Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/347

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343
SPECIALIST BLIGHT ON AMERICAN EDUCATION

teaching of science a real search into fundamental principles and an exposition of all-embracing truths! "Facts," said Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, "facts alone are wanted in life"; and facts — the more minute the better — are the goal and joy of the specialist. But man is not an examinable fact; he is a veritable kaleidoscope of elusive impulses, impressions, ideals, fictions; and it is with man that the whole life of the educated man is to be lived.

In our schools and colleges (and especially in our professional schools), we need to get back to the humanities — not to the humanities of Greece and Rome as expounded in Oxford and diluted in America; but to the humanities of the twentieth century. For the study of the real humanities implies a working-knowledge of humankind, of men. We have been so overwhelmed with facts and discoveries and theories and inventions and names and classifications, that we are forgetting that the main fact in life is you and I. We have been so busy stuffing our children and our students with these facts that these classifications, that we are forgetting that the main things which they, as men, must know are men. Therefore give a boy, give a student all the facts and all the practise that he can get in school and college, provided you do not fail to give him, at the same time, a broad outlook upon history, upon literature, upon human experience and human life. Whether he is to start in a store, in an office or as a "drummer"; whether he is to be a minister, a lawyer, an engineer or a doctor, his success in life depends enormously upon his ability to get on with and to handle men. He can not have that success unless he is broad, catholic, tolerant, tactful and philosophical; and he can not be those things unless he has been trained, not as a specialist, but as a man. By success is not meant, of course, mere financial and professional success — though in nine cases out of ten those are most likely to be achieved by the broadest man — but that highest success which comes through the widest social usefulness, through the consciousness that one has got out of life that which has made the pains of living really worth while.

It may be an exaggeration to say that American scholarship is in a deplorable condition; but every American must acknowledge that we do not produce our due proportion of great men. There are, of course, many excuses which may properly be offered; but one of the fundamental reasons is that we permit our promising youth to specialize too soon. Consequently their scholarship, to paraphrase Bacon, is that of boys, who can talk but who can not generate. To produce men with the loins from which will spring great contributions to human thought and action we must gradually make over our whole system of elementary education so that youth, instead of being put through vast machines for imparting facts, shall be put into small classes under intellectually strong women, and especially under intellectually and morally strong