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BAD INFLUENCE OF EARLY SCHOOLING

 

It seems to me that in recent years people in general have developed intelectually while they have degenerated mentally.

This may sound odd, but what it means is this: People who are mentally shallow, though witty and clever on the surface, have increased in number, while it has become difficult to find individuals who have true, deep wisdom, self-control and dignity. Why is this so? From my view-point, this trend is definitely due to early schooling. Let me tell you the reason for my thinking in this way.

When education begins before children's brains are mature enough to digest the lessons given to them in school, as is done today, there is a discrepancy between the degree of their mental development and the amount of knowledge forced on them. In truth, children should be allowed to use both mind and body properly according to age and in ratio of their individual development. Early schooling means that children seven or eight years of age are forced to do brain work which is appropriate for fifteen or sixteen-year-old pupils.

This is nothing but mental overwork. What will be the result? Let me give you an example. When I was an elementary schoolboy, I had a desirc to take lessons in judo (a Japanese art of self-defense) and applied for them. However, I was rejected for the reason that I was too young, that anyone under fifteen was not permitted to practice judo. On my asking why, the instructors told me that if boys under fifteen took judo lessons they would stop growing, due to the extreme physical exertion required.

The same idea can be applied to education. Today, children twelve or thirteen years of age are forced to study material that is best suited to adults, and it is considered wise for them to do so. It is true that intellect can exhibit remarkable development temporarily, and this gives the impression that the present method is effective for educating children. However, this does not help their deeper thinking faculties to develop. Instead, it causes them to grow up to be individuals whose thinking is clever but shallow.

In fact, in today's Japan it is becoming harder and harder to find great statesmen, men of substance; indeed, such deep thinkers as we used to have are few and far between. I believe this is a serious matter to which educators should give deep consideration.

 

 

July 02, 1949

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