Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

8. What is the bearing of this fact on education ?

9. Why may a child's associates exert a greater influence on his life than the school?

SUGGESTIVE QUESTIONS. 1. What is meant by the spoils system, and in whose administration did it originate?

2. What makes possible its continuance?

3. How does the story of Alcibiades illustrate the influence of imitation ?

4. How was it that such a man as he could be so deeply affected by the teaching of Socrates ?

5. Show that ideals are not produced by argument.

6. What sort of imitation exerts the greater influence during the period of maturity, and in what way?

CHAPTER XIII.

HOW THE CHILD'S CAPITAL IS TO BE INVESTED :

MANUAL TRAINING.

Curiosity. — In the preceding chapters some of the more important of the child's impulses were considered. Among those enumerated were curiosity and the constructive impulse. As to the former of these no discussion is necessary, at least as far as the general principle is concerned. All are agreed that in the first years of his school life we must bring the child face to face with nature and man because, among other reasons, he has a desire to learn about them. No such agreement as to the use to be made of his constructive impulse exists. Judging by the practice of American schools, we are justified in concluding that the general opinion is that this impulse is to be ignored. The child, the very embodiment and personification of action, the closest approximation to a perpetual-motion machine the world has ever known, is to be treated as though his one supreme desire is to sit still and learn!

The Constructive Impulse. — How fundamentally, fatally wrong this is we shall begin to see if we but recall the methods by which the child has acquired the attainments he possesses when he begins his school life. When he was a baby in his mother's arms he began, as we may say, to make a study of his surroundings. In the nature of the case he had to proceed without help: no one could assist him until he had gained some knowledge of the meanings of words and gestures. When his rudimentary knowledge of language made it possible for others to aid him by telling him something of the names and properties of things, the process of learning about things for himself went on unremittingly. We know how the child gained this knowledge: it was not by passive observation, but through the practical manipulation of things. The child's play, as we have seen, is largely the gratification of his constructive impulses. It is this play, this incessant handling of things, this "setting up and knocking down, this putting together and pulling apart,” by which he has been learning about the world before he goes to school. Shall the school be wiser than nature ? Shall it neglect an impulse which under the tuition of nature enabled the child to make such rapid advances ? Shall the investigation and manipulation of objects cease when his school life begins ? Shall no use be made of his hands except to hold a book and a pencil ? This is of course equivalent to asking whether manual training shall have a place in the school, and that from the very start. If the analysis already made is correct, there can be no doubt about the answer. No one calls in question the value of object-teaching. Objectteaching is a continuation in the school of the same observational processes so active in the mind of the child before going to school. It aims to extend the same kind of knowledge that was acquired through observation out of school, and to make that already acquired more accurate and definite. On precisely similar grounds it is clear that the activity of the hands ought to go on, that the processes through which the child has already gained an intimate and vivid sense of reality should continue until,

tion."

perhaps, they culminate in the laboratory of the high school and the college. Professor James truly says that one not taught by these methods, one “ brought up exclusively by books, carries through life a certain remoteness from reality; he stands, as it were, out of the pale, and feels that he stands so; and often suffers a kind of melancholy from which he might have been rescued by a more real educa

True as this is – and many a bookishly educated man wonders how Professor James was able to describe this experience so accurately – it is but an approximation to the whole truth. The man who has been trained by exclusively bookish methods is cut off from a large and significant part of the life of his fellows. He is like a man without an ear for music trying to listen to one of Beethoven's symphonies. As such a man hears only noise, as he perceives no harmony or melody, so the booklearned man stands outside the industrial life of the world. He hears descriptions of wireless telegraphy and typesetting machines, but he does not understand them. He has not the basal concepts which this comprehension requires and presupposes.

Manual Training and Respect for Work.- Moreover, manual training tends to cultivate a respect for work. It has already been insisted on in these pages that it is the function of education to produce a certain effect on the emotions ; that he who puts a false estimate on things lacks the essential quality of an educated man. It would be easy to show that havoc and confusion in life are wrought by these false estimates, and in no way, perhaps, more disastrously than in making men feel that certain kinds of work which society requires for its well-being are not respectable. It is interesting to note how the ideals that ought to be peculiar to aristocracies linger on in democracies. Clearly a democracy ought to hold that whoever is worthily doing work which the world needs to have done is an honorable man. Democracy- the creed that asserts that in an ideal society each man will do the work in which he can render the most effective service both to himself and the community — ought surely to hold that any work that supplies a real need is honorable. A democracy conscious of its nature and its ideals would surely hold higher in the scale of worth any necessary work than white-handed idleness, however refined it may suppose itself to be. Strange that after all the centuries since Plato wrote his Republic and Aristotle his Politics the world should still need to be told that the honorable life is a life of labor !

This false notion as to labor, and especially as to the comparatively unrespectable character of manual labor, is a powerful obstacle to the realization of the ideals of democracy. It crowds the professions with men who ought to be manual laborers. “ Mamma's darling must never be a blacksmith' as though a first-rate blacksmith were not a more respectable man than a second-rate lawyer! It robs manual laborers of the consideration to which they are entitled. It tends to create and perpetuate those artificial class distinctions, those barriers between man and man, which it is the purpose of democracy to break down.

Now a manual-training course, taught by those who profoundly feel the dignity of all true labor, would surely tend to the formation of a genuinely democratic public opinion. Apart from the influence of the teacher, such a course naturally conduces to that end. The boy in whom the intellectual interest predominates, working side by side

« AnteriorContinuar »