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IT is an opinion not uncommon among educa
tors that a definition of education which would cover all kinds of training is an impossibility. Such a definition, as it widens for the reception of manual training and the study of Greek, kindergarten work and the post-graduate course, certainly threatens to become “like a circle in the water, which never ceaseth to enlarge itself till by broad spreading it disperse to naught.” The difficulty in framing it has apparently increased in recent years, since the old standards of value in education have had to struggle for existence with all the other college and university studies. The old definition, “to lead out and train the mental powers,” is comprehensive enough for all purposes, for it tells neither what the mental powers to be trained are, nor how they are to be trained; by the change of a word or two it would apply equally well to the art of breaking colts. If the definition is stated more in detail, it is found to lie entirely in the domain of applied logic; and education of the intellect, in the only sense in which it can cover the whole field, is the process of training the intellect in the art of reasoning. If there is or ever shall be a common aim in all phases of education, it will be based upon this common element. However important the information may be which is conveyed to the student in any department of study, his ability to retain it and use it for further acquisition depends entirely on the method by which he acquired it, and the degree to which he has become master of that method. The facts necessary for a new investigation are easily brought to hand if the intellect has been trained to work independently. One of the most striking things in Darwin's Autobiography is the relative importance, to be mentioned again hereafter, which he assigns, in his analysis of his own education," to the accumulation of facts and to the development of mental habits. Probably few minds ever possessed in a higher degree the power to collect and utilize facts. He said the real education of his mind began on the Beagle voyage. And yet he gave a very subordinate place to the vast number of facts with which he became acquainted on the voyage, and assigned Supreme importance to the habits of incessant industry and concentrated attention which were developed in him, and to the necessity of reasoning in the solution of geological problems. If the most important and only common element in education is the development of the power of reasoning, it may seem strange that logic, proudly called the science of sciences, should play so obscure a rôle that in many institutions it is practically ignored, and in the rest it is tolerated in a very brief course. The two most probable reasons for this are, first, the general notion that the human mind learns to reason as the human body learns to walk, that there is no need of teaching; that as training in the latter can only produce a Delsartean gait, which for practical purposes is little superior to an awkward wabble, so training in the art of reasoning is likely to produce nothing but over-refinement, which accepts indifferently postulates foolish and wise, and
seeks only to draw out their consequences into gossamer threads. The second reason is, that the logic usually taught is not the logic of common life refined by successful scientific experience, but “formal logic,” emptied of all - ) contents and divested of all covering. Every fool can walk, and, as Darwin truly said, any fool can generalize and speculate. But the secret of originality, ingenuity, skill to seize facts, grasp their significance, and anticipate consequences, is not hidden here. Not the power to reason, but the power to reason quickly and unerringly and doggedly and impartially is the basis of success alike for the business man and for the man of science. If skilful and accurate reasoning constitutes so essential an element of education, and if logic, as formally taught, is, for the mass of students, so barren of results, it is pertinent to inquire what provision for logical training is made in the general instruction of colleges and universities. In the evolution of the college curriculum the individuality of the student has finally been recognized and provided for, and the dignity of the sciences, as subjects conducive to mental discipline, has become an accepted fact. The material of education has by this been both increased and improved. Method has also undergone profound changes.
The laboratory for science, sources of information for history, inventional work in mathematics, all bear witness that the student has been brought into direct contact with the material by means of which his intellect is to be trained. The best laboratory hand-books are no longer books of directions, but of suggestion and question; these books constitute a distinct recognition that the art of reasoning is the heart of education, that the true student is from first to last a discoverer, and that any method which makes the discoveries for him is wrong. There are, however, two very distinct orders of reasoning: the order of discovery, which the mind follows as it winds its way among facts, adopting tentatively hypotheses which are afterwards rejected, and groping along the border of the unknown in the pursuit of knowledge; and the order of proof or argument, used by the investigator in his effort to convince his hearer or reader of the truth of his results. The order of proof may ignore entirely the steps by which the discoveries were made, the materials collected, and the conclusions drawn. The aim is conviction, and the evidence is arranged in the most lucid order to support the conclusions established at the end of an inves