Popular Science Monthly/Volume 71/September 1907/Some Ethical Aspects of Mental Economy
|SOME ETHICAL ASPECTS OF MENTAL ECONOMY|
By Professor FREDERICK E. BOLTON
STATE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
TO be economical of one's powers makes for efficiency; to be prodigal, makes for inefficiency. To be efficient in life is the highest ethics. To be inefficient because of prodigality is to be immoral.
It will be observed that in this discussion I follow the Aristotelian conception of ethics as a practical science, rather than as a theoretical science. The object of the discussion is to consider certain modes of mental life, to evaluate them, and to offer a few guiding suggestions for the proper conduct of life.
Professor Paulsen has compared this view of ethics with the science of medicine, which he says, "instructs us to solve the problems of corporeal life, to the end that the body may perform all its functions in a healthy manner during its natural existence; while ethics, basing itself on the knowledge of human nature in general, especially of its spiritual and social side, aims to solve all the problems of life so that it may reach its fullest, most beautiful and most perfect development. We might, therefore," he concludes, "call ethics universal dietetics, to which medicine, and all the other technologies, like pedagogy, politics, etc., are related as special parts, or as auxiliary sciences." ("A System of Ethics," p. 2.) The purpose of ethics, then, is "to determine the end of life, or the highest good, and to point out the way or the means of realizing it."
This much by way of definition is given preliminary to my discussion of mental economy as a phase of ethics, in order to justify my treatment when I seem to digress from the immediate consideration of right and wrong and to discuss questions which might properly be also catalogued under pedagogy or mental hygiene.
All will agree that no life is most nobly lived unless it has secured the complete unfoldment of the richest inheritances bequeathed by ancestry; unless it has appropriated environment in such a way as to secure the limits of individual advancement; unless it has rendered the utmost possible service to society. To fail in these particulars is to be prodigal and uneconomical. To be uneconomical is to be unethical. The world is full of work to be done, problems to be solved, which are of proportions never before assumed. To meet these duties and responsibilities requires the highest products of intellectual evolution, keen and broad sympathies, and vigorous, sustained will-impulses.
To live completely and ethically, every one should accomplish more than his parents. This means not only that he should secure more tangible results, but that he should develop and expend more force than his ancestors. Each one stands on the shoulders of the past and may utilize all the accumulations of the past. In order to accomplish more than our forefathers, it is absolutely necessary, however, to husband our forces. But with the increase of potentialities, we must also reckon with the fact of the manifold additional ways inviting and exciting to depletion of powers. As an illustration, let us note the excessive stimulation to which the eye is subjected. In our present civilization we have come to depend more and more upon vision. The strain upon the eye in gaining knowledge of the objective realities about us has been increased a thousandfold by modern modes of travel. In addition, we must use the eye to interpret language symbols about myriads of things inaccessible to personal inspection. Primitive man had only a narrow range of things to see, and those usually at some distance. Hence he knew not of eye strain resulting from the microscopic scrutiny of a vast kaleidoscopic scene. Formerly man could deliberate in seeing the few things within his range. But now he becomes a globe-trotter, compacting into a few weeks the view of scores of nations, vast expanses of country, the collections of ages, and the unceasing activities of the heterogeneous throng.
In a week^s jaunt and doing a world's fair, present-day man sees more and hears more, than was possible in a whole lifetime, a century ago. Besides these activities the eye is made to do duty in reading the twenty-four-page daily, the forty-eight-page Sunday edition, in scanning a half-dozen weeklies, going through a cartload of magazines, to say nothing of all the latest books which one is supposed to read.
The ear is equally assailed with the ceaseless hum of voices, door bells, telephone calls, whir of the trolley, the shriek and clang of the locomotive, the maddening grind of the sleeping car or the twin-screw steamer (upon which we take our vacation rest!), the deafening roar of the factory, the clatter of galloping hoofs and rattle of wheels over paved streets. Even at night we must be assailed, business must not stand still, goods must be sent by return mail, limited trains must outdo lightning specials. Even on Sundays we are not permitted to listen to restful sermons—they must be such as to give rise to glaring head-lines, and the music is often of ear-splitting pitch.
