Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/140

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most unfortunate things, it seems to me, about the education young people now get is the supposed completedness of it when the class-room door has been passed for the last time.

Any normal man or woman who looks back over his childhood finds at least a few great enthusiasms entering in the makeup of his early world, which came upon him unawares and were only dimly connected with the little exact knowledge he may have possessed. Some of the brightest memories of childhood are of feelings, vague, perhaps, but none the less real, as to the beauty, the vastness, the mystery of the world. The time

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower,

is no fiction for most persons. Poets' fancies are apt to find response somewhere in the constitution of most of us, however successfully we may have Bessemerized ourselves by mental discipline or business. Nearly all children, like nearly all primitive peoples, have in their natures the material out of which mystics are made; and of all the flames in human nature none burn higher and holier than that of mysticism. To utilize this raw material, not to the making of mystics but of sane, wholesome men and women, I conceive to be one of the great educational problems on the hands of this generation.

Education is failing so signally to meet the needs of rapidly advancing civilization because it is not calling forth the best powers of the boys and girls. It is not getting at these powers because it is not appealing to the real interests of the children; and it is not appealing -to these interests because it is not taking the children whole; it is trying to educate pieces of children. Under an educational regime that should do no violence either to the nature of children or the nature of nature, I am convinced that much of the alert curiosity, lively imagination, automatic attention, and spontaneous acquisition characteristic of early childhood could and would be carried up into the later inevitable strenuosity and anxiety of advanced scholarship and "sure-enough" life.

Emerson somewhere exclaims, "The earlier generations saw God face to face; we through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to nature?"

The kernel of the educational problem, at least as regards nature, is here. Not only "earlier generations "but our own children, enjoy" an original relation to nature." That they ever lose that relation, is largely chargeable to defective education.