Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/October 1898/The Philosophy of Manual Training: The Place of Manual Training in a Rational Educational System V
|THE PHILOSOPHY OF MANUAL TRAINING.|
By C. HANFORD HENDERSON,
DIRECTOR OF THE HIGH-SCHOOL DEPARTMENT, PRATT INSTITUTE, BROOKLYN, N. Y.
V.—THE PLACE OF MANUAL TRAINING IN A RATIONAL EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM.
I HAVE tried to show in previous papers the grounds upon which manual training rests its educational claims, and to point out some of the results of this training. It remains for me to indicate the place which manual training ought to occupy in the whole scheme of culture. I shall not consider formal education plus manual training, but rather a system of education in which manual training forms an integral part. So considered, the question becomes a very comprehensive one, for it amounts to nothing less than an examination of our whole scheme of secondary education.
It has been insisted upon all along that education is a process, a tool, a means to an end, and not in any way an end in itself, not something fixed and sacred, but something quite fluid and alterable. And, further, it has been suggested that education is but another name for the process of evolution made conscious, and must consist in such control of the environment as will bring about the desired human reactions.
The problem before us is quite definite. Given babies of three and four years, what shall be done with them up to eighteen years, so that they shall evolve into desirable types of men and women? The present system, as you know, is somewhat elaborate. The kindergarten, elementary school, and high school cover just the ground we are considering. It is a continuous, well-co-ordinated process, and some of its results are quite beautiful. But I believe that it is not the best. The problem is to build up a system which shall be in accord with our accepted philosophy of life, and shall satisfy the ethical and social ideals of the heart. At three and four, what have we given? At eighteen, what do we want? The answer to these two questions is the educational data. How shall the material given grow into the material wanted? The answer to this question is the educational method. It is this latter answer that involves the application of manual training.
I shall not speculate very long upon the material of babyhood. Clever men and women are at work upon this problem, and they have already made preliminary reports of the highest interest and value. Now that mothers have been enlisted in the work and have been encouraged to record observations made in their own nurseries, the data will doubtless grow apace, and soon lead to wider knowledge. I recently spent a morning at Miss Aborn's model kindergarten in Boston. The children were from three and a half years up to six. The drama was full of action, full of life, full of suggestion. When twelve o'clock came, and the little people marched out of the room, I felt very much as you do when the green curtain goes down at the theater, and the play is at an end. Teddy and George and Hazel and the rest remained very real figures in my thought for many days. The impression made by such practical studies as these is a double one. Looking at the children alone, the one great fact that absolutely forces itself upon your attention is their intense individuality. Each little person is a bundle of possibilities, but each bundle is so different! You can imagine no one process able to deal successfully with all of them, or indeed with any considerable number of them. You are face to face with the great fact of heredity, which can not be ignored and must not be belittled. Fate, or destiny, or Karma, or predestination, or whatever you choose to call it, accomplished more than half her work when the child was so born, and can well afford to hand him over ironically to the schoolmaster. Looking too steadily at this great fact robs one of hope. So much has been done and settled once for all, quite placed beyond the chance of our control, that it seems hardly worth while to work and struggle over what is left. Yet fate is not altogether unkind. The very persistence that baffles us, gives a permanence to the type which in a longer view is touched with promise.
And then, there is the other impression. Looking at the teacher and remembering that it is the outer world that is to react upon these little organisms, and noticing how completely she may control this outer world, and how skillfully she may direct its reactions, one is struck anew with the tremendous forces in the hands of education. In the kindergarten much more than in the elementary schools one finds a flexibility in the educational process that is a promise of high efficiency, for it not only allows for the intense individuality of each little person, but builds upon it. The direction of this constructive process will depend upon what we want at eighteen years, and this question of what we want is always pertinent, for in such an elaborate process as modern secondary education there is a certain inertia, and it seems unavoidable that much should come to be done that has no direct bearing upon what we now want. Familiarity dulls our power of observation, and we are apt to drift into a state of mind where, as Professor James would say, inconsistencies cease from troubling and logic is at rest. But even when we are aroused, we evoke a picture of our wants in which it is easy to mistake the values. My present purpose, however, is not to evaluate human qualities, but to seek out and emphasize those that are essential, separating them very rigidly from those that are secondary and unimportant. I restrict myself to the narrower task because from a monistic point of view these human qualities are so bound up with one another, are so thoroughly but different aspects of the same unit, that they can not be stated in . They do not follow one another. They coexist. It is a single panorama, human life, crowded with different elements, but making only one picture.
