Written by the Master Therion
Each child must develop its own Individuality, and Will, disregarding alien Ideals. At Cefalu's Abbey of Θελημα its resources and originality are matched against divers environments. It is confronted with such problems as swimming, climbing, housework, and left to solve them in its own way. Its subconsciousness is impressed by reading literary masterpieces, which are left to infiltrate its mind automatically without selective stress or asking conscious comprehension. Nothing is taught except How to think for oneself. It is treated as a responsible and independent being, encouraged in self-reliance, and respected for self-assertion.
Education is assisting a soul to express itself. Every child should be presented with all possible problems and allowed to register its own reactions; it should be made to face all contingencies in turn until it overcomes each successfully. Its mind must not be influenced, but only offered all kinds of nourishment. Its innate qualities will enable it to select the food proper to its nature. Respect its individuality! Submit all life for its inspection, without comment. Truth teaches understanding, freedom develops will, experience confers resourcefulness, independence inspires self-confidence. Thereby success becomes certain.
Every child is God of its own Universe. Education develops control thereof. It must be taught nothing except how to govern its environment. Truth is the first condition; it must behold all facts scientifically. Courage, the second; it must grapple all facts resolutely. Organization, the third; it must integrate impressions and ordinances. It must be allowed absolute authority over its reactions, but its tendency to deceive itself or evade actuality must be cauterized by insistent confrontation with the repugnant realities. It must know cloudlessly, dare dauntlessly, will integrally, and keep silence sublimely.
Education fits individuals to encounter environment. From infancy children should face facts, unadulterated by explanations. Let them think and act for themselves; let their innate integrity initiate itself! Make them explore all life's mysteries, overcome all its dangers. Falsity and fear are their only foe-men. Let them witness birth, marriage, death; let them hear poetry, philosophy, history; compel apprehension but not its articulate expression. Make them face cliffs, billows, animals, finding their own formula of conquest. Thrust Truth on them tirelessly, careful only to make its range all comprehensive; trust them to use it.
Let children educate themselves to be themselves. Those who train them to standards cripple and deform them. Alien ideals impose parasitic perversions. Every child is a Sphinx; none knoweth its secret but itself; presumeth Ignorance to initiate Isis? Let the Sphinx brood on its secret, until its hour; one can assist only by leaving it to contemplate existence. Let it behold all things in Earth and Heaven. Guard it inviolably; strengthen it by successive struggles. Be it omniscient, omnipotent, perfected by its own Virtue to serve its own purpose - individual, independent, initiated - Itself!
Procrustes-teachers,' assuming Themselves the "Measure of Mankind," deform children deliberately by Ideals. Gardeners never assimilate poppies to potatoes; they nourish each plant by its own norm, towards excellence in its particular properties. Even elementary education should be adapted to individuals; each mind has its own peculiarities. Why not put boys' bodies into plaster moulds of "Perfection"? All pressure on plastic material is pernicious, thwarting its true tendencies, and perverting its proportions. Monstrous growths compensate constrictions. Education must accustom the mind to meet all eventualities, interpreting, judging, and reacting as its individual necessity demands.
Most people mislead children purposely, alleging necessity to shield them. One falsehood confuses correct conceptions; the brain, bewildered, soon finds conflicting evidence. The contradiction between observed facts and teaching revolts its righteousness. Children distrust the Universe; intelligence revolts; years of aching uncertainty avenge the original deception. Children are also trained to falsify, sophisticate, deny or forget facts; forbidden to face them. Wielding wrong weapons, they encounter unknown or misguided enemies. Nature turns traitor; they distrust themselves; like Gilbert's billiard-sharper, they play "on a cloth untrue with a twisted cue and elliptical billiard balls."2
At Cefalu's Abbey of Θελημα children are as adults. Realities are their right; they observe dispassionately and act responsibly. They are made 1 [Procrustes was a mythical Greek figure who made travellers fit his bed, either by stretching or by amputating their limbs.] 2 [Gilbert and Sullivan, The Mikado, or The Town of Titipu (1885); to extricate themselves from graduated emergencies. They drill, swim, climb, play games, explore town or country alone; they listen to time-tested words. They use their minds accordingly, never in forced forms. They learn truth-seeing, courage, courtesy and independence; to mind their own business, respecting the rights of others, while resenting interference. Apprehending actualities accurately and acting adequately thereon, instead of crying, clinging, cringing, and "making believe," they master self and surroundings.
Young brains store sense-impressions without necessarily judging them. Higher mental faculties develop gradually. It is criminal to force growth, especially in dogmatic directions. Reflection, classification, coordination are devices of the growing mind for dealing with accumulations of detail. Education should simply furnish facts, intelligible or not, of every order. Avoid comment, explanation, moral judgment; the child-mind must manage its material. Truth must be taught as the condition of right relation, courage as that of right reaction. The individual equal to his environment, evolves in perfection. Children so educated are absolutely themselves, adjusted to apprehend and act by autonomous evolution.
Evolution demands exceptional individuals, fitter to their environment than their fellows. Species prosper by imitating efficient eccentrics. Mediocrity, self-styled morality, protects the unfit, but prevents progress, discourages adaptability, and assures ultimate ruin to the race. Standards of education, ideals of Right-and-Wrong, conventions, creeds, codes, stagnate Mankind. Encourage original individuals. Beware of squaring the Keystone, or heaving it over among the rubbish! Mediocrity wanted Keats druggist, Gaugin banker, Clive clerk, Mohammed camel-man!1
1 [John Keats (1795 - 1821) The painter Paul Gaugin (1848 - 1903) Baron Robert Clive of Plassey (1725-1774) established British colonial rule in India. Mohammed (570- 632), the so-called prophet and founder of Islam, was originally a camel-driver.] Nature needs nobility Vitality vindicates variety. Preeminence purchases progress. Superiority safeguards survival. Abnormality averts atrophy. Breed for Behemoth!I
Every child is absolute.
Dare not bias it or bind!
Give the seed fair play to shoot!
At maturity its mind
Shall perfect its proper fruit,
Durst thou twist that tenderness
To thy whims or theories?
Who adjured thee to assess
Marvels hidden from thine eyes?
Meddler, muddier! Is thy guess
Guaranteed most wondrous wise?
Let it meet and measure things,
Match itself against them, span
Safely the abyss - Earth sings:
"If you know and will, you can!"