When the Education of the Soul Dropped Out of the Discussion

Whereas up to approximately the 1900’s the purpose of education had been to educate the soul, with the turn of the century and the birth of scientific determinism[1] the education of the soul dropped out of the public discourse and was replaced with a “scientific” emphasis on the socialization of children; how to prepare model citizens; and how to measure learning.  Other brilliant educational theorists have emerged in the 20th century, but they do not write about educating the soul.   Separation of church and state has eliminated almost all mention of even the word God in public schools.  Prayer is banned at graduations and Christmas is now a winter holiday.  Concern about the education of the soul is entirely relegated to religious schools.   If Comenius, Pestalozzi, Froebel, or Montessori were to reincarnate today, they would probably consider mankind has taken a step backward in regard to soul development in spite of our modern technological advances.

Even so, women, children and education have come a long way.  Today, we can clearly see evidence of the three pivotal, life changing ideas about children introduced and reinforced by these early educators–childhood as a distinct time of life; the significant role of the mother (and now father); and universal education for all.   That childhood is an important time of development is not questioned.  Education is universal, although not always of high quality.   In the U.S. and in other countries as well, we now have universal public education for K-12 with complete separation of church and state.  In addition, many governments provide funding for the education of special needs children up to the age of emancipation.

In addition to “mothering”, mothers now have the added opportunity (and responsibility) of bringing income to the family as they pursue unlimited opportunities for career goals.  Because, in most industrialized societies, the education of our youngest children is now mostly in day care settings of some type and not in the home with their mothers, the role of first teacher, the mother, has been mostly taken over by others; often by poorly paid women with little professional respect working with high turnover in these child care facilities. Teachers of all grades, in general, are not well paid and the profession does not attract the best and the brightest. Time and change march on and not necessarily in the right direction. It remains to be seen where the next generation will go. (Excerpted from Educating the Reincarnated Child)

In my latest book, prior to this excerpt, I introduce to the reader the legacy of Comenius, Pestalozzi, Froebel and Montessori who were truly inspired educators.  I propose to you that their writings need to be dusted off and studied by serious students of education.  In Educating the Reincarnated Child, I give you a snapshot of their genius, and encourage you to delve further into their legacy.

Dr. Celeste A. Miller

 

[1] Scientific determinism:  Since every event in nature has a cause or causes that account for its occurrence, and since human beings exist in nature, human acts and choices are as determined as anything else in the world. Notes on Determinism and Indeterminism. Philosophy Department, Texas A & M

Happy Thanks Giving

Happy Thanks Giving

Contents of Educating the Reincarnated Child

Contents of Educating the Reincarnated Child

This was not an easy book to write.   To be honest, I wrote this book several times, each time trying to reorganize, simplify, and clarify.  The research and ideas that I share are the gleanings of my forty-plus years in education, as I immersed myself in the business of educating and being educated by others.

The book opens with a brief history of the origin of the concept of childhood, first developed during the Renaissance and the Reformation.  This all-important concept, defining a distinct time in the life of the child requiring specialized education, was primarily focused on soul development.  You will be introduced to Comenius, Pestalozzi, Froebel, and Montessori, revolutionary and, I believe, divinely inspired soul educators, who lived between 1600 and 1950.  In the succeeding chapters 2 – 5, I share with you their individual legacies.  We cannot discuss soul education in the present without remembering their rich contributions to education.

Although these early educators, and their disciples, were focused on the sacredness of the child, they did not profess to specifically believe in reincarnation.  Indeed, they would probably have considered this belief heretical.  That doesn’t matter because their teachings on the education of the soul are unprecedented, uplifting, and can still provide inspiration today.  They provide an opportunity to meditate on their writings and ponder the essence of what they wrote.

In the sixth chapter, as we move from the past into the present, I combine their ideas with my own into a suggested list for activities that would enhance soul development.  Then, in chapters seven through ten, we shift gears and move to discussing the vehicles that the soul uses for expression: the mind, the heart, and the body. In these chapters, I highlight recommended modern educational methods which support soul development.  Chapter seven shares brain research that should inform educators.  I also discuss the mind/brain debate.  Chapter eight promotes ideas about developing the heart qualities of morality and emotional control (E.Q).  Chapter nine deals with strengthening the physical bodies of children and the importance of good health and nutrition.  The book concludes with a final chapter sharing my personal agenda for the future of education—in a time when we will recognize the value of educating the “whole” person.

Table of Contents

Foreword

Chapter One –A Time of Life Called Childhood

Chapter Two – Comenius

Chapter Three – Pestalozzi

Chapter Four – Froebel

Chapter Five – Montessori

Chapter Six – Educating the Soul/Spirit

Chapter Seven – Educating the Mind/Brain

Chapter Eight –Educating the Heart

Chapter Nine – Educating the Body

Chapter Ten – My Dreams for the Future of Education

Notes

References

192 pages

 

Celeste A. Miller

A reviewer called this book ” a gem”.  I hope you will take the time to read it and share your thoughts.

Educating the Reincarnated Child by Celeste A. Miller, PhD

Book #4 in the Reincarnated Child Series

 

On the Concept of Childhood

On the Concept of Childhood

The concept of childhood and universal education, as we know it now, hasn’t always existed.  Although Plato, a famous philosopher who lived several hundred years BCE, wrote that the needs of children were distinct from adults[1]; and Jesus, in early CE, spoke of “letting the little children come unto me”[2].  Following Plato and Jesus; we hardly find any historical references that suggest special considerations for children, even in so-called enlightened monarchies in Europe during the Middle Ages, and beyond.  Mostly, we read of children working in the labor force alongside of adults from young ages and fully participating in adult life, or of wealthy children being raised by governesses and educated by clergy in what, today, we would call home schooling.  We even find that the idea that children needed to attend school was not common until modern times.[3]  Against this backdrop of history, in what appears to us now as an utter misunderstanding of the needs and value of children, we find that the once “little adults” have now officially become “children”.  Let me explain how this came about.

