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© Domenic Marbaniang, 2013
All rights reserved.
Cover Painting: “Still Life with a Boy Blowing Soap-
bubbles” by Gerrit Dou (1613–1675), Wikipedia
The Bible teaches us that the primary responsibility for
the development of children belongs to the parents. It
even stipulates that a man who is not responsible
towards his children and has been a failure as a parent
at home is not fit to be appointed as an elder or leader in
the Church (Titus 1:6; 1 Timothy 3:4,5). In other words,
if he has not been able to fulfill his primary
responsibility at home, he is not fit for the
responsibilities in Church and society. Modern
researches in Child Development realize that there is
presently a very strong move of institutions and
commercial establishments that target the children and
play a big role in their intellectual and emotional
development. Most of these influences are chiefly
stumbling blocks to sin. They lure the kids into a world-
trap of unethical and confused lifestyle. The negligence
of parents to guard and discipline the kids due to false
concepts introduced by some psychologists in the
postmodern decades has made more room for havoc as
far as child development is concerned. Therefore, it is
crucial for parents, and Christian ministers and
educators as well, to pay close attention to the principles
of child development and do the best to help the kids
This book is one attempt to provide some important
tools in understanding the position of a child in God‟s
Kingdom, family, society, and nation. It contains four
essays, a mini-article, and a couple of poems that deal
with such topics. Two of the essays were published in
two different books edited by Dr. J. B. Jeyaraj of Jubilee
Institute, Chennai. One is forthcoming in the second
volume of a Holistic Child Development series he is
editing. The first essay was originally a devotion
delivered during the Bihar 4/14 Window Consultation
Pre-Summit in 2010. It was later published in the
Contemporary Christian journal by the Center for
Contemporary Christianity, Bangalore.
It‟s my hope that the book will prove to be a help in this
field of Child Development.
May 2, 2013
SYSTEMS OF OFFENCES AND
LEADERS OF CHANGE
Published in the CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN,
Bangalore, March 2011
Text: Matthew 18:1-14
This excerpt from Christ‟s earthly conversations has an
intense outflow of emotions and light. The question that
is posed is significant. But, far more significant is
Christ‟s elaboration of the problem at hand. He begins
by answering the question of true greatness and then
tracks down into an agonizing analysis of the world-
problem that nips that same greatness in the bud. For,
the child is certainly the sacred model of greatness, but
the child is sooner going to reach the age when he has to
look back to his childhood for a recovery of that child-
like innocence again. At this 4/14 Window Pre-Summit,
I believe it is apt to reconsider the roots of our world
that shape the consciences of the next generation.
When the disciples asked Jesus “Who is the greatest in
the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus did not point at
Alexander the Great, or to Augustus Caesar, or to Plato
or Aristotle. He brought in a child into the midst of
them and said “I tell you the truth, unless you change
and become like little children, you will never enter the
kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles
himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of
Of course, the question was not “Who is the greatest on
the earth?” but “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of
heaven?” For, earthly greatness could never be an issue
for man. It is blatant, though ephemeral. But, the true
disciple searches for what it really means to be great in
the kingdom of God, for a greatness that spans true
eternity. And, the divine answer could only be found in
the lips of the divine Master.
By Christ‟s verdict, the child is the model of true
greatness. The child epitomizes the kingdom virtues of
simplicity (unsoiled by culture), credulity (unblocked by
sophism), dependency (untainted by ambition),
innocence (uncorrupted by sin), tenderness
(unhardened by offences), and pliability
(untempered by willful convictions).
The very reason the question of greatness is asked
demonstrates the rootedness of the world-problem. The
question of greatness would never have been posed
unless the child-likeness was already destroyed in the
first place. The problem of inequality, indifference,
rejection, and all injustice lies at the root of this world-
problem that Christ now brings to light.
The conversation here significantly focuses on the value
and experience of a child. Of course, some have
interpreted the rest of the passage as talking of the least
of the disciples; but, the context here does centrally
focus on the world-experience of God‟s child. The
parable of the lost sheep doesn‟t speak of a disciple
being lost, but shows the importance of the one little
sheep among the ninety-nine. The Father is not willing
that any of these little ones be lost. And, isn‟t it true
that lostness and rootlessness is an experience that falls
on the kids of our generation in the 4/14 Window?
Worlds in Conflict
Two worlds are in conflict in this passage: God‟s world
versus man‟s world.
In God‟s world, the child is regarded with honor,
respect, dignity, greatness, and significance. Despite, the
theological contentions within the spectrum of the
Calvinist-Arminian debate, the child‟s position is secure
in the world of God. The universality of sin cannot be
denied; however, the universality of the child‟s tender
nature also cannot be ruled out. The world in all its
manifold deception still can‟t generally tolerate offence
against little children. How much more would God
stand for them?
In man‟s world, the child is unwelcomed, unwanted,
unaccepted, unrecognized, oppressed, tempted, and
snared into evil. In fact, often times, the human modes
of welcoming a child into the world are so much tainted
by sinful culture that the true place of the child is lost
into a corner (completely different from the place God
gives them). Christ breaks out “Woe to the world
because of the things that cause people to sin!” (v.7) But
why is the world such an offensive system? In fact, the
world as it is cannot be regarded in the singular
anymore. It is a system of systems and a world of
worlds. We do not live in a universe, but in an
ideological pluriverse. The worlds are systems of
thoughts, relations, and functioning that are both in
conflict with each other and with God‟s world. We may
divide the world-influencers into three groups:
1. World-Views: These are ways in which we
perceive the world. They are the ideologies and
philosophical theologies that stay rooted at the
base of any world-system. Casteism,
Communism, Humanism, Talibanism,
Hindutva, Fascism are all examples of world-
views that influence human values. When Christ
brings in the child and sets him in the midst, He
demonstrates the conflict of God‟s world-view
with the world-view of the general world at
2. World-Systems: These are ways in which our
particular world functions in this pluriverse. It is
the cultural setup of any world-machinery into
which a child is forced to fix in. The Nazi
government, Taliban government, Communist
government, Caste-system, etc are examples of
world-systems that influence human conduct.
Usually, cogs within a machine are bound to
submit to the laws of that machine; however, it is
also possible that in a multi-interactive cultural
setup, exposed to a plurality of world-views and
systems, individual world-systems could spring
into being. These may look as a minority and
strange, but one must understand that every
human is a dynamic entity that imbibes and
constructs her own cultural mind-world of
meanings and values. It is not slantingly that the
Scripture annunciates, “GOD saw that the
wickedness of man was great in the earth, and
that every imagination of the thoughts of his
heart was only evil continually” (Gen.6:5). This is
not to incriminate every world-system as totally
evil, but to show that any world-system that
doesn‟t subscribe to God‟s kingdom principles is
routed for self-destruction. It is in this sense that
we may understand the exclamatory “Woe to the
world because of the things that cause people to
3. World-Leaders: These are the agents that lead the
world-system on the principles of particular
world-views. They are humans. Christ declares,
“if anyone causes one of these little ones who
believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to
have a large millstone hung around his neck and
to be drowned in the depths of the sea” and
“woe to the man through whom they [i.e.
offences] come!” (vv.6,7).
A world-system is a world-game with its own rules,
codes, language, and modus operandi. It is aimed to be
completely self-sufficient, self-contained, closed, and
rational. In a world-system that is thoroughly evil, evil
is not felt, because of the smooth modus operandi. Evil
itself is a rational principle of operation in that machine.
It is like a closed space shuttle speeding at a uniform
velocity. The astronauts inside wouldn‟t be able to say
whether the shuttle is moving or is at rest, since it is
detached from all coordinates of reference outside. That
is why, for instance, stoning to death, a practice in some
cultures, would appear an evil to outsiders, but to those
within that particular culture, it would appear quite
necessary. Similarly, until the Renaissance movement
struck the cords of the Indian conscience, sati and child
marriage were not considered evil. Some interference
and clash of worlds was necessary in order to begin the
reformation. An evil world-system permits oppression,
promotes oppression, practices oppression, and profits
from that oppression; but, is incapable of perceiving it
as oppression. It is thoroughly infested with evil;
therefore, it is subject to the predication of a “Woe!”
Any rescue can only be holistic when it rescues one
from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.
We can‟t just keep trying to save people from being
crushed under the giant wheel of destruction; we need
to jam the wheel itself (cf. Dietrich Bonhoeffer), and
certainly the biblical way. We must work at the grass
root level; but, we shouldn‟t forget the ideological roots
behind all surface evils as well. Isn‟t there a reason why
in some cultures, beggary is non-existent, while in
others beggary is prevalent and religiously endorsed?
Why is it so that in particular contexts, red spits of
chewed pans stain walls of government offices, while in
other contexts offices are as clean as could be? Why are
there so many uncared street children lying on the
platforms and footpaths in some cultures, while in
others such people groups are never around? Care,
compassion, cleanliness, and conscience are all strongly
influenced by the world-system we try to conform to.
