Youth HTML version

to flog aright–Its dangers–Moral precepts and
proverbs–Habituation–Training will through
intellect–Examinations–Concentration–Originality–Froebel and the
naive–First ideas of God–Conscience–Importance of Old and New
Testaments–Sex dangers–Love and religion–Conversion
Introduction: Characterization of the age from
eight to twelve–The
era of recapitulating the stages of primitive human development–Life
close to nature–The age also for drill, habit uation, memory, work and
regermination–Adolescence superposed upon this stage of life, but
very distinct from it.
The years from about eight to twelve constitute a unique period of
human life. The acute stage of teething is passing, the brain has
acquired nearly its adult size and weight, health is almost at its
best, activity is greater and more varied than it ever was before or
ever will be again, and there is peculiar endurance, vit ality, and
resistance to fatigue. The child develops a life of its own outside
the home circle, and its natural interests are never so independent of
adult influence. Perception is very acute, and there is great immunity
to exposure, danger, accident, as well as to temptation. Reas on, true
morality, religion, sympathy, love, and esthetic enjoyment are but
very slightly developed.
E verything, in short, suggests that this period may represent in the
individual what was onc e for a very protracted and relatively
stationary period an age of maturity in the remote ancestors of our
race, when the young of our species, who were perhaps pygmoid, shifted
for themselves independently of further parent al aid. The qualities
developed during pre-adolescence are, in the evolutionary history of
the race, far older than hereditary traits of body and mind which
develop later and which may be compared to a new and higher story
built upon our primal nat ure. Heredity is so far bot h more stable and
more secure. The elements of personality are few, but are well
organised on a simple, eective plan. The momentum of these traits
inherited from our indefinitely remote ancestors is great, and they
are often clearly distinguishable from those to be added later. Thus
the boy is father of the man in a new sense, in that his qualities are
indefinitely older and existed, well compacted, untold ages before the
more distinctly human attributes were developed. Indeed there are a
few faint indications of an earlier age node, at about the age of six,
as if amid the instabilities of health we could detect signs that this
may have been the age of puberty in remote ages of the past. I have
also given reasons that lead me to the conclusion that, despit e its
dominance, the function of sexual maturity and procreative power is
peculiarly mobile up and down the age-line independently of many of
the qualities usually so closely associated with it, so that much that
sex created in the phylum now precedes it in the individual.
Rousseau would leave prepubescent years to nat ure and to these primal
hereditary impulsions and allow the fundament al traits of savagery
their fling till twelve. Biological psychology finds many and cogent
reasons to confirm this view if only a proper environment could be
provided . The child revels in savagery; and if its tribal, predatory,