In Her Words
Selected excerpts from To Educate the Human Potential, Chapter 1: “The Six-Year-Old Confronted with the Cosmic Plan,” which was first published in 1948.
“Education between the ages of six and twelve is not a direct continuation of that which has gone before, though it is built upon that basis. Psychologically there is a decided change in personality, and we recognize that nature has made this a period for the acquisition of culture, just as the former was for the absorption of environment.… Knowledge can best be given where there is eagerness to learn, so this is the period when the seed of everything can be sown, the child’s mind being like a fertile field, ready to receive what will germinate into culture.… Interest will no longer be there if the seed be sown too late, but at six years of age all items of culture are received enthusiastically, and later these seeds will expand and grow.… But to give the whole of modern culture has become an impossibility and so a need arises for a special method, whereby all factors of culture may be introduced to the six-year-old; not in a syllabus to be imposed on him, or with exactitude of detail, but in the broadcasting of the maximum number of seeds of interest. These will be held lightly in the mind, but will be capable of later germination, as the will becomes more directive, and thus he may become an individual suited to these expansive times.”
“The child must learn by his own individual activity, being given a mental freedom to take what he needs, and not to be questioned in his choice. Our teaching must only answer the mental needs of the child, never dictate them. Just as a small child cannot be still because he is in need of coordinating his movements, so the older child, who may seem troublesome in his curiosity over the what, why, and wherefore of everything he sees, is building up his mind by this mental activity, and must be given a wide field of culture on which to feed. The task of teaching becomes easy, since we do not need to choose what we shall teach, but should place all before him for the satisfaction of his mental appetite. He must have absolute freedom of choice, and then he requires nothing but repeated experiences which will become increasingly marked by interest and serious attention, during his acquisition of some desired knowledge.”
“If the idea of the universe be presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than just arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying. The child’s mind then will no longer wander, but becomes fixed and can work. The knowledge he then acquires is organized and systematic; his intelligence becomes whole and complete because of the vision of the whole that has been presented to him, and his interest spreads to all, for all are linked and have their place in the universe on which his mind is centred.… A great curiosity arises, which can never be satiated; so will last through a lifetime.”