Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/69

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
59
EDUCATION AS A SCIENCE.

ory; whence it has been transferred from the proper themes of poetry to very prosaic subjects by way of a mnemonic device. The subject matter of poetry comprises the stirring narrative, which is an enormous power in human life, and the earliest intellectual stimulus in education.

Play of the Ethical Emotion's.—The feelings called ethical, or moral, from their very meaning, are the support of all good and right conduct. The other emotions may be made to point to this end, but they may also work in the opposite direction.

When the educator describes these in more precise and equivalent phraseology, he generally singles out regard to pleasure and displeasure of parents and superiors, together with habits or dispositions toward obedience; all of which is the result of culture and growth.

Any primitive feelings conspiring toward good conduct must be of the nature of the sympathies or social yearnings; which are called into exercise in definite ways, well known to all students of human nature. By far the most powerful stimulus to acts of goodness toward others is good conduct on their side; whoever can resist this is a fit subject for the government of fear and nothing else. The law says, "Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you." The lower ground of practice is, "Do unto others as they do unto you." This is as far as the very young can reach in moral virtue.

It is too much to expect in early years generous and disinterested impulses, unreciprocated. The young have little to call their own; they have no means. Their fortune is their free, unrestrained vivacity, their elation, and their hopes. If they freely give up any part of this, it is in consideration of equivalent benefits. They are susceptible of being worked up to moments of self-renunciation, in which they may commit their future irrevocably, without knowing what they are about. But they cannot be counted on for daily, persistent self-restraint, willingly encountered, unless there be some seen reward, present or in the distance. It takes a good deal to bring any one even up to the point of fair and full reciprocity of services in all things.

The Feelings as appealed to in Discipline.—The survey that has now been made of the sensibilities of the human mind available as motives, prepares for the consideration of discipline in teaching. The instructor finds that, in school moments and for school purposes, he has to restrain all the unruly impulses and to overbear the sluggishness of the youthful nature. To succeed in this requirement, many arts are employed, corresponding to the wide compass of sensations and emotions that agitate the human breast.

The question how to maintain discipline among masses of human beings is of very wide application, and is therefore the subject of a great variety of experiments. In the wide field of moral control, it includes a principal function of government, namely, the repression of crime—a department that has lately received much attention. To collect the lights furnished in each of the spheres where moral control has