Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/67

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57
EDUCATION AS A SCIENCE.

erer, and has to receive a great deal with mere passive acquiescence, before venturing to suggest any improvements. Unreasoning blind faith is indispensable in beginning any art or science; the pupil has to lay up a stock of notions before having any materials for discovery or origination. There is a right moment for relaxing this attitude, and assuming the exercise of independence; but it has scarcely arrived while the schoolmaster is still at work. Even in the higher walks of university teaching, independence is premature, unless in some exceptional minds, and the attempt to proceed upon it, and to invite the free criticism of pupils, does not appear ever to have been very fruitful.[1]

Play of the Emotions op Fine Art.—This is necessarily a wide subject, but for our purpose a few select points will be enough. The proper and principal end of art is enjoyment; now, whatever is able to contribute on the great scale to our pleasure, is a power over all that we do. The bearings on education are to be seen.

The art-emotions are seldom looked upon as a mere source of enjoyment. They are apt to be regarded in preference as a moral power, and an aid to education at every point. Nevertheless, we should commence with recognizing in them a means of pleasure as such, a pure hedonic factor, in which capacity they are a final end. Their function in intellectual education is the function of all pleasure when not too great, namely, to cheer, refresh, and encourage us in our work.

There are certain general effects of art that come in well at the very beginning. Such are symmetry, order, rhythm, and simple design and proportion; which are the adjuncts of the school, just as they should be the adjuncts of home-life. Proportion, simple design, a certain amount of color, are the suitable elements of the school interior; to which are added tidiness, neatness, and arrangement, among the pupils themselves; only this must not be worrying and oppressive.

In the exercise suited to infants, time and rhythm are largely employed.

Of all the fine arts, the most available, universal, and influential, is music. This is perhaps the most unexceptionable as well as the cheapest of human pleasures. It has been seized upon with avidity by the human

  1. It would lead us too far, although it might not be uninstructive, to reflect upon the evil side of this fondness for giving a new and self-suggested cast to all received knowledge. It introduces change for the mere sake of change, and never lets well alone. It multiplies variations of form and phraseology for expressing the same facts, and so renders all subjects more perplexed than they need be; not to speak of controverting what is established, because it is established, and allowing nothing ever to settle. Owing to a dread of the feverish love of change, certain works that have accidentally received an ascendency, such as the "Elements" of Euclid, are retained notwithstanding their imperfections. The acquiescent multitude of minds regard this as a less evil than letting loose the men of action and revolution to vie with each other in distracting alterations, while there is no judicial power to hold the balance. It is a received maxim in the tactics of legislation that no scheme, however well matured, can pass a popular body without amendment; it is not in collective human nature to accept anything simpliciter, without having a finger in the pie.