The advantage of thus defining what you want at eighteen is that no scheme of education will be tolerable which does not lead by direct and scientific methods to the desired results. It is possible, of course, to introduce various elements into the scheme of instruction, and allow the principle of natural selection to work, trusting that in the end there will be a survival of the fittest. But this is scarcely evolution made conscious. It is only consistent with an expediency system of morals, which makes life a daily, hourly experiment, and rests upon no underlying principles.
At eighteen, boys and girls stand on the verge of manhood and womanhood. Goethe says, "Be careful what you pray for in your youth lest you get too much of it in your old age." What these boys and girls pray for at eighteen is pretty well settled, and they will be pretty sure to get it. The best part of life is still ahead, but the tendencies are already there, and that is after all a large part of education. You have perhaps heard of the country girl who was asked what her brother was doing at the university. She replied naively that he was learning to be a student. He was a lucky fellow if his sister were right. I find life, myself, a tremendous experience, and very, very full of interests; but when I look at the natural history of these interests I can trace nearly all of them to some beginning, however faint, in the nebulous thought region of sixteen.
The ethical ideal that I have tried to place before you is that of a perfect human organism exercising its functions in the fullest possible measure. If I may use a biblical expression, it is the being perfect even as God is perfect. I believe, as I say, in this divine perfectness, not as a thing to be gained here and now, all at once, at an emotional revival meeting, but something to be grown toward and cherished as the ultimate ideal, something that is to come as the result of the operation of adequate causes. The special characteristic of this perfectness is its inwardness and its unconsciousness. As the flower blossoms and the tree grows, as the earth moves and the star shines, all as the result of an inner quality, all in fulfilling the law of life, so the soul of man when it turns from the piety of the cloister to the piety of Nature is under the stress and strain of no moral conflict, but is at peace. Morality spans the difference between what is and what ought to be. When these coincide in the perfect life, morality has fulfilled its function and must cease to be. The gods are not moral. To attain the divine perfectness is to outgrow morality. These young people of eighteen, in whom we are interested if they are to come into the perfect life, must do so as the result of their own spontaneity, and as unconsciously as possible. The process of education which is to endow them with a perfect organism and plant in them the seeds of the complete life fails unless it leave them spontaneous and wholesomely unconscious of themselves. One of the most dangerous dangers of the schools, if I may so express it, is self-consciousness. It mars nearly all whom the schools touch, and makes unendurable the teacher of too long a term of service.
The term organism, once for all, stamps the man or woman, boy or girl, as a unit, and we may speak of the bodily, emotional, and intellectual functions of the organism without being misunderstood. We may conveniently enumerate under these three heads those essential human qualities which are of prime importance in the educational data. The bodily life includes birth, nutrition, growth, reproduction death. We may limit nutrition, restrict growth, avoid reproduction, but we can not escape the first and last of these great functions, birth and death. Yet complete morality is only satisfied with the complete discharge of all these functions. The morality of birth lies with our ancestors. They owe it to us, as we owe it to our children, to give birth only to sound, true bodies. Yet a perfectly healthy man or woman is a rare sight. The morality of nutrition and growth is the morality of hygiene and health. It is satisfied only with strong, sound, beautiful bodies, beautiful not only to look upon, but beautiful in the perfection with which they operate, the sound digestion, strong pulse beat, free circulation, deep breath, keen hearing, sharp eyesight, delicate touch, discriminating taste, quick will, co-ordinated movement—a long list, truly, but not longer than the requirements of the perfect life.
The morality of parenthood is bound up so closely with the emotional life, and is most holy when most closely bound, that it seldom finds distinct utterance, and such utterance as we have is mostly false—on the one side, the celibacy of religious orders; on the other side, a reputed duty to the state or to the race. I find the sanction of marriage and parenthood to reside in the individual. Men and women are better into whose lives the mystery of birth h come, better by reason of that tenderness which it calls forth, and better by reason of that irresistible appeal to love and sympathy which a child alone can make. A life into which this holy experience has never come is not complete, whatever may be its other compensations. And I should deplore the higher education for both men and women if it made them less ready to meet the experience of parenthood, deplore it, not from the point of view of society or the state, for with the continuance of the race I feel that we have consciously nothing to do, but deplore it for the loss that it meant in their own lives.