The world-system is based on a general world-view and
is led ahead by world-leaders. The Bible is very specific:
one leader can lead a whole nation into hell.
Historically, that has happened. One shouldn‟t marvel
why the Northern Kingdom of Israel so greatly differed
from the Southern Kingdom of Judah before the end of
The Cult of Moloch – Child-sacrifices are rarely heard of
today. However, they were widely prevalent in ages
past. The cult of Moloch of Canaan was one such cult in
which children were offered up as sacrifice for the
betterment of the land and community. The ritual was
cruel; however, the people considered it necessary and
indispensable to their system. The religious world-view
that they had influenced their world-system (cult,
culture) and was strongly led on by leaders (priests,
King Manasseh of Judah – 2 Kings 21 records one of the
most oppressive periods in the history of Judah. King
Manasseh‟s sins are recorded in the words: “He
sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and
divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He
did much evil in the eyes of the LORD , provoking him
to anger” (v.6), “Manasseh also shed so much innocent
blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end-besides
the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they
did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (v.16). Manasseh is not
only an example of someone who did evil but of
someone who led the whole nation astray into occult
religion, sin, oppression, and violence. His influence
was so widespread that it is said: “the people did not
listen. Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more
evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the
Israelites” (v.9). The anti-faith world-view into which he
strayed led him to build a world-system which rebelled
against the principle of heaven and sank the nation into
the helpless whirlpool of wickedness. God‟s wisdom
could no longer look sensible to them. The occult that
they now subscribed to demanded the sacrifice of their
Adolph Hitler – The man who plunged the world into
World War II. His charismatic weaving of the Nazi
governmental fabric on the principles of Nazi
philosophy was so apt that it left almost no loophole for
an overthrow. He was a leader of a bad change,
constructing a system in which the conscience of his
men was deeply altered. There is one story of an SS
officer who was standing by watching the Jews being
brought into a concentration camp. One woman, with
her four children walking hands in hand, looked at him
and asked, “Look at these little beautiful faces. Can you
really have the heart to kill them?” The SS officer
answered nothing. Children were usually immediate
gassed in Hitler‟s concentration camps. They were
useless. That evening, he returned back to his home and
normally played with his own children without feeling
a bit stricken over what had transpired during that day.
Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University has called this
the “Lucifer Effect”, a process in which the saintliest
person can be turned into a devil, when his mind is
guided along avenues of impersonalization,
dehumanization, and deindividuation of others. One
can‟t regard ideologies slackly; not at all those systems
that are being built over them.
One can give examples from Communism, Talibanism,
Cults, Occults, and several socially evil systems.
However, if there can be leaders of evil change; there
have been and must also rise up a leadership of good
change in the world. If a leader can lead a nation into
hell, a leader and a synergy of many leaders can
certainly lead this nation into a better world. Unless we
are able to penetrate the ideology and culture with a
transformative outlook and function, we cannot expect
The two main challenges simply put are:
1. To identify the ideological bases of a particular
offense system. It is not just enough to treat the
symptoms. The root of the disease must be
identified. If we are not willing to acknowledge
the ideological problem, chances are that we are
drifting with it. If we do not stand to expose it,
we are no longer functioning as God‟s children
2. To eliminate the problem on Kingdom
principles. The Kingdom principles are the ones
that Christ practiced. It is not silver and gold but
bold witnessing, the call to repentance and a
ministry of healing and deliverance that can
emancipate the society and individuals from the
clutches of oppression. The purpose of the
anointing is to bring deliverance (Lk. 4:18).
Unless we are spiritually confronting the forces
of evil, we are not really functioning as the
ambassadors of Christ in this world. We can
never transform the world unless we have learnt
the significance of right communication and
implementation of Kingdom principles in the
place where we set our foot.
This might seem easy to say and difficult to do; but, to
have said itself will have accomplished and brought to
light a massive need of the church.
Christ gives us the solutions:
1. Confrontation and Elimination: He said “If
your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it
off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter
life maimed or crippled than to have two hands
or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.”
(Matt.18:8). It is important to decide if we would
allow the whole system go to hell, or initiate a
transformative work that heals the whole body
and brings lasting deliverance. Elements of
culture that are destructive and false must be
confronted with the light of the Gospel and
loving practice of truth.
2. Saving the Little Ones: Christ calls us to go out
and save the little lost sheep. We are glad that
there has been a great movement towards
ministry among children in these days. We
realize that if we can save the little ones at their
tender age, when they are highly vulnerable, we
have saved them for eternity. It is only a
heartless shepherd who would leave his
hundredth sheep to die just because he got
ninety-nine more. Every little child of this world
is precious in the eyes of God. They must be
brought back into God‟s fold, into the place and
culture of true greatness. For, our “Father in
heaven is not willing that any of these little ones
should be lost” (Matt.18:14).
CHILD RIGHTS & EXISTING
“…on some occasions, child rights are violated and even
justified in the name of preserving cultural practices and
tradition. When there is a conflict between culture and child
rights, children’s rights must take precedence and old cultures
and traditions must adjust to give primacy to children’s needs
and rights.” ~ Shantha Sinha, National Commission for
Protection of Child Rights.
The advertisers know the primacy of children as targets
of their products. If they are won, they‟ll woo their
parents anyway. But, rights? The rights activists
understand. Where do theologians and Christian
workers stand? What are we offering to transform the
system in order to protect the child? What contextual
questions in this area have we addressed yet?
“to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to
light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 27:18).
Unless their eyes are first open, there is no use of light.
Unless they have turned to light, they can experience no
1. Become Eye-Openers. Those who are within a
system are blinded by that system. They have
learnt to fit into it and so view the world with
eyes that the system grants them. In order to be
eye-openers, we must be able to challenge the
irrationality of a system, and brace up to help
people up learn to use their eyes. The system
paralyses abstract and sound reasoning, because
of its authoritative structure. The men in the cave
(cf. Plato‟s Republic) must be declared the good
news of freedom. They must learn to open and
use their eyes.
2. Become Light-Bearers. This not only consists in
clear and cogent communication of truth in
words and images, but also in our deeds by
which we stand as light-bearers and witnesses of
God‟s heart in the midst of this generation.
“…that you may become blameless and harmless, children of
God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse
generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
holding fast the word of life….” (Philippians 2:15,16).
CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN
Unpublished Draft, Forthcoming in
HCD Volume 2: Marriage, Family, & Parenting (Ed. Dr. J.B.
I write this essay from a youth‟s perspective, not from a
parent‟s one. I also write it as one who has been
ministering among the youth for about a decade.
Children born after the Y2K see things and experience
things quite differently. It is not uncommon to see
toddlers playing with cellphones, iPods, and iPads
nowadays. Facebook, YouTube, and Google Search are
no surprises. One usually hears parents telling that their
kid knows better computer than them. Media and
internet has exposed the young child to the ends of the
world. They have also exposed the young child to
uncensored evil. Three decades ago, preachers clamored
about the evils of what they termed the “Idiot Box” and
the “Devil Vision” (referring to TV). They might have
never imagined that the onslaught of TV would be
outdated soon, and what they regarded as obscene in
their era would be considered as normal in an age to
come. There is all reason why the internet could be such
an influential force in this age: its ubiquity and seeming
omniscience; you can find it almost anywhere and you
can find on it information about almost anything.
The amount of information too has intensely multiplied.
The schools have to update their syllabi every now and
then. New information keeps pouring in from
everywhere every second. Thousands of new books
arrive in the market every day. Contradictory views and
practices seamlessly flourish. Flux and uncertainty
govern the domain of information, and truth is no
longer considered to be an eternally absolute category.
Novelty, fad, and fashion are the gods of this
generation. Apart from all this, the assault on family is
ubiquitous. The carnage of carnality has cut down the
foundation of values from under the feet of the secular
world. Marriage has become a contract and
homosexuality governmentally legalized. Knowledge
has become chaotic; momentary profit, the only remnant
In this article, I would like to point out eight areas of a
child that a parent must pay key attention to. They are:
salubrity, security, submission, secularity, sexuality,
sociability, service, and spirituality.
Karen [little girl]: What do they mean when a
woman’s size is zero? Cos zero is nothing;
then, they will be invisible.
Woman: It just means she is very skinny.
But, a woman can be any shape or size she
Karen: What about a hexagon?
Woman: Well, no, I meant it can be...
Karen: Or triangle because triangles are...
Woman: No, I meant it doesn’t matter if a
woman is thin or fat.
Karen: What if it were like this? [Spreads
hands wide and blows cheeks to describe a fat
person] Would that be okay? There’s a man
in Mexico and he has to get a crane to get him
out of bed, cos he’s so fat. Is that alright?
