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Education in the New Age - Chapter IV - The Angle of Citizenship
IV. The Culture of the Individual

The culture of the individual will be approached from three angles, each contributing to the completed whole which is to make the individual: an intelligent citizen of two worlds (the world of objective existence and the inner world of meaning), a wise parent, a controlled and directed personality. We shall now proceed to take up these points.

I have not elaborated the teaching of the Aquarian Age nor dealt at all with the educational systems of that time. It is of no service to you to do so, and I am unable to really aid your thought if I jump you forward two hundred years into a civilization and a culture of which, as yet, only the faintest indications can be seen. It is of more value if I lay the emphasis upon the emerging ideas which will govern future procedure in the next generation and carry the world through the most difficult transitional period which it has ever seen.

Certain basic ideals, emerging out of the current ideologies, are beginning to make their impact upon public consciousness. These ideals in themselves are essentially human reactions to divine ideas; they are consequently not entirely free from error and are necessarily colored by the caliber of the minds which are formulating them; they are inevitably conditioned by past history, by national tradition and by racial trends of thought. There is, nevertheless, a curious uniformity about them, even when expressed by the [100] lowers of widely diverging world idealism. If we are properly to understand these ideas and are to lay a right foundation, it would be of value perhaps if we discussed some of these universal attitudes and considered what they indicate in the light of the present world problems, and the indications of the coming world which we can draw therefrom.

The Angle of Citizenship

There is a growing feeling amongst the citizens of most nations that the major task of the educational systems is to fit the child for citizenship. By that they mean that it is the task of the State and of the taxpayers so to train the child that he may be a cooperative, intelligent part of that organized whole which we call a nation; that he may be so disciplined that he can take his part in and make his contribution to the State and thus can be of social value yet play a distinct individual part, and at the same time a group-directed part, in the life of the community wherein he has been born and in which he must necessarily sustain himself; that his individual life and interests count less than the corporate life, and that the preliminary lesson he must be taught is the fact that he is a unit in a functioning group of similar units, each of whom is expected to contribute his quota of good to the whole.

The initial germ of this idea (amazing as it may seem) started when the first school was organized, thousands of years ago. These schools were very small at first, educating only a favored few, but leading up gradually (usually via religious organizations) to that mass education and compulsory tuition which distinguishes the modern State schools, whose task it noticeably is to prepare millions of young people in the world for intelligent, but directed, citizenship.

Today, among the so-called enlightened nations, some kind of compulsory education is imposed upon the masses; the children of all nations are taught reading, writing and [101] the rudiments of arithmetic. They are supposed thereby to have a general idea of world conditions - taught geographically, historically and economically - and are supposed thereby to achieve some recognition, objectively and naturally, of the processes and reasons why the various nations have come to be what they are and where they are, and so to have gained a consciousness of a general planetary picture. The changing outlines of this picture are today producing mental flexibility in children, and this is, in many ways, a definite asset.

In producing citizens, however, the emphasis up till this time has been twofold. The aim of education has been so to equip the child that when he reached years of maturity he could take care of himself in the predatory world of modern life, earn a livelihood and become if possible rich and independent of those with whom his life was cast. In all this intuitional process the emphasis was laid upon himself as an individual, and the point of interest was upon what he was going to do, how he was going to live, and what he could get, make and achieve out of life.

In those conditions where the school bias was religious (as in Church schools of any kind), he was taught that he must endeavor to be good, and the selfish incentive was held before him that if he could do this he might some day go to Heaven and have a happy time. When these ideas had been instilled into him, when he had been forced by organizational pressure into the desired pattern and mould, when he had absorbed the needed amount of sketchy information about humanity and human achievements, and when his capacity to remember facts (historical, scientific, religious and other) had been developed, even though his power to think remained entirely undeveloped, he was turned loose upon the world and his ordained community to make good and to establish himself.

The above is, I realize, a broad generalization. It leaves out of reckoning altogether the innate and inherent [102] capacities of the child, his achieved point of soul development, and any recognition of the powers with which he enters into life as a result of many previous life experiences. It leaves out also the influence of the many conscientious, spiritually-minded and highly evolved teachers who have - down the ages - set their mark upon the young people they have taught and thus oriented them and led them forward to better things. I am dealing solely with the institutional aspect of the educational systems and with the proven effect upon the young of every nation who have been subjected to these systems. The realized goals which the institutional teacher has set before himself have been narrow, and the consequent effect of his teaching and of his work has been the production of a selfish, materialistically-minded person whose major objective has been self-betterment in a material sense. This has been strikingly aided where any individual ambition has been present which would lead the child to operate willingly with the narrow selfish goal of the teacher. The natural idealism of the child (and what child is not an innate idealist?) has been slowly and steadily suffocated by the weight of the materialism of the world's educational machine and by the selfish bias of the world's business in its many departments, plus the emphasis always laid upon the necessity of making money.

Little by little this disastrous state of affairs (which reached its climax in the early years of this century) has been slowly changing, so that today in many countries the welfare of the State itself, the good of the Empire, the need of the Nation is held before the child from its earliest years as the highest possible ideal. He is taught that he must serve the State, Empire, or Nation with the very best that is in him; it is strongly inculcated into his consciousness that his individual life must be subordinated to the greater life of the State or Nation, and that it is his duty to meet the national need, even at the expense of life itself. He is taught [103] that in times of great emergency he, as an individual, does not count at all, but that the larger corporate whole, of which he is an infinitesimal part, is the sole factor that matters. This is a definite step forward in the expansion of consciousness which the human race must achieve.

I would here remind you that it is the expansion of consciousness and the production of increased sensitivity and perceptive awareness which is the goal of all divine and hierarchical effort. The goal is not for betterment of material conditions. These will automatically follow when the sense of awareness is steadily unfolded. The future of humanity is determined by its aspiration and ability to respond to the idealism which is today flooding the world.

At this time also a still further step is taking place. Everywhere and in every country men are being taught in their earliest years that they are not only individuals, not only members of a state, empire or nation, and not only people with an individual future, but that they are intended to be exponents of certain great group ideologies - Democratic, Totalitarian, or Communistic. These ideologies are, in the last analysis, materializing dreams or visions. For these, modern youth is taught that he must work and strive and, if necessary, fight. It is therefore surely apparent that behind all the surface turmoil and chaos so devastatingly present today in the consciousness of humanity, and behind all the fear and apprehension, the hate and separateness, human beings are beginning to blend in themselves three states of consciousness - that of the individual, of the citizen, and of the idealist. The power to achieve this, and to be all these states simultaneously, is now reaching down into those levels of human life which we call "submerged classes."

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