Popular Science Monthly/Volume 30/November 1886/Some Outlines from the History of Education III
|SOME OUTLINES FROM THE HISTORY OF EDUCATION.|
By W. R. BENEDICT,
PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY AND LOGIC IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI.
THE truths of the educational reformers reached comparatively small circles. Everywhere the schools continued to turn out ministers and priests; indeed, this was the accepted design of the schools. We have many illustrations of the home training during these years. I name a few as recorded. Christian Weise, eight years of age, was required by his parents to discontinue study on account of sickness. He objected to this course, saying "The power of Jesus Christ will come to my aid, he who is strong in the sick ones." George Nitzsch (who wrote a treatise entitled "Is Scripture God Himself?") in his ninth year could find no more delightful occupation than prayer and memorizing sermons. Feustking, when he was nine years old, had read the Bible through five times, and at the same age had preached before his father's congregation. It is said that some one wished to use extracts from classical writers; the Church authorities thereupon decided that the New Testament was written in the purest Attic Greek, and that any change was unnecessary.
We meet now a most instructive manifestation in the history of education. Formalism was blighting the Church, whether Catholic or Protestant; and blighting education, whether Jesuit or Lutheran. This formalism encountered an entirely new opposition, and all educational movement received a most peculiar shaping. Spirituality is the grace and life of some souls, as it is not the grace and life of some other souls. Never a church or party so bad as to contain no spiritually-minded. These are they who now appear, materially affecting the course and method of education. "We should see clearly the position of affairs. Speaking historically, there are two oppositions to scholastic orthodoxy in education: one, the realistic, basing itself upon an experimental philosophy, and eventually working itself out as a scientific method; the other, spiritualistic, basing itself upon the purely spiritual elements of our nature, and developing into mysticism, pietism, and all vagary. There is a singularly interesting comparison between these different attacks upon scholastic orthodoxy. We have seen how the experimental philosophy received form and power from Bacon; we have seen bow Comenius applied this philosophy to education; yet we know that education was not rescued from scholasticism. The reason, as I believe, lies in this fact: A purely or even a largely intellectual opposition was not able to reach the emotions and the conscience, and, until these were profoundly stirred, there would be no true, permanent deliverance from scholastic orthodoxy. A protest must arise from the side of the feeling. Precisely this did arise, precisely such an opposition manifested itself within both churches, appearing as Jansenism with the Catholics and pietism with the Protestants. This emotional protest, this protest in the Church herself against herself, brought clearly to view the radical antagonism between scholastic training and the newer methods everywhere appearing.
Jansen, born 1585 in North Holland, found the fundamental evil of his time to consist in the exclusive occupation of men with heathen philosophy—i.e., with Aristotelian scholastic. He made a thorough separation between philosophy and theology, believing them to rest upon widely different bases. This Jansenist movement in the Catholic Church was applied to education by the society at Port Royal. The most celebrated representatives of the method are Rollin and Fénelon. A sentence or two from Rollin will show his position: "I know that the true purpose of the teacher is not merely to make the scholars acquainted with Greek and Latin, or to teach them to write verses and exercises, or to burden their memory with events and dates from history, or to enable them to shape their conclusions in correct form, or to draw lines and figures upon paper. I do not deny that these studies are useful and worthy all praise, but only as means not as end, only when they serve as preparations to better things."Rollin is plainly a humanist. In his opinion a study of the languages is most important as an introduction to all knowledge. As respects the methods of learning these languages Rollin directly opposes scholasticism and appeals to Nature. He is right in this, for, if Latin and Greek are to be taught at all, they are to be taught naturally; and if those who advocate classical training as an essential part of every student's education would do permanent work for their conviction, let them present these languages naturally and philosophically. The opposition to formalism based upon the spiritual nature was universal, and produced similar results in many lands. It was known among the Catholics as Jansenism in the Netherlands and France, as Quietism in Italy and Spain. It was known among the Protestants as Mysticism and Pietism in Germany. The Protestant German representatives of this reaction are Böhm, Spener, and Zinzendorf. A few lines from the first of these men show the nature of mysticism and its relation to education. Böhm writes: "Man is the image, life, and being, of the uncaused God. In man's body is all Nature concentrated. The soul is the outspoken word, as the power and understanding of all being, as the revelation of Divine Reason. Man stands in the outward world and bears in himself heaven and hell. As the spirit of eternity has imaged all things, so the human spirit bodies itself forth in word, for everything originates from one center. If I read myself, I read God's book. We know Nature, because we stand in her and have her in ourselves. We know God, because he is in us and we live in him. God himself is our seeing and knowing—from God's seeing has sprung my seeing."