Woman: Oh, well no! I think...
Karen: What is too fat? Is it...
Woman [irritated]: Would you like to watch
Modern lifestyles and habits have created multiple
health issues for children. While malnutrition is a
problem that prevails among the unprivileged, obesity
is taking its toll among many modern families.
Commenting on the issue, author Ann Douglas writes:
The latest figures from the Surgeon
General paint an anything-but-rosy
picture of the health of American kids: an
estimated 15 percent of children and
teens are overweight, nearly three times
as many as a generation ago.
The question, of course, is what to do
about the problem. Although we all
know that teaching kids to make
healthier food choices and to fit more
physical activity into their increasingly
sedentary lives is what‟s required to do
battle with the growing problem of
childhood obesity, it can be challenging
to motivate kids to turn off the video
game console, to hop on their bikes, and
to “just say no” to those oh-so-seductive
advertising messages pitching everything
from super-sized snacks to fast food.
The issue of children‟s health is a whole area in itself
with numerous problems connected to it. The whole
concern of holistic child development also includes the
physical, mental, and spiritual health of the child. The
saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is
quite pertinent. Video games are not the solution.
Sedentary lifestyles only prove damaging. The parents‟
attention is paramount in attending to the child‟s
salubriousness from proper vaccination to proper
nourishment, care, and exercise. Responsive parenting
involves observing a child‟s health-needs, interpreting
and identifying the need, and acting out to meet the
Let’s get one thing straight! My name is
Jaycee Lee Dugard. I was kidnapped by a
stranger at age eleven. For eighteen years I
was kept in a backyard and not allowed to say
my own name....
...I know I am not the only child to be hurt by
a crazy adult. I am sure there are still the
families that look great on the outside, but if
someone were to delve deeper they would
discover horrors beyond belief.
According to data from the National Crime Bureau, a
child goes missing every eight minutes in India. Almost
40 percent of those children haven‟t been found.
statistics are alarming:
According to the National Crime Records
Bureau (NCRB), almost 60,000 children
were reported missing in 2011. Of these,
22,000 are yet to be located… The
statistics are scary – in 2011, 15,284 cases
of kidnapping were reported. This was
up 43 percent from the previous year.
The Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) considers the
report of NHRC of 1,17,480 missing children (in 392
districts) to only be the tip of the iceberg.
numbers could be too big. Evidently, the graph of
missing children continues to rise. Both parents and
society must pay attention to the problem by ensuring
rational security measures for children, not committing
them into careless hands, and keeping an eye on any
suspicious things around.
But, kidnappings and trafficking are not the huge
problems. As Jaycee Dugard has pointed out, hurt and
abuse can occur inside families. The parents must make
sure that none of those things happen to their children
While there are some who might not consider this a
security issue, but I think that proper parenting plays an
important role also in protecting the child from the
wickedness (drugs, violence, perversion, etc) that is
wildly rampant in the world outside bent on destroying
anyone that falls into its clutches.
Developing respect for parents is the critical
factor in child management. It is imperative
that a child learns to respect his parents–not
to satisfy their egos, but because his
relationship with them provides the basis for
his later attitude toward all other people. His
early view of parental authority becomes the
cornerstone of his future outlook on school
authority, law enforcement officers,
employers, and others with whom he will
eventually live and work.
The Bible lays down several guidelines for respect of
authority at home, in the state, and in the Church.
However, the modern penchant for rebellion has greatly
damaged the sense of authority in family and society. In
fact, it has been able to cut down the ground of all
certainty from under one‟s feet, as G.K. Chesterton
astutely pointed out in his Orthodoxy: “By rebelling
against everything he has lost his right to rebel against
anything.” The Bible talks about foolishness being
bound up in the heart of a child, and that it can only be
driven out by the rod of discipline (Proverbs 22:15). The
word “foolishness” can also be interpreted as
“rebellion”. However, correction should not turn into
abuse and provocation. James Dobson‟s book The New
Dare to Discipline (1992) has some ideas to help ensure
the right kind of loving disciplinary needed in the
foundational years of the child.
A rebel at home will also be a rebel at Church, a rebel in
society, and a rebel everywhere. Our best example of
foundational submission in family is our Lord Jesus
Himself. He always acted in obedience to the will of His
Father (Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:8). He was also
obedient to His earthly parents (Luke 2:51).
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in
stature, and in favor with God and man
While the Bible does teach that we are to live as pilgrims
and strangers in this world, it also teaches that we need
to also be wise and skillful in our relation with the
world – “those who use this world as not misusing [it.]
For the form of this world is passing away”
Secular skills are important for a child to use the world
and not misuse it. Education plays a significant role in
this. Education begins at home and finding its base
therein it assimilates information learnt at school,
college, via media, friends, etc. No education is helpful
nor is retained unless it has a practical value in a child‟s
world – it helps him to “use this world”. Therefore,
theoretical and practical aspects of education must be
properly combined. In addition to academic education,
a child will also have to learn number skills that are
culturally and contextually necessary for him to have. In
order to “use”, he must be helped to creatively deal with
Parents, and people in general, are very
peculiar when it comes to sex. Instead of
telling their sons and daughters everything at
the age of twelve, they send the children out
of the room the moment the subject arises and
leave them to find out everything on their
own. Later on, when parents notice that their
children have, somehow, come by their
information, they assume they know more (or
less) than they actually do. So why don’t they
try to make amends by asking them what’s
what? – Anne Frank, March 18, 1944.
In recent times, one of the greatest problems confronting
society is the uncontrolled and uncensored presence of
the internet. The porn industry thrives by what has been
called as the “Triple-A Engine” effect of the internet-
porn being Accessible,
Affordable, and Anonymous.
Some have gone on to
suggest further that it is also Aggressive and Addictive. In
their books, Every Man’s Battle (2000) and Every Young
Man’s Battle (2009), Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker
present the reality of sexual temptation in every man
and young man‟s life and suggest techniques such as
bouncing one‟s eyes from instead of fixing one‟s gaze
with sexual intention on someone. They also suggest the
practice of starving one‟s eyes from stimulating images
in order to keep lust from growing stronger, and
emphasize on the need of guarding oneself from sexual
sin by drawing up personal hedges around their weak
Parents need to make sure that they don‟t allow any
obscene material to stay in their home and be a
stimulant for temptation to growing kids. Another good
book by Stephen Arterburn and Roger Marsh that might
be helpful in this area is Internet Protect Your Kids
(2007). It is very much important that the kids learn the
things about sexuality and relationship with the other
gender at home, instead of being left to find it out on by
themselves from sources that are not healthy. They must
be built upon the emphasis on sexual purity against the
shifting value systems of the world.
But what was it that delighted me save to love
and to be loved? – St. Augustine, Confessions
“Man is a social animal” said Aristotle. While secular
skills concentrate on “usability”, social skills emphasize
inter-personal relations. The Scripture is rich in this
area. The book of Proverbs lists social skills like good
etiquette, friendliness, generosity, kindness, goodness,
justice, honesty, succinctness among several others. The
child should be able to learn what actions draw good
people favorably and what actions drive people away.
For instance, Proverbs mentions that anger is a
repellant, not the hero-quality that angry man movies
used to depict earlier (14:17; 21:19; 22:24).
Research seems to indicate that parents‟ social skills
have a positive effect on the sociability of their
Both example and encouragement play an
important role in getting the little one out of his timid
and shy closet into the open inter-personal world of
So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said,
“Here I am, for you called me.” (1Samuel 3:6)
Service can also be defined as responsibility. To serve is
to respond responsibly to a duty. Certain studies have
revealed that lack of household chores is making
children less responsible. According to a report by The
A study of the articles, advice and letters
published in more than 300 parenting
magazines between 1920 and 2006 has
found that most modern-day children are
only asked to take on trivial
responsibilities, such as feeding a pet,
clearing the table after dinner or tidying
up after themselves.
“In earlier generations, children and
adolescents were given meaningful
opportunities to be responsible by
contributing not only to their households
but also to their larger communities,”
said Markella Rutherford, assistant
professor of sociology at Wellesley
Until the 1980s, staff at parenting
magazines and parents who wrote in
agreed that chores helped children
develop empathy and a desire to
contribute to the well-being of others, she
said. Between the 1930s and 1970s,
adolescent and pre-adolescent children
were expected to plan menus, shop and
prepare meals for the family. They were
given responsibility for tasks including
nursing sick family members, keeping
household accounts, decorating or even
helping to maintain the family car.
In contrast, schoolwork is the only real
responsibility given to the modern child,
Rebbezin Chana Heller, Director of Womens Outreach,
suggests some of the following practical tips:
1. Give children age-appropriate tasks to be
2. Don‟t overwhelm a child with too many tasks.
3. “Expect” your child to be responsible.
