Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/346

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342
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

tions sharply divided into grinds and drones; we have our professions filled with men who can do much within the little cell of their speciality, but who are wholly ineffectual in the great world of human interests; we have a rich and powerful civilization that is breeding pitifully few great leaders of human thought.

There are only two kinds of simon-pure specialists allowable: the genius who has such a volume of treasure to bestow that every minute of his life should be devoted to dispensing it; and the man who is given the power of concentrated digging and who is vouchsafed no other ability. The latter will grub out the absolutely essential minutiae without which learning can not advance. The former will call down from heaven those divine fires which are to keep civilization aflame. The number of these specialists, however, is, in comparison with the university population, infinitesimal; and the great mass of educated men need, not concentration, but expansion, an intellectual highway, not a groove. Of course, every man who hopes to amount to anything must specialize in some degree. He must have a vocation and must strive towards the highest achievement in that specialty. But he must have, in addition, avocations to broaden and harmonize and sweeten him; and even his vocation must be founded upon such a knowledge of men and of life that — at least before his fortieth year — he could take up any other vocation and succeed in that.

We specialize our grammar-school children in bank discount and leave them to life-long ignorance of what mathematics really means. We specialize our high-school youth in battles and sieges and permit them to remain ignorant of the great historic development, through industry and commerce, of mankind. We specialize our college youth in haphazard electives, each taught by a specialist and most of them unrelated to all the others, and turn that youth out of college a veritable ignoramus in regard to himself and to those other selves with whom his whole subsequent life will be concerned. We send out from our schools of applied science many a man competent to put up a bridge, but not competent to put up a good front among his equals, wise in the handling of formulæ, but ignorant in the handling of men, full of little knacks and methods of calculation, but empty of that tact and that intellectual skill which are absolutely essential to professional success.

The college teaching of literature, for example, is being dried and mummified by specialists until the study of human thought has become a sort of subterranean, philological treadmill, with never a glimpse into the wide, high, lasting things to which literature should lead. College philosophy is, as a rule, but a comparative anatomy of dead and gone systems, never, as it should be, an inspiration to wisdom, leading to the love of and search for truth. And how seldom is the