Three revolutionary and seminal ideas converged about the same time to forever shift our ideas about children.  These ideas were championed, beginning in the late Middle Ages and up to the 20th Century, by educators from different European countries, who felt they were inspired by God to serve and protect children.  Because of their dedicated efforts to the specific needs of children, this new stage of life– called childhood– gradually emerged and became officially recognized for the first time in history.

These three revolutionary and seminal life-altering ideas were:

(1)The concept of a child as being something distinct and different from being just a short adult.  This marked the birth of a new age of enlightenment in social history and new types of educational practices.  Robust public debate finally became centered on the responsibility of government, churches, and organizations for the welfare of children.
(2)Secondly, the idea that the mother played a significant role in the upbringing of children and needed support and education in that role, took hold.
(3)The need to provide education to all children was the third significant idea to become universal. Thus, the education of the young became a mandate for modern societies to embrace.
Today, in most industrialized nations, we take these three concepts about children as givens, but the impetus for the origin of these three mandates can be traced back to the influence of specific historical individuals and those who rallied to their causes.

As we look back in history, we can understand the development of educational theory as a progression of inspired revelations about the nature of children and how they learn, each revelation building on the previous ones like a child’s tower of blocks.  This succession of inspired educators, beginning in roughly 1600, brought forth understandings of the truer developmental needs of the bodies and souls of children, which resulted in the three significant conceptual changes in the ideas about children mentioned above. Theorists like Comenius (1600’s Czechoslovakia), Pestalozzi (1700’s, Switzerland), Froebel (1800’s, Germany) and Montessori (1900’s, Italy) were courageous spokespersons for what was, up till then, the mysterious and unrecognized nature of childhood.  Thus, with their incarnations, a 400 year enlightened spiral of education began which put an end to the planetary momentum of thousands of years of child abuse and ignorant neglect which is still in its denouement phase today.

These early revolutionary educators aren’t particularly household names any more.  Yet, the combined influence of their ideas and advocacy for children has completely change peoples’ understanding about children and how they should be educated.  All of us who work with children are indebted to them whether we know it or not.  We are the inheritors of their insights, vital links in the continuing story of the education of the soul spoken of so long ago by Plato in ancient Greece.  Pioneers, all, they awakened people to the truth of how to care for children and nurture their souls, because in their day, the purpose of education was soul development.

[1] Wolfe, J. (2000).  Learning from the past: historical voices in early childhood education. Canada, Alberta:  Piney Branch Press.

[2] Luke 18:16

[3] Op.Cit.

[4] Ibid.

Excerpted from Educating the Reincarnated Child

Dr. Celeste A. Miller

Stary Delight

Stary Delight

Encourage a Love for Nature

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Froebel, a European educator wrote in the mid 1800’s:

Mother’s, give your children the intimacy with nature…His soul seeks the soul of all things. His spirit strives however unconsciously, to penetrate the phenomenal and transitory; to find the absolute and abiding; to recognize the particular  deep-lying universe, to discern unity and community in what appears detached and solitary.  A child of God, a single vital spark of the divine flame, he seeks and must ever seek Unity, the Being that is one in and for itself – God.[1]

You may have seen a recent Washington Post article[2] which reported that 90-min micro breaks spent in nature increased cognition and reduced depression in the adult subjects.  This study and others are telling us that being in nature has many physical and psychological benefits.  Why do we enjoy being in nature and feel so refreshed?  Perhaps it is because as humans, we share with nature the same laws of mathematical wonder and beauty that both biologists and physicists have been discovering, i.e. the golden ratio.   You might consider that in addition to learning your religion’s theology, part of a child’s spiritual training could be just to spend more time in nature.

Like Froebel and other educators, I believe it is very important for children to be in nature.  We still have no idea about how the electrical impulses sent out by plants affect us as humans.  Yet, we know that when we are in a beautiful setting in nature, we do feel refreshed in spirit.  It stands to reason that children feel the same way.  Time spent in the mall needs to be balanced with time spent in nature with flowers, trees, the birds and animals.

My children and I spent a lot of time camping when they were young.  Those experiences were some of our happiest times together.  And as adults, they still enjoy time in nature and are passing along the joys to their children. Toddlers benefit from long walks, but you know if you have ever taken a walk with a toddler, that they will stop, look and listen frequently, so don’t expect your walk to be a workout for you. These stops and starts may be occurring because children experience nature more acutely than we do.  A meander might be a better description of the walk.

A Tucson grandson of ours attends a school with large windows looking out on the desert.  The children delight in watching the jack rabbits hop along and the lizards dart about.  If you live in a place where there are no parks, trees or flowers in your immediate neighborhood, bring nature into your home with fish tanks, pets, and growing seeds or potted plants.  From this children can absorb an understanding of the “unity and community” that Froebel was referring to in this quote.  Hoorah for zoos and botanical gardens!  Science may never be able to tell us in spiritual terms what Froebel knew– there is a unity in nature and we are part of it.

Adapted from Parenting the Reincarnated Child

 

[1] Froebel, F. (1906).  Mottoes and commentaries of Froebel’s Mother Plays.  Translated by Henrietta R. Eliot and Susan E. Blow. NY, New York:   Appleton and Company,  p.140
[2]Mooney, C. (2105). New studies suggest nature walks are good for your brain. Washington Post, 6/29.

 

Bonsai Tree in Taipei

Bonsai Tree in Taipei