Thursday, December 11, 2014

Moral Education of the Child

Importance of moral perfection
In the economy of man the mental nature rests upon the moral, and the education of the intellect divorced from the perfection of the moral and emotional nature is injurious to human progress. Yet, while it is easy to arrange some kind of curriculum or syllabus which will do well enough for the training of the mind, it has not yet been found possible to provide under modern conditions a suitable moral training for the school and college.

Why morality cannot be taught from text books?
The attempt to make boys moral and religious by the teaching of moral and religious text-books is a vanity and a delusion, precisely because the heart is not the mind and to instruct the mind does not necessarily improve the heart. It would be an error to say that it has no effect. It throws certain seeds of thought into the antahkarana and, if these thoughts become habitual, they influence the conduct. But the danger of moral text-books is that they make the thinking of high things mechanical and artificial, and whatever is mechanical and artificial is inoperative for good.

What are the three things that are important in dealing with man's moral nature?
There are three things which are of the utmost importance in dealing with a man’s moral nature, the emotions, the samskaras or formed habits and associations, and the svabhava or nature.

The only way for him to train himself morally is to habituate himself to the right emotions, the noblest associations, the best mental, emotional and physical habits and the following out in right actions of the fundamental impulses of his essential nature.

Imposed discipline
You can impose a certain discipline on children, dress them into a certain mould, lash them into a desired path, but unless you can get their hearts and natures on your side, the conformity to this imposed rule becomes a hypocritical and heartless, a conventional, often a cowardly compliance.

This is what is done in Europe, and it leads to that remarkable phenomenon known as the sowing of wild oats as soon as the yoke of discipline at school and at home is removed, and to the social hypocrisy which is so large a feature of European life. Only what the man admires and accepts, becomes part of himself; the rest is a mask. 

He conforms to the discipline of society as he conformed to the moral routine of home and school, but considers himself at liberty to guide his real life, inner and private, according to his own likings and passions.

Neglecting the moral education
On the other hand, to neglect moral and religious education altogether is to corrupt the race. The notorious moral corruption in our young men previous to the saving touch of the Swadeshi movement was the direct result of the purely mental instruction given to them under the English system of education. The adoption of the English system under an Indian disguise in institutions like the Central Hindu College is likely to lead to the European result. That it is better than nothing, is all that can be said for it.

What is the best method to educate the heart
As in the education of the mind, so in the education of the heart, the best way is to put the child into the right road to his own perfection and encourage him to follow it, watching, suggesting, helping, but not interfering. The one excellent element in the English boarding school is that the master at his best stands there as a moral guide and example, leaving the boys largely to influence and help each other in following the path silently shown to them. But the method practised is crude and marred by the excess of outer discipline, for which the pupils have no respect except that of fear, and the exiguity of the inner assistance. The little good that is done is outweighed by much evil.

Benefits of the old Indian system
The old Indian system of the guru commanding by his knowledge and sanctity the implicit obedience, perfect admiration, reverent emulation of the student was a far superior method of moral discipline. It is impossible to restore that ancient system; but it is not impossible to substitute the wise friend, guide and helper for the hired instructor or the benevolent policeman which is all that the European system usually makes of the pedagogue.

First method of moral education
The first rule of moral training is to suggest and invite, not command or impose. The best method of suggestion is by personal example, daily converse and the books read from day to day. These books should contain, for the younger student, the lofty examples of the past given, not as moral lessons, but as things of supreme human interest, and for the elder student, the great thoughts of great souls, the passages of literature which set fire to the highest emotions and prompt the highest ideal and aspirations, the records of history and biography which exemplify the living of those great thoughts, noble emotions and aspiring ideals.

The Teacher as a role model
This is a kind of good company, satsanga, which can seldom fail to have effect so long as sententious sermonising is avoided, and becomes of the highest effect if the personal life of the teacher is itself moulded by the great things he places before his pupils.

Children should be given opportunity to model their moral impulses
It cannot, however, have full force unless the young life is given an opportunity, within its limited sphere, of embodying in action the moral impulses which rise within it. The thirst of knowledge, the self-devotion, the purity, the renunciation of the Brahmin, - the courage, ardour, honour, nobility, chivalry, patriotism of the Kshatriya, - the beneficence, skill, industry, generous enterprise and large open-handedness of the Vaisya, - the self-effacement and loving service of the Sudra, - these are the qualities of the Aryan.

