By Phyllis Wallbank , international conference, Boston, Massachusetts

Pythagoras when asked what time was, answered that it is 'the soul of this world'. There are so many different types of time:
  • Evolutionary time
  • Space and physics
  • Gestation time
  • Life span time
  • Seasons' time
  • Clock time
  • Business/ money time

Another very important time is the natural time within each person for the different stages of development which are the same for every human being.

There is something else that happens at each of the synchronized stages of development: there is a particular inbuilt attitude which manifests itself to time whether past, present or future, in a very special way. This is so that particular attributes may develop.

My lecture today is to show the importance of attending to these aspects of time and to acknowledge them within our education system. Also to look at the way we often place time control in inappropriate ways within our education systems.
The main stages of development occur in everyone in these special developmental phases:
  • From birth to six;
  • six to twelve;
  • twelve to eighteen;
  • eighteen to twenty four years.

Born within every human being and manifesting itself in all stages is this desire to know. Lonergan said:

'Desiring to know is desiring to know BEING. It is though merely the desire but not the knowing.'

Our interest in what is wanting to be experienced and understood varies with the way that time is viewed within each new developmental stage.

This first stage of development from birth to six years has an inbuilt need for attention to the immediacy of the present with all its details. Why is the present so important for the child? The frontal lobes of the brain do their work of imprinting everything that is around: the total environment with the culture, traditions and language. So much so that by the age of three, language whether simple or complex, is developed. The religious totality is also absorbed together with the attitude and behavior of those around.

We tend to say when this aged child is so insistent on having something now that they must learn to wait, but if the brain was not wired in this way of absorbing the present time, they would not acquire speech in this absorbent way. The brain has this extreme ability only for these first years. Later we have to learn a language with a different part of the brain with greater difficulty.

The timing of this ability of the brain is the same for all nations, all climates, all social and economic categories and people of all colors. Time for this young child is not for the completion of an external task, but for the completion of an internal self formation by sensorial experience. For example, if a Mother places a basket full of shopping near a two year old, he will start taking everything out and she probably thinks, He is trying to help me! But when he has taken out the last object, almost certainly he will start putting everything back into the basket one by one. Time, for him, is not assessed for task completion and so he often repeats experiences, in this case, taking out and placing back objects. Repetition is a striking characteristic now, which is regardless of the passing of time. Nature says that he must complete through experience of sensorial cause and effect. The sense training materials are a key to the wider environment followed by subconscious suddenly brought to consciousness as a truth. A four year old after fitting in triangles into their correct shapes, a few weeks later showed me a ladder against a wall making a right angled triangle. Lonergan speaks of this unconditioned reflective insight. He says:

'There occurs a reflective insight which grasps a prospective judgment that a given or introspective judgment is correct. It is invulnerable. This occurs in a mind that is alert, that is familiar with the concrete of a situation, and is intellectually master of it.'

The present time dominates this age group because they are programmed to acquire so much within the present. In this way, through absorbing in the present, the child acquires language, customs, behavior and the traditions of the environment and by doing so he adjusts to the environment and ways to survive, whether to the equator or to Greenland's icy mountains. The present time has such an effect on the young of this age that even the adopted child begins to look like the adoptive parents because he absorbs and uses the same inflections of language, facial expressions and gestures.

We see, therefore, how important it is to understand Time in each stage of development. What happens if we ignore these inbuilt stages? Think of the stage that suddenly impels a baby from within to start moving about until he is able to walk and explore the environment, so making the brain synapses develop. What if he is kept strapped down for this whole phase? Then he would have wasted muscles and stunted experience and therefore stunted intelligence, but also he would be filled with inner frustration and anger. Because we ignore the stages of inner direction and use them inappropriately in education, we harm young people's inner development to their detriment and consequently to the detriment of society. The child needs to be free to use sense training apparatus as outlined by Dr Montessori; the importance of this is now verified by modern research: Dr Adam Zeman at The Department of Neurology at Addenbrooks Hospital, Cambridge, says:

'The early environment influences the connections and makes chemical signals which connect one nerve cell to another. It is imperative that the young child has a rich verbal active environment. He needs enrichment with action.'

This first stage is so important because it forms the basis for this next stage from six to twelve. This is the mediate phase. It is now that the genetic endowment begins to show and so in the case of adopted children they grow physically now like their birth parents. The children at these ages have a different attitude to Time. They are now interested in Time Past as well as the present. The child's interest is shown in dinosaurs, volcanoes and in everything to do with their environment and how things work.

