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The Training of the Human Plant


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FRONT
INTRODUCTION
DEDICATION
TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER I
CHAPTER II
CHAPTER III
CHAPTER IV
CHAPTER V
CHAPTER VI
CHAPTER VII
CHAPTER VIII
CHAPTER IX
CHAPTER X
CHAPTER XI
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INTRODUCTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I
CHAPTER II
CHAPTER III
CHAPTER IV
CHAPTER V
CHAPTER VI
CHAPTER VII
CHAPTER VIII
CHAPTER IX
CHAPTER X
CHAPTER XI

 

   
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IX
ENVIRONMENT THE ARCHITECT OF HEREDITY

Heredity is not the dark specter which some people have thought—merciless and unchangeable, the embodiment of Fate itself. This dark, pessimistic belief which tinges even the literature of to-day comes, no doubt, from the general lack of knowledge of the laws governing the interaction of these two ever-present forces of heredity and environment wherever there is life.

My own studies have led me to be assured that heredity is only the sum of all past environment, in other words environment is the architect of heredity; and I am assured of another fact: acquired characters are transmitted and— even further—that all characters which are transmitted have been acquired, not necessarily at once in a dynamic or visible form, but as an increasing latent force ready to appear as a tangible character when by long-continued natural or artificial repetition any specific tendency has become inherent, inbred, or "fixed," as we call it.

We may compare this sum of the life forces, which we call heredity, to the character of a sensitive plate in the camera. Outside pictures impress ‘themselves more or less distinctly on the sensitive plate according to their position, intensity, and the number of times the plate has been exposed to the objects (environments) in the same relative position; all impressions are recorded. Old ones fade from immediate consciousness, but each has written a permanent record. Stored within heredity are all joys, sorrows, loves, hates, music, art, temples, palaces, pyramids, hovels, kings, queens, paupers, bards, prophets and philosophers, oceans, caves, volcanoes, floods, earthquakes, wars, triumphs, defeats, reverence, courage, wisdom, virtue, love and beauty, time, space, and all the mysteries of the universe. The appropriate environments will bring out and intensify all these general human hereditary experiences and quicken them again into life and action, thus modifying for good or evil character—heredity destiny.

REPETITION

Repetition is the best means of impressing any one point on the human understanding; it is also the means which we employ to train animals to do as we wish, and by just the same process we impress plant life. By repetition we fix any tendency, and the more times any unusual environment is repeated the more indelibly will the resultant tendencies be fixed in plant, animal, or man, until, if repeated often enough in any certain direction, the habits become so fixed and inherent in heredity that it will require many repetitions of an opposite nature to efface them.

APPLICATION TO CHILD LIFE

What possibilities this view opens up in the culture and development of the most sensitive and most precious of all lives which ever come under our care and culture—child life!

Can we hope for normal, healthy, happy children if they are constantly in ugly environment? Are we not reasonably sure that these conditions will almost swamp a well-balanced normal heredity and utterly overthrow and destroy a weak though otherwise good one?

We are learning that child life is far more sensitive to impressions of any kind than we had ever before realized, and it is certain that this wonderful sensitiveness and ready adaptability has not as yet by any means been put to its best possible use in child culture—either in the home or the school—and though all must admire our great educational system, yet no well-informed person need be told that it is not perfect.

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(This is the text version. See the photographed version.)

Footnotes

 


chpater 9

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Luther Burbank

 

 Quote
If a race has not acquired and stored among its hereditary tendencies sufficient perseverance and adaptability... it will be left behind and finally destroyed.   more...
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