Such thorough-going opinion would not tolerate the faults of a dead and formal training. Böhm saw the error from his point of view, and hesitated not to speak: "The small boy who runs about in play is full of the poison and iniquity of the devil, and all forms of vice inhere in him. He is a mocker, a swearer, thoroughly prepared to serve the devil in all his deeds. The shamelessness is the Latin on his tongue. He knows how to imitate all the jesting words of the ancients. The youth mock without consideration. Whoso fears God must be their fool and jest. Their parents see these youth, and rejoice that the boys are so skillful in their rascality." Mysticism, Quietism, Pietism, are differing names for one and the same protest made by the spirit against the letter. Since there never was a time in the history of Protestantism when so direct an attempt was made to conduct education according to the religious spirit, it may be wise to give this matter more thorough consideration. Pietism may be said to have been established by Philip Jacob Spener, born at Rappoltsweiler in Elsass, 1635. We shall, as I think, best recognize his spirit and method by the following sentences from his writings: "Before all things we should hold fast the fundamental truth that Christianity does not show itself in knowledge but in practice, and that the Christians must be led to works of unselfish love, to the control of their spirits under slander, to the withholding of themselves from all revenge, to love and patience even in theological matters. Our fathers, with praiseworthy anxiety, established schools; they did so that, in these schools, the youth might not simply be built up to manhood, but especially that they might be led by pious training to a living knowledge of their Father; that the image of God might be more and more perfected in them, that from these schools men should go forth, not simply for the spread of knowledge, but that, equipped with every virtue which leads to true happiness they might serve the honor of God and the public good in the position to which God had appointed them. As it now is, all industry in the schools is given to Latium, so that little remains for Hellas, for Judea scarcely anything. Our youth go from the schools tolerably well furnished with such knowledge as they shall put to outward use, but without knowing God, all absorbed in love for the world and endeavor to please it, wise for themselves, but so much the less instructed in divine wisdom."
We must clearly know what pietism, at its best estate, proposed as the end of education. We shall, I think, find this end distinctly set forth in the following utterances:
"The final purpose of all education is a living recognition of God and an upright Christian deportment. Only the genuinely pious man is a good citizen of society. Without true piety, all knowledge, all skill, all world-culture, are more harmful than useful, and man is never safe from the misuse of knowledge. First, and before all other things, education must strive for the radical improvement of the heart. Everything which immediately or mediately works against this supreme and final end must be banished. Instruction is subordinated to training." (Italics the present writer's.) "The purpose of the school is not an impartation of certain knowledges—all teaching must contain an educative tendency. The design of such training is the upbuilding of the kingdom of God in the heart of the child, and, proceeding from this basis, education should be comprehended in all its grades and divisions as one system, one culture. Those who give themselves to study should regard the ancient languages as the chief concern. Latin is to be pursued the most, and grammatically, from the beginning. Greek has its basis in the New Testament. A chief advantage to be gained from the ancient languages is a right understanding of the sacred Scriptures, which every student should read in the original. It is well to understand the heathen writers; still, too much occupation with them easily leads away from a high estimation of the Bible. Next to the languages, no student should remain unacquainted with geography, mathematics, history, astronomy, and natural philosophy. In the higher classes logic, which leads to orderly thought, and rhetoric, which leads to correct and good expression, should be pursued and made practical by exercises and disputations."
Referring, again, to the spirit in which education should be conducted, Spener asks: "To what does all the striving of the professors tend but to fill out the brain with theological philosophy, or a human skill in holy things, while their hearts are void of all true heavenly influences? The anxiety of the far-seeing Erasmus is but too fully realized, for he testified that his joy over the widely increasing application to study was diminished by the fear that much heathenism would steal in upon the spirit."
