Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/42

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32
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

vidual differences. Only in this way will the child come to view the commands and prohibitions of his parent or his teacher as representing and expressing a permanent and unalterable moral law, which is perfectly impartial in its approvals and disapprovals.

The effect of any system of discipline in educating and strengthening the moral feelings and judgment will depend on the spirit and temper in which it is enforced. On the one hand, a measure of calm becomes the judicial function, and a parent or teacher carried away by violent feeling is unfit for moral control. Hence everything like petty personal feeling, as vindictiveness, triumph, and so forth, should be rigorously excluded.

On the other hand, the moral educator must not, in administering discipline, appear as a cold, impersonal abstraction. He must represent the august and rigorously impartial moral law, but in representing it he must prove himself a living personality capable of being deeply pained at the sight of wrong-doing. By so doing he may foster the love of right by enlisting on his side the child's warmer feelings of love and respect for a concrete personality. The child should first be led to feel how base it is to lie, and how cowardly to injure a weak and helpless creature, by witnessing the distress it causes his beloved parent or teacher. In like manner he should be led on to feel the nobility of generosity and self-sacrifice by witnessing the delight which it brings his moral teacher.

It is hardly necessary to add, perhaps, that this infusion of morality with a warm sympathetic reflection of the educator's feelings presupposes the action of that moral atmosphere which surrounds a good personality. The child only fully realizes the repugnance of a lie to his parent or teacher when he comes to regard him as himself a perfect embodiment of truth. The moral educator must appear as the consistent respecter of the moral law in all his actions.

The training of the moral faculty in a self-reliant mode of feeling and judging includes the habitual exercise of the sympathetic feelings, together with the powers of judgment. And here much may be done by the educator in directing the child's attention to the effects of his conduct. The injurious consequences of wrong-doing and the beneficent results of right-doing ought to be made clear to the child, and his feelings enlisted against the one and on the side of the other. Not only so, his mind should be exercised in comparing actions so as to discover the common grounds and principles of right and wrong, and also in distinguishing between like actions under different circumstances, so that he may become rational and discriminative in pronouncing moral judgment.

What is called moral instruction should in the first stages of education consist largely of presenting to the child's mind examples of duty and virtue, with a view to call forth his moral feelings as well as to exercise his moral judgment. His own little sphere of observation