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首页 » 儿童英文小说 » The Century of the Child » CHAPTER V SOUL MURDER IN THE SCHOOLS
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Any one who would attempt the task of felling a virgin forest with a penknife would probably feel the same paralysis of despair that the reformer feels when confronted with existing school systems. The latter finds an impassable thicket of folly, prejudice, and mistakes, where each point is open to attack, but where each attack fails because of the inadequate means at the reformer's command.

The modern school has succeeded in doing something which, according to the law of physics, is impossible: the annihilation of once existent matter. The desire for knowledge, the capacity for acting by oneself, the gift of observation, all qualities children bring with them to school, have, as a rule, at the close of the school period disappeared. They have not been transformed into actual knowledge or interests. This is the result of children spending almost the whole of their life from the sixth to the eighteenth year at the school[Pg 204] desk, hour by hour, month by month, term by term; taking doses of knowledge, first in teaspoonfuls, then in dessert-spoonfuls, and finally in tablespoonfuls, absorbing mixtures which the teacher often has compounded from fourth- or fifth-hand recipes.

After the school, there often comes a further period of study in which the only distinction in method is, that the mixture is administered by the ladleful.

When young people have escaped from this régime, their mental appetite and mental digestion are so destroyed that they for ever lack capacity for taking real nourishment. Some, indeed, save themselves from all these unrealities by getting in contact with realities; they throw their books in the corner and devote themselves to some sphere of practical life. In both cases the student years are practically squandered. Those who go further acquire knowledge ordinarily at the cost of their personality, at the price of such qualities as assimilation, reflection, observation, and imagination. If any one succeeds in escaping these results, it happens generally with a loss of thoroughness in knowledge. A lower grade of intelligence, a lower capacity for work, or a lower degree of assimilation, than that be[Pg 205]stowed upon the scholar by nature, is ordinarily the result of ten or twelve school years. There is much common-sense in the French humourist's remark. "You say that you have never gone to school and yet you are such an idiot."

The cases in which school studies are not injurious, but partially useful, are those where no regular school period has been passed through. In place of this there was a long period of rest, or times of private instruction, or absolutely no instruction at all, simply study by oneself. Nearly every eminent woman in the last fifty years has had such self-instruction, or was an irregularly instructed girl. Knowledge so acquired, therefore, has many serious gaps, but it has much more freshness and breadth. One can study with far greater scope and apply what one studies.

Yet it is still true to-day that, however vehemently families complain about schools, they do not see that their demands in general education must change, before a reasonable school system, a school system in all respects different from the prevailing one, can come into existence. The private schools, few in number, that differ to a certain extent from the ordinary system are swallows that are very far from making a summer. Rather they have[Pg 206] met the fate of birds who have come too early on the scene.

As long as schools represent an idea, stand for an abstract conception, like the family and the state, so long will they, just as the family and the state, oppress the individuals who belong to them. The school no more than the family and the state represents a higher idea or something greater than just the number of individuals out of which it is formed. It, like the family and the state, has no other duty, right, or purpose than to give to each separate individual as much development and happiness as possible. To recognise these principles is to introduce reason into the school question. The school should be nothing but the mental dining-room in which parents and teachers prepare intellectual bills-of-fare suitable for every child. The school must have the right to determine what it can place on its bill-of-fare, but the parents have the right to choose, from the mental nourishment supplied by it, the food adapted to their children. The phantom of general culture must be driven from school curricula and parents' brains; the training of the individual must be a reality substituted in its place; otherwise reform plans will be drawn up in vain.[Pg 207]

But just as certain simple chemical elements are contained in all nourishment, there are certain simple elements of knowledge that make up the foundation of all higher forms of learning. Reading and writing one's own language, the elements of numbers, geography, natural science, and history, must be required by the schools, as the obligatory basis for advanced independent study.

The elementary school beginning with the age of nine to ten years, I regard as the real general school. The system of instruction must assume that the children have breadth, repose, comprehensiveness, and capacity for individual action. All these qualities are destroyed by the present "hare and hound" system and by its endless abstractions. Such are the results of course readings, multiplicity of subjects, and formalism, all defects that have passed from the boys' schools into the girls' schools, from the elementary schools into the people's schools. They too are burdened by all these faults, which, though deplored by most people, can only be cured by radical reform.

The instruction must be arranged in groups, certain subjects placed among the earlier stages of study while others are put aside for[Pg 208] a later period. And in this connection it is not sufficient to consider the psychological development of the child. Certain subjects must be assigned to certain times of the year.

