The Scientific Training of Children
by Christian D. Larson
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This book is based on the belief that a genius exists in the subconscious of every mind. That every child is born with an interior something that when developed can produce remarkable ability, extraordinary talent and rare genius. It is therefore of the highest importance that the young mind be trained properly so that all of its latent power and capacity be developed.
In the past we believed that if any child was not born with remarkable ability no system of training could give him such ability. We believed there was very little in him because we did not see any signs of talent on the surface. We therefore concluded that he would have to live his life as an ordinary mortal. But now we know that every child is born with something of exceptional possibility in him, whether it shows on the surface or not. And we also know that that something can be brought to the surface by the proper system of training. This being the truth no child should be neglected simply because he does not manifest exceptional brilliancy in the beginning.
There is just as much talent and genius in the dull child as in the bright child, the only difference being that in the latter genius has become active, while in the former it is as yet inactive. But it can be made active in every mind to its fullest capacity and power. In the scientific training of children the first principle to be recognized and applied is, that remarkable ability, extraordinary talent and rare genius does exist in the deeper mentality of every child. And that whatever exists in the deeper mentality can be developed and brought out into tangible expression for practical use. It is only a matter of knowing how.
The belief that child training should be deferred until the ages of six, eight or ten is not consistent with the natural law of development. Such is simply a belief that has originated from the fact that the modern system of training is in so many instances detrimental to the best mental welfare of the child, the reason being that it tends entirely too much to cram the surface of the mind, thus overworking and stupefying in many instances what intellect there may be in action on the surface. As a system it does not bring out the greater mentality of the mind, not knowing that that greater capacity has existence.
The fact is that the proper development of the child cannot begin too soon, for when the development is proper, every day will add to the strength and power of the child's nature, both physically and metaphysically. What can be done now should be done now, for if it is not done now it will have to be done later. But no time should be lost, and no energy wasted. Everything should be made to count because what is not for a person is invariably against him.
Every child has the latent capacity to become much and achieve much. The child that remains ordinary remains ordinary because it is neglected. It is not being taught to bring out the power, the talent and the greatness that exists within. But if we wish to promote the welfare of the individual as well as the race, and we all do, we cannot afford to neglect a single child.
After having recognized the principle that every child is born with capacity for greatness, the next step is to so train the child, both in thought and action, that everything he may do will tend to bring out the talent and the genius that does exist within him. In other words, he should be trained to so live that all things in his life will work together for the promotion of the one great purpose the bringing out into practical use every spark of greatness that he may inherently possess. And every child does possess the capacity for greatness, superiority and high worth. This capacity we all have inherited from our one Supreme Source a fact which modern psychology has demonstrated conclusively. Therefore we should act accordingly, making it possible for every person to be all that is in him to be.
To train the child to develop and bring forth the best that is in him, we must first train him to make true use and full use of those elements, forces and faculties that are already active in his life. This will not only turn all active forces to good account now, but will also make the outer mind a more perfect channel through which the genius from within may be expressed when we proceed to develop that genius.
In this connection the first essential is to give proper direction to the energy that is generated in the system of every child. The average child generates an enormous amount of energy, and not being taught how to use this energy burns it up recklessly, mischievously, barbarously, and too often abusively both to self and others. He is constantly scolded and frequently punished for doing what he simply has to do. The energy is there and he is positively unable to rest until he has disposed of it in some way. For the fact is, so long as he is not taught how to use this energy orderly and constructively, he will follow primitive tendencies and use it disorderly and destructively.
Here we should remember that no child was ever punished justly. So long as parents do not teach a child how to dispose of surplus energy to good account the child cannot be blamed for using that energy recklessly, which usually means destructively. And practically all mischief among children can be traced to one cause; that is, a superabundance of energy with no knowledge as to its wholesome use. Therefore what the mischievous child needs is not a switch, but a little more practical instruction. The rod never conveyed any knowledge and never will. And no one can expect to avoid the wrong until he knows the right.
Punishment may suppress evil tendencies, but it does not produce the better tendencies. And what is very important, no form of suppression ever produced a permanent good. The good, the true, and the worthy comes not from suppression, but from proper direction. The surplus energy of the child should never be suppressed, for suppressed energy is wasted energy, and power is too valuable to be thrown away.