With the general endeavor expressed in these words a large proportion of educators from all sects and parties would agree. That education should strive for the radical improvement of the heart, that the purpose of the school as such, i.e., from first to last, is not merely the impartation of certain knowledges, that all teaching must contain an educative tendency—these are propositions which commend themselves to all who have had direct relations with the young in their years of development. It is well known, however, that many are honestly disposed to go much further than this. It is the conviction of a large number of our people that education must never be allowed to become godless; that each institution of learning should make it an essential part of its business to inculcate the fundamentals of religion. It is the reiterated assertion of one of the most powerful church organizations to be found in history, that our schools are without God, and so permit the young of both sexes to grow up uninstructed in the essential truths of a right life. The history of education teaches some plain and weighty lessons respecting this present matter. The pietistic movement originated naturally and justly. It was the full protest of the spiritual nature against formalism. It recognized something better than knowledge, and it sought to furnish this higher truth. Its position was exactly that of many sincere minds to-day who feel dissatisfied with the education of any young man or woman that consists of knowledge alone, being without the informing spirit that leads to nobility of character.
What did pietism accomplish? It brought the schools back to every-day life. Applying catechetical instruction to the children, and regarding all education as designed to nourish a spirit of piety, these protestants against formalism drew education out into general view and common life. The schools were regarded as an organic whole, whose basis was the common school; and, further, the entire school system was placed in most intimate relations with the home—the school-training being required to be supplemented by home-culture. These principles spread over Protestant Germany; schools for the poor and orphan-schools were established in great number. We ask what came from this attempt to conduct education in the religious spirit? Our answer is, a most lamentable extreme—a serious and thorough failure. As if in very mockery, the protestants against formalism became diseased with formality. Pietism became the letter that killeth. Here was the principle which worked all mischief. Let man keep himself from everything not avowedly and directly religious. The application of this principle separated man more and more from real life, and, in the place of that very spirit to be brought out and cherished, there was left to these schools of the pietists a vicious form. The outward posture became the essential thing. A spiritual police system was introduced, all schools and families were constantly searched in quest of the chief means of instruction—the Bible and the catechism. It came to be believed that the young people, if left to themselves, would go to destruction. Accordingly, the pupils were never left alone, not even for a moment; exercises for worship were multiplied, praying and preaching never ceased. Here was an educational system originated to develop true piety, and actually producing lying hypocrisy, and contemptible Phariseeism. Here was an educational system designed in the interests of spirituality, and at the same time working a twofold evil—crushing out in weaker natures all fresh, individual life-power; repressing in stronger natures those passions which fed upon themselves for the years of school-life only to break forth at last with destructive fury.
We may realize the fearful state to which pietism came by noting the condition of the orphan-schools and poor-schools. These houses were originally the result of Christian sympathy; they became "instruments for a kind of soul-cure." The prayers of the orphans were solicited and published on the doors of the buildings. "Four groschen to pray for a man with bad eyes." "One groschen to be freed from the toothache." "Eight groschen, pray God, dear orphans, on account of my sinful thoughts," "Four groschen that God may send me belief on the Son of God." Spener did not recognize the truth he proclaimed—he was never entirely free from the formalism he opposed. He felt the deadness of the Church, and at the same time believed that salvation was necessarily bound up with certain forms of dogmatical teaching. He desired a true and living piety, but did not believe this was anywise possible except for those who accepted, without question, the visible, literal form of faith. Piety, thus confined, could not develop otherwise than as it did with Spener and his associates. This striking movement in the history of education and its disastrous outcome might well lead the thoughtful mind to inquire whether religion is a matter that can be taught. It may lie in the very nature of this subject that it can not be communicated from the professorial chair, however wonderfully endowed. Upon the supposition (an hypothesis far beyond the territory of hope) that all educators could agree as to what make up the fundamentals of religion, it might be found that the best, the only, method of imparting them would be by example, by a deportment sincerely in harmony with them.
Reference has been made in these papers to a third general cause contributing to the rescue of education from middle-age formalism. This third cause was "discovery," that is, actual increase of knowledge in various domains. This enlarged knowledge was, for the most part, of a physical character; it had reference to the visible, measurable phenomena of Nature. There lay wrapped up in the wonderful advancements of the eighteenth century both bane and blessing. Society, as representing the external relations of men with one another, was immeasurably benefited. Civilization, as we now know it, received power to become only through the magnificent discernment of natural laws which, beginning in the earlier part of the eighteenth century, has proceeded with sure course to our own time. Health and wealth and all physical comforts were secured for men as never before by manifold scientific discoveries. We should go even further than this and recognize the relation which obtains between man's physical and his intellectual and moral well-being. To increase man's healthfulness is to make possible an increase in his intellectual and moral nature. An almost immeasurable amount of ignorance and vice must be attributed to bodily disease and untoward physical surroundings. To purify the air which man breathes and the food which he eats is to take the first steps for his culture and his salvation. All gratitude, then, for the work which has been done, and is now doing, to improve man's physical condition! Such work is organically connected with whatsoever is truly progressive in intellect, morality, and religion.
