Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/98

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who had been the playmate of his childhood, in tilling the earth of his garden and in teaching the country children. One of the great novels of the greatest living master of letters tells how the heroine failed to find her hero in the warlord, but found him in the schoolmaster, when together among the hills they taught their boys the ways of truth and honor.

Is there indeed in all the wide world a better place than a home in the country where parents and children are doing what they can for themselves and for the neighborhood? The clergyman and the physician are, by the character of their professions, half missionary and half charlatan; in the lawyer and the journalist the missionary element is decidedly less. But there might be in this broad land of ours five hundred thousand men, as many women, twice as many children, all leading lives wholly useful and noble, as teachers in their communities. The money is there; the men and women are not lacking; the children need not be; it is only the spirit and the will that fail.

Can one not fancy a school in the country, the house a model of simple beauty, built and adorned from year to year by those whose use it serves? It would be adjacent to or perhaps a part of the home of the teachers, surrounded by gardens, orchards and barns. The house would be fitted out as a club, with books, pictures and music continually renewed. Its furniture, its lighting, its ventilation, its heating, its water-supply and baths, its workshop, its kitchen and laboratory, all would offer a standard for the neighborhood. In this house the children would gather, and so far as might be the older folks, for some two hours a day. The master and the mistress and their older children, with the help of others who were able, would teach the tricks of reading, writing and reckoning to those who lacked them, and all would be encouraged to go as far as they cared along the paths of letters and science. Two further hours might be spent in working about the place, in the shop, in the garden or with the animals, sewing, cooking or cleaning, learning to do efficiently and economically the things that must be done. The children and older folks would gladly return to the school for sports and games, indoors and out, for books and music, for theatricals, lectures and meetings, to eat and to gossip.

A school of this kind would be supported mainly by the work of those whom it served; perhaps no taxation would be required; in any case the money needed for the master, the mistress and their children to live in quiet elegance would not be much. The garden or intensively cultivated farm with the equipment of the school would need to be supplemented by a minimum of ready money. To each school might be added some productive concern—the raising of strawberries, mushrooms, or squabs, a creamery, smithy or printing shop. The teachers, and to a certain extent the people of the neighborhood, would