Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

would be necessary for us to give up the latter, paradoxical as it may seem. The paradox, however, is only in seeming. The great soul of a Socrates may devote itself to the supreme ends of life unhindered by poor food, shabby clothing, and bare feet. But a reasonable supply of the material needs of life is indispensable in the case of the average man if he is to give any considerable attention to things spiritual. The apparent sacrifice, in the supposed case of the needs of the mind, would be for the sake of mind. It would be made in order that a foundation might be laid for the higher, nobler life.

In fact, however, there is no such conflict. The elementary school certainly renders material assistance in the earning of a livelihood. It enables those who have attended it to read, and thereby inform themselves in relation to matters of pecuniary interest to them. It teaches them writing and arithmetic. It empowers them to reason more logically and therefore so to modify tradition and custom as to bring their lives more and more into harmony with the truth of things.

Moral Causes of Poverty. — It is not in these ways, however, that the elementary school finds its best opportunity to help its pupils in a pecuniary way. The poorest people are not poor because of a lack of knowledge of the three R's. They are poor because they are lacking in self-respect, thrift, perseverance, and reliability. Their poverty is due to moral rather than to intellectual causes. The education that seeks to raise men in a purely material way must lay great emphasis on moral questions. It must develop the power to forego the pleasures of to-day for the sake of the good of tomorrow, Frugality, persevesançe, honesty, reliability, consideration for others, uprightness, are the qualities that count for most in the earning of a livelihood. The education that neglects to emphasize them for the sake of a purely intellectual training, because of the supposed necessity of the latter to the earning of a livelihood, is a cruel mistake, an almost criminal blunder. An employee who can be trusted is rarely without a position even though he is not above the average of his fellows in ability. But the bright, clever man whom you are afraid to leave alone, who is a tremendous worker when you are looking at him - who will employ him except as a last resort ?

Intellectual and Moral Training Compatible. — It is, however, entirely erroneous to suppose that there is any incompatibility between the intellectual training that bears on the earning of a livelihood and the more important moral training. There is no reason why, in teaching a boy to read, we should not make use of such selections as he needs in the interests of his moral nature. We may put into the hands of the beginner such thrilling stories as, This is a rat ; this is a cat : the cat will catch the rat.” But we may also put into his hands stories that he will care to read for their own sakes, stories that he should read if he had no body to provide for. We may indeed fill our arithmetics with problems having relation to nothing but money, as though the only use to be made of a knowledge of number is to make calculations about money. But we may also fill them with problems which tend to make more vivid in the mind of the child those truths upon which the health and soundness of his mental life depend. As we shall see in detail hereafter, it is precisely the latter method that tends most strongly to develop that desire for accuracy which is so essential for practical purposes in arithmetical calculations.

Give a boy a problem dealing with purely imaginary conditions, and it does not seem to him to matter whether he gets the correct result or not, provided he uses the right principle; give him a problem dealing with practical affairs, and he will have a desire to reach the correct conclusion, because it will represent not a hypothetical but an actual case.

No Conflict Between the Needs of the Citizen and of the Man. — Nor is there any conflict between the needs of the boy as a citizen and his needs as a human being. The same knowledge of his country's history which the American finds requisite as a citizen he also requires as a human being. We know what he must have as a man: it is that which will give him right ideals of life, that which will make him charitable and sympathetic, that which will enable him to see the tragedy and the comedy that lurk behind the deeds of commonplace men. These are precisely the things he must have as an American. We hear a good deal nowadays in depreciation of patriotism. Novelists like Hall Caine and moralists like Tolstoi vie with each other in teaching that patriotism is an obsolete virtue

if indeed it ever was a virtue— whose place ought to be taken by philanthropy. They might argue with just as much reason that philanthropy should take the place of parental affection. There are indeed fathers who commit crimes for the sake of their children, as there are citizens who say, “My country, may she be right; but right or wrong, my country." But as the best father is he who realizes that he is kindest to his children when he is most upright, so the truest patriot is he who loves his country so

devotedly as to feel a stain upon its honor as a personal matter. When John Quincy Adams said, No true-hearted American can read the account of our dealings with Mexico without blushing with shame for his country, he spoke not only as a philanthropist, but as a patriot. If, then, we may conclude that there is no conflict in the elementary school between the demands of a liberal education and those of an education for the sake of the body, that the best education is, as far as it goes, a liberal education, we may inquire what elements of a liberal education the elementary school ought to give.

A Liberal Education and the Elementary School. – A liberal education, as we should define it, is one that keeps in constant view those ends about which so much has already been said — thought, the appreciation of beauty, loyalty to duty, affection, sympathy, etc. Can the liberal education of the elementary school intelligently have all these things in view ? As to all of them except the first there can be no possible question. That a very young child can be made to see beauty, that he can be touched with a sense of duty, that he can be made to feel the joys of sympathy and affection, is beyond doubt. And there is just as little doubt as to the first. Aristotle indeed declared that children, like slaves, are incapable of the exercise of reason. Of the reasonings of the full-grown philosopher of course they are. But of such an exercise of reason as leads to wonder they certainly are not. The stupendous acquisitions of the child during the first three years of his life — acquisitions which surpass in amount, so some assert, those that are made in any three subsequent

- are due to the extraordinary activity of his mind.

years

It would be hard to draw the line between that feeling of wonder that fills the mind of the child as he apprehends day by day some new phase of the mystery of the world, and that sense of awe that filled the mind of Kant as he contemplated the starry heavens. If the full blown flower has the supreme fragrance and sweetness which Aristotle attributed to it, surely the young plant just putting forth its tender leaves deserves to be treated with the utmost

care.

We may then sum up our conclusions as follows: Elementary education, in all its phases, should have constantly in view those things that make life worth living. But it should seek to attain them by teaching the pupil those arts and having him study those subjects which he will need as a bread-earner and a citizen.

QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT.

1. Why does Booker Washington advocate industrial education for the negro?

2. Why is poverty often due to moral causes ?

3. Show that the intellectual training which bears on the earning of a livelihood is compatible with moral training.

4. Show that there is no conflict between the needs of the citizen and the man.

5. Reply to Hall Caine's argument against patriotism. 6. What is a liberal education ?

7. In what sense may the elementary school give a liberal education?

SUGGESTIVE QUESTIONS.

1. Because poverty is due to moral causes, are we justified in teaching that a dishonest man cannot get rich ?

2. In what sense is it true that honesty is the best policy? 3. Who is the true patriot, the man who always defends his coun

« AnteriorContinuar »