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Problems of Humanity - Chapter II - The Problem of the Children of the World
The Long Range Plan

Let us now formulate a more extended plan for the future education of the children of the world. We have noted that in spite of universal educational processes [50] and many centers of learning in every country, we have not yet succeeded in giving our young people the kind of education which will enable them to live wholly and constructively. In terms of the last two or three thousand years, the development of world education has been progressively along three main lines, starting in the East and culminating today in the West. In Asia we have had the intensive training, down the centuries, of certain carefully chosen individuals and a complete neglect of the masses. Asia and Asia alone has produced those outstanding figures who are, even today, the object of universal veneration - Lao Tze, Confucius, the Buddha, Shri Krishna and the Christ. They have set Their mark upon millions and still do.

Then in Europe, we have had educational attention concentrated upon a few privileged groups, giving them a carefully planned cultural training but teaching only the necessary rudiments of learning to the masses. This produced periodically such important epochs of cultural expression as the Elizabethan period, the Renaissance, the poets and writers of the Victorian era and the poets and musicians of Germany, as well as the clusters of artists whose memory is perpetuated in the Italian School, the Dutch and the Spanish groups.

Finally, in the newer countries of the world, such as the United States, Australia and Canada, mass education was instituted and was largely copied throughout the entire civilized world. The general level of cultural attainment became much lower; the level of mass information and competency considerably higher. The question now arises: What will be the next evolutionary development in the educational world? What will happen after this complete world breakdown and the recognized failure of the educational systems to avert it?

Let us remember one important thing. What education can do along undesirable lines has been well [51] demonstrated in Germany with its wrecking of idealism, its inculcation of wrong human relations and attitudes and its glorification of all that is most selfish, brutal and aggressive. Germany has proved that educational processes when properly organized and supervised, systematically planned and geared to an ideology, are potent in effect, especially if the child is taken young enough and if he is shielded from all contrary teaching for a long enough time. Since that time Russia has used the same system. Let us remember that this demonstrated potency can work two ways and that what has been wrought out along wrong lines can be equally successful along right ones in a wholesome atmosphere of freedom.

We need also to do two things: We must place the emphasis educationally upon those who are under sixteen years of age, and the younger the better and, secondly, we must begin with what we have, even while recognizing the limitations of the present systems. We must strengthen those aspects which are good and desirable; we must eliminate those which have proved inadequate in fitting men to cope with their environment; we must develop the new attitudes and techniques which will fit a child for complete living and so make him truly human - a creative, constructive member of the human family. The very best of all that is past must be preserved but should only be regarded as the foundation for a better system and a wiser approach to the goal of world citizenship.

It might be of value at this point to define what education can be, if it is impulsed by true vision and made responsive to sensed world need and to the demands of the times.

Education is the training, intelligently given, which will enable the youth of the world to contact their environment with intelligence and sanity, and adapt themselves to the existing conditions. This is of prime [52] importance and is one of the signposts in the world today.

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