Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/378

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


I AM peculiarly pleased to have the chance of addressing this association, for in all this democratic land there is no more genuinely democratic association than this. It is truly democratic, because here each member meets every other member as his peer without regard to whether he is the president of one of the great universities or the newest recruit to that high and honorable profession which has in its charge the upbringing and training of those boys and girls who in a few short years will themselves be settling the destinies of this nation.

It is not too much to say that the most characteristic work of the republic is that done by the educators, by the teachers, for whatever our shortcomings as a nation may be—and we have certain shortcomings—we have at least firmly grasped the fact that we can not do our part in the difficult and all-important work of self-government, that we can not rule and govern ourselves unless we approach the task with developed minds, and with what counts for more even—with trained characters. You teachers make the whole world your debtors.

Of your profession this can be said with more truth than of any other profession, barring only that of the minister of the Gospel himself. If you—you teachers—did not do your work well this republic would not endure beyond the span of the generation.

Moreover, as an incident to your avowed work, you render some well-nigh unbelievable services to the country. For instance, you render to the republic the prime, the vital service of amalgamating into one homogeneous body the children alike of those who are born here and of those who come here from so many different lands lands abroad. You furnish a common training and common ideals for the children of all the mixed peoples who are being fused into one nationality. It is in no small degree due to you and to your efforts that we of this great American republic form one people instead of a group of jarring peoples. The pupils, no matter where they or their parents were born, who are being educated in our public schools will be sure to become imbued with that mutual sympathy, that mutual respect and understanding, which is absolutely indispensable for the working out of the problems we as people have before us.

And one service you render which I regard as wholly indispensable. In our country, where altogether too much prominence is given to the mere possession of wealth, we are under heavy obligations to such a body