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Practical guidance on self-development of children in children's homes
67,1. Here is the gate already before us; so enter boldly! See, we are in the garden. See how cute and in the most beautiful order everything is set up! Small tree avenues intersect the large garden, and at each intersection we discover a small tree circle, which is decorated in the middle with a small temple. The paths are covered with the most beautiful lawn and thus provides way a very gentle path to walk on. Between the avenues we discover open spaces, on which a lot of the most beautiful flowers grow, perhaps like with a good early spring on the meadows of your earth.
67,2. You say here: how is it that these flowers are not arranged according to horticultural art, but are simply growing all mixed on the meadow? This is because this is already a perfect world, and thus is all growth in perfect correspondence with the mental conceptual abilities which the inhabitants of such a place possess.
67,3. Here, however, the (souls of the) youngest children live, who died on the earth soon after their birth. These little children cannot possibly have any definite concepts or perceptions of the Lord and His Word; therefore is everything here young, small and a colorful mix.
67,4. Look ahead. There in the middle of this large garden you will discover a building that has almost the shape of a large greenhouse. What is it? We want to go there, and we'll see what it is.
67,5. See, we are already there; let us enter through the open door before us, and we shall at once see what will be done in it. We are in it; see, an almost indefinitely long row of small little beds is arranged as if on a terrace about three feet above the floor. Keep looking! Behind the front row can be seen another row, as though separated by an alley, a second; then a third, fourth, fifth, etc. to tenth. And look, in each of these little beds, we see a child resting, and in every such alley, several hundred attendants and nurses are continually pacing up and down, carefully tending to the need of one or the other child.
67,6. How many such beds would be present in this room? We can easily calculate this; on a row there are ten thousand of such beds, and we have counted ten rows in this division, which would be a hundred thousand. But how many such departments are there in this building? There are ten of them; and so in the whole building a million of such beds will be available. The amount of children entering into this department increases from day to day according to your calculation; and the little ones who are now maturing in this department in these wonderful life-beds, will soon be taken to the next department.
67,7. When the children have, in this way, matured in all of the ten sections of this building, they are transferred to another building, where they are no longer allowed to rest in such beds, but special low rows of railings are erected for them where they learn to stand and walk. This building, too, has ten sections, in which walking is continually being trained. If the children have perfectly mastered their walking, there is again another building with ten sections; in this building, where the children is taught to speak with ingenious methods, making it well worth the effort to go to this school and have a closer look.
67,8. In this building, we do not have much to learn anyway; for it is self-evident that these little children, who were very untimely brought here from the world, are merely matured by the love of the Lord, and that the guardians therein are angelic spirits, who were fond of children on the earth. Knowing this, we are going to the third building.
67,9. Behold, there more in the direction of the midday, is an already quite large, elongated form; so let us go there and get inside at once! We are already in one department, and indeed in the first; do you not notice how it is teeming with little students, and among them, friendly and patient teachers? And see how these little children are provided with the most varied and colorful sets of all kinds of toys. What do these serve for? It is firstly, for silent concept formation in the soul; which is here actually the essence. Here we hear nothing yet; but let's go to the second department.
67,10. Look, the children are no longer walking about so helter-skelter, but sit on low, long, soft, rows of banks. In front of every ten children we see a teacher holding the one object in his hand, naming it, and letting the children imitate him voluntarily, as well as possible. The objects are always chosen so that they attract the attention of the children.
67,11. Moreover, you will also note here that the long rows of banks are divided by ascending transverse walls between the groups of ten children. This is, therefore, the reason for the fact that, when an object is pointed out, the adjacent group of ten children's attention is not distracted by the exposition of an object.
67,12. In this section, the children learn to name the simple objects. In the next section they are already directed to the naming of composite concepts, where one concept is the basis and the other a determination. In the fourth section, they are learning to join the concepts by themselves, as well as the words which describes actions and activities, as well as words by which conditions, qualities, and characteristics are expressed.
67,13. In the fifth section, there is already formal conversation. This is done by the teachers, by means of displaying all sorts of objects on tables for visual instruction, as well as small theater performances, after which the children are instructed about what they have seen and what has happened.
67,14. In the sixth section, this branch of teaching is being continued in a somewhat larger and more meaningful way. The display tables are bigger, and theater themes are directed in order to relate to the Lord; only the children are not yet told of it except for the external image, and they must then retell the story in that same lesson period, as they have seen it.
67,15. In the seventh department, where the children can already speak quite formally, and their comprehension has attained a markedly higher degree, and already became significant, general historical representations referring to the Lord become the norm not only in the form of picture tablets, but are also in drama, and usually in such an appealing manner for the children that they are formally conceded and interrogated, and precisely because of this, are all the deeper impressed by all they have seen and heard.
67,16. In the eighth department, the teachers begin to let the children perform small pieces themselves, and then recount what was represented by such a lively picture.
67,17. In this way the children are guided in the most appropriate way to self-activity and to self-contemplation.
67,18. In the ninth department,the children must begin to invent new representations, naturally under the guidance of their wise teachers, and then present them, at first merely mute, but later, also with speech.
67,19. In the tenth department, we will see a lot of actors and playwrights, and their language will be so well-formed that you will have to say: Indeed, many a man cannot speak like that on the earth even when he has already gone through a university. It must be said, of course:
67,20. One learn in the spirit quicker than in the material body, which is not infrequently afflicted with great weaknesses and awkwardness. This is admittedly true. But if a similar method of teaching were also observed on the earth, the children living and growing there would also reach the goal of their spiritual development immeasurably quicker than when the child is first bombarded with all sorts of rubbish, which have to first be laboriously removed later, before the child would be receptive for anything pure.
67,21. To give you a picture for clearer understanding, I will only draw your attention to what you have already often experienced. If you have a musically talented child, what would be the right thing to do for early, true and proper instruction? If, instead of a formal teacher, such a child is given the most impotent bungler, who, by his very nature, understands everything else better than that what he teaches, and also gives the student a bad instrument which produces little or no sound, is regularly disrupted and all this under the pretext: This is good enough for a beginning! Will such a talented musical student ever get to anything? We shall see.
67,22. After three wasted years, we finally give our student a slightly better master. The latter, however, needs at least three years to train all the taught nonsense out of his student. Now six years have passed, and our student cannot do anything yet. One wants to make the first mistake good too, in order to make something of the child, give him an excellent master. This master, however, has no patience, and the student no longer experiences great joy. Another three years go by, and our talented student had hardly brought himself to a very mediocre amateur, while in the first three years, he would have been able to do something significant with a fair, basic course.
67,23. See, so it goes with all the teachings on the earth, therefore are the progress of the education so slow. Here, however, everything is arranged in the most appropriate manner, and therefore all education proceeds with giant steps. The continuation will show us more brilliant results.
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