The life of the organism begins in mystery, in birth. It ends in mystery, in death. But death may be terrible, or it may be beneficent. It is terrible when it comes as an interrupter to the full activities of life, and more terrible when it comes through slow, wasting disease and decay. But death is beneficent when it comes at the close of a complete, well-rounded life, comes as a savior from the infirmities of too great age. What is so universal must be good.
A scheme of education which neglects any of these functions of the complete bodily life, or fails to inculcate sound ideas regarding them, is sadly deficient, and can not be called rational. It would be a denial of the very philosophy upon which the new education rests.
The demands of the emotional life are no less exigent. Every human action has back of it a feeling, a desire. Where these desires are sluggish or wanting, the action is corresponding. We must never forget that we can only do what we want to do. It may seem a trivial statement upon which to base so much, but it is practically at the basis of all of psychology. However perfect the organism, the complete life is impossible unless back of the organism is the enginery of keen appetite and manifold desire. The whole human drama depends upon just this, upon mere sentiment, if you choose. This emotional life upon which so much depends, upon which everything depends, is wrapped up in the organism itself, is a part of the very flesh and blood, and can not be separated from it. It is only convenient to name it aside from the more obvious bodily functions. The same is true of the intellectual functions. I am naming them last not because they are least, but because they are greatest, and in the sequence of life they are the fruits of the others. The school works for those as the gardener works for his most perfect fruit. But if it work rationally, it must work, not from the empyrean downward, but from the earth upward, through sturdy limb, and branch, and leaf, and blossom.
The educational process itself is only highly evolved when it too recognizes in the most practical way the idea of causation, and adjusts its acts to ends. I often think that the friends of goodness miss the realization of their aims by looking too steadily at the dazzling ideals by which they are led, and not steadily enough at those humble means which, in the unalterable sequence of cause and effect, must first be realized. The process by which thought is excited in the brain is quite as definite as the process by which an electro-magnet is energized. You must have the magnet and you must have the exciting cause. You must have the brain and you must have the stimulus, an inner something induced by an outer something.
But about the data of education we are pretty much agreed. Out of the material of babyhood, half plastic, half stubborn, we are by our scheme of education to evolve the potential men and women who knock at the doors of our colleges. Looking at manual training as a method, and comparing the material given with the material wanted, it is very clear that manual training can only form a part of the complete method. To span the gap entirely, and cover the fourteen years between babyhood and college, manual training will have to be incorporated into a scheme of education more thoroughgoing and more psychological than any that has yet been proposed. If genius be the seeing eye, the feeling touch, the hearing ear, the efficient brain; and if the highest and most complete manifestation of our human nature depend, as we believe that it does depend, upon the sensitiveness and soundness of the organism, the educational process which is thus to unfold and perfect the human spirit must include the cultivation and development of all the faculties—touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight, movement—that they may comprehensively and accurately report the outer world; must include the cultivation and development of the emotional life, that it may stimulate the senses to the full exercise of their powers, and, finally, must include the cultivation and development of those intellectual faculties which convert this rich phenomenal material into an evolved humanity. I can not in passing forbear the criticism that our current schemes of education, however lofty their ideals, devote themselves too exclusively to the intellectual life, and do not sufficiently concern themselves with the materials out of which that life is built, the sense impressions of the outer world, or with the tool that builds it, the human organism with all its emotional and artistic possibilities. Nor can I, in declaring manual training to be inadequate to the full demands of a rational education, omit to emphasize that it is the only scheme, including sloyd and the kindergarten, that has attempted to build up the educational process on organic grounds, and that it is inadequate, not because of any fundamental mistake in its philosophy, or inaccuracy in its methods, but simply because these methods do not yet go far enough. You know, perhaps, the rallying cry of manual training—put the whole boy to school—but in reality it does not yet do this. It puts his hands and by necessity his eyes to school, and I shall always feel, no matter what the future of manual training may be, that it has done yeoman service in breaking ground along rational, causational lines, and in inviting our attention to the immense possibilities of a culture that is organic.