The family used to be enough for the young child, but now, although still very important, the interest widens to environment and now includes companions. This new aspect towards time means that the child now seeks to know and understand his environment and how it was in the past. This includes all aspects and so through geology, geography, science, living creatures, all this data is eagerly taken in. They are interested in all aspects of religious ceremonies. If self-correcting materials are put for the child to use after a stimulating talk given by an expert in his field, then the children learn data very quickly. Their interest leads to all subjects, because there are no water-tight subject areas such as we make in our teaching today. Everything is linked. People are also linked by nature. When Lonergan was walking in Rome in the Borghese Gardens, he saw a young child running who suddenly tripped. He said that although too far away to have saved the fall, his arms stretched out involuntarily as if to catch the child. Children enjoy at this stage linking together in music, art, drama and physical activities. When we act singly we cannot alter the environment as well as when we link our wills together in the present.

Would you like us now to link and make something creative and see how potent this linking can be?

Will you help us all to create a silence?

Then put anything down that you are holding.

Sit comfortably

Now grow very still and close your eyes (insecure people will want to peep) Now drop your shoulders. Let your forehead uncrease; your hands still; your body legs and feet grow heavy and still even your toes.... Now you can almost hear the silence!....

What a difference if it had just been only my will and I had said 'silence'! When a number of wills are linked with their own volition we can change things and the result is an inner satisfaction. Things may be changed together that are unable to be changed alone. This is the age where this cooperation is learnt through interactive play. The children of this age need Time to work at their own choice and pace at self corrective learning materials of all kinds and connected with their Time interest. If the interest in time past and the environmental present are utilized at this stage then a very high standard can be achieved. This love of data can be useful for the reflective understanding so that the child realizes from data the pluralistic nature of each country's written history. This data, placed beside a time line and illustrated with models, pictures and data cards, presents history as outlined by Lonergan. He said,

'Historical sense is namely an awareness that concepts are functions of TIME that change and develop with every advance in understanding and that such changes can be an object of Science.'

Whatever they learn from their own interest, there will continue reflection with no regard to time. As Lonergan points out, they can expand indefinitely. Modern technology can now make the brain visible so that we are able to see the synapses light up in different parts of the brain from just one new understanding. Today children of this age are so pressured by what teachers tell their pupils they ought to know that time for watching insects, seeing and naming the local trees, flowers and stars above are missed and the awe and wonder of the world is lost through pressure of time. Cardinal Newman said

'Religious truth is all that is good, all that is true, all that is beautiful. Religious truth is not just a portion but a condition of all general knowledge.'

When a child feels deeply or has great enjoyment from something, teachers often spoil it by making a child write immediately about it. It is better to leave the mind free to enjoy and reflect and then later write the memories and thoughts and imaginings after enjoyed mind expansion. Children of this age enjoy writing, but some are hindered by poor spelling. If it is factual writing then they should be given cards with the information to copy. There is a strong muscular memory (once we learn to ride a bike after a period of time without riding, we find on trying again that we can still ride.) By copying words correctly, he is helping himself to know the spelling.

Teachers are too pressured by time and to ease this in all schools the burden of marking needs to be lightened for the teacher. There should be a part-time person who proof-reads all written work and who guides to the work needed to eradicate errors of punctuation, spelling or grammar. They should guide exercises to help understanding and so help remedy the mistakes before the next written assignment. This leaves the teacher free to read the student's work for content and to be free to guide the child's interest towards links of knowledge. Cardinal Newman said:

'Knowledge is a whole. All knowledge forms one whole because all subject matter is one. For the universe in its length and breadth is so intimately knit together that we cannot really separate portion from portion and operation from operation.'

Time for Math's understanding is important at this stage, for as Lonergan points out in his 'Papers On Education', physics can only really be understood if the mathematics is clearly understood . There is really no time schedule for understanding. Children of the same age do not have to progress at the same rate. We had a mentally challenged child who sat next to his friend, John Rickard, who was very advanced in understanding Maths and who later got first prize out of 145 nations in the Math's Olympiad for the Most Elegant Solution. It didn't hold him back. Children's understanding has to go from where that child's is and at his own pace. I remember giving John The Lives of Great Mathematicians to read. When I asked him what he thought of it, he said "I noticed that each one had to get ill and stay in bed so that he had time to think!" Do we really give time to think, or do we hurry them on all together to the next chapter? Lonergan understood so well that understanding has to have its own time. Knowing this, we can see why there is so much stress at the time of examinations; they are set for age groups at set dates. There is really no need for this now with computers able to print out exam papers with random questions at the same level.

