Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/463

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449
NATIONAL NECESSITIES AND EDUCATION.

other branch of practical education which forms the greater part, in practice, of the future of the womanly life. We consider that evidence in proof of this belief has already been offered, and we suggest that a girl trained in the manner now described would, in this country, or in any other country into which she might emigrate, be far better fitted for the duties pertaining to any station she might hold, than if she were simply dismissed from school primed with the standards, and standardless.

Life-learning Tendencies.—We contend, secondly, that the education of the young of all classes, and of the poorest classes chiefly, should be so framed as to lead to the inducement of making the acquisition of knowledge a taste instead of a task, a pursuit instead of a labor. We contend that if the present system is pursued—in which children who are not by heredity born to mental occupation, and who are not physically privileged to acquire information, are, by sheer force, driven through the hard and fast lines, fenced out by the books called standards, at a pace that shall make them complete their education irrespectively of temperament, health, ability, before their thirteenth or fourteenth year—the pressure, amounting in every case to a hardship, will merely have the effect of causing them to cease to learn when the pressure is taken off. We insist upon this, that the system shall be so modified that there shall be no mental pressure at all, but a mixture of mental and physical teaching which shall bring the mind into desire for knowledge after it is freed from the necessities to acquire it.

Aptitude for Productive Ability.—A third advancement upon which we lay great stress is, that the educational system shall be of a kind that shall render the body of fitting aptitude for productive ability. We argue that, unless discrimination is used by the teacher for detecting the natural or hereditary capabilities of the scholar, there must be failure in result of the most serious kind; failure that will tell upon all the productive industries of the country, so that agriculture, the various industrial arts, the various labors which call for muscular skill, activity, and endurance, will be sacrificed, or largely reduced in effective value. In insisting on this practice of developing productive ability, we are sustained by the belief that nothing could be lost by the effort in the way of actual education. We are of opinion that the time saved by the adoption of varying conditions of school-work would prevent the injuries now incident to the fixed rules under which the educational system is enforced, and in this view we are supported by the opinions of the most practical teachers.

We maintain that courses of physical training such as we wish to introduce would have a distinct formative effect in mental habits. This is especially seen in the industrial and reformatory institutions where the same principles of mixed physical and mental training have been adopted as prevail in the district half-time schools. A draft