Page:Democracy and Education.djvu/171

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Philosophy of Education

tion, to compel obedience, to mortify the flesh, to make a subordinate perform an uncongenial task—these things are or are not disciplinary according as they do or do not tend to the development of power to recognize what one is about and to persistence in accomplishment.

It is hardly necessary to press the point that interest and discipline are connected, not opposed. (i) Even the more purely intellectual phase of trained power—apprehension of what one is doing as exhibited in consequences—is not possible without interest. Deliberation will be perfunctory and superficial where there is no interest. Parents and teachers often complain—and correctly—that children "do not want to hear, or want to understand." Their minds are not upon the subject precisely because it does not touch them; it does not enter into their concerns. This is a state of things that needs to be remedied, but the remedy is not in the use of methods which increase indifference and aversion. Even punishing a child for inattention is one way of trying to make him realize that the matter is not a thing of complete unconcern; it is one way of arousing "interest," or bringing about a sense of connection. In the long run, its value is measured by whether it supplies a mere physical excitation to act in the way desired by the adult or whether it leads the child "to think"—that is, to reflect upon his acts and impregnate them with aims. (ii) That interest is requisite for executive persistence is even more obvious. Employers do not advertise for workmen who are not interested in what they are doing. If one were engaging a lawyer or a doctor, it would never occur to one to reason that the person engaged would stick to his work more conscientiously if it was so uncongenial to him that he did it merely from a sense of obligation. Interest measures—or rather is—the depth of the grip which the foreseen end has upon one in moving one to act for its realization.

2. The Importance of the Idea of Interest in Education.—Interest represents the moving force of objects—whether