Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/376

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

own, but the negro who has passed through this state to the freedom of American citizenship is, as it were, a man without ancestral history. Instead of cherishing his past and trying to impress its memories and ideals upon his children, he seeks rather to destroy them. He reacts against his past and inhibits it. On the other hand, he has not yet become sufficiently possessed of our civilization to impart its mother-lore to his children. The absence of social restraints, either in the form of crude superstitions or of complex sentiments and ideals, explains perhaps the frequent outbursts of ferocious passions on the part of negroes; the same condition insures also a primitive state of Nature in their children. Scientific research affords proof of the fundamental unity of mind, but it gives no less decisive proof of differences due to ancestry and training. The negro child is psychologically different from the white child. In automatic power he is superior, but in the power of abstraction, of judgment, and analysis he is decidedly inferior. This fact must be recognized in the school training. In purpose and in liberal provision the education of the negro should be the same as that of white children. In detail and method it should be adjusted to the racial plane on which he stands.

But to return to Isaiah. Vacation having ended, he was sent back to school to resume the rehearsal of lessons that conveyed no meaning to his mind. Fortunately, he made a venture for himself and secured the drummer's place in a band; this occupied all his spare time and afforded an outlet for his automatism, with a pecuniary advantage besides. At the end of the year my persuasions added to his strong personal desire prevailed, and he was allowed to quit vain repetitions and go to work. His place in the industrial world is a humble one, for, in spite of the fact that his parents have been willing to give him much more than the average time at school, he has not been raised above the rank of unskilled laborers. This it seems to me is unpardonable. A youth in whom perception, memory, and simple judgment are active might, I am confident, in ten years have been raised a little higher in the scale of independent being. If he had been at Hampton or Tuskegee, the result would have been different, for in these he would have been educated through experiences, social and industrial. In the public schools within his reach he must drill over the elements, to the arrest of development, or go forward to abstract thought of which his mind was incapable. I have dwelt upon a particular case because it is a psychological type. It confirms what the laboratory indicates—namely, if races are to be developed by formal education, its processes must be conformed to their conditions, not vice versa.