all the domains of human consciousness, the physical is the
one most completely governed by method, order, discipline,
process. The lack of plasticity and receptivity in matter
has to be replaced by a detailed organisation that is both
precise and comprehensive. In this organisation, one must
not forget the interdependence and interpenetration of all
the domains of the being. However, even a mental or vital
impulse, to express itself physically, must submit to an exact
process. That is why all education of the body, if it is to
be effective, must be rigorous and detailed, far-sighted and
methodical. This will be translated into habits; the body
is a being of habits. But habits should be controlled and
disciplined, while remaining flexible enough to adapt themselves
to circumstances and to the needs of the growth and development
of the being.
education of the body should begin at birth and continue throughout
life. It is never too soon to begin nor too late to continue.
education has three principal aspects
and discipline of the functioning of the body,
an integral, methodical and harmonious development of all
the parts and movements
of the body and
correction of any defects and deformities.
may be said that from the very first days, even the first
hours of his life, the child should undergo the first part
of this programme as far as food, sleep, evacuation, etc.
are concerned. If the child, from the very beginning of his
existence, learns good habits, it will save him a good deal
of trouble and inconvenience for the rest of his life; and
besides, those who have the responsibility of caring for him
during his first years will find their task very much easier.
this education, if it is to be rational, enlightened and effective,
must be based upon a minimum knowledge of the human body,
of its structure and its functioning. As the child develops,
he must gradually be taught to observe the functioning of
his internal organs so that he may control them more and more,
and see that this functioning remains normal and harmonious.
As for positions, postures and movements, bad habits are formed
very early and very rapidly, and these may have disastrous
consequences for his whole life. Those who take the question
of physical education seriously and wish to give their children
the best conditions for normal development will easily find
the necessary indications and instructions. The subject is
being more and more thoroughly studied, and many books have
appeared and are still appearing which give all the information
and guidance needed.
is not possible for me to give here to go into the details
of the application, for each problem is different from every
other and the solution should suit the individual case. The
question of food has been studied at length and in detail;
the diet that helps children in their growth is generally
known and it may be very useful to follow it. But it is very
important to remember that the instinct of the body, so long
as it remains intact, is more reliable than any theory. Accordingly,
those who want their child to develop normally should not
force him to eat food which he finds distasteful, for most
often the body possesses a sure instinct as to what is harmful
to it, unless the child is particularly capricious.
body in its normal state, that is to say, when there is no
intervention of mental notions or vital impulses, also knows
very well what is good and necessary for it; but for this
to be effective in practice, one must educate the child with
care and teach him to distinguish his desires from his needs.
He should be helped to develop a taste for food that is simple
and healthy, substantial and appetising, but free from any
useless complications. In his daily food, all that merely
stuffs and causes heaviness should be avoided; and above all,
he must be taught to eat according to his hunger, neither
more not less, and not to make his meals an occasion to satisfy
his greed or gluttony. From one's very childhood,one should
know that one eats in order to give strength and health to
the body and not to enjoy the pleasures of the palate. Children
should be given food that suits their temperament, prepared
in a way that ensures hygiene and cleanliness, that is pleasant
to the taste and yet very simple. This food should be chosen
and apportioned according to the age of the child and his
regular activities. It should contain all the chemical and
dynamic elements that are necessary for his development and
the balanced growth of every part of his body.
- The Mother