The rational scheme of education to which such an examination as we have just been making would unavoidably lead us, must include manual training as an integral element. If we substitute for manual training some more general and comprehensive term, such as faculty training, organic training, or, better still, if we dismiss all special terms of any kind whatever, and use education to mean the conscious process of human evolution, we shall have reached the rational scheme of education itself, and may feel that our search is ended. In such a scheme, manual training must occupy a most prominent place, for it has to do with the most obvious forms of touch. I wonder if you ever reflected that our entire contact with the outer world, our entire knowledge of it, is in the last analysis dependent upon but one sense, the sense of touch, and that the sensory nerves, those telegraphic lines between our consciousness and the outer world, respond to but one operator, direct contact? Yet this is strictly so. We see, because waves of light break upon the shores of vision; we hear, because waves of sound strike against the ear drum; we smell, because minute particles of the odoriferous substance, or perhaps because peculiar and as yet unnamed waves induced by such a substance, impinge against our noses; we taste, because of the direct impact of food and drink against the sensitive nerve ends of the tongue. We have but one sense, a tactile sense, and if instead of manual training we should say tactile training, we should pretty nearly hit the mark.
The full organic results which this rational scheme contemplates can never be reached, I am afraid, through the current curriculum, or through anything likely to grow out of it. The whole idea is too radically different. The present curriculum makes a brave assault upon the intellectual life along a road cut straight through the empyrean. The new education is after a still more complete intellectuality—and we are apt to forget this when the industrial view presses—but it proceeds along the road of the organism. It is not, then, simply choice that would lead us to part company with the old curriculum. It is something more imperative. It is bare necessity. And the radical scheme which I am about to propose must be accepted in some such spirit, not as indicating an idle love for things that are new, but because the things that are old will no longer serve.
In the kindergarten it is self-directed play and work; in sloyd, self-directed hand work; in manual training, technical hand and tool work that form the nucleus of method. In a rational education such as I have tried to suggest, it must be self-directed work so arranged as to develop the whole organism, and bring out the moral and æsthetic and emotional and bodily sides of life quite as thoroughly as the intellectual.
To carry this scheme into effect will require a very radical disposition of the school days. If we assume that the college has. been rationalized, and I believe that to be the case at Harvard, and at other places where an elective course of study allows the freedom of the unfolding spirit, then I should put it as one of the first requisites of a sound system of secondary education that it should be broadly and thoroughly preparatory to the college. All the children will not go to college, but as we cherish the ideal of a liberalized and cultured America, we want an increasing number of them to go, and in any case we want the very best education possible for both classes of children—for those who go to college and for those who do not. And I should hold that either the colleges were gravely at fault, or our ideals of middle-class life were gravely at fault, if one educational path led to the one and another educational path led to the other. I can not, therefore, sympathize with that present tendency in public education which is attenuating the culture side of our high schools, in order that they may serve more immediate technical and commercial ends. I can not feel that it is in the province of the public high schools, or of the State that stands back of them, to turn out shopkeepers, clerks, bookkeepers, or artisans. The community life is impoverished by such partial products, when it ought to be enriched by the full measure of a human life. That education will be the best, will be the most truly educational, which leads to the college, even though it find the doors closed.
I have expressed the hope that a deeper realization of the dignity of human life will make the ripe culture of the college more increasingly imperative for every child, and I believe that this result will come about with the growth of the social conscience, and with the increase of that spirit of brotherhood which is even now appearing as a bit of leaven in our midst. I came up from the subway the other day with that exultation in my heart which I think the modern man feels as well as the Greek when he emerges from the nether world into the open sunshine. At the mouth of the pit a little figure was sharply outlined against the sky. It was the figure of a mere child, a little boy. His face was pale and worn. He was standing there drinking in the chill of the pit, attracted by the hope of selling his papers. I could not help saying to myself: "Heaven help us all, this good city of Boston, this rich Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this boundless wealth of America, that we should so starve our children, these children of the State, starve them both in body and in soul!" Their only crime, poor little ones, is that their fathers are idle, or ill, or dead. Did you know that savage tribes are less unkind? I met an old woman on the street. She had an honest, patient face, and sad, appealing eyes. She was very frail. Her dress was much too thin for the bitter east wind that was then blowing. She carried a very heavy bundle, and was fairly staggering under its weight. She was suffering visibly. On the other side of the curbstone another woman of the same age was driving past. She was quite alone, save for the coachman, and had ample room. She did not stop. She passed quickly, lo one was surprised. No one noticed it. Yet both were women. Both had been the possible mother of our Lord.