We need Achievement Centers wherever there are Leisure Centers, where anyone of any age may take an exam in any subject at any stage. Why shouldn't an eighty year old or a nine year old take the same exam at the same time? Students would enjoy setting the standard that they wished and would feel satisfaction at gaining the certificate and grade at that stage, and so many more subjects could be available.

Some students are ready at the prescribed time for examinations, others are held back and could have taken them much earlier; others need a longer time to prepare and really understand, rather than learning so much by heart from text books that encourage this, rather than to truly understand being the main idea. Students would like the the time to do this. Students who have become lost in a subject always say that they find it 'boring'. Many more subjects could be taken, because if any subject is followed with understanding, then large parts of other subjects will always be covered because the world is this unified whole.

Time also is imposed in an arbitrary way in exams. Why does an actual paper have to be stopped at a set time when many more questions might well be able to be answered by some students? Some people have a slower metabolism and work more slowly, but are sometimes much more intelligent and deep thinking than someone who may perhaps answer much more quickly. Einstein early on failed his exams to get into university because of this. Also boys and girls differ in concentration at the end of this stage because of the onset of puberty.

This brings us to the time of the 12 to 18 stage of development. During this stage young people are very vulnerable, and very sensitive to criticism and ridicule. The two sexes need to part while they get to know who they are. These young people know that they are not just the young boy or girl whom the parents have known. They are becoming their own unique person and need to understand the society they are entering and to know what their own part is to be within it. Boys and girls are very different from each other and they are meant to be complementary. We now know that their brains have marked differences. Girls' brains have larger parts for language and emotions and by the time they are mature they have the capacity to attend to several things at once.

Boys have a larger part of the brain for spatial activities and can concentrate solely and deeply and prefer to attend to one thing at a time. A female will chat whilst working, but a man usually stops whilst he speaks. The latest brain research into gender differences, undertaken in many very different countries, is fascinating. We realize that although equal opportunity and equal pay is important, this does not mean that the genders have exactly similar characteristics. There is a book called 'Why Men Don't listen and Women Can't Read Maps (by a husband and wife), Allen and Barbara Pease.'

It is very helpful for young people at this stage to learn about their own gender's general behavior and how the other gender is likely to react and why. With modern techniques so much more is now known as brains can be watched in action. Not only do we have some general characteristics, but we all inherit sayings, ways of behavior, and traditions in our first years. Now is the time to help the student find his true identity and to see which absorbed ways of behavior fit into his life and which are no longer applicable. Time is needed for this vital work. Today there is little help to know one's own uniqueness and so adolescents have often to rebel against the parents to make their uniqueness felt. This is the time to help them to examine what was absorbed in that very first stage and to seek for truth within their own environment and know the source of their own actions. Lonergan says,

'A person makes what seems to be an authentic choice according to the normative practices of their culture, but it may turn out to be an inauthentic choice of transcultural norm that operates within every person. Such a norm operates within the conscious awareness of every cultural chooser, in so far as that chooser is orientated to the ultimate moral objective of unrestricted goodness or value.'

This is the time for self-mediation, to examine actions and find out their true authenticity. As Father Jo Flannigan says in his fine book Quest for Self-Knowledge,

'Truly authentic knowers are continually struggling knowers, always on the alert to ask themselves further questions that will advance their accumulated knowledge and erase any mistaken assumptions and judgments.'

In Insight, Lonergan points out,

'We may try to avoid this self consciousness, we give as an explanation our ancestry or environment. We give the excuse that there are extenuating circumstances. We may confess, yet say within ourselves that there is no hope of being able to mend our ways.'

Now is the time when they feel that the world is mediated by meaning as hormones bring very strong feelings within themselves. Lonergan says:

'Because of our feelings, our desires and our fears, our hope or our despair, our joys and our sorrows, our enthusiasm and indignation, our esteem and our contempt, our trust and our distrust, our love and our hatred, our tenderness and warmth, our admiration, veneration, reverence, our dread horror, and terror, we know that we are orientated massively into a world mediated by meaning.'

They have then the knowledge that it is normal to experience these feelings, but for our own sake we all need to trace the origins and authenticity and so then we may be in charge of our own actions and know our true selves. They need time to go,

'From Inquiry to Insight,
From Insight to self formulation,
Through reflection to the unconditioned.
All these leading to affirmation or denial'

This is also the natural time for questioning what before has been accepted.

Christ at twelve was missing from his parents and was asking questions in the Temple.

