Billeder på siden

I made my proposal that he "rewrite" his book because I knew that he considered his first edition hastily written and, in many respects, not adequate to the ideal he had conceived of the book. I knew, moreover, that years of continued thinking on a theme necessarily modifies one's views. He would wish to make some changes in inatter presented, some in judgments rendered, and many more in style of presentation.

Hence it has come about that after this lapse of time Mr. Quick has produced a substantially new book, which, retaining all or nearly all of the admirable features of the first edition, has brought up to their standard of excellence many others.

The history of education is a vast field, and we are accustomed to demand bulky treatises as the only adequate ones. But the obvious disadvantage of such works has led to the clearly defined ideal of a book like Mr. Quick's, which separates the gold from the dross, and offers it small in bulk but precious in value.

The educational reformers are the men above all others who stimulate us to think about education. Every one of these was an extremist, and erred in his judgment as to the value of the methods which prevailed in his time, and also overestimated the effects of the new education that he proposed in the place of the old. But thought begins with negations, and originality shows itself first not in creating something new, but in removing the fettering limitations of its existing environment. The old is attacked-its good and its bad are condemned alike. It has been imposed on us by authority, and we have not been allowed to summon it before the bar of our reason and ask of it its credentials. It informs us that it presented these credentials ages ago to our ancestors-men

older and wiser than we are. Such imposition of authority leaves us no choice but to revolt. We, too, have a right to think as well as our ancestors; we, too, must clear up the ground of our belief and substitute insight for blind faith in tradition.

These educational reformers are prophets of the clearing-up period (Aufklärung) of revolution against mere authority.

While we are inspired to think for ourselves, however, we must not neglect that more important matter of thinking the truth. Free-thinking, if it does not reach the truth, is not of great value. It sets itself as puny individual against the might of the race, which preserves its experience in the forms of institutions-the family, the social organism, the state, the Church.

Hence our wiser and more scientific method studies everything that is, or exists, in its history, and endeavors to discover how it came to be what it is. It inquires into its evolution. The essential truth is not the present fact, but the entire process by which the present fact grew to be what it is. For the living force that made the present fact made also the past facts antecedent to the present, and it will go on making subsequent facts. The revelation of the living forces which make the facts of existence is the object of science. It takes all these facts to reveal the living force that is acting and producing them.

Hence the scientific attitude is superior to the attitude of these educational reformers, and we shall in our own minds weigh these men in our scales, asking first of all: What is their view of the world? How much do they value human institutions? How much do they know of the substantial good that is wrought by those institutions? If they know nothing of these things, if they see only in

cumbrance in these institutions, if to them the individual is the measure of all things, we can not do reverence to their proposed remedies, but must account their value to us chiefly this, that they have stimulated us to thinking, and helped us to discover what they have not discovered -namely, the positive value of institutions.

All education deals with the boundary between ignorance and knowledge and between bad habits and good ones. The pupil as pupil brings with him the ignorance and the bad habits, and is engaged in acquiring good habits and correct knowledge.

This situation gives us a general recipe for a frequently recurring type of educational reformer. Any would-be reformer may take his stand on the boundary mentioned, and, casting an angry look at the realm of ignorance and bad habit not yet conquered, condemn in wholesale terms the system of education that has not been efficient in removing this mental and moral darkness.

Such a reformer selects an examination paper written by a pupil whose ignorance is not yet vanquished, and parades the same as a product of the work of the school, taking great pains to avoid an accurate and just admeasurement of the actual work done by the school. The reformer critic assumes that there is one factor here, whereas there are three factors-namely, (a) the pupil's native and acquired powers of learning, (b) his actual knowledge acquired, and (c) the instruction given by the school. The school is not responsible for the first and second of these factors, but it is responsible only for what increment has grown under its tutelage. How much and what has the pupil increased his knowledge, and how much his power of acquiring knowledge and of doing?

The educational reformer is always telling us to leave

words and take up things. He dissuades from the study of language, and also undervalues the knowledge of manners and customs and laws and usages. He dislikes the study of institutions even. He "loves Nature," as he informs us. Herbert Spencer wants us to study the body, and to be more interested in biology than in formal logic; more interested in natural history than in literature. But I think he would be indignant if one were to ask him whether he thought the study of the habits and social instincts of bees and ants is less important than the study of insect anatomy and physiology. Anatomy and physiology are, of course, important, but the social organism is more important than the physiological organism, even in bees and ants.

So in man the social organism is transcendent as compared with human physiology, and social hygiene compared with physiological hygiene is supreme.

To suppose that the habits of plants and insects are facts, and that the structure of human languages, the logical structure of the mind itself as revealed in the figures and modes of the syllogism and the manners and customs of social life, the deep ethical principles which govern peoples as revealed in works of literature-to suppose that these and the like of these are not real facts and worthy of study is one of the strangest delusions that has ever prevailed.

But it is a worse delusion to suppose that the study of Nature is more practical than the study of man, though this is often enough claimed by the educational reformers.

The knowledge of most worth is first and foremost the knowledge of how to behave—a knowledge of social customs and usages. Any person totally ignorant in this regard would not escape imprisonment-perhaps I should

say decapitation-for one day in any city of the worldsay in London, in Pekin, in Timbuctoo, or in a pueblo of Arizona. A knowledge of human customs and usages, next a knowledge of human views of Nature and manthese are of primordial necessity to an individual, and are means of direct self-preservation.

The old trivium or threefold course of study at the university taught grammar, logic, and rhetoric—namely, (1) the structure of language, (2) the structure of mind and the art of reasoning, (3) the principles and art of persuasion. These may be seen at once to be lofty subjects and worthy objects of science. They will always remain such, but they are not easy for the child. In the course of mastering them he must learn to master himself and gain great intellectual stature. Pedagogy has wisely graded the road to these heights, and placed much easier studies at the beginning and also made the studies more various. Improvements in methods and in grading-devices for interesting the pupil-so essential to his selfactivity, for these we have to thank the Educational Reformers.

WASHINGTON, D. C., 1890.


« ForrigeFortsæt »