Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/26

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16
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

duced what will be rather one of their maturest than one of their earliest fruits, a truly liberal education-system.

The history of our errors in regard to liberal education is a very plain one. They are the legacy of the mother-country from which we came, a mother-country which is just beginning to correct her own errors, even by the light of our limited experience. I wish to point out and emphasize the fact that republicanism revolutionizes our very conception of liberal education. All forms of liberal education of the past, and preeminently the one we borrowed from England, were forms of exclusive class-education. The idea of caste was involved in their very conception, to such a degree that the phrase, the liberal education of the people, was a contradiction in terms. The antithesis was, popular versus liberal education. There was the illiberal or servile education of the masses, designed to. fit them for the humble station in which it had pleased Providence to place them, and to content them therewith; there was the liberal education of the exclusive learned professions, and the exclusive aristocratic class, which was liberal by virtue of its being the education of the rulers and not the ruled.[1] Now, republicanism, by converting the people into rulers, transfers to them the claim to a liberal education, which shall be universal. A transfer of the power alone, without a transfer of the privilege and the opportunity necessary to prepare for the exercise of it, cannot but be disastrous. If republicanism is to remain republicanism, and not degenerate into oligarchy or plutocracy, or end in anarchy, there must be one homogeneous education-system for all, and that one the highest attainable. The line of demarcation between liberal and illiberal must be obliterated, and what cannot be called liberal will be seen to be no education at all, but only a miserable counterfeit, by which privileged classes strive to perpetuate obsolete distinctions and indefensible abuses. For a republic, there can be but one system, and one set of schools; its education, begun on the lowest benches of its national primary schools, will one day be completed in the halls of its national universities. There will be no question as to the relative dignity of protected and unprotected professions, or callings, or classes, but all will

  1. "Religious teaching, from Episcopal charges down to the lessons of the Sunday-school, was, for a long time, as most of us can remember, in the habit of assuming that true religion was identified with government by the upper classes.... We may safely say that neither from Catholic nor from Protestant theology could we extract any formal witness in favor of the acquisition of political power by the humbler and more numerous classes. But the lower classes have not been content to stay in their places. Whatever the Church has taught, democracy has advanced irresistibly. Privilege after privilege has been wrenched out of the grasp of the favored classes, power has gradually descended, by the steps of the social stairs, until it has joined hands with the last class at the bottom. At the present time, it is a confessed fact, whether we like it or not, that the working-class, if it had peculiar interests, and were unanimously resolved to promote them, might dictate the policy of the empire," — (Rev. J. Llwellyn Davies, "Theology and Morality," pp. 10, 12.)