"Children are the hope of the Future, the builders of tomorrow." How often have these words been quoted and requited And one cannot deny that, in modern times, efforts have also been made to bring children up in the proper way and to give them the right education. But most of our efforts have been gropings in the dark. We do not know what is a child. We do not understand him. We are ignorant of his deeper needs and inner movements. We are not aware of the true meaning of education.
This book is an attempt to bring some light into this obscure yet important field. The contents are grouped as follows:
A famous Chinese saying which presents beautifully the need for such a book.The principal section, formed of extracts from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, which explore briefly various aspects of the Art and Science of dealing with children. The topics cover a wide range. There are sections on practical problems about the food and sleep of children. Other raise very fundamental questions: what is the only thing worth teaching? What is the most precious gift one can make to a child? There are extracts on situations which parents and teachers meet everyday, sometimes quite helplessly: what should one do when a child wants something and does not sop crying? When a child misbehaves in the class? When children want to play games with guns and swords? The answers given by the Mother are most practical and at the same time full of a deep spiritual insight.
Some reminiscences of those who had the privilege of observing the Mother's way of dealing with children - a way of infinite love and understanding.
A story from ancient India which raises the whole question of learning and the purpose of education: whether what we are now imparting can at all be considered as education when it does not tell us the nature of the Self and Reality; when it does not give us that Knowledge knowing which everything is known. It is the famous story of Svetaketu from the Chandogya Upanishad.
Two simple and small anecdotes from the West. The first gives the story of a priest who was faced with an impossible child and the second is a sweet and touching story of the way in which an older person saved a child's dream-world from being shattered.
This tiny book can in no way claim to present a comprehensive treatment of the subject. In fact, even from the Mother's words, some of the most important writings have been omitted. The stress, in this compilation, has been on practical suggestions about facing and handling situations which arise every day in the lives of those who are responsible for to children of all ages though they might have been made in the context of a particular child or age group.
We trust that this book will be a small but significant contribution to the growing literature on child psychology and act as a handbook for parents, guardians and teachers. We would also like to point out that truth is too vast and global to be encompassed in words, and this book should be used, not as a collection of rules to be applied ritually but as a torch to light the way.
The child was in the ancient patriarchal idea the live property of the father; he was his creation, his production, his own reproduction of himself; the father, rather than God or the universal Life in place of god, stood as the author of the child's being; and the creator has every right over his creation, the producer over his manufacture. He had the right to make of him what he willed, and not what the being of the child really was within, to train and not what the being of the child really was within, to train and shape and cut him according to the parental ideas and not rear him according to his own nature's deepest needs, to bind him to the paternal career or the career chosen by the parent and not that to which his nature and capacity and inclination pointed, to fix for him all the critical turning-points of his life even after he had reached not as a soul meant to grow, but as brute psychological stuff to be shaped into a fixed mould by the teacher. We have travelled to another conception of the child as a soul with a being, a nature and capacities of his own who must be helped to find them, to find himself, to grow into their maturity, into a fullness of physical and vital energy and the utmost breadth, depth, and height of his emotional, his intellectual and his spiritual being.
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