Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/391

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has already committed to our hands is a question. Is not the problem worthy the consideration of all citizens and legislators, and does it not open to us a field where by practical activity we may again show before the world our practical sense and wisdom?



THE fact that there is great social discontent throughout the entire western world requires no demonstration. The forms in which it manifests itself are numerous. In the various phases of socialism, and in nihilism, it permeates every department of European life. In the rural portions of our country the same spirit of discontent, though in a much milder form, manifests itself in the Farmers' Alliance and in the Populist movement. In our cities and towns it appears in labor organizations and in socialistic societies.

The adjustment of the parts of our social organism is certainly not harmonious. Collisions between classes whose interests are opposed have at times paralyzed domestic commerce, have involved the comforts of the nation, and have reminded thoughtful men and women of conditions preceding revolution. Not infrequently State militia, and even the United States troops, have been called out to protect life and property and to quell riots.

It is important that educators should inquire whether the schools are in any degree responsible for this unfortunate condition of affairs. We are compelled to acknowledge that we think they are, though not in a blameworthy sense, for the forces of no other agency have been guided with purer motives; hence there is no place for condemnation. The relation of the schools to society, however, is so intimate, and their influences are so potent in their formative effects, that it would be folly to claim that they are entirely free from responsibility in this grave matter; since, even if they have not contributed directly and purposely to it, they have not studied to prevent it. They have cultivated, unintentionally of course, those characteristics of the race which have produced it, and have failed to cultivate, except incidentally, those better characteristics which must correct it.

Throughout the whole course of the development of our public schools, their relation to the child as an individual, with personal ends in life to be attained, has always been a prominent feature and a determining factor; while their relation to the child as a member of society has never been sufficiently emphasized. The