Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/93

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89
THE SCHOOL AND THE FAMILY

tenement districts gives a fairly large birth rate and a high infant death rate, but every advance in temperance and thrift decreases the birth rate.

It has been said that we must look to the country for men and to the city for ideas. But the trouble is that the city takes from the country its men and supplies it with ideas and ideals which are unfit. If paternalistic legislation and philanthropic efforts are of any use, they should be directed to the support of the family farm and the country home. A measure such as the protective tariff which builds up the manufacturing center and the city at the cost of the country should be regarded as intolerable. Measures such as agricultural experiment stations, the rural postal delivery and postal express should be welcomed. We need most of all to make life in the country attractive and fine, to lessen routine and incessant labor, to make each church and school a center for the social, intellectual and artistic life of a community.

The country school is at present no such place. Its general tendency is not to prepare children for usefulness and happiness in country life, but rather to make them inefficient and uncomfortable there and to send those who are more clever and ambitious away to the city. And the school shares with the city the bad preeminence of being one of the principal causes now working to break up the family.

It has been noted above that in so far as the school gives children interests not centered in the home, the family is inevitably weakened. This may be necessary in the interests of wider socialization, but in its methods and results the school contrasts unfavorably with the church, especially with the unreformed churches and the Hebrew synagogue. The sacraments of the church—baptism, confirmation, marriage, burial—are closely interwoven with family life; its services, ceremonies, fasts and fetes are shared together by parents and children. In spite of inconsistencies in creed and in practise, the religious institutions both of the west and east tend by their observances and by their non-rational sanctions strongly to support the family. The school supersedes the church as a socializing factor to the injury of the family. In so far as this result is due to the methods by which the schools are conducted and the kind of instruction given, every effort should be used to find remedies or palliatives. In so far as it is due to the partial rationalization that follows, we are face to face with a difficult problem.

It may be thought that people are not likely to become too reasonable; nevertheless perhaps the principal danger to our civilization is the checking of instincts by rationalistic considerations. The instincts for mating, for forming a home and for the care of the young are prehuman and very strong. But like other instincts, they are only com-