. An atmosphere of patience, wherein the child can become, normally and naturally, a seeker after the light of knowledge; wherein he is sure of always meeting with a quick response to inquiry and a careful reply to all questions, and wherein there is never the sense of speed or hurry. Most children's natures are warped by the rush and hurry of those with whom they are perforce associated. There is no time to instruct them and to reply to their small and most necessary inquiries, and the time factor therefore becomes a menace to right development, and leads eventually to a life of evasions and of wrong perspectives. Their standard of values becomes distorted by watching those with whom they live, and much of it is brought to their attention by the impatience which is displayed towards them. This impatience on the part of those upon whom they are so pathetically dependent, sows in them the seeds of irritation, and more lives are ruined by irritation than can be counted.

3. An atmosphere of ordered activity, wherein the child can learn the first rudiments of responsibility. The children who are coming into incarnation at this time, and who can profit by the new type of education, are necessarily on the very verge of soul consciousness. One of the first indications of such soul contact is a [77] rapidly developing sense of responsibility. This should be carefully borne in mind, for the shouldering of small duties and the sharing of responsibility (which is always concerned with some form of group relation) is a potent factor in determining a child's character and future vocation.

4. An atmosphere of understanding, wherein a child is always sure that the reasons and motives for his actions will be recognized, and that those who are his older associates will always comprehend the nature of his motivating impulses, even though they may not always approve of what he has done or of his activities. Many of the things which the average child does are not in themselves naughty or wicked or intentionally bad. They are frequently prompted by a thwarted inquiring spirit, by the desire to retaliate for some injustice (based on the adult's lack of understanding his motivation), by an inability to employ time rightly (for the directional will is often, at this age, entirely quiescent and will not become active until the mind is beginning to function), and by the urge to attract attention - a necessary urge in the development of self-consciousness, but one which needs understanding and most careful guidance.

It is the older generation who foster in a child an early and most unnecessary sense of guilt, of sinfulness and of wrongdoing. So much emphasis is laid upon petty little things that are not really wrong but are annoying to the parent or teacher, that a true sense of wrong (which is the recognition of failure to preserve right relations with the group) gets overlaid and is not recognized for what it is. The many small and petty sins, imposed upon children by the constant reiteration of "No," by the use of the word "naughty," and based largely on parental failure to understand and occupy the child, are of no real moment. If these [78] aspects of the child's life are rightly handled, then the truly wrong things, the infringements upon the rights of others, the encroachments of individual desire upon group requirements and conditions, and the hurting or damaging of others in order to achieve personal gain, will emerge in right perspective and at the right time. Then the voice of conscience (which is the whisper of the soul) will not be deadened, and the child will not become anti-social. He only becomes anti-social when he has not met with understanding and therefore does not understand or when circumstances demand too much of him.

You might inquire here, after considering these four types of atmosphere regarded as essential preliminary steps to the new education: How, in this case, do you make allowance for inherited instinct, normal inclination based upon the point in evolution and character tendencies which are determined by ray forces and astrological influences?

I have not emphasized them there, even while recognizing them as conditioning factors which must receive attention, because I have been dealing with the unnecessary and vast accumulation of imposed difficulties which are not innate in the child or truly characteristic of him, but which are the result of his environment and the failure of his home circle and existing educational agencies rightly to aid him in making his adjustments to life and his period. When there is wise handling from infancy, when the child is regarded as the most important concern of his parents and teachers (because he is the future in embryo), and when, at the same time, he is taught a sense of proportion by right integration into the little world of which he is a part, we shall see the major lines of difficulty, the basic character trends and the gaps in his equipment emerge clearly. They will not be hidden until the years of adolescence by the little sins and evasions and by the petty embryonic complexes, which have been imposed upon him by others and did not form a part of his innate equipment when he came [79] into incarnation. Then these major difficulties can be handled in an enlightened manner, and those basic tendencies which are undesirable can be offset through the wisdom of the educator, plus the cooperation and understanding of the child. He will understand because he is understood and consequently fearless.

Let us now formulate a more extended plan for the future education of the children of the world. We have noted that in spite of universal educational processes and many centers of learning in every country, we have not yet succeeded in giving our young people the kind of education which will enable them to live wholly and constructively. The development of world education has been progressively along three main lines, starting in the East and culminating today in the West. Naturally, I am speaking only in terms of the last two or three thousand years. In Asia, we have had the intensive training, down the centuries, of certain carefully chosen individuals and a complete neglect of the masses. Asia and Asia alone has produced those outstanding figures who are, even today, the object of universal veneration - Lao Tze, Confucius, the Buddha, Shri Krishna and the Christ. They have set Their mark upon millions and still do.

Then in Europe, we have had educational attention concentrated upon a few privileged groups, giving them a carefully planned cultural training but teaching only the necessary rudiments of learning to the masses. This produced periodically such important epochs of cultural expression as the Elizabethan period, the Renaissance, the poets and writers of the Victorian era and the poets and musicians of Germany, as well as the clusters of artists whose memory is perpetuated in the Italian School, the Dutch and the Spanish groups.

Finally, in the newer countries of the world, such as the United States, Australia and Canada, mass education was instituted and was largely copied throughout the entire civilized world. The general level of cultural attainment [80] became much lower; the level of mass information and competency considerably higher. The question now arises: What will be the next evolutionary development in the educational world?

Let us remember one important thing. What education can do along undesirable lines has been well demonstrated in Germany with its wrecking of idealism, its inculcation of wrong human relations and attitudes and its glorification of all that is most selfish, brutal and aggressive. Germany has proved that educational processes when properly organized and supervised, systematically planned and geared to an ideology, are potent in effect, especially if the child is taken young enough and if he is shielded from all contrary teaching for a long enough time. Let us remember at the same time that this demonstrated potency can work two ways and that what has been wrought out along wrong lines can be equally successful along right ones.

We need also to realize that we must do two things: We must place the emphasis educationally upon those who are under sixteen years of age (and the younger the better) and, secondly, that we must begin with what we have, even whilst recognizing the limitations of the present systems. We must strengthen those aspects which are good and desirable; we must develop the new attitudes and techniques which will fit a child for complete living and so make him truly human - a creative, constructive member of the human family. The very best of all that is past must be preserved but should only be regarded as the foundation for a better system and a wiser approach to the goal of world citizenship.

It might be of value at this point to define what education can be, if it is impulsed by true vision and made responsive to sensed world need and to the demands of the times.

Education is the training, intelligently given, which will enable the youth of the world to contact their environment with intelligence and sanity, and adapt themselves to the [81] existing conditions. This today is of prime importance and is one of the signposts in a world which has fallen to pieces.

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