The first and foremost great law of mental dietetics that should be impressed early and often is that one long ago stated by Juvenal, viz, mens sana in corpore sano. Every parent and every teacher should understand that the first business of the child is to become a good animal; childhood years should be largely vegetative. His primal inheritance is physical. To have big lungs, firm muscles, elastic step, ruddy cheeks and scintillating, unspectacled eyes, and every sense alert, at the close of youth are priceless possessions with which a knowledge of algebraic formulæ and a few dates in history are not to be compared. For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world of knowledge and have not physical power to use it?
Not only is a sound body an absolutely necessary correlate of a sound mind, but mental processes themselves are incomplete without muscular accompaniments. How vague would be our ideas of walking, talking, writing, painting, molding and chiseling without the muscular accompaniments. You can not even think hard of a word without involuntarily moving the muscles. Try it sometime by opening the mouth and thinking the word bobbin, bubble, etc. So-called 'mind reading,' table turning, the planchette, all illustrate the same fact.
Again, the body possesses all the gateways to the soul through which all knowledge of the outside world must come. Close the eyes, stop the ears, and deaden all the other sense-organs and the child is mindless—an idiot. Finally, no message can issue from the mind, nothing of its workings can be revealed and no control of the world forces be secured, save through the medium of physical organs—the muscles.
Consequently, to secure the highest mental efficiency we must give due consideration to bodily culture. Any education which disregards this is a failure. Every student should have sufficient food, adequate sleep, proper exercise, abundant recreation and in every way seek to promote bodily vigor.
The Socratic doctrine of innate ideas has been responsible for many pedagogical sins. Socrates taught that the business of teaching was to draw out these inborn ideas. The middle-age ascetics went so far as to assert that spiritual development could be best furthered by bodily torture. Consequently, in order to elevate the mind they strove to devise tortures to crucify the flesh. We read of their fasting, eating inappropriate foods, going barefooted and otherwise scantily clad in the dead of winter, wearing hair shirts with the hair inside; bathing in ice-cold springs in winter, sitting on sharp nails, assuming unnatural and extremely uncomfortable postures for months at a time, binding the body with ligatures, loading the body with weights, living in filth, going without sleep and working all day and all night, etc. Simeon Stylites is said to have lived for forty years chained on the top of a high pillar and Macarius slept for months in a marsh, exposing his naked body to the stings of venomous flies, in the misguided notion that the greater the bodily penance the more exalted the spirit became. In fact they tried to devise every possible means of excruciating torture of body in the attempt to exalt mind. To this pernicious doctrine of the relation between body and mind can be traced much of the long intellectual night of the middle ages. To it are directly traceable the beliefs in witchcraft, demonophobia, sorcery and the superstition that insane people vere possessed of evil spirits. Professor Monroe ("History of Education," p. 248) says, "the virtue of the monk was often measured by his ingenuity in devising new and fantastic methods of mortifying the flesh—all these forms of discipline were for the sake of spiritual growth, the moral betterment of the penitent: all these, as the very significance of the word asceticism indicates, reveal the dominant conception of education which prevailed throughout this long period,—the idea of discipline of the physical nature for the sake of growth in moral and spiritual power." So long as the body was considered gross and evil and a mean tenement of clay from which the spirit should strive as soon as possible to escape, it was but natural that bodily care, and much less culture, should be considered unworthy objects of education.
Sleep as a factor in student life does not receive adequate consideration from many students. The student who does not take regular and sufficient sleep is pilfering his own bank account. There is absolutely no substitute for it, and when once lost, restitution can not be made even by a nap in the class-room. Nervous tissues exhausted by a day's activities can only be restored by sleep. Dr. Hall says that no child should be allowed to go to school without having had nine hours of sleep and a good breakfast. This would not be a had rule to guide student life. Parties, athletic jaunts, examination crams, and even working for one's living, which cause students to remain awake beyond the midnight hour, transgress all laws of mental and physical hygiene. There is doubtless no cause so frequently producing nervous breakdown as loss of sleep. Several former students who were pale and anemic while here have returned after a hard year's teaching experience with ruddy complexion, increased weight and all the appearances of vigorous health. I have inquired concerning the change and have been answered, "I guess it is because I get enough sleep now."
The student who goes to college to become a hermit, not touching elbows with his college mates and developing no interests through hearing music, attending lectures on varied subjects, seeing nothing of the great busy world about him, misses a vital factor of college life. His procedure is uneconomical and therefore unethical, for when he emerges from the college halls into the busy, bustling world, he will find himself behind the procession. Because he has not seen the larger world while acquiring his book knowledge, he perceives no relation and often feels that the world is somehow out of joint because it does not conform to his bookish ways. To become efficient he must begin again and study the world about him. He must gain its view-point, adjust himself to it; he must now try to gain friendships which should have been established in college. All this is a wasteful, selfish process.