The courses in these schools must come to an end at about the age of fifteen or sixteen. From them our young people can pass either into practical life, or go on to schools of continuation and application. It would be desirable to adopt the plan recommended by Grundtvig, that one or more vacation years should follow, before studies are taken up again. Girls, especially, would then come back to their studies with strengthened bodily powers and an increased desire for knowledge. It is now a common experience that the desire to learn, even in the case of talented young people, becomes quiescent, if they go on continuously with their studies, as they often do, from the sixth to the twentieth year and longer.

To mark out the courses of such a school would offer tremendous difficulties. But these difficulties will not be found insuperable, after people have agreed that the souls of children require more consideration than a school programme.

Among objections coming from parents,[Pg 209] may be heard the following: That while the state refuses to take initiative in school reform, no one would dare to embark on a road which makes the future of their children so uncertain. In the meantime children must be allowed to learn what all others learn. When the state has taken the first step, the parents would be willing they say to follow with remarkable eagerness.

What, I ask, has been always the right way to carry out reforms? There must be first an active revolt against existing evils. This particular revolt is yet not sufficiently supported, especially on the part of parents. The children themselves have begun to feel the need of protest, and, if not earlier, I hope that when the present generation of school children become fathers, mothers, and teachers, a reform will come about.

No one can expect a system to be changed, until those who disapprove of it show that they are in earnest, show that they are taking upon themselves the sacrifices necessary to protect themselves from the unhappy results of the system. Families complain of the excessive aggregation of subjects, and yet they constantly burden the school with new subjects, even when these subjects are things the fam[Pg 210]ily can undertake itself. While families complain of overstrain, but make no use of the elective system in schools, where it has been introduced, while parents are willing to risk nothing to realise their principles, we cannot wonder that the state does not embark on reforms of any kind.

There is an old pedagogical maxim, "Man learns for life not for school." While, for a great part of their time, the sexes are separated from one another, boys studying by themselves and the girls by themselves, the training for their future life is a bad one—a life in which the common work and co-operation between man and woman is, according to nature's ordinance, the normal thing. So long as the general school is a school for a special class, and not for everybody, it is no general school in the high sense of the word, and besides no school in which people learn for life.

I have therefore always warmly held that the school should be no boys', no girls' school, no elementary and no people's school, but should be a real general or public school as in America, where both sexes, the children of all grades of society, will learn that mutual confidence, respect, understanding, by which their efficient co-operation in the family and state[Pg 211] may be made possible. The common school, so arranged, is perhaps the most important means to solve definitely the problem of morality, the woman question, the marriage question, the labour question, in less one-sided and more human ways. From this point of view the establishment of the common school is much more than a pedagogical question; it is the vital question of our social order.

Men and women, upper and lower classes, are walking on different sides of a wall. They can stretch their hands over it; the important thing to be done is to break the wall down. The school, as described above, is the first breach in this wall.

A school like this would be like leaven. The many never reform the few; it is the few who gradually introduce reforms for the many. Because the few have strong enough dissatisfaction with present defects, courage great enough to show their disgust, a belief in the new truths real enough, they are ready to prepare the ground for the future.

Such a school must be guided by the same principle which has humanised morality and law in other spheres. It must consider individual peculiarities. Personal freedom will thus have as few hindrances as possible to ob[Pg 212]struct it. The rights of others must not be approached too close. The limits, where the rights of others can be affected, must be maintained, even enlarged.

This humanising process will be introduced into the schools, when scholars are no longer regarded as classes, but each individual for himself. The schools will then commence to fulfil one of the many conditions necessary to give young people real nourishment and so develop them and make them happy.

Such a school life will make its first aim to discover in early years uncommon talent, to direct such talent to special studies.

Secondly, for those who lack definite talent, a plan of study will be arranged, in which their individuality too can be developed, and their intellectual tension increased. This condition is, if possible, more important than the first, for unusual talents are accompanied by greater power of self-conservation. Ordinary or lesser talented people, i.e., the larger majority, are rather confused by a plurality of studies and are much easier impaired, as personalities, by the uniformity of the prevailing system.

The rights of unusually gifted people, and those of other classes too, can be considered when, as mentioned above, the school curricu[Pg 213]lum is so arranged, that certain subjects are studied during part of the school year, another class of subjects during another part. Moreover, certain subjects are to be studied at different times, not finished once for all.