This is the time for intellectual acceptance of religious beliefs. Now is the time to know their own talents for use throughout their lives. It can be a help to look at the very old Eastern division of character, deciding which of the nine is the most deep rooted in our own uniqueness. There will be more than one, but the dominant one is the one that friends would pick for you. No choice is better than another but what is of importance are the obvious talents that go with that character. These are the talents that have to be used by that person for society in their lives. The main characteristics and divisions are these:
  1. Principled and orderly.
  2. Caring and generous.
  3. Self assured and competitive.
  4. Creative and intuitive.
  5. Perceptive and analytic
  6. Likable and dutiful
  7. Accomplished and impulsive
  8. Self confident leader and forceful
  9. Peaceful and reassuring

For real mental health we have to like ourselves and we are told to love our neighbor as ourselves. Lonergan says:

'We attain our Self Mediation with reference to HIM in our life of prayer and mutual self mediation with reference to others.'

The 'others' are we ourselves with all men. From each of these categories of worth there arise obvious talents. It is essential that students be given time to work out what these are and to realize that these have to be used for society. Once the student realizes his or her real worth, then this is the right moment for the genders to mix in all their activities. Now they know who they are and what part they have to play.

Now is the time to learn about their own culture and society and to know how it works and its structure. This is the time for an expert to come and to talk about law. Self-corrective materials, computer programs, videos and books should be available to study law in as many aspects as possible. Remember many young people do not go to university and it is essential that they learn as much as possible about their own society and begin to see how it works. They need to know about money within society, health, and caring needs for the very young and very old. They need to be helped to understand their own environment and that of the world and to know of the likely problems that will probably arise in their life time such as rises in sea heights through global warming. The running and stocking of a school shop is a help, especially if there is a school currency that can be earned by jobs within the environment, with a price list that is available and has been priced by general agreement. This is the time when the present is again the most important, but now the present concentrated interest is governed by relationships. It is the mobile phone stage to friends!

History is understood and enjoyed best through biographies because of the interest in relationships. The former stage for facts and data collection and reflection will be the basis on which these biographies rest. The emotional outlet needed at this stage is through their own spirituality (based on the previous stage of fact and data and religious observances); also dance, drama, art, team games, communal activities such as camp fires, songs and all music. It is a thrilling age if we allow time to be. At present, in England, we tend to keep this age trapped for many hours in a desk and chair, trying to push in facts that someone else has decided they should learn, regardless of the individual's experiences and starting point of understanding. No wonder there is such a high truancy rate and high crime rate together with alcoholism, teen age pregnancies and drug taking. It is amazing that the root cause isn't seen and understood. Instead they imprisoned the mother (not the fathers) for children's non attendance and are building more prisons. This is where we are going wrong, because the way we teach denies so many the time to know themselves and consequently they have no self esteem. There is no more fascinating subject than oneself!

Eighteen to 24 year olds look to the future to help their ideals come to pass. This is the age group when young men throughout history, and at the present time, have been and are willing to give their lives (and to sacrifice other people's lives) to help to bring about what they want for the future. This is the mutual self mediate stage when further differentiation arises as to one's relation to others and to the world.

Lonergan, Montessori and Newman all see education as a unified whole. This includes university. Every stage should have connections with other stages and should help impart knowledge. University students might well use their projects within mobile class rooms and so widen children's interests and show other ages different aspects and links. The universities should promote discussion between all disciplines. As time now is of more interest for the future, there is natural inquiry, insight and formulation towards this end. Students should now understand their understanding from empirical consciousness in sensing, perceiving, imagining, and now intelligent consciousness, following inquiry, insight, formulation, which is now directed to a particular end which now can be judged as good or bad. This age group is now ready to work for the future of society.

As Father Jo Flannigan says: 'When the beloved is Love itself and infinitely valuable, then that love may form the basic motive and direction for lesser loves'. It transvalues all other values and provides people with motives for carrying out the personal and communal goals that are deemed to be truly worthwhile. However, towards the end of this stage, the young adult is drawn into the world of economics and big business. The world usually forces this age to look at time from a monetary point of view. There may now be a mortgage and a family and so they are often swept into the ethics of the big businesses that now have so much power in the world. To big business time is money and so to keep machines working and so earning them money, they impose shift work and large shops remain open all night.

The curriculum of the education system is being made to fit this big business economy and things like wonder, beauty and truth and awe are not promoted. I will finish with an imaginary letter from an employment agency to Jesus,

Circa AD30:

Thank you for submitting the resumes of the 12 men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our tests and had the arranged personal interviews with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

It is our opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking.

Simon Peter seems emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. It is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alpheus and Thaddaeus, definitely has radical leanings and registered a high score on the manic depressive scale.

One of the candidates however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible.

We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right hand man. We wish you every success in your new venture.