On the other hand, some students need to be cautioned when they make the opposite and equally grave error of saying that "My associates teach me more than my books and class work." Possibly they do, but it is not the fault of the books nor of the classes, nor any compliment to the associates. He says, "I study men, not books." This is sound, if rightly interpreted, but he should know that there are some men besides freshmen well worth knowing. Some of them can only be known by going to their books. He should learn to study individuals as well as masses, the world's teachers as well as his own classmates; he should look up as well as around. The college course is certainly a failure if it has not given the student lasting acquaintanceships with a few superior students, some great men on its faculties, and many of the world's intellectual élite, who can only be known through the pages of history and the great literatures of all ages. Great ideals which become guiding stars of one's destiny should be clearly glimpsed. The great laws of science should have banished superstition forever from his mind and given him a new interpretation of universal development and history. Finally a clear conception of philosophical principles should act as a great balance wheel enabling him to interpret life and all its manifold activities. It is through books and master minds that the student should get meaning for all his varied observations and activities. To regard books and class work as inferior and something to be endured is to miss the whole point of a college education. Colleges are founded and maintained for the specific purpose of furnishing books and teachers, and all class work, once selected, should have the right of way. Student programs should not be so overloaded but that all the accessories may be duly emphasized. Recreation as well as work should become a part of one's religion. The gospel of relaxation needs evangelists as well as the gospel of work.
It is important for the student to understand early the force and value of habit. Much time is lost by every one of us because our early training did not render automatic all those activities that we have to perform constantly and in the same way. Purely mechanical work can be controlled more economically by lower nervous centers than by higher. In childhood and youth the nervous system is plastic, a prime condition for memorizing and fixing habits. Among the habits that should become ingrained during this period are those of correct bodily postures and activities, correct speech, the multiplication table, spelling, writing, those involved in learning to speak foreign languages, etc. Most habits are controlled by the spinal cord, which is early developed. Hence we should form habits early, so that the brain may be relieved later of mechanical work and be concerned with higher operations. As Dr. Balliet has observed, "At first a child uses his brain in walking, later he can walk from habit and walks therefore with his spinal cord. As first we spell with painful consciousness, later we spell familiar words of our vocabulary with little or no consciousness. Children ought to be trained to write and spell mainly with the spinal cord, and use all their brain power in thinking the thoughts to be expressed. We do many things with the spinal cord to relieve the brain. We walk with the spinal cord, we write and spell with the cord; I suppose we knit and gossip with the spinal cord; indeed we may sing and pray, not with our hearts, nor with our brains, but with the upper part of our spinal cords. We tip our hats to each other, not with our brains, but mainly with our spinal cords; when we meet people whom we do not wish to see, we often shake hands mechanically with our spinal cords—hence we speak of a 'cordial welcome.'"
Not only do these elementary physical activities become automatic, but also processes of judging and reasoning must become largely mechanical before becoming serviceable. One's thinking is largely specialized and judgment outside of the well-beaten track of thinking is not very valuable. The lawyer's opinion concerning disease is slowly formed and unreliable; the doctor's judgment about legal matters like-wise is valueless. The expert in a given line is one who has studied widely and who can form instantaneous judgments because of the habitual consideration of the data. Difficult studies pursued through a long time until mastery is complete become as simple as the alphabet. Mathematicians become so familiar with the calculus that they read it for recreation when fatigued with other work. The lawyer can instantly cite scores of cases and precedents for which the tyro would have required hours to summon to the foreground of consciousness. Hence, when knowledge is to become usable it must be pondered long and every detail absolutely appropriated. To arrange work in such a way as to sustain interest through variety and at the same time dwell upon it until thoroughly comprehended and appropriated is high teaching art. The demands for variety frequently allure to new fields before assimilation has been effected.
Even the will is much more a matter of habit than we usually think. It is too often regarded as a sort of psychological ghost which pursues us about, compelling us to do certain things and prohibiting us from doing certain other things. Every one is supposed by the popular mind to have at birth a will of unchangeable quality and quantity. This is absolutely incorrect. The child has impulses but is practically will-less. His will must grow and develop like any other powers. We use the will when we perform actions which we control. When we lack control, either muscular or mental, we lack will, or possess a diseased will. When a child can pick up a pin, thread a needle, tie a knot, walk without tottering, run, talk plainly, etc., he manifests definite mental and muscular control and therefore manifests voluntary power.