4. Never call a child “irresponsible”.
5. Help a child organize her schoolwork.
6. Don‟t do it for her.
7. Let a child take responsibility for her own
8. Teach a child to manage money.
9. Encourage your child to take on volunteer work,
or an after-school or summer job.
“…from childhood you have known the Holy
Scriptures, which are able to make you wise
for salvation through faith which is in Christ
Jesus.” (2Timothy 3:15)
Spiritual instruction is the prerogative of the family.
Neither the Sunday school nor the Youth Ministry can
take that role. Recent research has shown that the
development of Sunday school and parental shirking of
their responsibility to spiritually instruct their kids has
had an adverse effect on an entire generation.
anything that the Church does to spiritually instruct the
youth is welcome, the primary role of the family to be
the place and environment of practical and genuine
spiritual instruction cannot be neglected. The saying “A
family that prays together stays together” is true. We
have great examples of such families in the Bible and
also in Church history. Isaac, Joseph, John the Baptist,
and Timothy had a great heritage of spirituality. John
Wesley‟s family line had on both the paternal and
maternal side an heritage marked by the influences of
several outstanding ministers. John himself referred to
this heritage as “a son, father, grandfather, atavus,
tritavus, preaching the Gospel, nay, the genuine Gospel,
in a line.”
But John‟s greatest influences came from
his mother, Susannah, from whom, says biographer
Basil Miller, “he inherited those traits of character which
were to set him apart from ordinary
Susannah‟s own explanation of spiritual
education is very pointed and pertinent for our times as
I insist on conquering the will of children
betimes, because this is the only strong
and rational foundation of a religious
education, without which both precept
and example will be ineffectual, but
when this is thoroughly done then is a
child capable of being governed by the
reason and piety of its parents, till its
own understanding comes to maturity,
and the principles of religion have taken
root in the mind.
The children in Susannah‟s home (John was the 15
Charles Wesley the 17
) were taught to say the Lord‟s
Prayer as soon as they were able to talk. To this were
added by degrees short prayers for the parents, “some
collects, a short catechism, and such portions of the
Scripture” as their memory could contain. It was a large
family, but Susannah knew to manage things very well:
“the oldest took the youngest that could speak, and the
second oldest the next youngest, to whom were read the
psalms for the day and a chapter in the New Testament.
John along with his brothers and sisters were taught to
be quiet at family prayers.”
If the adage what we sow
is what we reap is true, Susannah did reap the best
harvest of what she had invested in her children. Paul
was also able to testify about Timothy in the same
manner: “I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is
in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and
your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”
Spiritual instruction, however, must not become
legalistic; for the Law is only a schoolmaster that brings
us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Paul talks about a heritage
of “faith”, not “law”, in Timothy‟s family. Legalism
creates bondage and frustration inside the walls, even as
libertinism creates lack of restraint and confusion. Grace
and mercy strike the balance. Spiritual instruction that is
not communicated from a heart of love and exemplified
in a life of integrity will be spurned as hypocritical and
false. The “genuine faith” must be seen in order to be
carried over into legacy.
I have tried to briefly outline in this essay the various
issues of parenting that are contemporarily non-
negligible. As a young minister among the youth and
children, and of course not being a parent myself, I have
only spoken from what I have seen within my own
experience and the experiences of the youth around. I
have also tried to refer to some books and resources by
experienced and professional authors that parents can
refer to. By placing spiritual instruction at the end, it is
not meant to say that it is the least, but to imply that it is
at the base of all things: “the fear of the Lord is the
beginning of wisdom” and “What a pleasure to have
children who are wise.”
Arterburn, Stephen & Marsh, Roger. Internet Protect
Your Kids, 2007
Arterburn, Stephen & Stoeker, Fred. Every Young Man’s
Dobson, James. The New Dare to Discipline, Tyndale
House Publishers, 1992.
Douglas, Ann. The Mother of All Parenting Books, NJ:
Wiley, Hoboken, 2004.
Miller, Basil. John Wesley, Minneapolis: Bethany House
Outnumbered, S3, Ep2, BBC One.
Ann Douglas, The Mother of All Parenting Books (NJ: Wiley,
Hoboken, 2004), p. 493
Neir Eshel, Bernadette Daelmans, et al, “Responsive
Parenting: Interventions and Outcomes”, Bulletin of the World
Health Organization, December 2006, 84 (12), p.991
Jaycee Dugard, A Stolen Life: A Memoir (NY: Simon &
Schuster, 2011), p. ix
Kiran Manral, “Where Are Our Missing Children?”
February 5, 2013
Kiran Manral, “Where Are Our Missing Children
BBA, Missing Children of India: A Synopsis (New Delhi:
BBA, ND), p.2
James Dobson, The New Dare to Discipline (Tyndale House
The Diary of A Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, Ed. Otto H.
Frank, Trans. Susan Massotty. Anne‟s Diary written between
12 June 1942 and 1 August 1944, chronicles her experiences at
her Jewish home and in hiding during the Holocaust years
before her family was captured and sent to the concentration
camps of Hitler. The Diary was given to her on her
Phil Webb, “Pornography Help”, Archdiocese of Denver.
March 30, 2013
Tsunao Okumura and Emiko Usui, “Do Parents‟ Social
Skills Influence Their Children‟s Sociability?”
ccessed on March 30, 2013. Their research, however,
concludes that the effect seem to be for those of the same
gender; e.g., father-son, mother-daughter.
Amelia Hill, “Lack of household chores making children
less responsible, claims survey,” The Observer, Sunday 15
d-development-chores-responsibility. Accessed on March 31,
Rebbetzin Chana Heller, “Teaching Children
Leclerc Brothers Motion Pictures, Divided, The National
Center for Family-Integrated
Basil Miller, John Wesley (Minneapolis: Bethany House
Publishers, 1943), p.10.
Basil Miller, John Wesley, p.12
Basil Miller, John Wesley, p.13
Basil Miller, John Wesley, pp. 13,14
Proverbs 9:10 (KJV); Proverbs 23:24 (NLT)
DEVELOPING COGNITIVE ABILITIES
IN CHILDREN AT SCHOOL
Published in HCD Vol.1: Foundation Theory & Practice (Ed.
Dr. J. B. Jeyaraj, 2013)
Cognitive development refers to the study of intellectual
development in a child. The study includes an attempt
to understand information processing, conceptual
resources, perceptual skill, language learning, and other
aspects of brain development in children. Philosophers
and psychologists through history have both marveled
at the phenomena of knowledge accumulation,
retention, processing, and utilization. Cognitive
development is crucial not just towards independent
belief-formation (regarding self, universe, and God) but
also towards active intelligent involvement in the
making of history; for history is the product of beliefs in
action. Animals don‟t create history because their
existence is merely instinctual and not intellectual. It is
humans who create, interpret, and record history.
In the past philosophy (both secular and religious)
played significant roles in providing the framework for
psychological theories of cognitive development and
child education. For instance, the doctrine of
reincarnation played an important role in Plato‟s theory
of knowledge as recollection and education as a
midwifery intervention to help a soul recollect what was
innate to it. Similarly, the idea of a pre-existent, pure,
and all-sufficient soul played an important role in the
doctrines of Jainism and Hinduism where education
towards self-realization, spiritual austerity for refining
of cognitive capacities, became ideal. On the other hand,
there were those who rejected the view that the soul
possessed any innate information at birth. People like
John Locke (1632-1704) talked of the mind as a tabula
rasa (blank slate) at birth. The child, thus, is born in
absolute ignorance and gains knowledge step by step as
impressions are made by experience upon the slate of
his mind. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) rejected this view
and instead came up with the theory
of phenomenalism that argued, that the mind is not a
blank slate but is actively involved in trying to
understand the world within its own limitations; we
may say it‟s like a computer with pre-installed software
(a priori forms and categories) that actively synthesizes
and interprets all incoming data and outputs it as
processed information. John Dewey (1859-1952) went a
little farther. He emphasized on knowledge as the result
of activity and his theory has come to be known as
instrumentalism or experimentalism. He emphasized on
education that prompted thinking in order to solve
problems and thus results in experiential knowledge.
Modern psychological theories of cognitive
development have much in relation with the philosophy
of instrumentalism or experimentalism. The study of
cognitive development is a wide field; however, we‟ll
try here to only briefly examine a few psychological
theories that try to explain the experience of learning
A. Theories of Conditioning
There are two chief forms of conditioning known among
psychologists: one is called Classical Conditioning (the
theory whereof was developed by Ivan Pavlov (1849-
1936) and popularized by J.B. Watson (1878-1958)); the
other is called Operant or Instrumental Conditioning (the
theory whereof was developed by B.F. Skinner (1904-
1990)). According to WordNet, conditioning refers to a
learning process in which an organism‟s behavior
becomes dependent on the occurrence of a stimulus in
its environment. For instance, a child never fears a white
rat, but he fears loud noise. If the loud noise is made to
repeat with every appearance of a white rat for a
number of times, then the child will start fearing the
white rat even if it appears without the loud noise. The
whiteness and the furriness of the rat will then be so
generalized that the child will try to run away from
every appearance of a white furry object, thereafter.
