Education (Léon Denis)

It is through education that the successive generations are transformed and improved. A new society requires new men, hence is the child’s education of paramount importance.

It does not suffice that a child should acquire the elements of science. To learn to govern and conduct oneself as befits a reasonable and conscious being is quite as necessary as to learn to read, write and cipher; for only thus can one enter life armed, not only for the material but likewise for the moral strife, which latter contingency is generally overlooked. One endeavours to develop the child’s intellectual faculties and brilliant parts, but not his virtues. At school or at home, little effort is made to enlighten the child as to its duties and ultimate destiny. Wherefore, lacking the fundamental principles and ignoring the real object of his existence, man finds himself, from his entrance into public life, exposed to the snares and temptations of a dissolute and corrupt society.   ...>>

Even in primary schools the minds of the pupils are stifled by an indigestible conglomeration of facts and notions, names and dates, without any attention being paid to their moral instruction. School morality, which is deprived of effectual direction and destitute of any broad tendency, cannot be otherwise than barren of result and incapable of supplying youth with a strong moral fiber.
The education of the seminaries is equally puerile. Within their walls the child is exposed to all manner of superstition and fanaticism, imbued with false notions concerning this world and the next.
Neither is a sound moral foundation often acquired from the schoolmaster. The perseverance, firmness and affection, which only a parent can impart to his child, are necessary to awaken the child’s good instincts or to correct its unruly tendencies. If the parents cannot succeed in this, how should the master, whose hands are already so full!

Education is not, however, as difficult a task as at first appears; it requires no very profound insight and may be undertaken by anyone acquainted with the inner nature and ultimate moral effects of what he teaches. Let us bear in mind that these spirits have come to us that we might assist them to overcome their defects, and prepare them for their future duties. When we marry we tacitly accept this mission; let us achieve it with love, but with a love free from weakness, because the outraged affection is full with danger. From the cradle we should study the child’s tendencies, tendencies that it has brought with it from anterior existences; applying ourselves to develop those that are good and to eliminate the others. Neither should the child be too much indulged, so that soon inured to disappointment it may learn that this life is not a condition of unalloyed happiness, that each of us must learn to rely solely upon himself and upon his work, from which all dignity and all independence proceed. Let us not try to divert them from the course of the eternal laws. There are stones in everyone’s way which only wisdom alone can teach us to avoid them. Education should not be mercenary, wherefore entrust not your children to other hands, unless you are absolutely constrained; what cares a babysitter whether your child walks and talks before the next, for she lacks the maternal love and pride that cause a mother to exult at her darling’s first steps! She loves, hence neither pain nor fatigue dismay her; let this be the case where the soul is concerned – of which be still more heedful than of the body. For the body will soon be exhausted and ready for the charnel house, whereas the immortal spirit, pure and resplendent, thanks to the care that has been bestowed upon it as well as to its own progress and merit, will endure time without end to bless and to love you.

Indeed public education based upon an exact conception of immortal life would soon work a wondrous transformation in this civilization of ours. Let us suppose every family to be initiated in the spiritualist beliefs which are founded upon facts, and their children to be brought up on these, while the neutral schools would inculcate the principles of science, and in a wonderfully short space of time would the influence of this double current become manifest.

All moral wrongs arise from a faulty education, to reform, to place it on new basis, would be productive of unspeakable good. Let us by all means instruct youth and enlighten its mind, but first let us appeal to the heart, pointing out its imperfections and their remedy. We must bear in mind that the highest science is that of self-improvement.

DENIS, Léon - Here and Hereafter, SAB, Chapter 54 , pages 157, 158

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