I have said that there was evil in the course of this movement in the eighteenth century which we are now considering. Denial, or rather that doubtful mind which is essential to the attainment of truth, became an end and afforded pleasure. No evil that can befall man is greater than the evil of loving to deny. This evil began its course in English deism, went on to fuller manifestation in the admirers of Voltaire, and found its completion in D'Holbach and Büchner. Let not this statement be misunderstood. Men are sick, and know not the disease which afflicts them. Disease is often concealed in its development along the line of generations. The father appears rational and well, the poisoned child becomes demented and dies. History is, as it were, the life of one man prolonged; whatsoever lies in this life finds time for development and full manifestation. English deism was an expression of the critical spirit in England. Whence did this spirit receive its peculiar power? From the deaths of persecuted seekers after truth. Here and there a man searched till he found. When he spoke, they slew him in the name of God and the Church. Ths age of discovery was come, and the instrument for the work was none other than this same critical spirit, the spirit which would test, which would inquire of Nature until she answered. Who should restrain this spirit, or withhold its manifold applications? When Tyndale and Shaftesbury, applying it to religion, resolved all creeds into one formula of five short phrases, who should hinder? When D'Holbach, in France, and Büchner, in Germany, applying the same spirit to the supposed elementary principles of intellect and morality, resolved these also into movements among the brain-particles, who should hinder? No one should hinder either deism or materialism, if it but leads to the truth, to the real. What shall we say if the instrument come to be loved more than the truth it was designed to make known? What if denial become precious for its own sake? Here is calamity enough. Here is the extreme;—from credulity to incredulity—from omnivorous belief to omnivorous denial. That there lay in the eighteenth-century development both English deism and French sensualism is no more to constitute a final condemnation of scientific discovery than the monstrosities done in religion's name should be alowed to sweep away the beauties of a pure faith. When one concludes from inquisitions and witch-burnings that there is only evil in Christianity, it is as though he should deny all worth to science because of the critical spirit and its monstrosity, a love of denial.
English deism was applied to education in Defoe's remarkable book "Robinson Crusoe." Man is to be educated according to Nature rather should we say by Nature.
The contrast is sharp between the natural metbod of Comenius and this new appeal to Nature. Here society, school-systems, books, were to have no place. To Nature, as a sort of divine person, the child was surrendered for education. It was supposed that Nature would bring out the universal traits of mind, the universal religious ideas, the universal social laws. We find here a most instructive illustration of the tendency, so universal in human thinking, to personify our abstractions. Words such as nature, justice, virtue, law, are used by us to represent some independent entity or being. This ineradicable habit has been the source of desperate evils in all directions. We have now before us its application in education. We are told to follow Nature. This Nature, be it understood, is an all-wise being, independent of our activities, able to guide us with a perfect wisdom. Such was the phase through which education must pass before the true method of following Nature could appear. The sharply contrasted lines of training, now known as the scientific and the classical, are being differentiated at the time of which we write. More than this, if we look closely we shall find here a reason in history for regarding the scientific training as pre-eminently natural, as pre eminently obedient to the command "Follow Nature."
The critical spirit, applied to education, received brilliant expression in France and serious testing in Germany. I state some of the fundamental principles of Rousseau's "Émile": "Everything is good as it proceeds from the hand of the Creator, everything deteriorates in the hands of man. We are educated by Nature, by men, by things. The child should be educated for a common human calling, not for a special position. No mother, no child. Follow Nature. All the mischief of children comes from weakness; make the child strong, and it will be good. Educators render children miserable in that they take the presence of childhood for nothing, and keep in their eye only the future of the child which it may never reach. See in the child only the child. Before the child reaches understanding, it must be thrown entirely upon the physical world. Therefore, you should not begin to reason too early with children. The first education should be purely negative: it consists not in teaching distinctions between virtue and vice, but in keeping the heart from faults, the understanding from errors. The only moral instruction for children is to do nobody any evil. Instruction should begin with things. At twelve years of age sense-impressions should be built up to conceptions. No other book should be used than the world, no other instruction than facts. The secret of education is so to arrange it that bodily and spiritual exercises are reciprocally helpful. At the fifteenth year of his life Émile appears in this wise cultivated. Obliged to learn by himself, he uses his own, not another man's understanding, and he puts forth nothing on authority. Émile has, to be sure, little but no half knowledge. He knows there is much he does not know. He has only knowledge of Nature—nothing historical; about metaphysics and morality he knows nothing. What death is, he knows not; but accustomed, without resistance, to surrender himself to the law of necessity, he will die, when he must, without a sigh. His body is sound, his limbs are sure, his understanding right and without prejudice, his heart free and without passions. Thus is Émile at fifteen years of age.