But these are gentle sights. You may see them for yourselves any day on the best of our many highways. If it were right to occupy your time and so play upon your feelings, I could take you to highways less esteemed, and show you sights less gentle. But perhaps this is enough. The point I want to make is this: that the rational scheme of education that we are seeking will include the cultivation of a social conscience which will make sights such as this impossible. We want a scheme that will concern itself with the helplessness of childhood and old age quite as devotedly as with the buoyant self-sufficiency of youth.
I take it, then, that this scheme of education is to prepare all boys and girls to enter college, and to open the door to an increasing number of them, and that it is to include with just as loving care the children of the poor as those of the more fortunately placed. And I take it that the fourteen years which it contemplates—from four to eighteen—are to be just as jealously guarded as a miser does his gold. For these years are of all the most valuable. The growing organism is more plastic than at any other time. The very motion of growth makes those molecular rearrangements possible, upon which skill and knowledge and character depend. You know that a piece of iron may remain idle in a warehouse for years and suffer no change of internal structure, but when this same piece of iron is put into a bridge, and subject to the incessant vibration of wind and traffic, it rapidly becomes crystallized, and must be replaced from time to time by more fibrous metal. The moving particles are more responsive to the crystallizing force. This is not an analogy, but a strict parallelism. The movements of growth make possible the physical changes in the organism. The priceless years are those under twenty. It must not be thought for a moment that I conceive education to stop at eighteen or even at twenty. There are mental functions the most important and valuable of all that do not come to anything like full fruition for a score or more of years. A modern m.an living the most evolved life is now said to be in his prime at sixty-five. But I do mean that this subsequent life of fulfilled promise is largely, almost entirely, dependent upon the early life. The impressions were recorded then, the senses were cultivated then, the motor nerves were habituated then; in a word, the organism was prepared for the intellectual life, and the intellectual equipment pretty well determined once for all. To the after years remains the utilization of this equipment, a utilization whose quality and whose extent will depend upon the stimulus and circumstance of later life. It is well recognized among musicians that to play the violin successfully one must begin early in the teens. And it is so with many other arts. The highest performance will result when with the other organic equipment is wrapped up a potential stimulus, fundamental and deep enough to operate in after life, even against unfavorable circumstances, against grief and loneliness and disappointment, and still come out the victor.
Literary critics wisely discriminate between books which possess or do not possess that subtle something which we call the literary quality. The books which have this quality have been well described as the literature of power, for, however unliterary the reader may himself be, they take hold of him and influence him in a very real way. The books that are only tolerable because they record certain facts of value, the material out of which books might be made, rather than books themselves, have been described once for all as the literature of information. To serve the ends of the complete life we want in our schools the literature of power, and in quite as imperative a way we want the curriculum of power, as opposed to the curriculum of information. I have told you earlier how little value I place upon the informational results of the elementary schools, and how profoundly I mistrust them in failing to awaken a more insatiable intellectual curiosity. It has been my good fortune to have traveled quite extensively in this country, literally from Maine to California and from Georgia to Vancouver, for I have wanted to know what we meant when we said America. And as a result of this experience I have to report a very low standard of intellectual life among the youth of America, a very tepid curiosity regarding the things of the spirit. We are prone at Cambridge and at other centers of culture to take too favorable a view of this matter. I think that Cambridge is not typical of the culture of America any more than Oxford is typical of the culture of England. At both places we are studying high tide.
It is easier in the face of such failure, it is a much smaller pang to one's conservatism, to strike out from the current curriculum many of the old informational studies, and to substitute for them a training which is largely bodily and emotional and artistic. Reality and sincerity are the two things that we most want in life. The current objections to ideal schemes of organic education are that, with the rapidly turning wheel of fortune in this country, a course of instruction covering fourteen years—that is, from four to eighteen years of age—can not be taken by any large proportion of the children, and even for those who do start out with a reasonable expectation of completing such a course, interruptions are very likely to occur. And the question is pertinently put, What is to become of these children if they are suddenly thrown out upon the world before your carefully co-ordinated scheme of education has done its perfect work, and they have had little or no informational studies? I want to anticipate this objection, and to do it very thoroughly and very clearly. The answer is twofold.