We cannot have too much power when we know how to apply it in the building of a great life. And this is what every child should be taught just as soon as he can understand simple words. The child should not be permitted to waste his surplus energy in wild conduct and harum-scarum living simply because a false conception of human nature has taught us to believe that "boys must be boys." The fact is, boys do not have to be boys in the barbarous sense, and they do not have to be mischievous in order to prove there is something in them. We do not have to be savages in boyhood in order to amount to something in manhood.
Such a view of life is simply the result of deep-dyed ignorance of child psychology. And because we have been ignorant along this line so long, it has become a habit to believe such absurdities. However, these beliefs must be eliminated completely if we wish to train our children to become all that they have the power to become. Though we must not go to the opposite extreme and believe as some pseudo-pious, undeveloped minds believe, that the child must remain in the "seen, but not heard" attitude in order to be good.
It is not inactivity or lifeless peacefulness that produces goodness, but an extraordinary amount of life and action applied in a wholesome, constructive manner. The child that is alive will necessarily be noisy, though the same is true of the mechanics who are building a sky-scraper. But noisy children will not disturb us when we know that noise is to some extent a necessary part of the making of things.
It is not noise among children that should be eliminated, but the reckless and destructive use of energy. Parents who have a habit of compelling their children to be absolutely quiet are actually placing a serious obstacle in the way of the future welfare of those children; because to suppress energy is not only to waste energy it is worse than that, for continued suppression will after a while decrease the amount of energy generated; and the less energy you generate in your system the less you can accomplish.
TO train the child to make profitable use of surplus energy there are several methods that may be employed to advantage. The first of these is to find the natural talents of the child and then give him work to do at frequent intervals that will bring those talents into play. This will develop those talents and at the same time turn the mind away more and more from the tendency to be wild, reckless or mischievous.
There are parents, however, that do not care to have their children develop such talents as may appear in childhood unless those talents are considered wholly respectable. But to secure the best results every child should be developed along the line of natural aptitude, and should not be forced to do something different simply
to please the high-toned notions of parents or near relations.
We must remember that a genius is a genius, no matter what his occupation may be. And in the long run it is not a certain kind of work, but good work, that brings honor, happiness and due reward. There are times, however, when it is advisable to develop the child mind along lines that are entirely different from the talents that are indicated in the beginning, though this is a subject that will be discussed later on.
The belief that children should never work, but only play, is also a mistake. A certain amount of work is necessary to the best result in the development of the child, because all energy that is applied in work is turned into constructive channels, and will produce the ten-
dency of construction in the system. The stronger this tendency is in the system the more rapidly will the various faculties and talents develop, provided, of course, such development is desired. And those tendencies that are established in childhood are always the strongest.
Therefore, to train the young mind to do something constructive, that is, to be engaged more or less in work, is highly important. This is especially true when the child is given work that he likes. Though in this connection we must remember that when the child is compelled to do too much, even of that which he likes, the work becomes drudgery and has a detrimental effect. The child should be permitted to choose his work and the amount of time to be given to such work; and he will do it wisely and faithfully if well instructed as well as thoroughly trusted by the parent.
Remember here to have faith in your children. Live constantly in the faith that they can and will apply your instructions properly, and they will seldom, if ever, fail to do so.
That young minds despise work is not the truth. There is scarcely a boy who does not long to do something useful, provided he is per- mitted to choose his work and is not driven. While the average lady of four would be more than delighted to help mother in many ways if she were only permitted; and she ought to be permitted, even if all her work had to be done over. For if she were gradually instructed and made to feel that her efforts were truly appreciated, she would soon become a most valuable assistant, and at the same time she would develop the constructive tendency in her mind.
The idea of giving children something useful to do at frequent intervals is first, to turn more and more energy into the process of construction; and second, to cultivate the art of doing things. It is practical results that count, and when the art of doing things is developed early in life it will come easy later on to turn all things to practical use. The importance of this becomes very evident when we know how many bright minds accomplish little more than nothing because they do not have the knack of making themselves practical.
