小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 儿童英文小说 » The Century of the Child » CHAPTER VI THE SCHOOL OF THE FUTURE
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
I should like to set down here briefly my dreams of a future school, in which the personality may receive a free and complete self-development. I purposely say "dreams," because I do not want any one to believe that I am pretending in the following outline to give a reformed programme for the present time.

My first dream is that the kindergarten and the primary school will be everywhere replaced by instruction at home.

Undoubtedly a great influence has proceeded from that whole movement which has resulted, among other things, in the Pestalozzi-Froebel kindergartens, and in institutions modelled after them. Better teachers have been produced by it; but what I regard as a great misfortune, is the increasing inclination to look upon the crèche, the kindergarten, and the school as the ideal scheme of[Pg 234] education. Every discussion dealing with the possibilities of women working in public life exalts the advantage of freeing the mother from the care of children, emancipating children from the improper care of their mothers, and giving women possibilities of work outside of the home. Mrs. Perkins Stetson proposes as a compromise, that every mother, pedagogically qualified, shall take care of a group of children along with her own. But what her own children will receive under such conditions is sufficiently shown in the case of those poor children who grow up in educational institutions presided over by their parents; and also by the experience of the poor parents who are not able under these conditions to look after their own children.

The crèche and the kindergarten were and continue to be a blessing undoubtedly for those innumerable mothers who work outside of their homes and are badly prepared for their duties. Some type of kindergarten will perhaps be necessary under particular circumstances as a partial substitute for the home, as, for example, when a child has no companions to play with, or when the mother herself is disinclined or not able to educate the child. This incapacity is ordinarily the result of an[Pg 235] extremely nervous temperament, caused by weak will or depression.

Mary Wollstonecraft's remarks, made more than a hundred years ago, still call for our approval. "If children are not physically murdered by their ignorant mothers, they are ruined psychically by the inability of the mother to bring them up. Mothers, in those first six years that determine the whole development of the child's character, turn them over to the hands of servants, whose authority is often undermined by the way in which they are treated. Then children are passed on to school to control the bad behaviour which the vigilance of the mother could have prevented, and which she controls with means that become the basis for all kinds of vices." But because such cases are still frequent and because there will always be mothers incapable of bringing their children up, it would be a premature assumption to believe that the majority of women cannot be trained to become parents, if the development of the woman has this end in view. One of the tasks of the future is the creation of a generation of trained mothers, who among other things will emancipate children from the kindergarten system. Children are handled in crowds from two and[Pg 236] three years up, they are made to appear before the public in crowds, made to work on the one plan, made to do the same petty, idiotic, and useless tasks. In this way, we believe at the present time that we are forming men, while actually we are only training units. Any one who remembers how, as a child, he played on the beach or in the wood, in a big nursery or in an old-fashioned attic, or has seen other children playing in these surroundings, will know how such unrestrained play deepens the soul, increases the capacity for invention, and stimulates the imagination a hundredfold more than children's games and occupations devised by the arrangement, and promoted by the interference, of elder persons. Adults are accustomed to amuse children in crowds, a custom which comes from intellectual vulgarity, instead of leaving them alone to amuse themselves. Besides this system encourages children to produce what they do not need, and leads them to imagine that they are working by so doing. Children should be taught to despise all the numerous unnecessary things which put life on a false level and make it artificial. They should be taught to try to simplify it, to aim for its supreme values; this should be the end of education. The kin[Pg 237]dergarten system is, on the contrary, one of the most effective means to produce the weak dilletante and the self-satisfied average man.

If there is any further need for the kindergarten in the near or distant future, let it be a place where children may have the same freedom as cats or dogs, to play by themselves, and for themselves, to think out something of their own, where they can be provided with means to carry out their own plans, where they have companions to play with them. A sensible woman may be near at hand to look on or to supervise, but only to interfere when the children are likely to hurt themselves. Let her draw something for them occasionally, tell them a story, or teach them an amusing game, but otherwise let her be apparently quite passive and yet untiringly active in the observation of the traits of character and of disposition which play of this free type reveals. In like manner the mother should observe the play of children, their treatment of their companions at play, their inclinations, and collect as much material as she can but interfere as little directly as possible. The mother finally by this constant, many-sided, strenuous, yet passive kind of observation gets a knowledge of the child that is partially exact. One being[Pg 238] never learns to know another being entirely, not even when that being has received its life from the other, not even when that life is daily renewed by the other being, in order to reach the full happiness of spiritual motherhood. It has been well said that as people regard the birth of a child as the sign of physical maturity, the education of a child is regarded as a sign of psychical maturity. But through lack in psychological insight, most parents remain their whole life immature. They can have the best principles, the most zealous fidelity to duty, combined with absolute blindness to the nature of children, the real causes of their actions, and the different combinations of different characteristics.

