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The New Ideal In Education by Nicholai Velimirovic

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On July 16th, 1916.


_Reprinted from the "FEDERAL MAGAZINE."_



By Father Nicholai Velimirovic, Ph.D.

"Nature _takes sufficient care
of our individualistic sense,
leaving to_ Education _the care
of our panhumanistic sense_."

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If we do not want war we must look to the children. There is the only
hope and the only wise starting point. It is not without a deep
prophetic significance that Christ asked children to come unto Him. In
all the world-calamities, in all wars, strifes, religious inquisitions
and persecutions, in all the hours of human misery and helplessness, He
has been asking, through centuries, the children to come unto Him. I am
sure, if anybody has ears for His voice to-day, amidst the thunderings
of guns and passions and revenges, one would hear the same call: Let the
children come unto Me!--Not kings and politicians, not journalists and
generals, not the grown-up people, but children. And so to-day also,
when we ask for a way out of the present world-misery, when we _in
profundis_ of darkness to-day ask for light, and in sorrow for to-morrow
ask for advice and comfort, we must look to the children and Christ.


Why does Christ not ask the kings to come to Him--the kings, and
politicians, and journalists, and generals? Because they are too much
engaged in a wrong state of things, and because they are greatly
responsible themselves for such a wrong state of things, and because
consequently it is difficult for them to change their ways, their hearts
and their minds. It would be very hard for Napoleon and Pitt to kneel
together down before Christ and to embrace each other. It would be
almost impossible for Bismarck and Gambetta to walk together. Not less
it would be impossible for the Pope and Monsieur Loisy or George Tyrrel
to pray in the same bench. Every generation is laden with sins and
prejudices. That is the reason why Christ goes only a little way with
every generation, and then He becomes tired and asks for a new
generation--He calls for children. Christ is always new and fresh as
children are. Every generation is spoiled and corrupted by long living
and struggling.

But for a new generation the world is quite a new wonder. God is shown
only to those for whom the world is a new thing, a wonder. No one, who
does not admire this world as a wonder, can find God. For the old Haeckel
no God exists, just because for him no wonder exists. He pretends to
know everything. Christ means for him nothing and he means for Christ
nothing. Every foolish child, believing in God and in this wonderful
world, has more wisdom than the materialistic professor from Germany.
Christ is getting tired of an old generation. Sadly He calls for a new
one--for children. In our distress to-day, I think, we should multiply
His voice, calling for Him, for a new generation and for a new


It is called by a very attractive name, the _individualistic_ education.
The true name of it is selfishness, or egotism. No religion of Asia ever
boasted of having been the birthplace of such an education. It is born
in the heart of Europe, in Germany. It was brought up by Schopenhauer
and Goethe. It was subsequently supported by the German biologists, by
the musicians, sculptors, philosophers, poets, soldiers, socialists and
priests, by the wisest and by the madmen beyond the Rhine. Unfortunately
France, Russia and even Great Britain have not been quite exempt from
this pernicious theory of individualistic education.

The sophistic theories of Athens of old have been renewed in Central
Europe--the individuum is the ultimate aim of education. A human
individuum is of limitless worth, said the German interpreters of the
New Testament. Materialistic science, contradicting itself, agreed on
that point with modern theology. Art, in all its branches, presented
itself as the sole expression of one individuum, i.e., of the artist.
The modern socialism, contradicting its own name, supported
individualism very strongly in every department of human activity.
Consequently modern Pedagogy, based upon the general tendencies, put up
the same individualistic ideal as the aim to be achieved by the schools,
church, state, and by many other social institutions.


War is the result of the old ideal of education. I call it old because
it is over for ever, I hope, with this war. The old European ideal of
education was so called individualistic. This ideal was supported
equally by the churches and by science and art. Extreme individualism,
developed in Germany more than in any other country, resulted in pride,
pride resulted in materialism, materialism in pessimism. Put upon a
dangerous and false base every evil result followed quite naturally. If
my poor personality is of limitless value, without any effort and merit
of my own, why should not I be proud? If the aim of the world's history
is to produce some few genial personalities, as Carlyle taught, why
should not I think that I am such a personality for my own generation,
and why should I not be proud of that? Once filled with pride I will
soon be filled also with contempt for other men. Selfishness and denial
of God will follow my pride; this is called by a scientific word
materialism. Being a materialist, as long as I possess a certain amount
of intellectual and physical strength, I will be proud of myself. But as
soon as my body or spirit are affected by any illness (it may be only a
headache or toothache), I will plunge into a dark pessimism, always the
shadow and the end of materialism. Modern Germany was, as you know, the
hearth of individualism, and consequently also of pride, materialism,
atheism and pessimism. The worship of strong personalities (to-day:
Kaiser William and Hindenburg) holds the whole of Germany in unity
during this war, which is not the case either in France or in Great
Britain or Russia, where the common cause inspires the unity.