They constitute the moral temper we desire in our young men, in the whole nation. But how can we get them if we do not give opportunities to the young to train themselves in the Aryan tradition, to form by the practice and familiarity of childhood and boyhood the stuff of which their adult lives must be made?

Method of rejection and substitution
Every boy should, therefore, be given practical opportunity as well as intellectual encouragement to develop all that is best in the nature. If he has bad qualities, bad habits, bad samskaras, whether of mind or body, he should not be treated harshly as a delinquent, but encouraged to get rid of them by the Rajayogic method of samyama, rejection and substitution. He should be encouraged to think of them not as sins or offences, but as symptoms of a curable disease, alterable by a steady and sustained effort of the will, - falsehood being rejected whenever it rises into the mind and replaced by truth, fear by courage, selfishness by sacrifice and renunciation, malice by love.

Unformed virtues
Great care will have to be taken that unformed virtues are not rejected as faults. The wilderness and recklessness of many young natures are only the overflowings of an excessive strength, greatness and nobility. They should be purified, not discouraged.

Role of religious teaching
I have spoken of morality; it is necessary to speak a word of religious teaching. There is a strange idea prevalent that by merely teaching the dogmas of religion children can be made pious and moral. This is an European error, and its practice either leads to mechanical acceptance of a creed having no effect on the inner and little on the outer life, or it creates the fanatic, the pietist, the ritualist or the unctuous hypocrite.

Religion is to be lived
Religion has to be lived, not learned as a creed. The singular compromise made in the so-called National Education of Bengal making the teaching of religious beliefs compulsory, but forbidding the practice of anusthana or religious exercise, is a sample of the ignorant confusion which distracts men’s minds on this subject.

Religious teaching
The prohibition is a sop to secularism declared or concealed. No religious teaching is of any value unless it is lived, and the use of various kinds of sadhana, spiritual self-training and exercise is the only effective preparation for religious living. The ritual of prayers, homage, ceremony is craved for by many minds as an essential preparation and, if not made an end in itself, is a great help to spiritual progress; if it is withheld, some other form of meditation, devotion or religious duty must be put in its place. Otherwise, religious teaching is of little use and would almost be better ungiven.

    But whether distinct teaching in any form of religion is imparted or not, the essence of religion, to live for God, for humanity, for country, for others and for oneself in these, must be made the ideal in every school which calls itself national. It is this spirit of Hinduism pervading our schools which – far more than the teaching of Indian subjects, the use of Indian methods or formal instruction in Hindu beliefs and Hindu scriptures – should be the essence of Nationalism in our schools distinguishing them from all others.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bilingual books

The website listed below has collections of bilingual picture books in Indian Languages like Tamil, Hindi and Bengali. The site also has English picture books in Indian themes and illustrations. Must try if you want your children to get a glimpse of Indian culture, folk tales and stories.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Montessori by Mom

Montessori by Mom provides themed Montessori materials on your doorstep every month. 

For parents who are homeschooling their children ages 3-5 and who want to follow the Montessori curriculum, this is a great deal. A monthly subscription costs around $55. Sending your child to a Montessori preschool can be very expensive. Montessori schools charge anywhere between $500 to $1000 per month. $55 comes to about 10% of what you would be spending for a Montessori school. Definitely worth checking out!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Encourage babies to talk

This article lists out the 10 best ways to encourage your baby to talk:

Here is a summary of the methods to employ:
  • Engage in two-way conversations with your child from the beginning.
  • Use your authentic voice. Baby talk is not needed.
  • Talk about real, meaningful things. Talk to your child about his daily routines. 
  • Read books and tell stories with emotion. 
  • Don't test your child.
  • Do not correct your child.      

Monday, February 17, 2014

Montessori Environment 1-2 Years

This article describes the Montessori environment that can be provided to children from 1-2 years of age. It includes topics such as Montessori toys and materials appropriate for that age group, Language development and the 3 period lesson.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Stories for kids

If you are looking for a website containing a comprehensive list of virtues accompanied by relevant folktales and real life stories, then here is a good one:

Narrating inspiring stories is an effective way to impart values to our children. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Child development guide

A detailed child development guide from birth to 19 years is available at this site:

The child development guide includes the physical, intellectual, social, emotional and moral characteristics that are normal for a given age. 

This resource is extremely helpful to get a bigger picture of the child development stages and what to expect at each stage.