Here, fear is a behavior dependent on the loud noise
(which stimulates fear-response). After a few
associations with a white rat, it conditions the white rat
to elicit the same kind of fear-response. This is an
example of Classical Conditioning.
in Operant Conditioning which explains why people
avoid behavior that brings pain (punishment) and
develop behavior that brings rewards, some have
argued that, children usually learn language by trying
various combinations of sounds and being rewarded
(for example, with praise and attention) by their parents
and others for those sounds that represent true
It has also been noticed by the proponents
of the learning paradigm that “a child who is reinforced
frequently and only (or largely) for using English
correctly might develop better verbal skills than would
a child who receives less reinforcement or who is
reinforced for using poor English.”
B. Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
Jean Piaget (1896-1980) is considered to be the most
important modern theorist in the study of cognitive
development. He developed the most detailed and
comprehensive theory of cognitive development and
called his approach genetic epistemology, which is the
study of the origin (genesis) and development of the
nature and acquisition of knowledge.
Piaget‟s view is
also referred to as a constructivist
view. Constructivism states that “people interpret their
environments and experiences in light of the knowledge
and experiences they already have. People do not
simply take in an external reality and develop an
unchanged, exact mental copy of objects or events.
Instead, they build (or “construct”) their own individual
understandings and knowledge.”
It is the view that
“people construct their own knowledge and
understanding of the world by using what they already
know and understand to interpret new
Not only does one conform the world to
one‟s own previous understanding of it; but, he also
allows himself to be modified and conformed to the new
knowledge he attains.
It is important to note that Piaget‟s theory of cognitive
development is deeply connected to the biological
development of the child. Therefore, the stages of
cognitive development that he talks about, which we‟ll
observe later, are quite biologically fixed. Three terms
are important in understanding Piaget‟s theory of
cognitive development: organization, adaptation,
and reflective abstraction.
Organization is the tendency to form increasing
coherent and integrated entities. According to Piaget,
the organized pattern of action or thought is called
the scheme. Children attempt to understand the world
through various “ways of knowing”. Each specific “way
of knowing” is a scheme, an action sequence guided by
With the help of the scheme, which is the
building block of cognition, the child attempts to
organize and construct his understanding of the world.
Two examples would be, compare scheme (when the child
compares similar things to understand something; like
he may look at a cow and using the compare pattern
think that it is similar to a dog, but of a bigger size)
and contrast scheme (when the child contrasts a
particular thing with another thing; like he may find
that the dog barks and does a few things that the cow
never does). By putting the various constructs together,
the child attempts to arrive at a conclusive idea of the
object before him.
Figure 1: The cow is not a large doggie
Adaptation, according to Piaget, is the way in which
knowledge develops. It involves the interplay of two
processes: assimilation andaccommodation. A child‟s
attempt to understand something new is by means of
either assimilation or accommodation or by
both. Assimilation occurs when the child forces the object
before him to conform to his prior understanding. For
instance, when a child looks at a cow and tries to fit it
(assimilate) it into her prior knowledge of dogs, she
ends up concluding that the cow is a very large dog.
However, when she is shown that the cow neither barks
nor eats the way a dog does; neither does a dog eat
grass or chew cud the way a cow does, she modifies her
prior understanding and accommodates the new
information to distinguish the cow as an entity different
from the dog. This is called accommodation. Piaget also
spoke ofequilibrium, which is the tendency of the
developing individual to stay “in balance” intellectually
by filling in gaps in knowledge and restructuring beliefs
when they fail to test against reality.
If a particular act
of assimilation does not work completely, one ends up in
an imbalanced state calledcognitive disequlibrium. To
resolve this disequilibrium, the child attempts to
accommodate or adjust her schemes to achieve a
pragmatic level of understanding. If she is successful,
she has struck at cognitive equilibrium.
Reflective abstraction is a way of acquiring
understanding by thinking abstractly about a particular
experience, and thus coming to generalized conclusion
about the same. For instance, a boy takes six stones and
arranges them in one line; then he takes the stone and
rearranges them in two lines. He notices that the number
didn‟t change despite being arranged differently.
Through reflective abstraction, he concludes that
number is not affected by arrangement. When a child is
able to do that, he has reached the level of reflective
abstraction in the stages of cognitive development.
One another concept emphasized by Piaget
was egocentrism. According to this principle, children
place their view at the center of their understanding of
the world and fail to recognize that other viewpoints
may also exist. In Piaget‟s own words, “To think
egocentrically means on the one hand that one does not
adapt oneself to the sayings nor to the view-points of
other people, but brings everything back to oneself, and
on the other hand, that one takes one‟s own immediate
perception as something absolute, precisely to the extent
that one fails to be adapted to the perceptions of other
That leads us to a discussion of the Four Stages of
Cognitive Development that Piaget identified. They are
the Sensorimotor Thought, Preoperational Thought, Concrete
Operational Thought, and Formal Operational
Thought stages. Each stage is further divided into
STAGE 1: SENSORIMOTOR STAGE (From Birth to 2
At this stage, the infant knows the world as merely
sensory, perceptual, and motoric.
The stage has
several sub-stages. At the beginning of this period, the
baby does not distinguish itself from the rest of the
world, and its behavior is restricted to the use of reflex
which are gradually incorporated into
“intentional movements designed first only to repeat,
later to maintain, and then to produce new changes in
the environment; increasing understanding of means-
The development of knowledge
during this period is simply sensory and motoric. The
child begins to learn to suck, for instance, the nipple
by accommodating his sucking scheme to the shape of the
nipple. Thus, he also is able to assimilate the nipple into
his sucking scheme. As far as perceptual development is
concerned, at the beginning of this stage when an object
is presented before the child and then hidden, he isn‟t
able to note that the object still continues to exist. He
doesn‟t look for it. However, after a few months, he
attains object permanence and when an object is hidden,
he looks for it.
Figure 2: Toast Permanence.
STAGE 2: PREOPERATIONAL STAGE (From 2 to 7
This is called the preoperational period because during this
period the “operation” of logical thinking is not yet
This is illustrated by the lack
of conservation and reversibility reasoning at this stage.
For instance, if the child is shown two glasses of the
same width with equal amount of water and asked if
both of the glasses have equal amounts of water, he
would answer “yes”. But, if one pours the water from
one of the glasses into another glass which is narrower
in shape, in which the water level looks higher, he will
answer that the narrower glass holds more water than
the wider one. He fails to discern the conservation of
water. Similarly, if the same number of coins
are arranged in two rows in equal columns, the child
will discern them to be of the same number; however, if
one row of coins is spread wide, he‟ll answer that the
spread out row contains more coins.
This period, however, is also the period of a rapid
development of language.
STAGE 3: CONCRETE OPERATIONAL STAGE (From 7
to 12 Years)
This is the period where systematic reasoning appears;
however, the children are still bound to concrete, here-
and-now situations. They are now able to
understand conservation and reversibility; for instance,
they‟ll answer that the water in the narrower glass is the
same amount as the one in the wider. The child is also
able to invent alternative strategies, for example, two
ways of getting to the store.
reasoning is absent at this stage.
STAGE 4: FORMAL OPERATIONAL STAGE (12 Years
This stage is characterized by logic, reasoning from
hypothetical propositions, and evaluating hypotheses
through testing all possible conclusions. Present reality
is seen as only one alternative in an array of
possibilities. The child can think about thinking and
uses theories to guide thought.
emerges during this stage.
Figure 3: Piaget‟s Stages of Cognitive Development.
C. Vygotsky’s Sociocultural View of Cognitive
While Piaget‟s theory gave detailed and experimental
account of the cognitive development of the child, many
psychologists felt it didn‟t take into account the social
cognitive development of the child. Lev Semyonovich
Vygotsky (1896-1934), a Russian psychologist developed
a holistic human cultural and biosocial development
which is today commonly called as cultural-historical
Vygotsky emphasized on the importance
of mediation to assist the child in developing his
cognitive capacities. In the Indian philosophy of
education, this mediation was personified in the Guru,
who helped, instructed, and guided the child into the
pathway of knowledge. For an Indian learner, the
presence of the more capable Guru as both an ideal and
an instructor was indispensable. Vygotsky identified
that there was a gap between one‟s actual solving of a
problem at a snapshot of time and one‟s potential to
problem solving with the help of someone more
capable. He called this gap the Zone of Proximal
Development (ZPD). Mediation can take place in
structured settings (such as a classroom) or in informal
day-to-day settings (such as parents talk with children
on the dining table). In process of time, the child is able
to internalize the strategies of problem solving that he
learns and is able to implement them in
life. Mediation must be tailored to be more effective, and
the strategies mediated to the child shouldn‟t be so
difficult that he isn‟t able to understand them. The
optimal level of difficulty lies within the ZPD. ZPD,
according to Vygotsky, is the distance between a child‟s
“actual developmental level as determined by
independent problem solving” and the child‟s level of
“potential development as determined through problem
solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with
more capable peers.” The ZPD refers to the range of
problems a child can solve if given some assistance.
is “a metaphorical description of the difference between
individual performance and performance that is guided
Crossing the ZPD is essential for a child
to attain the next level of development; this is
accomplished with the help of more knowledgeable
others (MKOs). Vygotsky emphasized the role that
socio-cultural mediation (help of others) plays in the
cognitive development of the child.
