ArutkuRal on Child Education-1

Dear Friends,

The Eastern psychological perspectives on the Theory of Child Education has not been sufficiently brought up and discussed among Asian thinkers and educaionists. Most of them remain tied down to religious percepts without taking into account the way a child develops and fostering educational practices consistent with the way the mind of a child works. The Asian traditions over emphasize rote learning  and  a child who simply memorizes and regurgitates is considered a very bright child. The idea of developing critical thinking and fostering bold questioning is hardly met with. In fact such practices are considered impudent and disrespectful. The parents and yelders SHOULD NOT BE QUESTIONED  and the art of silent acceptance is fostered in so many ways that the creative  impulses are killed long before even the child enters the school. The exam oriented system of school education also indirectly fosters this kind of attitude and a child who boldly questions the teachers are hardly looked upon with favour.

In this series of articles I want to look at child development and a Theory of Education from the perspectives of Agamic Psychology using for this purpose the cryptic  observations I made a few years ago in the book ArutkuRaL. The theory is similar to that of Piaget but also goes further in terms of the theory of MIND of Meykandar that I rediscovered thorough the use of Access Testing. Piaget interacted with children, recorded accurately the protocols, the verbalizations of the children and analysed these protocols and proposed stable mental structures that constitute STAGES of development: sensory motor, pre-operational, concrete operational and finally Formal operational. He studied mainly a  small number of Genevan children and on that basis proposed the following ages: 0to 3 for the first, 3to 6 for second, 6to 12 or so for the third and 12 and above for the final. Subsequent research world wide confirmed  not only these stages but also their sequential order though the ages of onset for these stages were found to vary considerably. For example the Australian aboriginal children became concrete operational only at the age of 18 or thereabouts. In my own studies among Malaysian children I found  almost 50% of children at the  ages of 17 or thereabouts still not sufficiently Formal Operational and so forth.

But there are problems in this widely acknowledged theory of child development: a confusion with respect to the concept of mind implicit in it. The stages are said to be styles of operations of a kind and Piaget's  theoretical reflections went on further along these assumptions. It is here that Meykandar provides the Deeper Understanding that is required of the human mind in order to have a better understanding of dynamics of child development. For he shows clearly that there is this Psyche as an independent reality inhabiting the body and which uses the various mental structures, the antakranas , for understanding the world. The distinct stages of development  correlate with the different mental mechanisms the child uses to process the information impinging its body from within and without. The  idea  of a psychical reality distinct from the body and which uses the different cognitive  facilities available in it,  is highly repugnant to the Western Psychologists for reasons that are more ideological than scientific.
The mental structures Meykandar mentions are: Manam, Buddhi, Ahangkaaram and Siththam and Meykandar provides arguments much deeper than Descartes to show the independent reality of the psyche.  The psyche or the anma being engulfed in Darkness , a primordial condition of itself, uses these mental structures to destroy this inner Darkness of Ignorance.(Also called the Jahil by Muslims)

ArutkuRal follows this lead and adds on the sequentiality inherent to it.


        manampuththi  aangkaaram siththamena adaivaay
        pakkuvamvan thuRumpaalar kadku

The child develops cognitively by availing for itself manam, buddhi, ahangkaaram and siththam in that order. The sequentiality in child development and onward progress from stage to stage isNOT  related to some operational propensities but rather the USE of mental structures ALREADY available with the inheritance of a human body.

In this what is manam? It is that cognitive facility  that allows the processing of information that reaches the child through the five senses.  Hence manam is that part of the mind that is closely linked with the sense perceptual processes. It is with this Manam that a child begins to interact with the world,  his body etc and makes sense of it.


        piRappodu manam piRangkup poRivazi
        EnRa thaRin_thin puRum.

 However when a child begins to acknowledge the presence of objects that are NOT within its immediate sensory field that Piaget notes as object invariance, we have the beginnings of the use of Buddhi, a facility that comes along with capacity to IMAGINE and REASON . It allows the child to go beyond the immediacy of the sensory and grasp through imagination and thinking even the absent objects. For the child does not anymore think that the mother is no more just because she is not within his visual field. She is there somewhere and he begins to search for her, await for her etc.  With the use of Buddhi begins the capacity to PROJECT beyond the immediate spatiotemporal confines. As Buddhi develops the child also becomes capable of fantasies of all kinds.

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        poRiyiR padaathana pORRip purinthukoL
        pookkin manathodu puththi

After this capacity comes the ability to distinguish between self and Other which is quite confused at the beginning. Quite often the child uses the third person pronouns to actually to refer to himself. But slowly with the ability to use language the psychical differentiation in terms of self and non-self and self and Other begins. It is here that the  structure Ahangkaaram, which literally means " the self maker" comes to be used .

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        Thaanena avanena thaRkaruthi piRarkaruthi
        maananilai yodumannum AngkAram

Only after this begins the idea of being rational, logical etc,  an attempt to bring an ORDER into  thinking.  The Buddhi, that which enables imagination and mental projections of various kinds now is modified to correspond with reality, to accommodate realities that contradict fantasies. The child begins to differentiate real from the imaginary and with that the necessity to being rational and logical. Piaget locates the beginnings of this at concrete operational stage and its absatctive level at the formal operational stage.

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        EraNac cinthaiyo dezuunj siththam
        puuraNampeRum puththithan thozil

With this capacity the child begins to use all the cognitive structures available in the human and applies all to make sense of the world.

This view of child development that isolates only the cognitive is incomplete  for when  a child becomes capable of using all the four mental mechanisms he/she also becomes an adolescent with sexual identity and nascent sexual desires  along with onset of puberty and so forth that Freud and many others have studied. Later we will study it in terms of  the  workings of Yin and Yang or what's the same Bindhu and Natham. The development of thinking with respect to the sexual identity of oneself interacts with the stages of cognitive development as also the understanding of morality. We shall attend to these later.