Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/130

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122
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
EDITOR'S TABLE.


PUBLIC EDUCATION AND PUBLIC OPINION.

THE editor of the Revue des Deux Mondes contributes to a recent number of that periodical an article entitled Education and Instruction, in which are some things with which we heartily agree and others from which we are compelled to dissent. The article as a whole, however, is of undoubted value, inasmuch as it sets forth the true theory of education, while what we regard as errors are in matters of detail. M. Brunetière remarks at the outset that formerly the ideas of education and of instruction were but little distinguished from each other. True, to instruct meant "to furnish," and to educate meant "to lead forth" or "develop" and so "to mold"; but it was always assumed that the furnishings provided for the mind would be of such a nature, and would be so imparted, as to promote development and favor true culture; and thus the words were to a great extent used interchangeably. In the present day we are compelled to separate their meanings, owing to the fact that, in our modern systems of so-called "education," while much effort is concentrated on fitting up the mind with an equipment of knowledge, the right direction of mental growth, and, above all, the right development of character, receive but little attention, and indeed are almost left out of sight. Our children are instructed in the schools of to-day; but, he maintains, they are not educated in the true sense. Personally, he expresses his regret that education was not allowed to remain a private matter; but seeing that it has passed into the hands of the state, we have simply to see what we can do to get the maximum of good out of the huge mechanism which the state has set up.

Now it might readily have been supposed by any one speculating before the event, that when state education became general it would at least have one strong point: it would aim at fitting the rising generation for social and political life; it would aim at overcoming or at least tempering in the interest of the community the natural selfishness of the individual. The error in this calculation would have lain in imagining that the state, as represented by individuals, has any consciousness of its own interests. The individuals in question have a consciousness of their own interests; the best among them have, in addition, some sense of public duty; but the state can not, through the officers and teachers it appoints, study and strive after its own interests as the individual studies and strives after his. Hence, in any system of public education, the claims of the state never get more than a partial and fitful recognition: the whole drift of the work done is in the direction of an intensified individualism, or, as M. Brunetière expresses it, "la culture intensive du Moi" — the intensive culture of the Ego. Referring to the statement made by Sir John Lubbock that the progress of education and that of morality kept pace in England, M. Brunetière exclaims: "Happy England! and most fortunate accident! for statistics have brought nothing similar to light in France or anywhere else, in Germany or in America. In these countries, on the contrary, we see that quite ignorant