When will wars really stop in the world's history? As soon as a new
ideal of education is realised. What is this new ideal of education
which makes for peace? I will give it in one word: _Panhumanism_. This
word includes all I wish to say.

Individualism means a brick, Panhumanism means a building. Even the
greatest individuality (may it be Caesar, or Raphael, or Luther) is no
more than a brick in the panhuman building of history. The lives of
individuals are only the points, whereas the life of mankind is a form,
a deep, high and large form.

If a great and original individuality were the aim of history, I think
history should stop with the first man upon earth, for our first
ancestor must have been the most striking individual who ever existed.
Men coming after Adam have been like their parents and each other.
Kaiser William is not such an interesting and striking a creature by far
as the first man was. When Kaiser William opens his mouth to speak, he
speaks words that are known. When he moves or sits, when he eats or
prays--all that is a _nuance_ only of what other people do, all is
either from heritage or imitation, and quite an insignificant amount is
individual. Whereas every sound that the first man uttered was quite new
for the Universe; every movement striking and dramatic; every look of
his eyes was discovering new worlds; every joy or sorrow violently felt;
every struggle a great accumulation of experiences. And so forth. Well,
if one striking individuum is the aim of history, history should close
with the death of Adam. But history still continues. Why? Just because
not Adam was its aim, but mankind; not one, or two, or ten heroes, but
millions of human creatures; not some few great men, but all men, all
together, all without exception.

From this point of view we get the true ideal of education. The purpose
of education is not to make grand personalities, but to make bricks for
the building, i.e., to make suitable members of a collective body and
suitable workers of a collective work.


Are greater than personal works. A pupil from the old, individualistic
school would object:

--And what do you think of the work of Ibsen?

_I:_ I think it is incomparably smaller than the ancient Scandinavian

_He:_ Do you not grant that Alfred the Great was the real creator of the
English Kingdom?

_I:_ Never. Millions and millions of human creatures are built into this
building that we call England, or English history, or English

_He:_ And what about the man who built St. Paul's Cathedral?

_I:_ It is a collective work, as are all the great works that have been
done. The architecture of St. Paul's is one of the ancient styles, and
no style in architecture was ever invented or created by one person, but
by generations and generations.

_He:_ And what about Victor Hugo and Milton? Are they not great poets?

_I:_ Yes, they are if compared with certain minor poets, but they are
not great if compared with the popular poetry of India or Greece.
Mahabarata, the Koran, and Zend-Avesta, and the Bible, are products of
collective efforts--therefore they are superior to every personal

_He:_ Do you not appreciate the great economists and what they did for
the household, and common-wealth in general?

_I:_ Certainly I do; but their work is too much overestimated. Not a
handful of economic writers, like Adam Smith and Marx, but the common
genius of generations and generations arranged the house, set the
furniture, created the cooking, constructed towns, invented plays and
enjoyments, customs, language, and so forth.

_He:_ You agree, I think, that Shaljapin and Caruso have wonderful
voices, don't you?

_I:_ Yes, I agree. But don't you agree that a choir of millions of human
voices would be something much more striking and wonderful than any solo
singer since the beginning of time?

_He:_ Don't you believe in the wisdom of wise men like Kant and Spencer?

_I:_ No, I don't. I think there is incomparably more healthy and more
applicable wisdom in the popular sayings, proverbs, parables, and tales
of the nations, cultivated and uncultivated, in Macedonia, Armenia,
Ceylon, New Zealand, Japan, &c., than in some dozen of the greatest
thinkers of Europe.

_He:_ Who is then in your opinion a great man?

_I:_ Only a good man is a great man to me, who is conscious that he is a
cell in the panhuman organism, or a brick in the building of human
history. Such a man is more a man of truth and of the future than any
conqueror, who thinks that a hundred millions of people and hundreds of
years have waited just for him and his guidance, his work, or his

That is what I would say to a pupil of individualism in education. And
at the end I would remind him of Christ and His call after the children,
and of the new ideal of education, of panhumanism which stands over
individualism, and of the collective work of people which stands over
every individual work and merit.