II. Application of the Theories for Cognitive
Development in Children
4. Role of Teachers in the Cognitive Development
of the Child
The teacher must realize that conditioning does play a
major role in developing patterns of responses in a
child. The teacher must be able to encourage the right
kind of behavior and discourage the wrong one in order
to help shape the form of responses that are conducive
to a sound development of the child‟s cognitive
capacities. While corporal punishment has been largely
and justly discouraged in the schools, teachers must
creatively come up with constructive designs of rewards
and punishment that will help build the child‟s
Also to be remembered are the implications of
Vygotsky‟s theory for instruction that “the most
effective instruction involves giving childrenchallenging
material, along with help in mastering it.”
play an important role in both providing the child with
challenging materials as well has help them in
mastering them. Vygotsky investigated child
development and observed the important roles that
cultural mediation and interpersonal communication
play in the development of the child‟s higher mental
functions. The child becomes cultured, as we may put it,
through these various mediations and interactions that
also represent the shared knowledge of a culture. This
process is known as internalization.Information and
practical ideas available in the culture of the
environment, outside the child, are gradually
internalized to form cultural adaptation; thus,
development occurs, though primarily through
Indian philosophers spoke something
similar to what Vygotsky was saying when they talked
of Sabda (Word) as an evidential source of knowledge in
the culturing of a person. The mediation, as we saw
earlier, was considered to occur chiefly through
the Guru, who embodied the authority of
the Sabda (which generally refers to all available
knowledge, whether of arts, science, warfare, or
entertainment). Vygotsky‟s theory has helped develop
more reciprocal and interactive models of education in
modern times. It frees the school and the classroom
from being a boring place for the children. There is more
activity, interaction, and the teacher is not someone who
spoon-feeds the student, but someone who creates
interest, makes the classroom relevant, and helps the
student to gain an insight of the knowledge available
outside of him, to internalize it.
Further, schooling, inevitably, cannot ignore the
cognitive capacity of the child as dependent on his
biological age-framework, as Piaget‟s research has
shown us. Thus, children within the age group of 2 to 12
would usually profit nothing from talks that contain a
lot of abstract theories, despite their being
communicated in concrete analogical terms. An example
of this is seen in one conversational scene from the BBC
In this scene Karen, a
child, is confused by what a psychotherapist, Brick, is
trying to explain:
Angela: They play hide and seek only they
have to try and fine themselves.
Karen: Find themselves? That‟d be easy. You
just look down and...there you are.
Brick: No Karen, sometimes you try and find
something inside you, that you didn‟t know
Karen: Like a tapeworm?
Brick: No not that, it‟s a...
Karen: Or like a spoon that you swallowed by
Brick: No, (to others) She‟s very little isn‟t
she... (then, to Karen) we‟ve all got dark
places inside our head.
Karen: Well of course we have. It‟s entirely
dark. Unless we put like a window or we
sawed the top of our head off....
Brick: Actually, there are hidden feelings
inside all... we have to acknowledge. We have
to give these feelings a name. We need to say
“Bob!”. You see we call these feelings “Bob,
Get back! And...”
Karen: Why Bob when you can call it
anything like Steve or a girl‟s name like
Lucy... Why do you have to call it Bob?
Brick: Well, you can say Lucy, but it doesn‟t
work for me.
Karen: Is this your job to say stuff like these?
Brick: Trust me, it‟s... it‟s very useful?
Karen: No, I don‟t trust you, because you‟re
just talking nonsense.
Brick: If you could only listen to me for two
seconds. Well, it is not something that a child
necessarily understands… but, it is
Karen: But, I do understand what you saying,
it‟s just that it doesn‟t make any sense....
A few guidelines for training children at the various
stages of development would be as follows:
PREOPERATIONAL PERIOD (2 to 7 Years): Use
concrete illustrations and visual aids to teach concrete
facts. Make instructions relatively short, using actions as
well as words. Explain with actions, imitations, and
gestures. Try explaining things by looking at them from
the child‟s own viewpoint: don‟t expect the child to be
able to see the world from someone else‟ viewpoint.
Give children a lot of things to learn by practice; but
avoid overuse of workbooks and other paper and pencil
tasks. Provide opportunities to play with clay, water, or
sand. Take field trips. Discuss what they are seeing on
CONCRETE OPERATIONAL PERIOD (7-12 Years):
Continue using concrete props and visual aids. Provide
time-lines for history lessons. Provide three-dimensional
models in science. Demonstrate simple scientific
experiments in which the students can participate. Give
the students the chance to see and manipulate objects
and test out their ideas. The lectures and readings
should be brief and well organized. The child can
progressively move from shorter to longer readings.
Require readings with a limited number of characters.
Use outlines, hierarchies, and analogies to show the
relationship of unknown new material to already
acquire knowledge. Give opportunities to classify and
group objects and ideas on increasingly complex levels.
Present problems which require logical, analytical
thinking to solve. Focus discussions on open-ended
questions which stimulate thinking (e.g. are the mind
and the brain the same thing?).
FORMAL OPERATIONAL PERIOD (12 Years
Onwards): Use visual aids as well as simple and
somewhat sophisticated graphs and diagrams. Provide
students opportunities to discuss social issues and
hypothetical ideas (for instance, the Time Machine or
Time Travel, Other Worlds). Encourage students to
explain how they solve problems. Try teaching broad
concepts with the help of materials relevant to the
students. For instance, when discussing about the
Independence Struggle, consider what issues united the
nation. Use lyrics from popular music to teach poetic
devices, to reflect on social problems, and so on.
B. Role of Parents in the Cognitive Development of
With regard to the parent‟s role in helping the child
develop his cognitive capacity and abilities, nothing can
be more instructive than the Book of Proverbs.
Interestingly, the Bible has the best set of instructions
necessary for helping the child grow in way of perfect
wisdom that God wishes him to grow in.
“My son, hear the instruction of your father….”
(Prov.1:8). Speak to your child all the while. We have
seen that cultural mediation and interpersonal
interaction play a very crucial role in the cognitive
development of the child. A parent has the divine
calling to nurture the child not only in the things of the
body but also in the things of the soul and of the spirit.
Instructive conversation at home helps shape the child
foundationally. According to the Bible, wisdom is not
just about intelligence; it is that holistic cognitive
development of a person whereby he is able to make the
right social decision in light of his spiritual identity
before God. Therefore, the Bible defines the “fear of the
Lord” or a holy reverence of God as the fountain of
wisdom and knowledge (Prov. 1:7). Departure from this
holy reverence has a debilitating effect on the holistic
cognitive structure of a person (Rom.1:21, 28). The home
provides the amiable environment conducive to the
child‟s growth in the wisdom of salvation (crucial things
that need to be internalized for the right form of
It is the responsibility of the parents to
maintain the health of the homely environment.
Nagging, provocation, indiscipline, incontinency, and
irrational and unpredictable behavior introduce an
imbalance in the conditioning framework and confusion
in the child‟s mind regarding a proper cognitive
appraisal of reward and punishment. Parents must not
just speak instruction through their lips but also
through their lives (Eph.6:4). It is only when the child
has learnt to listen to his parents (Prov.1-7) that he‟ll be
able to listen to the voice of wisdom when he comes to
age, i.e. when his cognitive capacities have properly
developed (Prov. 8,9). Parents should be able to choose
the right kind of stories and object lessons to
communicate to the child the essential principles on
which his life is to build. The guidelines listed above for
the teachers will also be helpful to the parents at home.
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom”
(Prov.29:15). Disciplining a child is a crucial element of
mediation that blends into itself both the challenge and
the value of wisdom. Discipline should administer
wisdom, not mere physical retribution. It should correct
the thinking pattern of the child. It should not be a
means of trying to force the child to do things by means
of terror; it should be able to give wisdom: the rod and
rebuke go together. The rod is the rod of correction, not
condemnation (Prov.22:15; 23:13). Rebuke is not angry
outburst and rage. Rebuke is the serious show of
disapproval of a particular action. It proceeds from
grief, from love. The rod and rebuke prevent the child
from growing wild and bring him into the mold of
culture. It subjects the chaotic forces of folly within the
heart of the child to the ordering power of the Moral
Law. A family that lacks this strand of sound judgment
and prudence will fail to provide the conditions
necessary for the health of a child‟s cognitive life.