In the first place, with the growth of educational and social ideals, the State will not leave the education of its children to such precarious circumstances. We are already wealthy enough to have all our children withheld from industrial occupations until they are twenty; and when the social conscience becomes sufficiently sensitive to do this we shall be still more wealthy, for we shall have more efficient and intelligent workers. It is a rough guess, but I should say that at the present time half of our workers are busy, not in supplying absolute human wants or even capricious wants, but are kept busy simply because the work of last year was so poorly done. The work of plowing, harrowing, rolling, planting, and harvesting a crop of wheat is practically the same whether you get sixteen or thirty-two bushels to the acre. In the case of material upon which human labor is afterward spent the case is even more striking. Good cloth, for example, will easily wear twice as long as poor cloth. For a given amount of wear poor clothing must be looked upon as a luxury. In addition to the extra work at the mill in producing two yards of poor cloth in place of one yard of good, there is precisely twice the amount of work in the tailoring shop in making up the two suits. There are, of course, clever politicians who would argue that such an abundance of work for the masses is a national blessing. But I do not belong to their company. I do not believe in outwardly directed, compelling, industrial work any more than I believe in suffering and disease. I believe in self-activity, in inwardly directed work that means the expression of ourselves in action, and I believe in the leisure to grow wise.
Thoreau found that by working six weeks he could maintain himself a year. This meant six-fifty-seconds of his time. He was satisfied with very little—with less, perhaps, than was quite wise. If we more than double his figures, and remember that co-operative labor is far more productive than Thoreau's solitary hoeing, we may agree that one quarter of the waking life must go for bread. But we have still a large margin. If we allow the full measure of life, say fourscore years, one quarter of it would be just twenty years. A man working full time from his twentieth to his fortieth year ought still to preserve both his youth and old age from industrialism. Or working industrially for half the day, which would perhaps be wiser, his term of industrial service would stretch from twenty to sixty years of age, and would still leave the extremes of life free for preparation and reflection. I believe this to be a complete answer to the objection, and I have an unquestioning faith that society will some time, when its conscience is aroused, limit its industrialism to the years of maturity and of strength, and will not bind its burdens upon tender childhood and infirm old age.
But the answer, I said, is twofold. You may not share the social optimism that I have been setting forth. The second answer is quite as complete as the first, and is applicable to society as it is, or even to a society still more selfish and unchristian. The second answer is that, no matter when interrupted, a rational scheme of organic education is still the best that could have been given up to that time, and for its justification does not need academic completeness. I may say, in passing, that this is not true of the present curriculum. While the schools under the present lowly evolved social conditions must teach in a measure as if each utterance were to be their last, much of the work must, nevertheless, depend for its value upon a reasonable degree of completeness. This is particularly true of classical lines of study. Even in Germany, where the classics have a hold far ahead of anything they have here, educational philosophers are urging with increasing insistence that the main value of classical study lies in the content and only incidentally in the discipline. And you may know that in obedience to this thought the study of Greek is being urged more than that of Latin because the Greek ideals of literature and art and morals and life are so immensely superior to the Roman.
This thought, carried to its extreme, will of course land us in the position of the scientific humanists—if I may so name my own party—who bring to the study of classical writers an almost passionate devotion, but who study them solely for their content, and therefore in translation, in their own modern mother tongue, be it English or German or French.
A child can not enter into Greek as literature with less than from four to six years' study. If this be interrupted, the discipline of course remains, but the main value has not been appropriated. This is also true of modern languages where they go along side by side in too attenuated courses. It is wise, I think, in our present social state, and perhaps it would be wise anyway, to make each day rich in its own rewards, each hour, each lesson, to teach, though without any loss of serenity or faith, as if each occasion were the last, and must con- tribute such content as it has.
If we worked in the spirit that I have tried to make clear to you, the early years of childhood would be given to manual training en- larged into faculty training — would be given, that is, to organic education, and to the cultivation of the sentiments, and not to the pursuit of knowledge as such. Knowledge may be better than riches, but children are little qualified to use either, if the knowledge is at second hand. It is quite surprising how happy a child can be and how wisely occupied without knowing whether the moon be made of green cheese or not; and for my own part I do not think that it much matters whether he ever knows, unless he be prompted by an inner curiosity to inquire. Children are organically impres- sionable and alert, and they have a fountain of feeling that may be so nourished that it will keep fresh and green the years of later life. They have, too, an immense appetite for the concrete world, but they are satisfied with a very small seasoning of the abstract. They are not logical, and I think the attempt to make them so, on such a slender experience of life, is not only time-consuming, but absolutely disastrous to the best results in later years. The hope and promise of the future lie in keeping children children, and boys boys, and girls girls. It is quite fatal to have men and women prematurely born.