The instruction must be so arranged that real independent study, under the direction of the teacher, will be the ordinary method. The presentation of the subject by the teacher will be the exception, a treat for holidays, not for every day.

The instruction too must take the scholar to the real thing, as far as possible, not direct him to report about the thing. Such a school must break up absolutely the whole system of lecturing, arranged in concentric circles. In certain cases, it must return to the methods of the old-fashioned school, which concentrated its attention on humanistic study. But dead languages should not be the subjects around which its studies should centre.

Early specialisation must be allowed, where there are distinct individual tendencies for such work;

Concentration on certain subjects at certain points of time;

Independent work during the whole period of school;[Pg 214]

Contact with reality in the whole school curriculum;—these must be the four corner-stones of the new school.

But the time is far distant still, when government schools will begin to build on this basis. What follows is meant, therefore, to apply, not to the great revolutions of school systems indicated above, but deals with improvements to take place at present.

Learning lessons should be assigned to school hours as in France. Children should have an entirely free day in the week; study at home should be confined to the reading of literary works, tales of travel, and the like, which teachers can recommend in combination with the studies pursued at school.

Tasks done at home are inconvenient; they do not increase the independence of the scholar; they are prepared as a rule with excessively free and often unwise help from the parents. At school such work would be done as a rule without help; besides, it is individual and quickly finished.

In the school, time can be taken for study selected at the scholar's free choice. It can be arranged for in the following way. Take a class of about twelve scholars; in larger classes no reasonable or personal method of[Pg 215] instruction is possible. There may be three scholars with distinct tastes, one for history, one for languages, one for mathematics. There may be two without any distinct talent for mathematics or languages. The other seven may have ordinary capacities. The first three must, during the whole term, apply themselves specially in certain hours, set aside for independent study, each in his chosen subject. The first will read some historical work on the periods taken up in the history class; the second will devote this time to mathematics; the third will read the books in foreign languages, mentioned in the language course. The other seven with ordinary gifts can devote this time to ordinary reading and handwork. In this way all will get some portion of history, mathematics, and languages, but those who are specially interested will have the opportunity of going deeper into the subject. If one of the three gifted scholars shows a great inclination for and a ready comprehension of all three subjects, he should study by himself at home, provided the more thorough study of one subject does not impair work on the other. The two who have special difficulty in mathematics or languages could either substitute one subject wholly for the other, or in those periods[Pg 216] remain away from school, or, finally, the hours used by gifted scholars for individual study beyond the requirements of the common course could be devoted by these to work, under the teacher's supervision, in the course common to the whole class.

To carry out this plan, there is need of such concentration of subjects as I have mentioned; there should be never more than one or at most two main subjects—history, geography, natural science—studied at once. Moreover no more than one language should be studied at the same time; practice in those already learnt is to be acquired by literary readings, written résumés, and conversation.

Another kind of concentration is necessary. Not every subject should be split up into subdivisions but history should be made to include literary history, church history, etc. In geography at the early stage, a part of natural science should be included, and the history of art combined with both. Another not less important method implied in concentration is in all general courses to direct one's attention to the main questions, and to sacrifice the mass of details. Detailed work should not have been incorporated, as indispensable for general culture (from generation to generation), dur[Pg 217]ing the constant growth of the contents of knowledge.

In regard to instruction, methods now popular should be forced out of the field. The two obligatory features, the careful hearing of lessons by the teacher, and the equally careful preparation of the next lesson, must be changed for other methods according to the age of the scholar, the special character of the subject, and of the scholar himself; or according to the particular stage of the subject. At one time the teacher should give an attractive, comprehensive account of a period, a character, a land, a natural phenomenon. Another time it will be enough to give a simple, introductory reference to the reading of one or more works on the subject, best of all an original authority. Sometimes he should require an oral account of what he has said, or what has been read; sometimes this should be done in writing. When the lesson is filled with many facts the scholar should write them down in the hour; another time he should summarise them from memory. An assigned amount too can be gone through along with the teacher's explanation; on another occasion, the assignment need not be gone over at all, but the scholars could show their capacity to under[Pg 218]stand it and comprehend it without assistance. Occasionally the task might be done in a short time from one day to another, sometimes it might take a longer period.