It is quite surprising and humiliating that other things can be
discussed and settled as international affairs, before education. Yet
you have hundreds of things regulated by international laws, and among
these hundred things education is net yet reckoned. You have the
International Institution of the Red Cross, international laws on trade,
fishery, travel, copyright, political crimes, barbarities in war-time,
&c. But this war shows quite clearly that education--before anything
else--should be a matter of international consideration and regulation.
Behold, how illusory are all international restrictions when the
education of a nation is quite excluded from any control! When the
Nitzschean education of Germany teaches the German youth to despise all
neighbours, all nations and races as inferior ones, how could you expect
the Germans to respect the laws and regulations about Belgium, and
submarines--and Zeppelin-warfare, and use of the dum-dum bullets and of
poisonous gases?

If there is anything to be learned from this war it is doubtless this:
The education of youth in all the countries of the world must become an
international affair of the very first importance.


The Russian Tsar suggested the Peace Conference of The Hague. Mr.
Carnegie built a wonderful Hall of Peace there, formed several
commissions for the investigation of war cruelties during the Balkan
Wars, and founded many public libraries for the instruction of the poor.
The noble Nobel left his big fortune for the support of the best works
of literature or science having as their aim the general good of
mankind. If I were either the Russian Tsar or Mr. Carnegie or Professor
Nobel I would do neither of the three mentioned things, but I would give
suggestions and material support to an International Board of Education.

That is the point to start with in the consolidation of the World. I am
sorry to say that no one of these three great friends of mankind listens
to the prophetic words of Christ: Let children come unto me! and that no
one thought that no great social reform and no real philanthropic
foundation of mankind is possible to realise--yea, even to
start--otherwise than through the children. The Peace Conference, being
rather a law court than anything else, is beaten by the uncontrolled
warlike education of the German nation. Carnegie's books have been read
by grown-up people who had already got a direction in life, and
Carnegie's Hall of Peace in The Hague is still an office without
business. Nobel's prize was given also to some German professors who are
responsible for the new pedagogy in Germany.


These three can be the best possible supporters or the worst enemies of
your educational scheme. Mothers by nature adore their children and
excite their individualism. Patriots try to engage the whole heart and
imagination of a child for its own country. Priests are asking the whole
sympathy of a child for their creed and their church. To be
individualistic, to be a patriot and a believer are the quite natural
gifts of a healthy person. But maternal love exaggerates very often the
individualism of a child and makes it egotistic and selfish; exclusively
cultivated patriotism degenerates into chauvinism; and exclusive church
education makes a bigot. These three kinds of people (alas! the
majority), egotists, chauvinists and bigots, will be against an
international scheme of education. But you must say to the sensible
mothers: The international education of your child will not kill its
individuality, but, on the contrary, will use it to the best advantage
for mankind and for itself. You are an enemy of your son if you educate
him to be an egotist and egoist. In egotism and egoism one has the worst
company in this life, the company which leads to pessimism and disgust
of life.

You must say to the sensible patriots: International education approves
of patriotic as of a natural inclination; only the new education intends
to make a window in every fatherland so that the child may see its
neighbours and stretch its hand to greet them.

And you must say to the sensible priests: The international board of
education will let every child go to its own church and learn the
catechism from its own parish priest; but it will be brought in touch
with the children of different creeds, and it will pray with them upon
the general ground of all the creeds.


1. It shall consist of the representatives of all the boards of
education in the world.

2. The members of the board shall officially represent their own

3. The board will be supported materially by the respective Governments,
and it will dispose of a great fortune from private legacies. For all
the philanthropists and peacemakers and peace wishers will support such
an institution rather than any other in the world.

4. The authority of this board shall be equal to the authority of an
international political congress.

5. Its duty will be to control education all over the world, banishing
or restricting individualism, egotism, chauvinism and bigotism, and
promoting by all means panhumanism by developing the mind for collective
work, mutual help, personal goodness and humbleness and social


Let them meet as often as possible; I mean the children from England and
the children from Serbia, the children from Russia and the children from
France. So they will know about each other that they all are human
beings, and that they all can smile in friendliness on each other. Let
them travel to each other's country; I mean the children from Germany
and the children from Italy, the children from Japan and those from
Scandinavia. Let them see how every spot on earth is wonderful in its
way, and how worthy of love, of patriotism. When will the railway
companies and ship companies say: Let the children come to us? When
will they arrange the best trains, better than the royal trains, the
most commodious and decorated with flowers and flags of different
nations and with one special flag of the Children World Union? When the
moment comes that the wonderful modern communication begins to help the
children to meet each other and to pay visits to each other, at that
moment the invention of steam and electricity will justify itself. In
transferring the troops and facilitating crime it does net justify
itself. Let the word communication be not only for the sake of crime and
for the sake of bread; let it be for the sake of peace and of souls.

