This section is from the book "Handbook Of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science", by Henry S. Munro. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science.
The prime purpose of education is to equip the individual to make the struggle for existence. More than ever before do we now realize that this necessitates the development of the body as well as the mind - that body, mind, and character are all qualities of the one individual, and that it is practically impossible to elevate one quality while the others are weak or degraded. The problems of health concern all that contributes to the evolution of the individual - physically, mentally, and morally.
The capacities and capabilities of the body should occupy more consideration in our educational system than is done at the present time. When education or religion interferes with the physical development of children, it strikes a weakening blow at the quality of brain plasm possessed by the child, and, to obtain the best results in mental development, this should be kept at a high standard. Moreover, any factor that retards physical growth and development, while education is enforced, seriously jeopardizes the life of the individual, and our American cities have thousands of physically weak, neurasthenic boys and girls who have been maimed for life under the strain of the existing educational methods.
Every one should be environed by those conditions that maintain the highest standard of protoplasmic energy during the period of childhood and adolescence. The impressions that are made upon the brain through the senses from the cradle to the grave are the suggestions that constitute the education of an individual. Here those that are useful and good, or harmful and false, are alike recorded, to furnish foodstuff for the mind, which is manifested in thought and conduct.
School training, after all, consists only in furnishing an environment in which certain suggestions, ideas, mental pictures, concepts, or impressions can be photographed on the rapidly developing cerebral cells. Here consciousness itself is evolved, habits are formed, and a new world is opened to view as a child's perceptive powers are strengthened and individuality begins to assert itself.
While a certain quality of physical traits and habit tendencies are transmitted to the offspring, by far the most potent factors in making children what they become are the inherited environing conditions which bring to bear upon the child their unconscious suggestive influences. What we are is largely the result of what we have experienced in life. Habits of thought, traits of character, religious beliefs, moral convictions, etc., are all directly the result of impressions that have been registered upon our cerebral cells. Environment contributes both to our physical and mental constitutions.
In the slums of one of our great American cities I noticed a little two-year-old child, without shoes, bareheaded, and dirty, in ragged clothes that scarcely covered its poorly nourished body; reared in filth and poverty, with a drunken father to abuse its weak-faced mother, who tolerated her pitiable state of existence because she did not know any better. Had she been taught to work, and to think and do for herself, she could easily have extricated herself from this miserable role. That a child born under such conditions should become a prostitute, contract disease, and die before she was scarcely out of her teens would be as natural as the law of gravitation.
A girl whose father at the time of her birth was occupying the position of president of a great college, and who was reared in the lap of education and refinement, could have been nothing else than the mathematical resultant of the parallelogram of the forces that environed her.
A little child of my knowledge was taken at six months old by a couple of kind-hearted people, who provided it with all the physical necessities of life. They saw in this little one latent possibilities and potentialities that could be developed and trained into active, useful service, and they enjoyed watching its growth. They said she was beautiful, and the child smiled and cooed, and grew more beautiful. They informed their friends that she was smart, and every day reminded the little one of this belief in her, and at an early age she did all sorts of useful service. They said that she was good and obedient, and, true to the law of suggestion, they molded those very qualities in her. They loved to listen to her merry prattle, and she early acquired a vocabulary of words to express her ideas.
Later, when she started to school, they believed that she would excel in her classes, and she led in every study. They encouraged her efforts to imitate her foster mother in cooking, and, though she soiled her clothing and wasted material, they were pleased, and she soon became an expert cook. They appreciated her efforts at the piano, and she developed into a talented musician. Still later in life she married, and was the pride and helper of her husband, and an honored woman in her community.
Such was the culminating force of suggestion in the home life in its influence upon the life and character of a motherless waif. Who can dispute the saying that "men and women make men and women?"
"You are a bad boy, just as bad as you can be, and I will never let you come down town with me again," said a mother to her little six-year-old, who was the impersonation of the character that his mother had exhibited for him every day of his life.
Children are usually just what their parents make them.
A little four-year-old boy was playing upon the floor with his fifteen-months-old baby sister. He impulsively jerked some of his toys from her baby hands, and she in turn began to cry. The mother, who was quietly sewing near by, witnessed the incident, and, looking up serenely, in a subdued tone called young America to her. He sulked up to her with a face that indicated that his rights were being transgressed, and he was not disposed to stand for it.
"Kiss me, my boy," said she, while she implanted a kiss upon his forehead. She then good-naturedly placed her fingers under his chin, and, with his face upturned to hers, quietly said to him, "You are mamma's little man; you are a good boy. Yes, you are; you are a good boy, and I know you are going to be just as sweet to your little sister as you can be. She is a little baby, but you are a little man. Now, I am going to see if you aren't."