But this work would, as has been said, take place ordinarily in the school. Purely literary readings and books of a similar type must be assigned for work at home, to be done during a considerable length of time. For we all know that the reading which has made a deep impression on us was only what was read freely; reading for which we ourselves could set the time, place, and inclination. And since, in this case, the important thing is the impression, not the knowledge, freedom is more important than in other subjects. Individual initiative can be furthered by having the teacher, as is done in France, explain in passing all words and subjects in a poem difficult to understand. The teacher too should now and then, by reading poetry aloud, stimulate the desire of the scholar to learn more of the same poet. A poem has the greatest effect when it is presented unexpectedly. When a history lesson is ended there should be read aloud a passage from an historical poem. Scholars do not forget either the poem, or the episode handled in it, even if they forget every[Pg 219]thing else. But test questions, used in the period of literature-study, go in at one ear and out at the other.

A teacher who wishes to use this concentrated system in detail, that rests on the intelligent co-operation of the scholar, will naturally find that the method is to be derived from the personality of the teacher himself. I think the teacher of history should not take up the prehistoric period, but should give the scholar some good popular work on it and let him go to a museum; he should then require a written essay, to be illustrated by the scholar with drawings of characteristic types of arch?ological specimens. In the same way, he could give a comparative view of the same period among other people. Then, if there were a scholar especially anxious to learn, he could put in his hands a work about the primitive condition of man. Every teacher, man or woman, can easily think out, for the subjects they teach, analogous methods. The teacher of geography who is talking about Siberia can give some good general description of it to all the scholars for their private study. Those particularly interested would be recommended to read a narrative of travels in Siberia, Dostojewsky's Out of the Dead[Pg 220] House, and so on. If the teacher of history were taking up Napoleon, he could read in the French hour a work like Vigny's Servitude et Grandeur Militaire. For the Dutch War of Independence, Motley's history, Goethe's Egmont, and Schiller's Don Carlos could be read. A whole book could be written on plans like these, with indications how the different fields of knowledge could supplement one another, how history, geography, literature, and art could be intertwined just as on the other side geography and natural science. Similarly it would show how different teachers could be of use to one another in communicating to their scholars a fuller knowledge.

I should like to propose an hypothesis for discussion and examination that I have formulated, after a wide experience in story-telling, both as a listener and as a narrator. If I might put together in a statement, without intending to prove it, the result of my experience in the subject named, I should say that the mental food which is most attractive for the child, also gives the most nourishment. This is the fact that the physiology of our day has proved in the case of the organic existence of the child. Pedagogy is beginning, consciously or unconsciously, to apply it to the mental sphere, yet[Pg 221] without daring to hold that nature is so simple, that need and inclination can be so nearly related. Naturally, it cannot be maintained that what is most attractive for children's stories should constitute their whole training, as physiology maintains that what tastes most agreeable to the child, for example sugar, should form his sole nourishment.

What every story-teller finds as specially attractive to children, is the epic smoothness, the clear comprehensiveness of the tale, its consistent objectivity. Every narrative which will win the attention of the child, whether it be from Scandinavian, classical, or biblical history, must have these characteristics of the tale. There are hardly any story-tellers who so completely absorb children as old nurses. They never forget any picturesque trait in the tale, they always give the same broad, full narrative. They tell their stories without explanations and without applications, with the real direct feeling of the child for grasping the subject. Everything which disturbs the smooth flow of the narrative, above all, when the narrator puts himself outside of it by indulging in a joke, strikes the child as a profound incongruity. Children are always more or less artistic in their nature, in the sense[Pg 222] that they desire to receive an impression in its purity, not as a means to something else. They wish through the story to go through a real experience; at the same time they will say "No," if they are asked whether they would prefer to hear a real history to a story. This apparent contradiction can be explained in this way: the tale presents reality, as reality is conceived of by the na?ve fancy of early ages, and is in just the form in which the imagination of the child can receive it.

In telling stories, we find, besides, that what attracts children is the narrative of actions; in this roundabout way they get hold of emotions and sentiments. The development of the child—this is a truth which has to be worked out before it can really be taken in—answers in miniature to the development of mankind as a whole. And it follows from this that children combine idealism and realism, as epic national poetry does. Great, good, heroic, supernatural traits affect them most; but only in a concrete shape sensibly perceived, with the richness of the power which comes from life, without any adaptation to our present conceptions.

We can test this by telling a real folk-lore tale, and Anderson's version of it. With a[Pg 223] few exceptions children are unanimous in calling the first type the most beautiful.

Besides what is attractive for lively children, with sound appetites, is quantity, but in no way multiplicity.

