Oxygen and Aromasia
by Claës Lundin
translated by Bertil Falk
Table of Contents
Chapter 20, part 1
appear in this issue.
Chapter 20: The New School
part 2 of 2
“But what about higher business activity? Is there no part for that? Shouldn’t the brain be prepared to learn business science and finance, not to mention the highest thing of all: banking?”
“Indeed!” the headmaster replied with a convincing and reassuring smile. “The fourth part contains grades with a constantly growing education to prepare the brains that will follow trade, and in those grades the organs for manners of living also educated.”
“That’s fine, that’s exactly what I’ve desired,” the bank director exclaimed with marked contentment. “Manners of living and business wisdom go together.”
“Our fifth part comprises the grades,” the headmaster continued, “that will create consideration and ability to take action and prepare the brains for the higher financial and banking sciences. Every pupil — boys as well as girls — must pass through the lower grades in all the parts. They lay the foundation for public and civic manners. After this first development of the brain, which is common for everyone, the child is sent to specific education for different professions. And that happens within the different parts of the higher grades.
“Fortunately we don’t offer any education in specific trades, unlike ancient days. Machines now perform all the work that was done by craftsmen in the past. Machines even manufacture themselves. We only have to educate engineers, who dream up the mechanisms.”
“And when the child brain has passed through the higher parts?” Giro asked.
“Then the child is ready for education in college, for now he easily and willingly can understand and remember the teachers’ lectures.”
“But what year can the pupil leave the college?”
“Education ought to be complete by the ninth year. What a fine result of a new way of educating! The intellectual faculties of a nine-year old will correspond to those of an adult in the past, and the nine-year old is now generally as mature and experienced as the forty-year old in the past.
“There was a time when people asked with dismay: now that the body of knowledge is constantly growing and the spiritual content of life accumulates at such a rapid speed, how will it ultimately be possible for youth and human beings in general to get even a superficial survey of it all?
“And they invented one method of teaching after another and published thousands of textbooks. But every good citizen looked with worry on all these methods crossing, combating, and abolishing each other, and on all these manuals that tried to push each other aside, but succeeded only in stifling the desire for education in the pupils’ minds. But the darkest hour is before dawn. The teachings of the brain’s functions began to become more clear and at last people understood that it was there that salvation was to be found.”
“And that salvation has been found,” Giro remarked.
“Yes, one of our most excellent and most experienced youth leaders gave a warning cry that resounded all over the world. He said, ‘Let’s take advantage of the teachings of the brain’s functions. Away with all textbooks, old methods of education, the unnecessary mnemonics tricks! If the subject isn’t adapted for the brain, then the brain must be adapted for the subject. Let’s build laboratories. The physiologists will become schoolmasters. They’ll prepare the child brain’s gray matter in a mechanical and a chemical way’.”
“Golden words, worth hundreds of millions every year,” the bank director exclaimed.
“But you nevertheless know,” Cerebrarius resumed, “that the words did not convince the pedagogues and the heads of the Board of Education. On the contrary, they were received with scorn, and for a long time they were subjected to the jokes of the funny magazines, contemptuous mockery of comedians and the distrust of the public.
“But the idea could not fall. Amidst all the scorn, mockery, disdain, and suspicion, the new view burst forth, winning supporters, expanding, and at last it was victorious in Parliament even before the law of education was passed. Now it’s nothing else but a matter of preparing assimilation of the subjects of knowledge in the brains of the youth.
“We know down to the last detail the physiologic process of activity in the nerves and in cells of the gray matter, those accompanying the consciousness and prepare deductive logic through an array of concepts. We know which cells are active in guiding fixed observations as well as those that are active during the formation of fixed series of thoughts; and we even know in what way they are active.
“Therefore, by means of artificial stimulation, especially a galvanic current, we can also induce the particular parts of the brain to display movements that correspond to the creation of fixed concepts. And we can ultimately — and that’s the main point that now has been solved — accustom them, so that a certain kind of thinking can be accomplished with the greatest of ease.
“For even though there are no common forms for pure thinking without intentionality, there exists anyhow a schedule and with that a permanent device and mechanism for thinking, which always preserves its nature during the alternation of intent. This thinking device allows change and education in one respect or another and thus constitutes in a certain way the fundamental features of thinking.
