Education Session 16 Tammuz 14 July 2014
For audio click here
For audio click here
A child is raised and taught; and not trained.
Chinuch/education of a child is so that he will continue to grow and go on his own way.
Even the lower levels of thought speech and actions should not be taught in isolation, but rather connected back to the sechel/mind and midot/emotions.
Tanya describes a benoni – an intermediate person, and yet at the outset there is the description the nefesh/soul. Why did he not start with of thought, speech and action - the primarily level of the benoni's work/service?
Life is a Godly phenomenon – it is not worldly and not open to understanding. The animal has a living body, but not life independent of body. A human being is categorically different – he is life in a body. He is primarily life. What he does with his body is directed by life and not by the body...!
When we walk and eat it is a chochmah/wisdom activity. We eat to be healthy, and what is health to a human being? It is that the chochmah will function properly.
And what is the difference if you view things from a chochmah perspective or a worldly perception – its the same world! But if you see from a worldly perception then it is imposing itself on you. If you have a chochmah/wisdom view then you see the way things should be – everything has a message of truth.
A soul is something that is Godly – it is connected to God! It sees from that perspective – it sees what things stand for... the task of education is to have that element express itself in sechel/mind and midot/emotions.
Respect is not just perfunctory. Even if a person is wrong, it is recognized, 'this is how he thinks...' and this is real to him from a soul level... So whatever he is learning is on 3 different levels. He senses a truth to what he's learning, and that it makes sense, and that he can relate to it. But if he learns to relate to something that does not have a sense of truth, then he is giving up his own sense of value and judgement.
Sechel/mind is a miraculous gift. The first connection to the truth is via chochmah/wisdom. Children believe what they see, and people say they are gullible, but that is not so. They see from a truth perception. They see everything is beautiful. They see they way the soul sees.
So the Alte Rebbe explains that the conflict is not on the level of illicit desire, but rather on the level of truth...
education must preserve this 'life' element that a child and human being have. We direct their action, but this must be in a way that there is confirmation of what the soul knows.
By way of introduction: we said that we must understand that when we educate, there is a basis for the action...
is what is taught to the child contrary to his nature? No! Absolutely not! You are in fact leading the child into his own world.
It is not training.
It is not education. Education is new information. Chinuch is different.
By contrast chinuch is built around different principles. It is like teaching someone how to drive – he has a feel for it! He's part of this reality. He just has to practice what he already knows.
The learner has to get into the car and practice. If the person had not seen a road or a car before he would not be able to relate.
There is human intelligence and reality preceding the chinuch.
The chinuch is the action of correlating the person and his sense of life with life in the world.
You can help someone to get accustomed to driving a car. But is that what keeps him on the road? Is his fear of an accident what keeps him there? No, he relates to the function and reality of the road. It is a human reality that reflects the human perception of the world.
And he doesn't first hear of the road when he gets behind the wheel. He has a recognition of the reality of the road. He knows the world is not a jungle and that it is a place of meaning and interconnection.
Children know how to ride bicycles. And each child knows that to ride he must not look straight down to the ground. You look ahead. The wheels touch the ground, but the movement is in the intended direction. It is a simple point that is illustrative of all aspects of human activity.
The Rebbe MAHARASH was a child and playing with others outside and they challenged each other to climb a high ladder. None could make it. But the MAHARASH climbed straight to the top. His father the Tzemach Tzedek, his father asked him how he did it. The boy responded, 'I didn't look back. I went straight up. I didn't look down.'
The other boys situated themselves on the earth. The Rebbe did not have that orientation. This is an intellectual sense. It is a soul sense of reality. It says, 'God made the world, and for this reason things are real'.
Principles of chinuch mean to bring the child along via the things he can relate to, beyond what he can grasp and understand.
Children have a profound sense of the reality of life.
He knows that a human being is in the world not just to survive. He knows the human being has a mission. And the whole world stands ready to help him accomplish his mission. An object like a 'table' is one of the things that help him with his mission.