"But man is not created to remain a child. He steps out of this condition at Nature's appointed time. His physiognomy changes and gains expression. The voice changes. The eyes, those mirrors of the soul, that hitherto have said nothing, receive language and meaning; an increasing fire animates them, their glances are living. He feels without knowing what he feels. He is restless without cause. Be upon thy guard. Not one moment from the rudder, or all is lost! Now is the man really born to life, and nothing human is foreign to him. Hitherto our anxiety has been but a child's play; now it begins to be a great weight. This time, when generally education is ended, is the very time when ours shall truly commence. Now Emile is to become acquainted with his own kind. This is the period for history. To know men, you must see them act. In intercourse with the world you only hear men speak—they show their words, but conceal their deeds. In history they are unveiled, and we are able to judge. But Émile shall judge them himself—only thus can he gather knowledge of mankind. If the author's opinion continually lead him, he sees through another's glass, and when this fails he sees nothing at all. He shall see with his ovm eyes, feel with his own heart; no authority shall control him save the authority of his reason. But now be must be led into the world of religion. Brought up as he has been by the sense-world, the abstract scarcely finds entrance. God withdraws himself from our senses. The word Spirit has meaning only for the philosophers. In his fifteenth year Émile does not know whether he has a soul or not. If I wished to represent stupidity symbolically, I would paint a pedant teaching children out of a catechism. They say a child should be reared in the religion of his father, and prove this is the only true one, the others absurd. But suppose the strength of the argument depends upon the district where they use it, or upon authority, to which Émile pays no attention. How then? In what religion shall we educate him? The answer is plain—in none. We will place him in condition to choose that which the best use of his reason may approve."
The time, the thought, and the style of Rousseau's "Émile" combined to make it the most powerful word yet spoken for the true development of education. "It was a vigorous blow against the science of mere words, against the pitiable omniscience of children, against books as means of instruction. Never before had the natural methods for education been so forcibly thrust into the places of the miserable middle-age apparatus."
We need not delay for any extended criticism of Rousseau's thought. Its radical deficiency has been often stated and acknowledged. We phrased it as the personification of an abstraction. Believing in the total degeneration of humanity, believing that there was nothing natural in the historic development, Rousseau would call men back to Nature. How back to Nature? Where was Nature? Not in society—in Rousseau? Certainly here, if anywhere, and with this the entire thought fails, so far as respects its efficiency for a scientific principle in education. Émile, separated from his unnatural fellow-beings, must be guarded against the possibility of doing as they did; and yet he must be taught according to Nature. Rousseau was all the nature Émile could have, and he would be educated naturally, therefore, only so far as Rousseau corresponded to Nature.
To break away from artificial restraints and to find Nature has fascinated men from earliest times. One of the most beautiful illustrations of this impossible undertaking is the Arabian romance, "Hai Ebn Yokdahn" ("The Nature-Man"). This was written by Tophail, who died in the year 1190, and is mentioned here merely as a reference for those specially interested in these endeavors.
It is among the Germans that we find a serious attempt to apply the new ideas to the actual work of instruction. The philanthropists attempted to realize the educational ideas of Rousseau. Their leading principles, both negative and positive, are as follows: "The universal condition of the world is infinitely bad. Church and state, school and family, are marked by folly and wickedness. Above all, the school is thoroughly defective in its very foundation. Everywhere uncomprehended words are learned verbatim, school-dust lies hundreds of years thick on the natural method of teaching languages; every one who breathes this dust is sick in the brain. Instruction carries everywhere the marks of the time when the schools were established. Young people are taught a multitude of things of which they make no use in all their life.
"A new foundation must be laid upon which a new species can develop, since a regeneration can not be thought of while the youth are not transplanted to a new ground."
"We note a few of the affirmative propositions: "Artists must be trained if art is to prosper. In physical education we must return to the method of the ancients.
