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THE GENERAL PROBLEM STATED
THE kind of an education that human beings are capable of receiving depends upon the nature of their souls. All animals are capable of being trained. They may by repeated exercises of a given sort be led to do certain things which they would not of themselves be capable of doing. The doing of these things is the result of training. Animals thus acquire the ability to perform certain acts and so-called tricks. They can do no more. They repeat only the acts they are trained to perform. They cannot be educated, for education implies the power in the learner to originate thoughts and acts beyond those taught. This power of self-initiative is the basis of education. The learner wisely taught a few guiding facts and principles is capable of adding additional facts and of establishing additional principles. Children have this power. God set it in their souls. They can be educated. Those that guide this activity are educators. We usually refer to them as teachers.
Teachers must understand the nature of the
human soul. They must also possess a knowledge of the subject-matter which, under their guidance, is the occasioner of thought, feeling, and volition in the pupil. This knowledge of the subject-matter is the scholarship of the teacher. It should be clear, distinct, adequate, and, in some aspects, exhaustive. These terms. will be more fully explained later on. But if the teacher's sole equipment is a knowledge of the materials of an education, he is helpless in the emergencies of the teaching process,-those rare but not infrequent moments when a young soul needs specific guidance, a guidance that can be given only by a teacher whose trained insight is able to discover the specific need, and is prepared to meet it. It is this insight, this power of vision, that the teacher needs more than he needs the mastery of the subject-matter of the lesson. In a few rare spirits this insight is instinctive and innate. Happy the child whose teacher is thus richly endowed! To most of us, this power is the product of study and of reflection.
Therefore this volume undertakes to outline a course of study that will aid in acquiring this power. There will be no attempt to phrase the lessons in technical language. The plain, simple English of our every-day life will best convey
to the student the data to be set forth. The important thing is not to say it in formal phrases, but to see it as it is.
In addition to this knowledge of mental activity and of subject-matter, the teacher must possess a knowledge of educational principles and of educational methods. Why things should be presented in this or that order, at this or that time, with this or that emphasis, and with or
without illustration,-these are vital questions. To this, if one adds the ability to manage a class, to secure order, attention, and interest, one has in effect compassed the scope of the problem of making a teacher.
The exercise of this equipment within the limits set by the nature of the soul, by methods that are wise, and through a teacher whose love for childhood and for truth exceeds his knowledge of teaching, will accomplish the result we hope for, the training up of a soul into a knowledge of the truth as it is in Him, a knowledge of the truth that is glorified, not by its entertainment, but by its use in a life of service.
Emerson once wrote his daughter that he cared little concerning the name of school she attended, but that he cared much concerning the teachers with whom she studied. He understood what we shall all have to understand, that the
school is a living agency, a place where life touches life; and that teaching is the conscious act of the trained spirit of a teacher influencing the less trained spirit of the pupil, to the end that the pupil may come into Emerson's Idea possession of all the knowledge, culture, and training he is capable of receiving. The entire value of the teaching process is to be found in the power of the teacher to enrich the soul of the learner.
I once addressed a group of boys in a junior church service, on the mission work in Porto. Rico. With some degree of enthusiasm it was explained to the boys what the conditions really are in this little "Pearl of the Antilles." It was a story of work done, of people helped, of children made happy, of homes made clean, of life made sweet. At the conclusion of the talk a
A Boy's Idea
boy of fourteen arose and said: "I now know better than before the needs of these people.
I feel that we ought to help them. I move that we send ten dollars to Porto Rico to help the work."
It was a short speech. But it was a good one. The boy scarcely realized that he had really tabulated the order of mental activities. Note his remark. "I know," "I feel," "I move." Touched in his intellect, his sensibilities, and his