First of all they ask whether the story is long after they have begun to hope that it is beautiful. They are glad to hear the same story innumerable times; they have an unconscious need for thorough assimilation, just as soon as what is given to them harmonises with their stage of development. This is true of all subjects. I know children who detest the "choice stories" from the Bible, with which their morning prayers are commenced, but who read the New Testament as a story-book. In this respect, all small children are like great ones, the artists. The imagination of children requires full, entire, deep impressions, as material for their energies that are incessantly creating and reconstructing. And if their sound feeling has not been disturbed by a dualism foreign to them it brings them with remarkably sure instinct to choose the sound, pure, and beautiful, and to reject the unsound, hateful, and crude. Finally, we find in story-telling that children much prefer continuity of impressions though they are said[Pg 224] to express preference for change. We never hear children say, "Now tell a funny story, the one before was too gloomy." But if we commence telling gloomy stories they want one after another of the same type. If we had begun telling amusing stories, they never tire of laughing. The changeableness of children in playing, reading, and working is not so general a characteristic of childish nature as is believed. It is true only of children whose readings and games are not adapted to their nature and inclinations. Changeableness is, in a certain way, nature's self-defence against what is unconsciously injurious.

As to comic narratives, it is found in story-telling that the child has the most keen sense for the humour of a situation. On the other hand they have hardly a trace of feeling for the humour that rests on deep intellectual contrasts, least of all for humour of the ironical type. If a narrative out of their own world is really to make impression on them, it must be like a tale, full of life, with action and surprises, broad and na?ve in its style, without any noticeable aim. All the children's books which children through their life recollect and by which they are impressed, are those that at least in one way or another fulfil these con[Pg 225]ditions. The rest give other impressions, but even so they become no more harmless than arsenic wall-paper covered by fresh undyed layers. As to the humour of children, it can be easily tested. We can tell them the most comic psychological children's stories; ninety-nine out of a hundred they will declare to be terribly stupid, while a simple history presenting a funny situation doubles them up with laughter.

Children do not feel drawn to abstract things; this is an old truth, whose correctness is established best by story-telling. All virtues and qualities, no matter how well concealed they may be, are very quickly pronounced stupid by children. For fables, children have seldom any taste, least of all for essays. The introduction of a fox or a bear into the story or in a real adventure makes the story-teller the dearest friend of children. But the most lively and childish essay on the bear or the fox leaves them cold, unless it is made real by some personal experience in the country or by a visit to a zo?logical garden. This truth is so recognised and proved from so many points of view, that I will simply say here that experience in story-telling gives additional evidence of it. Children show, in[Pg 226] listening to stories, a finely developed sensitiveness to all attempts to descend to, or to adopt, the standpoint of the child, to everything that is artificial in the narrative. In intercourse with children, especially with those who represent progressive methods, can be seen how the reaction against the old lesson and hidebound methods has produced an artificial na?veté, a richness of illustrations, and a liveliness that children soon feel as something specially prepared for them, something not quite real. This way of partially giving to children their own imaginative power puts them to sleep, even when it succeeds at first in giving them a good entertainment in their lessons. For the illustrations and comparisons, as well as the consequences which another has thought out for them, obstruct the initiative of the child; besides they are all soon forgotten. It is the same with playthings; those they make themselves give inexhaustible pleasure, while those that are ready made only confer joy once or twice. They are shown and then broken in pieces in order to extract the clockwork, for this is the only possible way for the child to do something with it himself. Instruction is beginning to resemble children's playthings and children's books; it is too complete, too[Pg 227] richly illustrated. It hinders individual free voyages of discovery of the imagination. Even good illustrations are often injurious; but we do not intend to speak at length on this subject. As a matter of fact children often feel themselves deceived by illustrations.

The reserve in a story is also a property that attracts the child. Its pictures are indicated with a few definite but repeated details. The imagination is allowed to fill the picture with colours. The uniformity, the rhythm, and the symmetry, all qualities belonging to the folk-lore tale, are for the child extremely absorbing. They enjoy such repetitions as "the first, second, and third year" and so on, quite like the refrain in rhyme and poetry.

But all these observations lead to a final result. The present reading-book system is neither the most attractive for children, nor does it best supply them with what they want. Instead of epic smoothness and unity, reading-books bring a confused mixture of all kinds, nursery rhymes, religious teaching, poetry, natural history, and history. Occasionally there comes a tale or a real poem, standing apart distinctly from its neighbours, in tone and in comprehensiveness. Instead of clear impressions, children get through the reading-[Pg 228]book a disturbing jumble; instead of objectivity, they get instructive children's stories; instead of poetry, edifying versification; instead of action, reflection; instead of much of one thing, a little of everything; instead of continuity of impressions, constant change; instead of concrete impressions of life, essays; instead of na?ve tales, things written down to their level.