Let them sing together, everyone in his own tongue; I mean the children
from the East and West and North and South. You should have been the
other day in the Mansion House when the English and Serbian boys met
together, and have listened to the English singing the Serbian and the
Serbian singing the English National Anthems, and you would have been
fascinated by the sweet revelation of the future world.

Let the children from the East and West and South and North, pray
together. Why not? Bring them, thousands of them, to a mountain, upon
which our ancestors prayed, and let them at sunset kneel down and sing
some common prayer that they all know, or, if they have no such common
prayer in their creeds, let them just kneel and silently pray! Such a
silent prayer will do more good than any thousand years' old discussion
about religion. It is very easy to convince all the children of the
world, just because they are children, that they have one Father in
Heaven, and that they shall send their prayers to Him. But even if they
send their prayers in different directions, they will arrive at the same
place. All prayers, whenever and wherever sent, go always the same way.

Let the children from the northern ice and from the tropical heat carry
on a correspondence. Millions of letters are written and sent every day,
which mean nonsense and evil. The post communication will justify itself
much more by bearing the children's mail, with truth and love, than by
bearing perfidious diplomatic notes or letters which mean nonsense and
evil. One of the unforgettable events in Serbia during this war happened
in 1914 on Christmas Day, when an American ship arrived and brought
gifts and letters from the children of America to the children of
Serbia. This wonderful mail produced the greatest imaginable excitement
among the Serbian children. They were busy, very busy for some weeks,
reading the friendly letters from so far, and answering them. I am sure
they will forget many sad events of the war, but they never can forget
this wonderful and surprising mail, which made for peace more than any
of the costly commissions for the investigation of war cruelties, or any
of Carnegie's empty, although wonderful, luxurious halls of peace.

Let the children, the representatives of all the countries in the world,
come to The Hague to hold the International Peace Congress. The
programme of this Congress should be: Singing, playing, dancing, smiling
and praying. They will meet as friends and speak every one in his native
language, and they will understand each other very well as friends
always understand each other. This Children's Hague Conference will
promote the world peace more than The Hague Conference composed of
enemies, mutually annoying themselves by obligatory politeness and bad

But, you will ask, who is going to arrange and execute all this? The
International Board of Education.

But, you will say, it will be very expensive? Yes, but, supposing it
will be as expensive as the war, for which of the two do you prefer to
give money--for such a salvatory experiment or for the war? Yet, I am
sure of one thing, it will cost less than a war.


If you do not watch the education of a country all other international
precautions for peace and mutual understanding will be wholly illusory.

An International Board of Education should control the programmes of
education of all countries. It should watch that one principle prevails
in every educational programme, i.e., the principle of Panhumanism. It
should not interfere as to the form of education, no, far from that, but
look to the unity of the principle of education upon the whole globe. It
should carefully avoid all the watchwords which make for separations and
wars, like "Germany, Germany _over all!_" The child must love its own
country, but it must know also that its country is not the thing over
all other things. It must be taught that God and mankind are something
which stands above its country.

It should control not only the governmental programmes of education, but
it should also watch the mothers, patriots and priests. It should try to
have these three world-powers not for the enemies but for the allies and
missionaries of a higher, and a panhuman education.


There are three stages of the Christian European education:--

1. Compulsory obedience. This was in the Middle Ages when men were
compelled to do the common work by the authority of the church and

2. The experiment with Individualism. This has been since the
Renaissance, especially since Rousseau--a personality put as the centre
and aim of education, the abhorrence of every compulsion whatsoever.

3. Voluntary Obedience. It is the education of tomorrow. It is a stage
where all men will see their mission in their collective work, and
therefore voluntarily enchain themselves into the panhuman organism,
plunging their imaginative, pointlike personalities into a big and
mystic personality of mankind.

The Voluntary Obedience will mean a voluntary slavery. We are going to
be slaves again, but not by royal or papal compulsion, but by our good
will; we are going to be slaves as the parts of a body are slaves and
servants of each other, and as the bricks are slaves and servants of a
great building. We are going to be "prisoners of the Lord," as St. Paul
says, instead of being as now the prisoners of our dreams, imaginations
and ambitions.

This war will close a period of a wrong education, and will open a
period of a right one. It will open our eyes that we may see how we all
are one, and how the greatest of us is nothing else than a bigger cell
in the immense organism of history.

There is no hope for the future in the politicians, or generals, now
struggling. The only hope and guarantee lies in the children. A new
education in _personal goodness_ making for _social greatness_ is the
only salutary war. Therefore, let us look to the children!


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