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through the shallows of the sea, steer their course into the port of safety. Our compass is the Science of Education, which tells us what to do, and what not, and what the needs of the school at pres. entare.
“And what are these needs ?" you will ask. “What are the demands that to-day, more than ever, are pressed upon the primary school?” When I attempt to give an answer to these questions, I say candidly that I do not hope to be able to meet the expectations of all. I did not prepare this paper with this in view; for to satisfy all is impossible. I believe in the old adage, “ Try to please fev; to please many is evil."
Permit me now, in a few simple paragraphs, to indicate what I regard as the aims and scope of primary-school work from my individual standpoint, and what I consider the prime conditions of success according to the experience which I have been able to gain in my school work. I then ask the reader to examine and test my opinions withoui prejudice, and to put into practice what seems worthy of acceptance.
The first and most important requirement in the education of our children is the moral training; for what avails all knowledge, all ability, all learning, all skill, when the man's heart is depraved, and the will-power is exerted in the wrong direction ? An old writer says: “On the day of judgment, the great Judge beyond the stars will not ask, What have you read? What have you studied ? How many languages can you speak ? How well can you preach ?—but, How have you lived ? What have you done? All great educators, from Montaigne down to Herbert Spencer, have considered the moral training of the young as the principal aim; and the great Teacher of teachers has expressed this idea by, “ Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect ;” i. e., be all that your powers enable you to be, live, grow, and perfect yourselves in the doing of noble acts, in living a spotless life. There can be no doubt the morality of youth must be the highest aim of all training, and to-day and in this free country of ours more than ever. I do not like to look at men and things through dark spectacles, but I ask, Is there not evidence that the virtues of faithfulness, of honesty, of truthfulness and strength of character ought to be fostered and cultivated ?
How many persons are there now-a-days who act politely and kindly to your face, and behind your back talk evil of you,—nay, write evil of you, too! How many promises are made merely to be broken ! Many are overflowing with words of honey, and at the bottom of their hearts they are deceiving themselves, and making a mockery of truth and honesty. Money, honors, and amusements are the idols of our time, the moloch which men worship as the Israelites did the golden calf in the desert. People are over-anxious to make great fortunes in the shortest possible time in order that they may lead a life of ease and frivolity. Thence the speculations in stocks and grain. gambling, and “puts and calls," and the consequent defalcation and absconding clerks, treasurers, and cashiers. And this egotism, which respects nothing and finds its gratification merely in the possession of money and the enjoyment of pleasures and ambition, is fostered by the hot contests in politics and religion, where the good of the party or sect alone is concerned, and the welfare of the community is lost sight of; where power is the all-absorbing interest, and the individual is disregarded. The more we complain of this sad condition, the more needful it seems that we should emphasize rigid moral training and sound school discipline.
We teachers must contribute our share toward rearing the children to be trustworthy and courageous men and women, that cannot be bent and shaken by every breeze of the times. And, in the first place, we must counteract the vice of untruthfulness, the habit of lying in every shape and form. Children must be reared in veracity and sincerity. Then, the second demand is a love of solidity, simplicity, and frugality, — that we educate the children to despise all outward show and ostentation, because these latter pretensions and effects are untruthful acts, and certainly to be deprecated the same as untruthfulness in words.
Next, our young people must be taught to revere and honor authority, be it vested in men or in institutions. Read the reports of the daily papers, and you will see how crimes against life and property are everywhere fostered and produced by a disregard of the law.
Stranger, tell the Lacedæmonians that we lie here, in obedience to their orders," is the simple inscription placed on the monument erected over the dead bodies of the three hundred who fell in the battle of Thermopylæ. Obedience to the law is very little practised to-day; neither the statute nor the moral law is regarded; every one wants to do as he pleases; every one wants to be the law unto himself and others, but will not submit to the law of the State. Selfrighteousness is the characteristic of the times. Hence the contentions against authority, the disobedience of employés against employers, the disregard of school and family, and the dreadful want of reverence toward old age and the venerable. Must I strengthen my assertions by example ? You pass by the pupils just dismissed from school, and listen to the conversation of half-grown boys, and observe how even girls push older people from the sidewalk; how some talk to well-meaning older people who criticise their behavior and upbraid them for their vicious conduct, and you will admit that the outlook is sad.
And what can we do, what can especially the school do, to check this wave of irreverance, frivolity, and lawlessness? In the first place, I wish to state here that great art is not necessary to accomplish this end. But one thing is needed; viz., that we ourselves bow under the discipline of morality; that we be honest and brave, faithful and true in all things; that we ourselves do the right with energy. To live an example has at all times been more successful than to talk an example; a live example does more than the dead word. Then it is necessary that in our schools we diligently take a stand for a rigid discipline, that we lay stress upon obedience and good training; cleanliness, truthfulness, chastity, honesty, trustworthiness, reverence, and fidelity must receive more prominence in our work than knowledge and skill. Knowledge and skill alone have never made men better, for men act not so much according to their reason as according to their feelings. Therefore it must be our constant care to ennoble the feelings, to reform the tastes. Knowledge and depravity may very well be sisters.