I ask what is the result of this reading-book system on the development of the child from six to sixteen years old?

What, in general, is the result on the development of character when one flits from impression to impression, nipping in flight at different things, letting one picture after another slip away, making no halt anywhere?

As to the effect on adults, immediate answers can be given. These answers are so unfavourable that they do not need to be repeated. But, should a principle which applies to the adult be less suitable for the child? It really applies much more to the child. Adults generally have some work, some occupation, some one centre around which they can arrange manifold events, change may often be advantageous for them; but the whole school day of the child is change; the way the child[Pg 229] absorbs knowledge is by the teaspoonful. Is not this condition enough to urge us to work with all our might against the system of diffusion wherever it is unnecessary?

In reading-books diffusion is not necessary; in foreign languages, as in his own tongue, the interest of the child is much more stimulated by a book than by a reader; his vocabulary is increased. But even if this were not the case, what the child gains through reading-books, in quick readiness in the mother tongue or in foreign languages, does not compensate for the loss their use signifies in development in the way already mentioned.

The schools deal improperly with the mental powers of youth, through their lack of specialising, of concentration, in their depreciation of initiative, in their being out of touch with reality.

High schools and colleges are absolutely destructive to personality. Here, where only oral examinations should take place from time to time, where all studies should tend to be individual, the hunger of the scholar for reality is hardly satisfied in any direction. Nothing is done to help his longing to see for himself, to read, to judge, to get impressions at first-hand, not from second-hand reports.[Pg 230]

Certainly here, too, the direction of the teacher is necessary. He can economise superfluous work by clarifying generalisations; he can criticise a one-sided account in order to complete the picture fully himself. Often the teacher must excite interest by a vigorous account from his own point of view; by a fine psychological study, he can illustrate a complex historical picture. He will help the scholar to find laws, governing the phenomena which he has come to know by his own experiments, or he can suggest comparisons which lead to such experiments. Here, also, oral and written exercise must have great weight.

But the end of all instruction in college, as in the school, should not consist in examinations and diplomas; these must be obliterated from the face of the earth. The aim should be that the scholars themselves, at first hand, should acquire their knowledge, should get their impressions, should form their opinions, should work their way through to intellectual tastes, not as they now do, taking no trouble themselves, but being supposed to acquire these gifts through interesting lectures given by the teacher on five different subjects, heard every morning while the students are dozing, and soon forgotten. Facts slip away from every[Pg 231] one's memory, quickest from the memory of those who have learned according to the dose and teaspoonful system. But education happily is not simply the knowledge of facts, it is, as an admirable paradox has put it, what is left over after we have forgotten all we have learnt.

The richer one is in such permanent acquisitions, the greater the profit of study. The more subjective pictures we have; the more numerous our vibrating emotions and associations of ideas are; the more we are filled with suggestively active impressions;—so much the more development we have, won by study for our personality. The fact that our students acquire so little, even if they have passed through every school with excellent marks, is a serious injustice they feel during their whole life. The beautifully systematised, ticketed, checkerboard knowledge given by examinations soon disappears. The person who has kept his desire for knowledge and his capacity for work by his free choice and by his independent labor can easily fill out the gaps left by this method of study in the knowledge he has acquired.

Only the person who by knowledge has obtained a view of the great connected system[Pg 232] of existence, the connection between nature and man's life, between the present and the past, between peoples and ideas, cannot lose his education. Only the person who, through the mental nourishment he has received, sees more clearly, feels more ardently, has absorbed completely the wealth of life, has been really educated. This education can be gained in the most irregular way, perhaps around the hearth or in the field, on the seashore or in the wood; it can be acquired from old tattered books or from nature itself. It can be terribly incomplete, very one-sided, but how real, personal, and rich it appears to those who for the period of fifteen years in school have ground out the wheat on strange fields, like oxen with muzzled mouths! Our age cries for personality; but it will ask in vain, until we let our children live and learn as personalities, until we allow them to have their own will, think their own thoughts, work out their own knowledge, form their own judgments; or, to put the matter briefly, until we cease to suppress the raw material of personality in schools, vainly hoping later on in life to revive it again.


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