The enrichment of the curriculum along organic lines can only be carried out at an expense of time, but just so soon as we are per- suaded that this is what we want the time can readily be found. The old curriculum must be heavily pruned in any case, and this will make room for better things. We shall want to omit two classes of studies altogether: first, those that are abstract; and, secondly, those that are involved in other studies, or in a general experience of life, and would be learned by the children themselves a year or so later. To sweep away these two classes of study from the elementary school — happily, they have never been given place in the kindergarten — • would leave a large gap, and would make us very rich in the oppor- tunity for more profitable organic work. Here is the list of elemen- tary studies: reading, spelling, English, modern foreign languages, Greek, Latin, writing, arithmetic, geography. United States history, civil government, drawing and science lessons (usually physiology, with special reference to the shocking effects of alcohol and tobacco). This certainly invites a willing use of the editorial blue pencil. What shall we cut out under the first head, as being too abstract? I should say all mathematics, all systematic history and civil government, all grammar (this would exclude the classics), and all mechanical drawing. Under the second class, studies involved elsewhere or better learned by implication, I would cut out formal spelling, formal writing, and formal political geography. I seriously propose, then, and I ask your very serious consideration of the proposition, to cut out mathematics, history, civil government, grammar, classics, mechanical drawing, spelling, writing, and political geography—almost the whole equipment of an elementary school. We have left of the old curriculum only the speaking, reading, and writing of English, and of French or German; the study of science (preferably not physiology), and free-hand drawing. This fragment, poor as it may seem to you at first, could yet be made the material of a rich culture. When you add to this the cultivation of the body, and the faculties of touch, sight, hearing, smell, taste, speech and movement, and the acquisition of those accomplishments which from their organic nature must be learned, if at all, in childhood, such as instrumental music and singing, you will find that the days will be more than full—full not of weariness, but of delight. The studies which I have so mercilessly cut out from the curriculum may safely be left to the high school, and some of them left out altogether. Should Jack or Margaret fail to reach the high school, I am still very strongly of the opinion that the acquisition of those accomplishments and powers that I have here suggested would enrich their lives with a graciousness and success that could never have been extracted from the old studies.
Let us look at this new curriculum. To speak English correctly in a clear, pleasant voice, to read it intelligently and agreeably, to write it plainly and without ambiguity—this in itself would be a liberal culture, which few of us attain to. But the end is not yet. Think of what is involved in our reading. We can read stories of our country, of the men and women who have made it great; we can read descriptions of colonies and explorations, and later states, we can read its best and most stirring literature; and we can do all this in the presence of pictures of the men and women and places, and of maps of the lands, and can get a deeper and more human knowledge of America than could be gained by any amount of unemotional history and civil government and geography. In the same vivid way we can study the history, geography, and civilization of other times and places, not as something to be mechanically learned, but as something to be experienced, something to lay hold upon our sentiment and affect our life.
I believe that this sentiment study of the English language should be the foundation stone of modern education. In a smaller measure, but in the same spirit, a modern foreign language may be taken up and entered into and possessed, and especially if but one be taken up at a time. I have omitted spelling, writing, and geography from this new curriculum, because they are better taught as involved in the other work. Spelling at best is a mechanical virtue. I happen myself to be a good speller, but the hours I spent with the spelling-book were numbered. I have learned to spell because much reading has familiarized me with the appearance of words, and I happen to have a visual type of memory. I recognize words now much as I do maple or oak leaves, and with as little difficulty. I am disposed to think that the testimony of others would be similar to mine. In the same way it is hardly worth while to have a separate copy book when all the written language work should be an exercise in writing, or a separate atlas when all reading involving places is done in the presence of a large map. This is what I mean by cutting out studies that are better taught by implication. And in defense of this suggestion, I would call your attention to the fact that the best things of life—courtesy and morality and taste and religion—are not formalized. They are taught by implication and by example.
The science work offers another fine chance for correlation. It should be thoroughly of the surface, and should have to do with the tangible things that interest children, plants and animals and stones, as they touch human life. No skeletons, no systems, no schemes of classification, but flesh and blood and realities all the time. The fatal blight on nearly all elementary pedagogical work is our passion for systematizing, a passion doomed to disappointment, and the forerunner of many dreary failures. One can only classify when one has a lot of material. The children haven't this. They must first get it. The quest will occupy them at least up to the high school. The science work had much better begin with some observational and in a large way experimental branch, such as physiography. Physiology is not superficial enough, and can not be well taught in the absence of an elementary knowledge of physics and chemistry.
