Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/418

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

type; and we protest against the assigning of Government positions by competition—a system which sets an evil example throughout the country and which does not insure the choice of the most fit. That the Government should require a high class of knowledge and attainment from those seeking for its appointments is reasonable; but the difficulties which attend the selection of candidates should not be allowed to bring upon us in wholesale fashion (though indirectly) the great evils which result from competitive examinations. It is urged—and the whole matter deserves serious consideration—that it would be better that some system should be sought out under which, for example, those who wished to enter the civil service, and who reached a certain standard of excellence required by the commissioners, should be practically tested in such way and for such period as could be conveniently arranged; that the most fitting should then be selected on public grounds by the permanent heads of departments. It is urged that some such a course—and others are to be suggested—should be preferred to the excessive and hurtful stimulus of special training for the one purpose of defeating in a great educational contest other candidates, also specially trained for the same purpose, and to the consequent encouragement of competitive examination throughout the whole country by the force of Government example. Here also we desire to express no opinion of any kind upon the suggestion given, but simply to point out how important it is that those who are most qualified should turn their attention to this subject with the view of discovering the best way of avoiding both the evils that belonged to the past and those that belong to the present.

We have only to add that what we have said as regards the education of young men and boys necessarily applies with increased force to young women and girls. It is deeply to be regretted that their education is becoming simply a stale repetition of the mistakes made in the case of men. In their instance it is to be expected that the injuries to health and bodily vigor will be even greater; while the delicate perceptive powers, which they possess in larger measure than men, are likely to suffer irreparable injury. We can only hope that with the abolition of the class and prize system there will grow up a much more delicate appreciation than exists at present of the subtle influences, both for good and for evil, of education; and that the easy credulity with which this generation has placed "book learning" before a careful training of the senses and higher faculties may slowly give way to truer views.

We ought to add that we sign this paper in general agreement with the principles expressed in it, and not as individually expressing entire adhesion to all details.—Nineteenth Century.