Discipline is only discipline when it is administered by
the hands of love. Discipline is not just a matter of
discipline with rod; it is also a matter of discipline with
reward. The parent must also apply proper discipline in
rewarding the child for every progress the child makes.
The reward should be appropriate and meaningful or
else it loses its meaning and significance. A simple word
of appreciation and praise does great good to spur the
child to improve further. The rod and reward refer to
the discipline of feedback that is essential to the growth
of any human being; for feedback is the resonance of
social life and identity.
We have briefly glanced through a few theories related
to the cognitive development of a child and observed
the implications that modern psychology has for child
education. The theory of conditioning helps us
understand the behavioral responses of children. It also
helps us understand properly the role of reward and
chastening in the education of the child. Piaget‟s theory
of cognitive development helps us to understand the
cognitive development of a child along his biological
timeline. This helps us to be reasonable in the terms and
methods we choose to help a child develop cognitively
at each stage of his life. Finally, Vygotsky‟s theory helps
us to understand the significance and role of cultural
mediation, interaction, and the need for programs that
are tailored to help the child successfully internalize the
social knowledge in his social development.
Goswami, Usha (ed), Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive
Development (Ed. Usha Goswami; Blackwell Publishing, 2002.
L. Cook, John & Cook, Greg. Child Development: Principles &
Perspectives, Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2005.
Morgan, Clifford T. A Brief Introduction to Psychology,
edn., New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill, 1977.
Morgan, Clifford T., A. King, Richard, et al, Introduction to
edn., Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill, 1986.
Piaget, Jean. Judgment and Reasoning in the Child, Trans,
Marjorie Warden; NY: Hartcourt, Brace & Co, 1928.
Piaget, Jean. To Understand is to Invent, UNESCO, 1948.
Clifford T. Morgan, A Brief Introduction to Psychology,
edn. (New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill, 1977), pp 85-87.
Clifford T. Morgan, Richard A. King, et al, Introduction to
edn. (Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill, 1986), p. 439.
Robert J. Sternberg, “Individual Differences in Cognitive
Development,” Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive
Development (Ed. Usha Goswami; Blackwell Publishing, 2002),
p. 601. Reinforcement refers to the repetition of a stimulus
(either reward or punishment) to reinforce a particular
Morgan et al, Introduction to Psychology, p. 425.
John L. Cook & Greg Cook, Child Development: Principles &
Perspectives (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2005), Ch.5, p. 6.
Morgan, et al, Introduction, p. 426
Morgan, et al, Introduction to Pyschology, p. 425
Jean Piaget, Judgment and Reasoning in the Child (Trans,
Marjorie Warden; NY: Hartcourt, Brace & Co, 1928), p.228
Morgan, et al, Introduction, p.426
Morgan, A Brief Introduction, p. 62
Morgan, et al, Introduction, p.426
Morgan, A Brief Introduction, p. 63
Morgan, et al, Introduction, p. 426
Wikipedia contributors. “Lev
Vygotsky.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 Aug. 2012. Web. 16
John & Greg, Child Development, 5.27
Shawn M. Rowe and James V. Wertsch, “Vygotsky‟s
Model of Cognitive Development,” Blackwell Handbook of
Childhood Development, p.552
John & Greg, Child Development, 5.27
May, 2010. (Writers: Andy Hamilton &
Guy Jenkin), bbc.co.uk/comedy
“Jean Piaget‟s Developmental Stage
elopmental_Stage_Theory, August 17, 2012
See 2Timothy 3:14,15
BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR
DEVELOPING THE SPIRIT OF
PATRIOTISM AND HUMANISM IN
Excerpt from “Developing the Spirit of Patriotism and
Humanism in Children for Peace and Harmony”, Published
in Children at Risk: Issues and Challenges (Ed. Dr. J. B.
While the basis of humanism is the account of creation,
the theme of patriotism is one that develops throughout
the Bible. The creation of man (male and female) in the
image of God, his appointment over all creation, and
God‟s concern for man above all creation are biblical
facts that show the equality, fraternity, and dignity of
man. Homicide is not condemned, in the Bible, for
sociological reasons; it is condemned for theological
reasons. „Whoso sheddeth man‟s blood,‟ God stipulated,
„by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God
made he man.‟
The Bible expounds the principle of love as it unravels
itself through the Prophets to the New Testament. „Love
your 56eighbor as yourself,‟ the Bible says,
demonstrating the fraternity of all men, Jew and gentile
alike. God‟s covenant with the children of Israel became
the foundation for Israelite patriotism. The people were
not only separated unto God from all other people,
but were also given the land of Palestine for an
everlasting possession. Basically, however, the
people‟s relationship with God was more important
than their relationship with the land. The people and
the land were connected to God in a way that when the
people disobeyed God, the land was polluted, bringing
divine wrath on the people; and when the
chastisement for their sins did fall leading to the
Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C., the love of the land
developed in a different way. Meanwhile, the vision
of a future Messianic kingdom became the theme of
post-exilic prophecy. The Messiah‟s kingdom would not
just be limited to Palestine; it would cover the whole
earth. Thenceforth, the Biblical vision of kingdom
transcended the boundaries of nations.
Finally, in the New Testament, this vision shifts from a
focus on any earthly land to the hope of Christ‟s second
coming and establishment of the kingdom of God on the
earth. This final vision, however, doesn‟t underestimate
the importance of modern nation-states. Modern politics
do have their role to play in the historical movement
towards God‟s kingdom. The Bible does speak of loyalty
to one‟s state. However, there are few Biblical principles
that one must bear in mind when considering one‟s
relation to the state.
4. Understanding Relationships and Obligations
To the Early Church, allegiance to Caesar or Christ had
become an important question. We know that the
Church stood faithful to Christ. Of course, Caesar did
have his rights. But, his rights ended where God‟s
began. They were never meant to infringe or flout the
rights of God. Therefore, when Caesar demanded
religious allegiance to himself, the Christians disobeyed.
There is a way in which the Christian relates to his state
by rendering to the state what properly belongs to it and
rendering to God what absolutely belongs to Him.
Understanding one‟s obligations in different
relationships is important. As a parent has certain
obligations to his/her child, so the child does have
certain obligations to his parent. As a husband has
certain obligations to his wife, so the wife also has
certain obligations to her husband. Similarly, mutual
obligations exist between master and servant, disciple
and teacher, the state and the citizen. Unfaithfulness
with regard to any of these relationships is unacceptable
before God. However, the hierarchy of relations also
needs to be understood. The Early Christians
understood the priority of God and God‟s kingdom in
their lives and never allowed the worldly government to
encroach on their loyalty to God.
A healthy development of relationships is greatly
dependent on the impact of culture on the person.
Culturization refers to the process of constructing,
reforming, or developing any culture to suit the needs of
the present and future with the object that the subjects
of the culture would be shaped after the cultural
paradigm. Mosaic Law is an important example of such
culturization. It demonstrates not just the retention of
the good elements of an older culture but also the
renewal and modification of it in order that the people
of that culture might be strong. Culturization is a
difficult process. It is sometimes very revolutionary. In
the Indian context, a removal of caste feelings promoted
by both culture and certain governmental laws is
important for proper enculturation of children with
ideas of fraternity, equality, and justice. Symbols are
another important part of any culture. The Jewish feasts,
festivals, and rituals had great symbolic importance.
They were visible signs of the ideas and concepts having
historical, spiritual, political, and theological
significance. The feast of the Passover, for instance,
symbolized Israel‟s historical deliverance, spiritual
lineage, political freedom, and theological significance
in God‟s plan. Of course, in the modern situation,
theological or spiritual significance may not be attached
to symbols such as national flags or festivals. However,
these symbols are important instruments for the
development of historical, cultural, social, and political
consciousness among the citizens. Therefore,
culturization must always take into consideration the
power of symbols.
3. General Awareness and Active Participation
A general awareness of the nation, its present status and
future direction, is important for developing in the
citizen a feeling of being an active part of the nation.
Democracy is greatly handicapped when citizens are
ignorant of their nation, are asleep or only half-awake.
The children of Issachar were praised for having an
„understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought
to do.‟ In the absence of sufficient data, both
diagnosis and decision-making suffer since the
inductive process is greatly handicapped. In order for
the citizens to be wise and active, an awareness of the
social, physical, political, economical, and cultural status
and direction of the nation must be present. In addition
to promoting general awareness, there must be schemes
to encourage active involvement at both the local and
national level. The exercise of voting power is one
example of such involvement. Of course, the present
models of rural administration do involve active and
cooperative participation of the people. However, there
must also be schemes to extend local cooperation to a
national level. One can see, for instance, that sports, like
cricket and hockey, play an important role in the
development of national consciousness and national
integrity among the people. Other important tools to aid
such purposes are media and education. Freedom of
press helps reveal the real picture of the country.
