Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/12

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

rising generation, to act the part and perform the duties of free, intellectual, and moral beings. So far as the nature of the human mind and the foundations of human knowledge remain the same from age to age and generation to generation, a liberal education is the same thing in every age and generation ; so far as the condition of society varies from age to age, and as the accumulated capital of extant knowledge increases, the liberal education of one generation will differ from that of another. There are, therefore, both constant and variable factors in our problem. It is with the variable factors, as modifying our conception of the liberal education of the nineteenth century, that I have here chiefly to do.

I reckon five leading influences which are acting powerfully to modify all our old theories, and slowly working out a new ideal of liberal education : 1. A truer psychology, giving us for the first time a true theory of elementary teaching. 2. Progress in the science of philology, enabling us to assign their right position to the classical languages as elements in liberal culture, and giving us, in modern philological science, an improved and more powerful teaching instrument. 3. The first real attempt to combine republican ideas with the theory of liberal education—in other words, to make the education of the whole people liberal, instead of merely the education of certain privileged classes and protected professions. And when I say the whole people, I mean men and women. Nothing, I will say in passing, to my mind so marks us as still educational barbarians, so stamps all our boasted culture with illiberality, as an exclusion of the other sex from all share in its privileges. No education can be truly liberal which is not equally applicable to one sex as to the other. 4. As the influence more profoundly modifying our conceptions of liberal education than any other, I reckon the advent of modern physical science. 5. I count among those influences the growing perception that art and aesthetic culture are equally necessary as an element in all education worthy of the name. Let me give the few words, which are all the time will allow me, to each of these influences.

And, first, the advance we have been making toward a truer education-philosophy, based upon truer conceptions in regard to the growth and early development of the human mind, is pretty well disposing of what, perhaps, I may be permitted to call the old-fashioned grindstone-theory of elementary education ; the doctrine, namely, that, as preparation for higher culture, all youthful minds require a certain preliminary process of sharpening upon certain studies, valueless or next to valueless in themselves, at least so far as regards the vast majority of their recipients, but quite as needful, nevertheless, to them as to all others who are hereafter to be considered as liberally educated, for the indirect benefit their pursuit was supposed to confer. The accepted theory of liberal education has heretofore been, that it was a certain very special kind of training which required this peculiar pre-