However, the idea of putting children to work at anything and everything, simply because we need their assistance, is a mistake. Such a course will not produce good results, but will in the majority of instances prove detrimental to the child. The child should be given work for which there is natural aptitude. Help him to select that work and direct him in turning his best talents into his efforts. He will thereby not only promote his development along natural lines, but a great deal of energy that was previously wasted will be turned to good account; that is, his energy will have become a building power in his mind and personality.
The modern tendency to combine industrial training with intellectual training in the public schools is a move in the right direction, though it will not fulfill its purpose completely until each child is given practical training along the lines for which he is naturally fitted. We must adapt the educational system to the needs of the child, and not compel the child to become simply a cog in the machinery of that system.
Another method through which the child may dispose more properly of a great deal of surplus energy is to have him engage in play that requires just as much thought as action. This will reduce the action somewhat so that there will be less noise and more order; the interest will be deeper, the pleasure much greater, and considerable energy will be drawn into the mind, thus increasing the capacity and the power of mentality.
However, we must not try to feed the mind with extra energy at the expense of the body. We cannot afford to do this because a strong mind requires a strong, vigorous body. But all that energy that is not required in the body of the average child, and there is a great deal, should be turned into the mind. It should not be wasted, and the simplest method for turning it into the mind is to encourage children to engage to some extent in play where considerable thought is required. Such play always gives the greatest pleasure. It will therefore be an easy matter to get children to make such plays a permanent part of their daily enjoyment.
In this connection we should remember that the child must play, and that pleasure is just as necessary to the growing minds as sunshine is to the flowers of the field, though this is true of all minds in a measure, whether they are under ten or over ninety, or anywhere between. No mind can develop or remain healthy unless it receives a certain amount of enjoyment every day. All young people should have a good time and they should continue young as long as they live, but they should not be taught to believe that reckless living between the ages of twelve and twenty constitutes real pleasure.
We are too well aware of the fact that the good time that the average person takes usually lasts until twenty or twenty-two only, when it is followed by a decrease in personal power and mental activity, and not infrequently by some chronic ailment that lasts all through life. We do not have to violate natural laws in order to enjoy ourselves; this, however, too many young people do as we all know. But such is not pleasure. It is mental intoxication. And the result is that girls frequently lose the bloom of youth and the boys their brilliancy, their vigor and their ambition, while the majority of both sexes lose more or less of their health, working capacity and virility.
But we cannot blame the young people. They have surplus energy that they simply must dispose of. And they have not been taught how to use their energy in such a way that pleasure may be secured in connection with a constant development of greater ability and power. It is therefore highly important that the child be trained early to seek pleasures that give mental enjoyment as well as physical. The happy blending of both, enjoyed in perfect harmony with the laws of life, will bring the best results, and such a mode of enjoyment will be all gain, with absolutely no loss.
After the child has passed the sixth or seventh year it should be taught to conserve its energies consciously within its own system by concentrating attention for a few minutes every day upon the various nerve centers, while during the time of concentration gently desiring the energies of the system to accumulate in those nerve centers, including the various parts of the brain. It is just as important to teach this to the child as to teach him the alphabet, and he will learn the one as readily as the other. The child that is taught to practice the conscious conservation and transmutation of energy will increase the capacity and power of his mind and body to a remarkable degree, and will also develop a strong, fine personality which is a matter of extreme value in the worlds of attainment and achievement.
This practice will also save the child from the misuse of that phase of creative energy that is expressed through the sex function, and there is nothing more important than this. The misuse of this energy has spoiled the brilliancy of thousands of young minds. And it is a fact, that if all had been taught in childhood how to control and conserve these vital energies of the system for constructive use, we should have many times as many great men and women as we have in the world today.
Every child should be taught as early as
practice of poise so that all nervous actions, inharmonious actions and
actions may be entirely avoided. The average child generates an
of energy; in fact, enough energy to develop exceptional ability and
anyone if properly directed and employed. To know how to train the
child to use
this energy in building up his mind, his body and his personality to
highest degree, and at the same time enjoy the days of childhood just
as the happiest child that ever lived, becomes therefore a matter that
second to nothing in value and importance. And in this connection, the
just presented, if wisely employed, will produce most gratifying
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