"The will must be governed by the reason. During youth religion shall be taught only in its extreme simplicity, without attention to sects or parties. We should not repress the natural tendency to freedom, but guide it. Children are by nature good—compulsion renders them bad.
"The boy who has no sense for anything abstract and incomprehensible, least of all for the ordinary catechism, should, before anything else, be made acquainted with the sense-world. This can be shown to him in Nature and by pictures.
"The youth are troubled with nothing so much as with Latin. More than five years are given simply to the learning of Latin. Yet there is not a fourth of the pupils thus taught who can read Latin books without trouble or without mistakes. "When these hindrances are removed, the true aim of education will be reached. This aim is to form Europeans, people having such habits and manners as are common in all Europe, people whose life should be free from harmfulness, as universally useful and contented as they might become through education."
Kant, born April 22, 1724, expressed his opinion very forcibly as to the needs of the schools at this time: "In the civilized lands of Europe educational institutions are not lacking, neither is there lacking, on the part of the teachers, a well-intentioned industry. Still, it has been clearly shown that these institutions are worthless, and that, since everything in them works contrary to Nature, they fall far short of bringing out of men the good for which Kature has given the material. We should see quite different men around us if those educational methods came into force which are really drawn out of Nature, and not those which are but slavish imitations of the ancient customs of rude and inexperienced ages. The solicitude of the common people of all lands should now be directed to the establishment of such a master-school. This institution is no longer a merely beautiful idea, but now shows, by visible proofs, the practicability of what has been so long desired. The public repute, and pre-eminently the united voices of scientific and discerning judges from varied lands, have marked the Dessau Educational Institute as the one that displays the evidences of excellence."
Kant's commendatory words refer to the School of the Philanthropists, founded December 27, 1774, at Dessau, under the direction of Basedow. This reformer represented Comenius and Rousseau. A few sentences from his writings are significant in this connection:
"The great aim of education should be to prepare the youth for a useful, patriotic, and happy life. Instruction should be rendered as agreeable as is consistent with its nature. Practice in the memory of things is far more important than in the memory of words.
"But this knowledge of things must furnish new representations to the understanding; must not simply fill out the memory with words. Paintings and engravings are of great service in instruction. Experience teaches how everything which resembles a picture pleases children."
A public examination of Basedow's work was held in May, 1776. The reformer's invitation contained the following passage: "This affair is not Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformed, but Christian. We are philanthropists, cosmopolitans. Russia's or Denmark's sovereignty is not, in our teachings, placed after Switzerland's freedom. Our textbooks are free from theological bias for the Christian as against Jews, Mohammedans, deists, or the dissenters, called, in some places, heretics. Very little memorizing is done by us. The students are not forced to be industrious. Still, we promise by the excellence of our method of instruction, and by its agreement with all philanthropic education, twofold as much progress as can be secured by the best schools or gymnasia." The public examination was favorable, and many influential men approved the undertaking in highest terms. There were bitter enemies, however. Most of the directors of the gymnasia opposed Basedow to the utmost, and Herder expressed a feeling more or less prevalent when he wrote: "The whole thing appears to me horrible. They tell of a new method for raising oak-forests in ten years. I wouldn't give Basedow calves to raise, much less men!"
We have considered a slow and complex movement, yet one steadily tending to definite result. The movement has been away from classical training as a necessary part of education. Montaigne, Bacon, Ratich, Comenius, the pietists, the philanthropists, have led education into new courses. The tendency was clearly revealed in the Dessau Institute. Education has been emancipated from scholasticism, and this with such force as to threaten the future supremacy of Greece and Rome.
As matter of fact, we have now before us, in the historical development of our subject, two sharply contrasted ideas. Whether these ideas are necessarily antagonistic is not the present question. We are concerned with the forces actually at work, and with the manner of their unfolding. Those who favor and those who oppose classical study as a necessary part of education can justify their position by an appeal to one or the other of the ideas about to be stated. All questions as to disciplinary benefit, as to method of instruction, as to amount of net result, are wholly out of date. The changes could be rung forever on these matters, with no gain and much loss of temper. Most of the claims put forth by those who advocate the superiority of classical studies are either nonsense or beside the mark. Classical studies have advantages—that is to say, excellences—peculiar to themselves. So have the sciences. These different advantages will appeal to different minds, and no power can prevent the appeal. Let each party so teach as to bring out the advantages best, in fullest manner. If the history of education shows anything, it shows that the place for all efficient reform in education is in the manner of teaching rather than the matter. Devising something new to be learned will never save the soul; devising, or rather finding, the right way to impart knowledge will save, and this with a growing salvation.
