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Education in the New Age - Chapter III - The Present Transition Period
Increasingly, education should be concerned with the [85] wholes of life as well as with the details of daily individual living. The child, as an individual, will be developed and equipped, trained and motivated and taught then his responsibilities to the whole and the value of the contribution which he can and must make to the group.

It is perhaps a platitude to say that education should occupy itself necessarily with the development of the reasoning powers of the child and not primarily - as is now usually the case - with the training of the memory and the parrot-like recording of facts and dates and uncorrelated and ill-digested items of information. The history of the growth of man's perceptive faculties under differing national and racial conditions is of profound interest. The outstanding figures of history, literature and art and of religion will surely be studied from the angle of their effort and their influence for good or evil upon their period; the quality and purpose of their leadership will be considered. Thus the child will absorb a vast amount of historical information, of creative activity and of idealism and philosophy not only with the maximum of ease but with permanent effect upon his character.

The continuity of effort, the effects upon civilization of ancient tradition, good and evil happenings and the interplay of varying cultural aspects of civilization will be brought to his attention and the dry-as-dust information, dates and names will fall into the discard. All branches of human knowledge could, in this way, become alive and reach a new level of constructive usefulness. There is already a definite tendency in this direction and it is good and sound. The past of humanity as the foundation for present happenings and the present as the determining factor for the future, will increasingly be recognized and thus great and needed changes will be brought about in human psychology as a whole.

The creative aptitude of the human being should also, under the new era, receive fuller attention; the child will be spurred on to individual effort suited to his temperament [86] and capacity. Thus he will be induced to contribute what he can of beauty to the world and of right thought to the sumtotal of human thinking; he will be encouraged to investigate and the world of science will open up before him. Behind all these applied incentives, the motives of goodwill and right human relations will be found.

Finally, education should surely present the hypothesis of the soul in man as the interior factor which produces the good, the true and the beautiful. Creative expression and humanitarian effort will, therefore, receive a logical basis. This will not be done through a theological or doctrinal presentation, as is today the case, but as presenting a problem for investigation and as an effort to answer the question: What is man; what is his intrinsic purpose in the scheme of things? The livingness of the influence and the proclaimed purpose behind the constant appearance of spiritual, cultural and artistic world leaders down the ages will be studied and their lives subjected to research, both historical and psychological. This will open up before the youth of the world the entire problem of leadership and of motive. Education will, therefore, be given in the form of human interest, human achievement and human possibility. This will be done in such a manner that the content of the student's mind will not only be enriched with historical and literary facts but his imagination will be fired, and his ambition and aspiration evoked along true and right lines; the world of past human effort will be presented to him in a truer perspective and the future thrown open to him also in an appeal for his individual effort and personal contribution.

What I have written above in no way implies an indictment of past methods except in so far that the world today itself presents an indictment; it does not either constitute an impractical vision or a mystical hope, based on wishful thinking. It concerns an attitude to life and the future which many thousands of people hold today, and among them [87] many, many educators in every country. The errors and mistakes of the past techniques are obvious but there is no need to waste time in emphasizing them or in piling up instances. What is needed is a realization of the immediate opportunity, plus the recognition that the required shift in objectives and change in methods will take much time. We shall have to train our teachers differently and much time will be lost as we grope for the new and better ways, develop the new textbooks and find the men and women who can be impressed with the new vision and who will work for the new civilization. I have sought only to emphasize principles and I do this with the recognition that many of them are by no means new but that they require new emphasis. I have endeavored to show that now is the day of opportunity, for everything has to be built up again, for everything has been destroyed in the greater part of the world. The war has demonstrated that we have not taught aright. A better educational system should, therefore, be worked out which will present the possibilities of human living in such a manner that barriers will be broken down, prejudices removed and a training given to the developing child which will enable him, when grownup, to live with other men in harmony and goodwill. This can be done, if patience and understanding are developed and if educators realize that "where there is no vision, the people perish."

An international system of education, developed in joint conference by broadminded teachers and educational authorities in every country, is today a crying need and would provide a major asset in preserving world peace. Steps towards this are already being taken and today groups of educators are getting together and discussing the formation of a better system which will guarantee that the children of the different nations (beginning with the millions of children now demanding education) will be taught truth, without bias or prejudice. World democracy will take form when men everywhere are regarded in reality as equal; when boys [88] and girls are taught that it does not matter whether a man is an Asiatic, an American, a European, British, a Jew or a Gentile but only that each has an historical background and history which enables him to contribute something to the good of the whole, and that the major requirement is an attitude of goodwill and a constant effort to foster right human relations. World Unity will be a fact when the children of the world are taught that religious differences are largely a matter of birth; that if a man is born in Italy, the probability is that he will be a Roman Catholic; if he is born a Jew, he will follow the Jewish teaching; if born in Asia, he may be a Mohammedan, a Buddhist, or belong to one of the Hindu sects; if born in other countries, he may be a Protestant and so on. He will learn that the religious differences are largely the result of man made quarrels over human interpretations of truth. Thus gradually, our quarrels and differences will be offset and the idea of the One Humanity will take their place.

Much greater care will have to be given in picking and training the teachers of the future. Their mental attainments and their knowledge of their particular subject will be of importance, but more important still will be the need for them to be free from prejudice and to see all men as members of a great family. The educator of the future will need to be more of a trained psychologist than he is today. Besides imparting academic knowledge, he will realize that his major task is to evoke out of his class of students a real sense of responsibility; no matter what he has to teach - history, geography, mathematics, languages, science in its various branches or philosophy - he will relate it all to the Science of Right Human Relations and try to give a truer perspective than in the past upon social organization.

When the young people of the future - under the proposed application of principles - are civilized, cultured and responsive to world citizenship, we shall have a world of men awakened, creative and possessing a true sense of values [89] and a sound and constructive outlook on world affairs. It will take a long time to bring this about, but it is not impossible as history itself has proved.

It will be only common sense, however, to realize that this integration is not possible for every student passing through the hands of our teachers. All, however, no matter what their initial capacity, can be trained in the Science of Right Human Relations and thus respond to the major objective of the coming educational systems. Indications of this can be seen on every hand but as yet the emphasis is not laid on it when training teachers or influencing parents. Much, very much, has been done by enlightened groups of men in all lands and this they have done whilst studying the requirements for citizenship, whilst undertaking research work connected with correct social relations (communal, national and international) and through the many organizations which are trying to bring to the mass of human beings a sense of responsibility for human happiness and human welfare. Nevertheless, the real work along these lines should be started in infancy so that the consciousness of the child (so easily directed) can from its earliest days assume an unselfish attitude towards his associates. It can be started very simply if the parents so desire; it can be carried forward progressively if parents and teachers demonstrate in their own lives what they teach. Finally the time will come, under these conditions, when in late adolescence a crisis, needed and planned, is precipitated in the young person's life, and he will then stabilize himself in the particular manner in which destiny ordains that he shall fulfil his task of right relationship through the means of vocational service.

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