However, there is also need of liberal, yet discreet,
censorship so that dangerous seeds of national
disintegration are expunged.
4. Belief in God
According to Plato, a right perspective about God is
crucial to the strengthening of the nation. A false and
fictional or mythological doctrine of God is „suicidal,
ruinous, impious.‟ The Bible asserts that
righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any
people. Modern criminologists have found that the
increase in crime is often proportional to the increase in
a disbelief in God or religion. To the Israelites, the
words of the Mosaic Covenant distinguished them from
every other nation under the sun and gave them a
peculiar identity in this world. Of course, in a
secular state such as India religion cannot be officially
promoted. Similarly, the government must not also try
to discourage religious developments in line with the
welfare of the nation. It is seen that one‟s concept of God
and ultimate reality has a significant effect on both his
way of thinking and way of living. The kind of deity
that one believes in also influences one‟s lifestyle.
Theologically speaking, belief in God takes care of the
problem of sin as sin becomes a problem directed not
just against men but against God Himself. Thus, as Plato
noted, false and irrational ideas of God should not
be peddled. This means that the Church should move
forward to publish the doctrine of the true God so that
sin will lose its hold on society, and the nation will
become much stronger before God. Rousseau was right
when he called Plato‟s Republic a major treatise on child
education for it attempts to provide a program for
training children to be responsible citizens of the state.
Plato understood that the development of piety in
children during their foundational years is crucial for
building in them the spirit of justice and truth in order
that they become responsible citizens of the Republic.
He, as been said earlier, also saw that certain ideas
about God promoted by popular religion are not only
irrational but also detrimental to the mind of children.
The Bible emphasizes the importance of teaching
children the fear of the Lord which is considered to
be the beginning of wisdom. It is obvious that a
belief in a Supreme Judge and Ruler above the earthly
judges and rulers is a greater impulse for righteous
living than mere belief in men or human laws.
Therefore, it may be said that belief in God is an
important precursor of responsible living within a state
or nation. Belief in God, however, can neither be
imposed nor discouraged by a secular state such as
India. In addition, the pluralistic setting of our nation is
adverse towards exclusivist theological ideas. However,
one may be reminded of the importance of reason in the
Indian philosophical mind; the Indian Renaissance (18
C.) is a good example of it. Ultimately, it is the belief in a
just and good God that is very important. And this must
become an important concern of missions in India.
 Genesis 9: 6.
 Exodus 19: 4-6; Leviticus 20: 24.
 Genesis 17: 8; 48: 4.
 Deuteronomy 29: 24-26.
 Jeremiah 3: 2, 3.
 Psalm 137.
 Daniel 2: 35; Habakkuk 2: 14.
 Matthew 22: 19-21, Romans 13: 7.
 Ephesians 6: 1-4.
 Ephesians 5: 21-23.
 Ephesians 6: 5-9; 1 Timothy 5: 17; Romans 13: 1-7
 I Chronicles 12: 32.
 Cf. Plato, The Republic and Other Works (Trans. B.
Jowett, New York: Anchor Books, 1989), pp. 71-80
 Ibid, p. 66.
 Proverbs 14: 34.
 Deuteronomy 4: 6-9.
 Psalm 115: 8.
 One irrational idea being peddled by modern
fundamentalists in India is the concept of tribal gods, where
gods are restricted to territories and people groups. Thus,
India is seen as the land of Rama; Arabia, as the land of
Muslims; and Palestine, as the land of Jews and Christians.
But God cannot be supreme if He‟s geographically limited.
 Psalm 34: 11.
 Proverbs 1: 7.
SLUMDOG SOUVENIR - POEM
No man is a dog; nor a dog, a man -
One can only be treated so.
And yet these metaphors are bad –
Which I now intend to show.
There are dogs on street and dogs at home
So, a street man can‟t be a dog,
For then would men at home also be dogs;
Though never Bull or Alsatian; for all are one.
A dog‟s got no moral sense; a man has at least some.
And even if he had none,
The categorization is worse, and not less;
For, a dog‟s still known for its faithfulness.
The street boy might become a millionaire,
And a millionaire, come to the street;
A shack is still a home to someone;
A cover from the heat, a rest for one‟s feet.
A child still laughs in the slum
A baby still cries in the palace
An eye still awaits one more dawn
While one wishes the night would prolong.
The slums have their dogs; dogs of different breeds.
Some belong at home; some rover on the streets.
But slums and all settlements are known for their men,
women, and children;
Though rich or poorer they be;
They are one of us;
And in God‟s sight each is precious:
Each one still one in a million,
Each one still a millionaire.
marbaniang.wordpress.com, Feb. 2009
PEACE - POEM
The copters up grinned as down dropped the bombs -
“How easily have we humanity erased!”
“No, it‟s not we but they who pilot us
That have first erased humanness from their own
The copters bladed away as bullets ripped the air -
“Metal kills metal as men kill men!”
“No, metal is lifeless, men are alive;
Only metal kills men and metal alike!”
“So, these men are as us without mercy or shame,
What made them so lifeless, what power what name?”
“Fear, anger, hatred, and doubt
Are the negatives that deaden their hearts.”
A little girl below (running with her brother in arms):
“Cry not, my brother, my little dear doll,
The copters will go away and with it all noise!”
“I want my mother, I can‟t see her around!”
“She is now in heaven, and sees us here down.”
The girl cries…
“O mother, O mother, we‟re left all alone,
We‟re left with no mother, we‟re left with no home!”
The copters returned with more anger and ire,
They poured all their fury in brimstone and fire.
The girl ran for shelter with the toddler in arms,
The bombers rattled after unaware of this all -
For, as the smoke and the dust rose into the sky
The eyes of truth were curtained.
The next morning, a Priest wails:
“Why God, my Master, did You all this allow?
O terrors of darkness, what else you seek now?”
“This history is yours. It‟s you who‟ll write
The story of man devoid of His God.”
“The story is sad… it‟s still You who allowed -
the guillotines, the gas chambers, the fiery clouds!”
“If it was I who should have governed the earth,
Then why create man to have dominion on earth?
These are your inventions, your wisdom, your resolves
That drive these divisions, that compel these discords.
It‟s you who for religion hate each other and all
And become more repulsive in the eyes of God.
It‟s you who for your mission of justice for all
Give in to the religion of violence and harm.
It‟s you who for riches of this fleeting world
Have exploited your brothers, your own flesh and
And, shall I not requite this faithlessness of you all
Who abused your power while stewards in My house?
I‟ll return your violence into your bossom,
Your withdrawal of justice, of mercy and compassion.
For, the end of all things will surely come,
Men shall be judged for all they‟ve done.
For, what could be rewarded unless it were done;
But, you‟ve chosen hatred and love you‟ve shunned.
O, turn now from evil, turn now from shame!
Turn from judging each other by some name!
For your hearts are fashioned all alike,
But, evil is a venomous viper that strikes;
So, beware and make amends, make peace with all first,
Cease from all violence, from treachery and lust.
Then, shall righteousness spring forth from the ground
And bless you with assurance of glory from above.”
The little girl comes in between…
“God, I see Your answer is so true and so wise;
But, we‟ve lost our mother, we‟ve lost all we had!”
“You‟ve lost not your heart, my daughter,
You‟ve lost not your child-like faith.
One day and sooner after,
The world will get a bold shape.
Then, you shall reign in glory
Over princes, rich and strong,
And they who are now stronger
Will then be proved wrong.
Keep this heart of yours as innocent
As I‟ve made it with my heart;
I‟ll return to give you justice,
I‟ll come back with my reward.”
Then, GOD vanished into thin air;
And, the copters bladed through the air again.
marbaniang.wordpress.com, August 2010.
Also published in BASILEIA (Itarsi) and LIGHT OF LIFE
Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the
Child of 1924
Adopted 26 September, 1924, League of
By the present Declaration of the Rights of the
Child, commonly known as "Declaration of
Geneva," men and women of all nations,
recognizing that mankind owes to the Child the
best that it has to give, declare and accept it as their
duty that, beyond and above all considerations of
race, nationality or creed:
1. The child must be given the means requisite
for its normal development, both materially
2. The child that is hungry must be fed; the
child that is sick must be nursed; the child
that is backward must be helped; the
delinquent child must be reclaimed; and the
orphan and the waif must be sheltered and
3. The child must be the first to receive relief in
times of distress;
4. The child must be put in a position to earn a
livelihood, and must be protected against
every form of exploitation;
5. The child must be brought up in the
consciousness that its talents must be
devoted to the service of fellow men.
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