Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/520

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



old academic training, with all its defects, in the hands of earnest, cultured men and women, to the most elaborate carrying tout of the newer methods in the hands of those who do not see the end and purpose.

Mistakes bear a certain family likeness. The most tangible element in the older education was knowledge. Teachers were selected for their knowledge alone, and education was defeated. The most tangible element in the newer education is dexterity and its product, the finished exercise. But this is likewise the product of our industrial operations. Externally the school and the factory resemble each other. Both make things. But the difference is this, and it is a great one: The school concentrates its effort upon the making, and has regard only to the little workman; the factory values only the thing made, and is indifferent to its effect upon the worker. What a sad travesty when the modern school loses sight of this immense difference! The effort to turn children into artisans, and to do it in the name of education, is quite as unfortunate as the more ancient effort to turn them into encyclopædias. From the very circumstances of the time, it is far easier to establish one of these factory schools than it is to establish a true school. For, observe the teaching material that is available. It is difficult to find men and women of broad culture who can also use their hands. It is very easy to find artisans who are willing to exchange the smaller pay and longer hours of the shop for the pleasanter work of the schoolroom. They believe very sincerely that the only qualification is the ability to turn out good work. I admire their dexterity, I respect their earnestness, but I say to them and I say to you that this is not enough. The artisan habit of thought does not make for the unfolding and perfecting of the human spirit. By the very conditions of his life, the artisan is a man of limited experience, and consequently of narrow views. He is not the sort of man qualified to educate our children. His thought is directed solely toward the product. His skill is in the handling of dead material. What we want is something different from this; it is a man whose thought is on the process, whose cunning is in the handling of the living material, the tissue of childhood.

I have had a distinct purpose in mind in writing this article, I shall have satisfied it if I have gained the reader's assent to three propositions:

1. That the object of modern education is fullness and integrity of living; is the most complete unfolding and perfecting of the human spirit; is the development of the more evolved out of the less involved self.
3. That the method by which this object is to be attained must be psychological. Its foundations must be laid deep in the