The drawing, which I would have entirely free hand, is most valuable when used as a means for the expression of the child's own ideas. Let him draw what he likes, and let the teacher help merely in the method of representation, and then chiefly by suggestion. But these ideas, I am glad to say, are already being worked out in some of our schools. You may have seen the curious pictures that children make of soldiers marching, or of a ball game, or you may have been amazed at their original conceptions of animals and Indians and other creatures dear to a child's fancy. The results are undoubtedly wild, but they are full of promise.
The main point in these suggestions is that the language and science and drawing, thus cut down to the possible and essential, shall be as sincere and as real as the best insight of the teacher can make them. We can do all this and have plenty of time left for the cultivation of the body and the senses.
And we must begin this bodily culture by getting on good terms with our body, by admitting it to honorable fellowship with the mind. We must not be ashamed of our brother, the body. We must want it to be as subtile and pure and strong and beautiful and unashamed as is our spirit. It is a poor education which does not teach boys and girls to walk and run, skate and swim, ride and row, throw and jump, for upon these physical powers joy and health and life, the full and complete life, depend much more than they do upon such formal studies as arithmetic, for example. This bodily culture has an assured place in the rational curriculum, a scheme which fails signally if it does not produce vigorous bodies and warm hearts quite as surely as informed minds. Our motto is the one that you may read at Herder's grave in the quaint old Stadt-Kirche at Weimar: "Licht, Liehe, Lehen."
This increased time also makes possible the enlarged faculty training which a rational scheme demands. The present manual-training work has only to be enlarged so as to include all the faculties, speech and hearing, taste and smell, as well as touch and sight, and to do it not as so many drill exercises, but along the line of human interest and motive. It may seem to you a little fanciful that I include the sense of smell as a serious object of culture. But experiment shows that much of the gratification we get from food is wrapped up in the odor, and our life depends upon our food. Further, odors are the carriers of many helpful and delightful memories. A keen sense of smell means enlarged life, besides being a source of direct pleasure, and a safeguard against noxious influences.
All the senses are to be brought to a high state of perfection, so that they may comprehensively and accurately report the outer world, and by their mental reactions may build up a nerve tissue in the brain of high sensitiveness and power. The possible exercises along these lines are simply unending, and the more intimately they are prompted by the artistic conception of life, the more wonder-working will they be. From this point of view singing is quite as integral a part of voice culture as speaking, while instrumental music not only offers an opportunity for valuable æsthetic culture, but as well a physical co-ordination of sight, hearing, and touch that we simply can not afford to neglect. And all this work, if it is to lead to the highest results, if it is to give us complete men and complete women, must be constantly touched with emotion, with the sentiment of kindness and love and unselfishness and justice and reverence. As I conceive our human needs and human possibilities, the very place where manual training, or rather a thoroughgoing organic training, would be of the utmost use, is the very place where in our whole scheme of secondary education it is found in the least measure—that is, in our elementary schools. When the high school is reached, there ought to be no change in the organic character of the work, but it will be safe to introduce a limited amount of formal and abstract study—geometry, algebra, arithmetic, grammar, history, civics—and to make the science work somewhat more analytic and searching. I must believe, both as a result of my experience with such measure of organic education as our present manual training, in tool work, music, and art represents, and as a result of my firm faith in the continuous and unalterable operation of cause and effect—I must believe, I say, that boys and girls under some such rational scheme of organic education as I have outlined would come to the college at eighteen, sound, vigorous, sensitive, well-equipped, magnificent material out of which to frame magnificent men and magnificent women.
My own conception of life is avowedly that of an artistic and moral possibility, and not at all as a commercial venture, I have come to believe that the wealth of the world is human; that the estimable things of life are personalities, are beautiful men and beautiful women and beautiful children, and I am quite willing that the scheme of organic culture which I am here advocating should stand or fall with this artistic and moral conception of life.
I believe most profoundly that the education which is to regenerate and redeem will be brought about by the setting up of permanent changes in the organism itself, changes brought about by the motive power of the affections, and through the cultivation of the senses, and having for their end and purpose the realization of a high social and moral and artistic ideal. And I believe, further, that in manual training we have the open door to a more rational and thoroughgoing education, and that we have only to enlarge manual training into a more complete organic training to make it satisfy the educational needs of the human spirit.