Now these activities were only possible after long practise and the development of definite habits of activity. As Dr. Royce says, "Our minds become full of impulses, of tendencies to action, of passions, and of concerns for what we take to be our welfare. All these impulses or concerns get woven by the laws of habit into systems of ruling motives which express themselves in our regular fashions of conduct. The whole of our inner life viewed in this aspect appears as the purposive side of our consciousness, or as the will, in the wider sense." We even need to put new interpretation upon the meaning of the freedom of will. Freedom means power of choice, power of desire, but not necessarily power of execution. The life-long habits of every individual chain him down to certain types of action and it often takes long practise to break up fixed customs and habits of activities. This has its sad side and also its advantageous side. Were it not that we willed with all previous acts of willing, and were it not true that all our habits hold us to certain types of action, it would be impossible to predict what the individual might do on a given occasion. When we analyze the meaning of character, we find that it implies nothing more or less than the accumulated tendencies toward action in particular directions. The man who has habitually acted in a righteous direction has built up tendencies toward righteousness. On the other hand, one who has sown a generous supply of wild oats in youth is sure to reap in old age an abundant harvest of viciousness. It could not be otherwise. We are enjoined in the Scriptures that 'whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.' A prose-poet has stated that "we sow a thought and reap an act; we sow an act and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap a character; sow a character and reap a destiny." Professor Fullerton says that the old interpretation of absolute freedom would make this a melancholy world. In such a world of freedom no man could count upon himself and no man could persuade his neighbor.
We should be powerless to lead one another into evil, but we should be also powerless to influence one another for good. It would be a lawless world with each man cut off from the great whole and given a lawless little world all to himself. He said, "To-morrow I am to face nearly one hundred students in logic. It is a new class. I know little about its members, save that they are students. I have assumed that they will act as students usually do and that I shall escape with my life. If they are endowed with free will in the old interpretation, what might I expect? What does free will care for the terror of the dean's office, the long green table, and the committee of discipline? Is it disinterested in logic and does it have a personal respect for me? The picture is a harrowing one and I drop the curtain upon it."
Hence, from a pedagogical point of view, how important to fortify the child by habits against that which is undesirable in conduct by developing in him impulses and tendencies through experience in right conduct. Right conduct in children there must be if we expect right conduct in adult years. The man who has to reflect to keep his hands from his neighbor's pocket does not possess honesty of a very high type. It is only the one who possesses no impulse to pick his neighbor's pocket and who does possess an instinct of abhorrence against such an act that is really honest. The one who is tempted evinces disease of will.
Independence of thinking is a rare but thoroughly economical mode of activity. Many people are so unused to thinking for themselves that they would be frightened at the appearance in consciousness of a thought really their own. It has been said that "animals think not at all and some men a little." Most of the thinking of the world is carried on by a few individuals. The rest of the world are mere echoists. This is a terribly wasteful process, and sinful. If more people were independent thinkers there would not be a yearly output of millions of barrels of patent medicines, the main ingredients of which are alcoholic preservatives. Soothing syrups with opiates are fed to children because they are said to cry for them. The children are quieted, oftentimes so effectually as to be stupid through life. "Harmless vegetable remedies" is a magical phrase. Perhaps this is why so many take extract of hops and barley, spirits of corn, nicotine and opium!
Because of lack of independence of thought, superstitions have always hindered the world's progress. Even to-day the number 13 is so ominous that you can not get a room number 13 at a hotel, can scarcely have 13 at table. Friday is still considered so unlucky that steamship companies hesitate to make sailing dates on Friday. Farmers still plant their potatoes in the moon, and men carry potatoes in their pockets to cure rheumatism. Only a few days ago I saw a man in this city who had a rattlesnake's tail in his hatband to ward off rheumatism. Clairvoyants and fortune-tellers apparently find plenty of dupes, if we are to Judge by the wealth of their advertising. Thus on every hand we find ample evidence that people are sinning and being sinned against simply because of slothfulness in thinking.
In ancient times and in the middle ages the scholars shut themselves away from the world, quiet as it was, in order to avoid the distractions against thinking. While they erred in not recognizing that the senses are the source of all knowledge, were they not wise in recognizing that to think effectively demands solitude?