Without rigid discipline the above-mentioned ends can never be reached. All great men have been reared under a severe discipline. The freer the institutions of a people are, the more rigid must be their discipline. We cannot expect our free government to survive when the sovereigns are slaves of their appetites and tastes. Child hood is the time when the appetites and tastes are to be refined. It will not do to allow the children to grow up in willfulness and deceit, and to restrain the adult by stringent laws. What has become habitual in men, be it evil or good, cannot be easily perverted; for this reason the training to good habits is essential. This rigid discipline of youth must not be insisted upon in the school and family alone; it must pervade also our public life. Boys are to be kept under control in the streets and public places, and to be filled with regard for law and order. It is a calamity for the State when reverence of law and order are lost sight of. I cannot, therefore, join those teachers who say, “What my pupils do outside of school does not concern me."
If we consider the school as an organism, every transgression of the law by a member, or part of this organism, reflects upon the whole. The evil conduct of pupils in public helps to weaken the authority of the school. “What does not concern me, cannot burn me,” is a bad maxim. The question whether the teacher ought to take any notice of the transgression of the laws by
his pupils in public, seems to me like the question, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?” Whenever we can promote the prosperity of the people we should do our share, whether it be done in school or out of it. This is what our public schools should attempt and carry out as their principal aim : strict education in morality, and rigid discipline.
But our schools are not only educational institutions, — they are also created for the intellectual training of youth; and in view of this we are justified in asking, "What is the most needful in this regard?” In pondering over this question carefully, I come to the conclusion that the answer is of a double nature: (1) Our children must learn to work cheerfully, and (2) our children must learn to enjoy work, feel pleasure in working. The instruction in school must be so imparted that our children learn to work. Yes, to work ; for to be able to work is the demand of the times. The evils of society in our days
. are fostered and promoted by the desire of men to become rich without labor, merely by their wits; and many have lost their hard-earned pennies, and, what is worse, their energies, by speculation. But the penalty had to come,-for, that man shall work is a divine law which cannot be violated without punishment. We live, in fact, only when we work; for life is work, and work is life. Says the Psalmist : “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by. reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow.” And I am inclined to add, what would they have been had they not been labor and sorrow? They would have been nothing, — not worthy all the joys and all the sorrows.
The happiness of man and of nations consists in labor, judicious labor, labor for the good of others and the whole. If these assertions are true, and experience proves them to be true,-it is the duty of the school to educate its pupils to work; that it tolerate no idleness and lounging, and that it employ the children in a rational and appropriate manner, that in all the branches of instruction self-activity may be fostered in the fullest sense of the term : that it train not but one power of the soul, but that it appeal to all the powers; that it take hold of man and cultivate all his faculties ; that it arouse the intellect, his thinking, feeling, and willing; and that by work it educate to work. The greatest evil in school is indolence. For this reason he is not the best teacher who knows most, but he who knows how to teach the children to apply themselves vigorously to their tasks.
It is a crime against human nature to send children to school merely that they may learn to sit still. During the instruction the teacher must arouse the interest of the pupils, ask short questions, and insist
upon full, definite answers; not speak too much himself, but see that the pupils exercise their powers of speech. The more the teacher contains himself, the less prominent he makes himself in his instruction, the freer the child will develop, the better his faculties will be exercised. It is a sad spectacle to go into a school where the teacher does all the talking and the pupils are made inactive by mere listening. Another principle ought not to be forgotten : We must not make it too easy for the children to acquire knowledge; not by play, but by hard work, can they acquire truth. Only what man has worked for, becomes his own, his lasting property ; teachers should, therefore, not present the subject matter “cut and dried” on a tray, but cause the pupils “to seek and find” truth. In every case the children should be diligently questioned so as to develop their ideas; should be vigorously examined and tested; and then everything should be practised to perfection, because only what has been practised carefully is a basis of progress, is of any use in after-life. A little thoroughly learned is more than a great deal carelessly acquired. Jacotot never uttered a greater truth than when he said: “You are not a scholar when you have learned something, but you are a scholar when you remember what you have learned.” And another one: “Three times you learn and three times you forget a thing, in order to remember it the fourth time.” No hurry, then; no locomotive rapidity, but quiet, circumspect and thorough work. Yes, let us take care that the children may learn to labor vigorously. and that they may be trained to labor by labor. No man can have success in life if he has not learned to work, and even genius without work is no blessing to mankind. Industry and perseverance are indispensable qualities of the citizen. But we require also that work be done in a rational way. Man must, therefore, be led to think. A man that labors without thinking is on a level with the ox in the treadmill. Thinking alone cannot elevate man to his destiny on earth. This seems so self-evident that further argument is unnecessary; and yet, it is to-day more needful than ever to repeat this maxim, " Test the minds !" I will not speak of the many superstitions prevalent among our people, causing loss of life and property; how many who are classed among the better, resort to patent medicines and nostrums, seek a cure with quacks and wise women, instead of consulting a reputable physician; but I wish to point out evils arising from sensations and commotions created by social, political, and religious itinerant agitators who delude the people. All this is possible only when men cannot think clearly, when they cannot judge, when they are not practised in understanding arguments,