Writing to a London magazine, Mrs Besant has the following to say on the 'ldeal of Education':
Given freedom on tho part of ths child, and the recognition thut education is to be adapted to the child, not. the child to education, we may outline the general typo of the education suitable to the age of the child. Prom one to seven years of age observation should bo cultivated, for the senses are at their keenest in early childhood, and they should be trained for their special work. Quickness of observation should be encouraged, and, as far a* possible, action growing out of the observation. Rapidity of judgment as to the best means of meeting difficulties seen in the course of observation is a. valuable faculty to develop. For this, games may be devised in which difficulties suddenly appear—e,g., a child riding a tricycle (a bicycle would be too dangerous) should have an obstacle suddenly thrown in his way, and eo on. He should be trainee' also to rceogniee at a glance a, number of objects suddenly presented and withdrawn; he may be token into and out of a room where various things have been arranged, and then asked to say what was in it. When out for a walk his attention should bo drawn to the many objects passed, and alert attention should thus bo aroused and trained. Every question he asks should be answered, where answer % possible; where it cannot be answered the reply should be truthful: " I do not know"; or where iiecessaiy : " You cannot understand that till you" are older." It should bo remembered that a child is puzzled by the world in which he rinds himself, and which he tries to interpret bv the dim memories which ho brings with him: moreover, his questions show hie tendencies and his character, and thus help the teacher. Tho bases of character should bo laid in these years of early childhood by stories of great men and women, of heroes, martyrs, saints—where the saints aie virile and active, such as would arouse a child's enthusiasm—first of his own country, then of other lands. All that is didactic and theoretical in morals should at this stage be avoided, for the child is thereby replied. He should learn that God is in all, and is Love, and that we should love each other, being all brothers and sisters in our life. Religion and morals must grow by practice, and observation of re-suli-s. "As a rule, a child ea-sily learns by heart, and enjoys recitation; tbis may be utilised to store, his memory, as occasion offers, with easily remembered rhymes embodying great ideas. He will never forget them. All studies requiring the exercise of the reasoning faculties should be avoided ; the brain is not ready for them. It is enough to draw the child"'* attention to simple sequences, and so promote the growth of the interlinking processes of the brain-cells, which are the instrument of th-> mind, and to help him in tire association of related ideas. Appeals to right feeling arc more suitable at ibis .stage than appeals to reason. The latter should be used tentatively and sparingly, and no sign of blame or "of impatience should bo shown where they are disregarded. Lessons should be very short, and bo made_ as much like, play "a«s passible. Attention should be fixed by the interest of the objects presented, and any sign of fatigue or /lagging should be met with change-. During'this period the lingers, should be trained, and manual dexterity acquired; opportunities for modelling and drawing should be offered, elementary studies in form and color. Artistic faculties show themselves early, and the child who possesses them will seize on thn materials if they are placed in their way. Needless to say that those who show them should lie given artistic training in the next stage of their education. Thoso who <-h'>w no artistic tendencies should still be taught to use their fingers dexterously, for manual dexterity is always and everywhere useful. The teaching of languages by conversation is suitable, as they are "most'easily acquired by memory during this period. The committing to memory of some statements of fact, which the child does not, understand, of somo laws embodied in axioms, some, formula later to hi acquired, is stimulating ; for these remain in the mind as matters on which the chud-mindi exercises itself in efforts to understand, and thereby it/ grows-. Above and beyond *li, perfect health must bo aimed, at; tho body should be exercised I and trained, food should l*i plentiful and 1 simple, sleep hours should be long. Deficient study may be made up later in life ; deficient health and growth never. The life of maturity depends on the wise and careful nurture of childhood, and errors ms/ie in this are irremediable. From 7 : t'> 14 is the time for learning facts that cannot be learned by observation, and those which, while susceptible of observation, have to bo sought for. Geography. history, elementary science, composition by written descriptions of things observed and by letter-writing, and. the like, should bs studied at this period. .Morals should now be taught ns a science, and right emotions sedulously cultivated; the contrasted effect, of right'a.nd wrong emotion*! should bo shown, constantly illustrated by examples; drawn irojn life. Thus tho channels will b»> prepared for the. great surge of emotions accompanying puberty, and these will run towards high ideals and patriotism, service, sclf-SHc'rifiee, courage, gentleness, courtesy, instead of proving destructive forces, spreading ruin around. During theee years the future career of tho boys and girls will be indicated by their faculties and their prepossessions, and the line of their studies will be directed to suit these, though without veiy much specialisation. First aid. the value of foodstuffs, simple cookery, domestic sanitation a.nd hvgiene. some manual craft, should I>© taught to all. and physical training—athletics and games—should ha.ve full time allotted to tliem. From 14 to 21 education should be specialised. One kind suited to the career of the, student should be dominant —literary, scientific, artistic, liiercaj.til", br'-iucbing in the. fttvb-divi »ioDB of each in the second half of tin time. And some subsidiary teaching should bo given in the other kind—i.e., a future lawyer, literary man, statesman should have the literary side dominant, with some training in &cienco and art; the future scientist, engineer, doctor should havo the scientific side dominant-, but should not be left void of all literary and artistic culture. To this period belongs the study of logic, mathematics, rivics, economics, 'philosophy—all that demands the res of the higher intellectual faculties. Ht-.re must be trained the future citizen, the foundation having bean laid in the earlier periods, and here must he learn why and how he should band all his enerfies to the effective dis.~ha.rge> of all the utiee incumbent on him as a member of " v r.»- commonwealth. This sketch is necessarily but a broad outline, requiring innumerable details for its completion, thus it sufficiently suggests the stages by which the ideal of education should be 'approached, tho ideal of en. übling the newly-developed spirit to unfold and devolop his. faculties., eo that he may Ik-com a a useful citizen in the country wherei.uu> whicli he has come, and may become an ever more useful servant of tho humanity to which b$ balc-33£5» J
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EDUCATIONAL IDEALS, Evening Star, Issue 15634, 27 October 1914
EDUCATIONAL IDEALS Evening Star, Issue 15634, 27 October 1914
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