Education: The Basics

Principle 3: The Student and the Trainee

Man is quite a flexible being.  All creatures in nature do not undergo much change during their lives – no mosquito changes into an eagle, and no lion becomes a whale – but man is capable of very dramatic change. Educators and teachers must realize that each child they face may be trained into an Abraham or Moses, or even into a Genghis Khan, a Nero, a Yazid or a Machiavelli. Thus we must have in mind the principles of educating human beings:

1-The age of the student or trainee: Man has certain characteristics in various ages, each period calls for a different form of education. During childhood, for instance, man is intensely dependant upon his parents, and models his parents' behavior. Before mental maturity, man's character imitates others, but when man becomes able to dominate his internal existence, he will have an independent character. From youth to middle ages, physical development wanes and powers and talents are activated.

2-The importance of the material taught: The more important man considers the content, the more he will try to learn it. What man learns toward the end of childhood and at the beginning of his youth has a deep influence on him, because during these periods what is induced as education is regarded as the most important and desirable thing. In any part of man's life, if he considers a reality as crucial, he will be deeply influenced by it. This is why teachers and trainers should always make the crucial importance of the content they teach easily understandable and acceptable for students – provided that, of course, the teachers and trainers have agreed upon it before. 

3-The necessity of compatibility between the ideas of the teachers and trainers and those of the trainees and students: If there is harmony between teachers and parents during the childhood or adolescence of the students, education will prove more successful. Adversity between the school and the home can lead to harmful effects on the soul. There are three forms of harmony or disharmony between teachers and the students' parents: 

a)If there is complete harmony between parents and teachers, and the children are also eager to learn, education will lead to remarkable results, and create very prosperous people.

b)If parents are indifferent toward their children's education, and only expect them to become educated members of the society, the students will not become as developed as the former group, but at least they will not suffer from internal conflict and contradiction.

c)If parents disagree with the education their children are receiving, the children will suffer from mental and spiritual problems. Social leaders should do their best to present educational contents in a way that no mental or spiritual conflict is caused. Great men of wisdom, anthropologists and moralists have emphasized that the seeds of faith in God must be planted in the hearts of people so that they can reach perfection.

4-Taking care in how the students or trainees are transferred from the emotional period to the intellectual period: Man's mental maturation begins with progress from crude emotions to reasoning and intellect. This gradual process has certain forms of sensitivity. The children's mental activities during this period should be processed so that they do not feel empty and nihilistic. If those who are in the crude emotions period understand that human values are merely based upon emotions and not on reasoning, they will fall into great many problems, because they will think that any duty should make them ecstatic, or that God will grant their every wish. There are two important points that must be kept in mind during the period of transition from emotions to reasoning and intellect:

a)The teacher/trainer must educate his students/trainees of the importance and necessity of reasoning and its role in making man's contact with facts more logical without drying up the origins of life.

b)Teachers should take great care when presenting the ways to make the transition from emotions to reasoning and intellect, for not all people can use the same methods in all conditions. For some people, explaining the errors that arise from absolute reliance on emotions and neglecting intellectual activities works more effectively. In some others, it is best to explain the advantages of reasoning with regard to facts. Other people prefer to have the reasoning methods of great figures explained to them. Still, some others are influenced by appropriate stories from which the results of reasoning are extracted.

c)Explaining emotions and reasoning should not be overdone, or one of them may be sacrificed.

5-Creating great interest in asking questions: In education, we must do something that will make our students eager for discussion and reasoning instead of mere imitators; only then will we educate scholars in different fields and majors who are also creative. 

Factors Resisting Education

There are several factors that make man resist constructive, useful education – in fact, a form of man fighting against himself.

1-Resistance due to hereditary factors: Some scientists believe that the most important factor that makes education fail is genetic factors. Such a theory should be criticized, for hereditary factors do not act as the ultimate causes; they do not determine man's definite fate. The reasons for this are:

a)If hereditary factors did determine man's fate, there would be no change or development in human generations; however, no generation has been identical to its predecessors.

b)The fact that children differ from their parents in appearance, behavior, and temper shows that hereditary factors are not the ultimate, conclusive factors in determining man's behavior, physique or mentality.

c)If genetics were the sole operative factor, children would have to be studied based upon their parents' physical, mental and spiritual qualities.

d)Environmental factors and favoritism among children also affect their education, so genetics cannot be the sole factor here. Considering the four reasons mentioned above, we must say that although some qualities and mental characteristics are transferred to children, they can be changed by means of educational and environmental factors, freedom and the child's hidden mental abilities; the hereditary factors are never the final, deciding ones.

If genetic factors were the determining factors in the human character, every legal trial would include a study of the mental qualities of the parents of the accused. No one has up to now claimed that an evil person must be the offspring of an evil parent, or vice versa. 

2-The over-intensification of some mental qualities that inhibit education: If natural mental characteristics are over-intensified, the human soul will refuse to accept any more facts. For instance, if hedonism – one of man's natural mental aspects – is reinforced inadvertently, all aspects of the human soul will be affected by it, and other characteristics will fade away. This is why we must say that mental and spiritual well-being calls for all potentials and natural characteristics to develop equally and I balance ever since childhood.

3-Resistance against education due to lack of character: If man has no active, fixed character, he will refuse to consider any truth as necessary or proper. Such people resist educational matters, and their resistance increases as they age. Eventually, their resistance against education will prevent them from learning about the truth and higher evolutionary development, which will only lead to irrecoverable damage and loss.


4-Avoiding encouragement and rewarding, superficiality and ignoring the necessity of seeking the truth: Students should be made to go after the truth, not rewards. Teachers must educate their students to follow the truth and its crucial advantages instead of merely thinking about their own physical or material life. Students must realize that if life is not adjusted based upon original truths, artificial things such as money, power and fame will dominate their lives.


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