“The duty of the school is precisely to educate this mechanism of thinking. That’s were we since long have toiled, though not until recent days have we been able to find the best and shortest route.”
“I’m extremely happy to have become acquainted with you, mister headmaster,” Giro said, “and I confidently entrust my son to you. As you know, I want his brain, as soon as the preparatory formation is performed, to be educated into a first-rate financial brain.”
“I know your intentions, mister director, and will not forget to take all possible notice of them. But a principal of an educational laboratory must not forget that the right of decision of the government as well as of the child must also be maintained. In this respect, I totally obey the directions of the law.”
“Of course, of course, mister headmaster!... Before I say goodbye to you and my son, you may permit me to ask, in which way what in the past was called “corporal nourishment” consists of at your educational institution. Do you feed the children with products from some of the new food factories?”
“Primarily, they live on oxygen,” the headmaster explained.
“Excellent!” the bank director said. “I would however suggest some variation, and I’m even in a position to sell a consignment of artificial provisions of the best kind. True, I am not a trader, but I am the director of a very big joint-stock company that carries on the manufacturing of provisions according to a new process.”
The headmaster expressed his thanks and explained that the children who went through educational treatment at his laboratory found it best to live on fresh air. It was not always, he said, that full boarding-school pupils got fresh air. In the old days, there was certainly not much more than air to live on, but that air was mostly polluted.
“Now the air is also regulated by the Board of Education,” the headmaster added, “and you may rest assured that the circumstances at our laboratory are the most useful and satisfying when it comes to brain preparation.”
Giro declared that he was satisfied. He got ready to bid his son a tender farewell and wanted to put some quite good and interest-bearing debentures into his pocket, so that the young man would have something to amuse himself with in his leisure time. At that, the headmaster asked if the bank director wanted to hear a lecture that a short while later would be delivered in the first grade of the school and would deal with the educational history of the latest centuries.
But Giro thought that as far as educational history was concerned, no better lectures existed than those that on a daily basis were delivered at the University of Gothenburg, which after all were the finest in Northern Europe.
The headmaster bowed and smiled and seemed out of politeness not to contradict such an important financier from the capital. Thus, Giro bid farewell and left with all possible speed. During his stay in Södertälje, he had perhaps missed out on a considerable number of new joint-stock companies. But his son was immediately delivered for a preliminary brain treatment.
New visitors arrived. They came from all directions to deliver their children to the normal-laboratory in Södertälje. While they waited for their children being registered, they of course discussed the new seat of learning.
“If this treatment of the particular brain parts is continued for generations,” one of those present remarked, “then undoubtedly a change will ensue when it comes to social conditions. And I’m quite curious to learn the consequences. It’s obvious that the brain will have such a peculiar development that we as yet are not capable of understanding what kind of strange global understanding may ensue.”
“If you talk about strange concepts,” another remarked, “it must be added that the term cannot be justified by anything but our present standpoint. If the development of the human brain everywhere reaches another standpoint than the well-known, then a completely different apprehension of the world ensues, and then that perception will become the norm.”
“Yes, but one may fear that through the new art of education such a change will begin that incalculable complications will arise when it comes to the formal side of thinking.”
“Your fears are no doubt exaggerated. With a sensible application of the brain school, one will be careful not to develop ideas that will exceed the normal standard measurements for all thinking.”
“But undoubtedly a certain one-sided education can get the upper hand with many. If logic is man’s main task, then there are also other sides of the human nature that have a mission in life, not to forget the sense of mood or the ethical side of life.
“Those spheres cannot readily be separated. They’re commonly thought of as the inner activity, which undeniably could be developed in a too narrow-minded direction. There’s also something that belongs to the preservation of the race for now and for the future and which...”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the headmaster’s voice was heard, “all the small brains you’ve delivered for treatment in our laboratory are now approved for admission together with their accompanying bodies. The work with them will begin immediately.”
Cerebrarius thereupon bid the young brains’ parents farewell and went to lecture room number one, where the pupils, who were entitled to listen to the lecture, were already lying in wait in their hammocks. That was a practice they had borrowed from the University of Gothenburg and that had been found particularly suitable for students.
To be continued...