When the child sits at a table it is natural to him. He senses he's here as a human presence, not just to feed himself.
He senses the apple is a created entity, and it is appropriate to make a blessing – he senses the reality. He begins to respect the elements of the world he encounters – everything is real.
And then every piece of information is part of a whole reality. This way whatever he is learns he is 'at home' and not 'at a loss'.
Proper chinuch sets a child on a happy path for life... and when he learns he feels that he is learning about his world and not 'put upon'.
This is the second phase of chinuch. The first phase is to maintain a respect for, and a cognizance, of the wisdom of the child.
So when a child makes a blessing on a piece of fruit, it is much more than training. He and the fruit acquire a different significance when the bracha/blessing is made.
Raising Children - The Nature of Education – Chinuch – 1 Menachem Av - 28 July 2014
The child must be brought into his reality.
A person lives because he is 'into it' – and if it is not 'his life' then ultimately even one who grew up with a full education can reach a point where he just walks away and says, 'I am just not into it'.
The child's mind grasps the full truth in a fragile way and can easily be distracted and lose his sense of wellbeing.
Every person and children too sense that there is reality on the world.
He knows when he opens his eyes he will see the sky.
Some centuries ago people thought that the earth was flat. In that mindset you can walk to the edge and fall off...! But we know that there is absolute reality in the world. There is no 'falling off the edge' – there is no end.
You are where you belong. Why? Because that's a Godly command. God forbid to be oriented on the basis of our physical aspect – this is the basis of all mental illness. It is a horrific perception to think, 'things just happen to be this way...'
And in this place of reality the child finds himself and grows. And the chinuch is to give him a sense of what this reality is about.
We need to clear our mind. Break free of distractions. Chochmah is the highest sense of perception. It is bitul. It takes reality the way it is. I see the whole world because, 'it should be there'. And why is it there. Because there is a Creator behind it. No one lives in the world, but in God's creation.
Your home is there, not because it is there, but because it should be there. So too the child is where he belongs. There is a reality. The chinuch is to have the child realize how everything should be.
Raising Children - The Nature of Education – Chinuch – 23 Menachem Av - 19 July 2014 - There's More Where This Came From
At the outset we made a distinction between chinuch and education. Chinuch is the basis of the child, so that he will be able to relate to what comes later...
Our job is to enhance it and reveal it, and let him sense that 'this is his turf' rather than something imposed from outside.
We lead the child to appreciate the educational phase too. He learns to 'make a bracha'. But he has to have an inner reality. As a child one can be rewarded for good actions, but as an adult you cannot do it for honor. You have to relate to 'the real Torah'.
As we are learning in the morning, the soul is put into the body and whatever he learns elicits light from the soul. This is the kind of learning we want our child to grow up to experience. We want that he will know there is truth to it, and that it is his Torah.
The point is that the child will know that there is 'an eye that sees and an ear that hears'. The Rambam says we should look at the world knowing that 'there is a Creator who makes it and shows it to us'. And this is a principle in an adult's intellect. We don't live in a world we discover – a false, lifeless, burden filled world. No. We we live in a world of increasing Godliness. And that is the point of difference.
There are simple steps that give the child this sense.
The Rebbe says that the child has his own money (for tzdaka) and siddur etc. And at the same time before he takes something he has to ask. So when you tell a child, 'make a bracha, because God is giving it to you'. And the child knows that when he asks he gets. He realizes 'there's more where this came from'.
There is 'an eye that sees and an ear that hears', means that the world is real and that what we do is real...
The worst mental state, is to not know who your parents are... the effect is that he feels he has no roots in the world. This is the extreme. Know that the world is meant for you, supplies you, and is real. The child gets used to asking for something and then getting it. This gives him self respect. At the same time he has things that are his and he doesn't have to ask for them.
This is like the 'aleph-bet'. You don't have it on your own. You have to ask for it. Then the child cherishes his teacher.