I wonder if there is not much in modern student life that militates against the deepest thinking. With the multiplication of student activities, of themselves in no way secondary to any others in importance, have not the opportunities for sequestered contemplation decreased? With football, baseball, basketball, tennis, rowing, skating, the literary society, the dramatic club, the freshman banquet, the sophomore cotillion, the junior prom, the senior hop, numberless fraternity, sorority, and various other house parties, the various church, social and other engagements, besides the loafing hour, the theater, concert, special lectures galore, the newspapers and magazines to scan, the letters to write home and other places, applications for schools to make, etc., one might well exclaim, "And when do the}' find time to study?"
Many students take on altogether too many activities. In my own observation I have known several students who arrested their development badly by getting too many irons in the fire. A student's popularity is not infrequently the cause of his intellectual arrest. By attempting debates, athletics, dramatics, study and society, all at the same time, his energies are dissipated, his growth stunted, while his plodding companion by everlastingly keeping at a few things finally becomes a master and frequently astonishes even himself as well as his acquaintances. Even short courses with too much variety, except for inspiration, are uneconomical, because they do not lay permanent foundations. Too many open lecture courses provided by faculties may easily be distracting and a source of dissipation. The student must learn to say no to the siren's voice which continually beckons him on to new fields.
I sometimes feel that there ought to be some course labeled "thinking" in which the individual should be isolated from everybody long enough to really empty his mind of all ideas which are merely echoes, and then to discern what are really his own. With all the distraction of congested social life, the time may come when it would be a blessing for the state to imprison a few great men each year and allow them only pen, ink and paper. It may have been a fortunate thing for the world that John Bunyan languished in prison until his thoughts had had time to germinate and come to full fruition. Possibly the blind Milton, shut away from the distractions of visual stimuli, may have looked within and discovered thoughts struggling for expression, but stifled with ephemeral ideas of sense perception.
While we are rightly emphasizing group activities as an aid in developing altruism, I wonder whether students do not sometimes misinterpret its meaning. Self-activity is fundamental in the process of acquisition of knowledge. No knowledge is of much value that is not made one's own personal possession. This means more than the recital of words and formulæ gained from books and companions. In their desire to be helpful I sometimes see students in groups, even sitting on the stairways when the crowds are passing, believing they are studying together. When one hears the bits of gossip interspersed between the formulæ, the declensions and historical dates one wonders where the calm reflection, deep concentration, analysis, comparison, doubt, contemplation, deliberation, complete abstraction, enter in.
An oversocial room-mate who persists in retailing the gossip of the day during the hour set apart for study is an uneconomical acquisition. Psychology has thoroughly demonstrated that we can consciously attend economically to only one set of ideas at a time. Even much note taking in class is an uneconomical distraction. The faithful but misguided student frequently attempts to take down every word uttered. He deceives himself, for what he hopes to carry under his arm he should have in his head. No wonder that sometimes the less scrupulous one who cuts classes and borrows notes instead of writing them fares about as well.
In student life it is important to thoroughly master a task as speedily as possible. To skim over a lesson and leave it without mastery is wasteful. The process may be repeated a dozen times in this way and then be only half learned. Hence, "whatsoever thou findest to do, do it with all thy mind and with all thy heart and with all thy strength." In mastering things for keeps two attitudes are necessary—interest and attention. Attention is the mother of memory; interest is the mother of attention. Hence, if you would secure memory, you must capture the mother and the grandmother. It is the business of us all to be interested in what we do, and it is unethical to regard our work as drudgery. I sometimes say to students, you never will be great successes as teachers until your work has come to occupy all your waking moments and even your hours of sleep. It must be your life. If you wish to know what you are interested in just catch yourselves suddenly occasionally, when you have no prescribed task, to see what you are thinking about. Those great dominating, insistent ideas indicate your real interests.
May I say a word on the ethics of cramming for examinations? The method is a delusion and a snare. Ideas are not grasped, associations are not made, brain tracks are not made permanent, and even though the student might pass an examination on such possessions, like the notes of an insolvent bank they are found to be worthless trash when put to real use. Instead of wisdom more to be prized than fine gold, such a process may leave one with only bogus certificates. Make your mental acquisitions absolutely your own while going over the subject day by day, take ten hours of sleep before every examination day, and the results need not be feared. In trying to make possessions most permanent and most economically I give frequently the following recipe: Study your lesson as if you expected to teach it. When you can teach it to some one else you possess it. Frequently actually try to teach your lesson. If your room-mate will not submit, inflict it upon an imaginary pupil. Some one said, "I do not lecture to instruct others, but to clear up my own ideas."