If the professors of Latin and Greek recognize that they are not solely or chiefly professors of philology—but rather that they are appointed to acquaint the scholar with literatures transcendent in their beauty of form, their wealth of imagery, and their depth of thought—if the professors of Latin and Greek recognize the true method of doing this great work, classical study will never be neglected. All this is equally true of the instructors in physical science. The distinction between a fact seen in the dry light of its naked isolation and the same fact as part of an organic and amazing whole is the distinction between life and death in the teaching of science.
To employ a certain kind of teaching (which is in no sense teaching), and to expect educational reform by confining a boy to physical science or to classics, is a colossal mistake. To pay the lowest wages in the primary grades of our schools, where the best teaching is imperatively needed, is an equally impressive blunder. To engage a professor for what he knows, for the number of books he has written, for the amount of original work he has done, is—to do a grand thing for the professor, but by no means necessarily a grand thing for the pupil. Most of the young men and women in American colleges need to be taught. Is this to decry research or the establishment of all means for discovery? Rather is it to discriminate between the work of teaching and the work of investigation. Is a man called to teach, is he employed to teach, is he paid to teach—let him, then, teach, i.e., let him spend himself in the work of education. Were every teacher, nay, were the majority of teachers, to see in the pupil the pupil, there would be a reforming of education such as has not yet been experienced.
We close this paper by such a brief statement of the opposing ideas previously mentioned as may best serve to show their reality. Fortunately, our purpose has been already served by a few contrasting paragraphs admirably conceived and expressed:
I. "From the standpoint of humanism education has its own purpose in itself, viz., universal culture of man. According to philanthropism, education has not its purpose in itself, but only a relative purpose, viz., the training of man for a future avocation.
II. "From the point of view of humanism it is not, in education, 80 much matter of chief importance to collect knowledge as to discipline the spirit by it. From the point of view of philanthropism, the aim is to fill the mind with the largest possible amount of useful information.
III. "Humanism exercises the mind of the student not so much to make him apt for some appointed business—culture of the spirit is here an end in itself. With philanthropism culture is something aimless in so far as the spirit is not made more apt by it for some special business.
IV. "As respects the objects of education, humanism does not require many objects by which the youth is distracted and prevented from thorough acquisition. The pupil should be advanced by a few objects to the highest degree of knowledge.
"Philanthropism, on the other hand, in view of the daily increasing territory of what may be known, does not dare confine itself to holding the youth throughout his entire period of education to a few objects—much rather attention should be paid to rendering easy the circle of objects, that the child may be offered the greatest possible amount of knowledge.
V. "Humanism brings before the youth single departments of knowledge in the entire manifoldness of their separate objects, then teaches to arrange these objects with exact system, thereby to accustom the student to logical thinking, so that, when later he ventures upon outlying territories of knowledge, he will not fall into error. Philanthropism would broaden instruction, to cover as far as possible the entire field of knowledge, because he who has not a view of the whole must possess only half-way and distorted impressions concerning the separate departments of knowledge and their particular objects.
VI. "According to humanism, not things but ideas are best adapted to the exercise of the spirit, that the youth may not, during his future, active life lose himself in the region of bread-and-butter knowledge. Philanthropism demands for this very mental exercise not ideas (which strictly considered are only words), but things, and this in order that the mind, perpetually occupied with letters and words empty of content, may not lose itself in the region of mere word-knowledge, and become good for nothing in practical life."
These ideas of man and of his place in the world are fundamentally distinct. They can never be done away or disregarded, for they root themselves in the twofold nature of man. It is possible to be a humanist or a philanthropist in education both with sincerity and with reason. There is a seed of truth in each half of these contrasts, and it is more than probable that, despite all attempts at adjustment, men will be born humanists and philanthropists to the end of time.
- See, in this connection, that delightful little work, "An Attic Philosopher," by Émile Souvestre.
- In closing the more distinctly historical portions of these articles, I desire again to express my indebtedness to the foreign histories of education. From such a work as Schmidt's "Geschichte" I have made selection and condensation as seemed best to serve my purpose. It will be understood that for all criticisms and opinions, e. g., on English deism, on classical study, I am alone responsible.