Of all lines of education, mental education is the most widely known and practised, yet except in a few rare cases there are gaps which make it something very incomplete and in the end quite insufficient. Generally speaking, schooling is considered to be all the mental education that is necessary. And when a child has been made to undergo, for a number of years, a methodical training which is more like cramming than true schooling, it is considered that whatever is necessary for his mental development has been done.
Nothing of the kind. Even conceding that the training is given with due measure and discrimination and does not permanently damage the brain, it cannot impart to the human mind the faculties it needs to become a good and useful instrument. The schooling that is usually given can, at the most, serve as a system of gymnastics to increase the suppleness of the brain. From this standpoint, each branch of human learning represents a special kind of mental gymnastics, and the verbal formulations given to these various branches each constitute a special and well-defined language.
A true mental education, which will prepare man for a higher life, has five principal phases. Normally these phases follow one after another, but in exceptional individuals they may alternate or even proceed simultaneously. These five phases, in brief, are :(1) Development of the power of concentration, the capacity of attention. (2) Development of the capacities of expansion, widening, complexity and richness. (3) Organization of one’s ideas around a central idea, a higher ideal or a supremely luminous idea that will serve as a guide in life. (4) Thought-control, rejection of undesirable thoughts, to become able to think only what one wants and when one wants.(5) Development of mental silence, perfect calm and a more and more total receptivity to inspirations coming from the higher regions of the being. All methods that can develop this faculty of attention from games to rewards are good and can all be utilised according to the need and the circumstances.
But it is the psychological action that is most important and the sovereign method is to arouse in the child an interest in what you want to teach him, a liking for work, a will to progress. To love to learn is the most precious gift that one can give to a child.