Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/310

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have been taught how to work, how to concentrate themselves upon a task, how to get pleasure from the mere act of doing thoroughly and well. It would be a race of studious and inventive workmen, of progressive business men and of enlightened citizens; for they would have tasted the delight which comes with the use of the acquisitive faculties, with nimbleness of wit, ingenuity of thought and adaptation of means to ends. It would be a race of self-reliant and self-respecting artisans, traders and individuals; for they would have been shown the enormous significance of the ego, who makes his own career and who, if he will, can make that career of tremendous importance to his day and generation.

Such a diminution in the size of classes, such an insistence upon supreme fitness in the teacher, will add incalculably to the cost of public education, through doubling the number of teachers and through doubling or trebling their pay; for present salaries will not warrant such a professional training as the new education demands. From the industrial standpoint alone, however, this added expenditure would pay vast dividends. There is frightful waste of power in the burning of coal to run a locomotive; but it is as nothing to the waste in the industrial world in the attempted utilization of human power. Illhealth, low physical force, untimely death, intemperance, vice, crime, manual inefficiency, stupidity, lack of interest, shirking—all these and many other human failings continually clog and stop the industrial machine, so that it would scarcely be an exaggeration to place the effective power of the millions engaged in gainful occupations at one tenth of what it should be. If by proper schooling this efficiency could be doubled—and it is reasonable to say that it could be much more than doubled—how infinitely would such a gain outweigh the added cost of a rational public education.

No startling changes are necessary in the free school system. Its general plan is admirably suited to American conditions. It needs but to be altered in this detail and in that, in the expansion of this principle and in the suppression of that practise. We must, however, do away with the curse of uniformity, allowing, instead, full play to individuality; we must, furthermore, fit the means and methods of the school to the real needs of the future worker and citizen; and we must, in addition, make the profession of teaching self-respecting by releasing it from its present bondage to amateurs, to well-intentioned but inexpert school boards who are jauntily settling pedagogical problems that appall trained experts. The teachers, if they are to teach from themselves instead of from prescribed text-books, must have a larger share in the control and development of schools and must be so trained and stimulated as to be fit to assume that larger share. Not elaborate buildings, or reformed courses of study, or wiser supervision will, of