Although young shoulders should not become bowed down by an overweening sense of responsibility, yet it is sinful not to impress the young with the importance of the morning of life. The old adage that it is never too late to mend should be replaced by the one that it is ever too late to become what one might have been, if an opportunity has been allowed to slip.
Students should early recognize the importance of making the most of the morning of life. Biologists have come to recognize the economic value of the period of infancy. The period of infancy is the period of plasticity, the period when the individual can be molded and modified; in other words, educated. The longer the period of infancy, the higher the degree of educability. The newly-hatched chick has a short period of infancy. On emerging from the egg, it can perform almost all the activities which it will ever be able to perform. It has very little to learn, very little possibility of learning and very little time in which to learn. The young dog has more to learn, a longer period in which to learn it and larger possibilities of acquiring new activities. The human being has the longest period of infancy. By infancy I do not mean alone the period when the child is in the cradle. Biologically it includes all the period of life from birth to maturity. It is the period of plasticity, the period of educability. After this period, the possibilities of education grow less and less. Perchance there are freshmen who may peruse this. I desire to give you a few words of comfort. You may be frequently derided by the learned sophomores who call you "greenies" or "freshies." Take comfort and regard the appellation "freshmen" as a mark of honor rather than derision. To be fresh or to be green means that you are still growing. All should wish to be green and to grow as long as possible. May you live to a green old age. Even the sophomores are all right. Woodrow Wilson said, "A sophomore is one in whom the sap is rising but it has not yet reached his head. He will eventually mature."
Professor James says that one seldom gets an entirely new idea into his head after thirty. After that period one may erect a splendid structure upon the foundation already laid. But if any subsequent structure is to be reared the proper foundation must have been laid before that time. For "outside of their own business," says James, "the ideas gained by men before they are twenty-five are practically the only ideas they shall have in all their lives." We can not get anything new, for disinterested curiosity is past, instincts have died out, bonds of association have become fixed, "mental grooves and channels set, the power of assimilation gone." Hardly even is a foreign language learned after twenty spoken without a foreign accent. "In most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again." The most possible should be made of early life, for, although it is a fact that the number of cells in a given brain is com-, plete at birth, yet mental exercise must determine the number that becomes fully developed. Moreover, the period for development lies largely between birth and maturity. It is the period when nerve matter is plastic and when growth and replacement exceed disintegration.
Brain workers do their best between the ages of twenty-five and forty-five before that they are preparing for work, after that their work, no matter how extensive, is largely routine. Lawyers and physicians do much of their practise after forty, but the learning was accomplished before forty or forty-five. Successful merchants lay the foundations for wealth and success in youth and middle life. The great men that we know are all old men; but the foundations for their greatness were laid when they were young. Philosophers have founded and announced their systems in youth and early manhood; divines and religious teachers have originated their creeds and have been most effective as preachers in early manhood.
Statesmen have projected their greatest acts of legislation, diplomacy and reform in early life. In the morning of life scientists have wrought out their data and practically formulated their theories; generals and admirals have gained their greatest victories; lawyers have paved the way for leadership at the bar, physicians have laid the groundwork for their greatest discoveries, poets and artists and musicians have planned and in many instances executed their greatest masterpieces.
You, young men and women of the colleges and high schools, are picked individuals. A process of selection and sifting going on for many years in your own lives, and for generations in your ancestors, determined who should go to college. The state endows its universities to enable its intellectual elite to secure the development which their native worth makes possible. The function of the school and the university is not to create brains, but to mature them. The school is like a problem in multiplication in which the student is the multiplicand and the institution the multiplier, and, as in mathematics, if we have significant figures for our multiplicand the result is significant, but if we have ciphers for the multiplicand the result must be zero.
Your efficiency in life depends largely upon your physical and mental health and your habits of work, rest and recreation. To conserve your inborn potentialities and to multiply your talents is not only a high privilege but your greatest immediate duty. To fail is to be morally culpable, to succeed betokens true wisdom and virtue. No worthier object of contemplation can occupy your mind than the Socratic admonition, "Know thyself."