Take some examples of the worst blunders of this type; the small child is often called vain who studies, full of interest, his own identity in the glass; the child who, from fear or confusion at a hard or incomprehensible question, does not answer or obey is called stubborn; the child that cannot explain his actions in those small things which adults every day entirely forget is looked upon as lying; and even before the child has a conception of the right of property, when he pilfers, he is called thievish. The child who says that he[Pg 239] knows that he is naughty, and wants to be naughty, is called obdurate and impertinent, while this statement is really a self-confession and shows a character to which one may appeal with the best results. The child, sunk in thought, who forgets the small things of daily life, people call thoughtless. Even when a child is really selfish and is really lying or lazy, these characteristics are treated as if they were something individual, while actually they are caused often by some serious fault which must be dealt with. These characteristics can proceed from a good quality which may be destroyed, if the fault is not treated suitably.

But even parents who now observe their children with more psychological insight than was used in earlier times are not able to study them, if their children go to school and kindergarten at an early age. This want of insight produces mistakes which often cause deep antagonisms between children and their parents, the sort of thing which now embitters so many households. Only fathers and mothers who reverence the individuality of their children, and combine with this feeling a careful observation of them through their whole life, are able to avoid this typical fault of our own time. People expect to gather grapes from[Pg 240] thistles, instead of being satisfied with haws. Parents must see that they cannot create where there is no material to be created. But they must be capable of developing the characteristics which they discover in the nature of their children. This work they must undertake with optimism and resignation, for it represents the teaching of real psychological study. This will stop those efforts, painful alike for children and parents, that are applied in directions which offer no reward to effort.

But the study of the psychology of the child, begun at its birth, continued in its play, its work, its rest, means a daily comparative study, and requires the undivided attention of one person. It can only be done by a person who has charge of but a few children; in a crowd it is impossible. It is all the more impossible because children in a crowd resemble one another more or less; and this makes observation more difficult.

The kindergarten is only a factory. Children learn in it to model, instead of making mud pies according to their own taste. This process is typical of what these small atoms of humanity go through themselves. From the first floor of the factory the objects that have been turned out there are sent to the next floor[Pg 241] above, the school; and from this they then go out put up in packages.

The aim of school training is to carry out, with all its might, production by quantities that expresses the demands of our time in all spheres. The invention of individual school methods may reduce the influence of "canned education."

As long as there are large cities, poor children in them must be able to obtain the possibilities of country children. Their playthings must be made out of the world which surrounds them. The obligations of their own home must supply them with work. This is altogether different from the play work of the kindergarten that has no connection with the seriousness of reality. A wise mother or teacher will adopt from the kindergarten system just so much as will enable her to teach children to observe nature and their surroundings; will take from it what enables her to make them combine their activity with some useful end; their amusement with some kind of knowledge.

The Froebel dictum, "Let us live for the children," must be changed into a more significant phrase, "Let us allow the children to live." This, among other things, means "let them be[Pg 242] emancipated from the burden of learning by heart," from the forms of system, from the pressure of the crowd, in those years while the quiet, secret work of the soul is as vital for them as the growing of the seed in the earth. The kindergarten system is opposed to this; it is forcing up the seed to life on a plate, where it looks very pretty, but only for the time being.

The school with its esprit de corps opens the way public lack of conscience. Modern society manages thus to reproduce the crimes of every past period; manages too, to reproduce them through men who are conscientious in their own private life. For those without consciences, who lead criminal movements, would never be able to put the masses of people in motion, unless they were just masses and nothing more; unless they were made to follow collective laws of honour, collective patriotic feelings, collective conceptions of duty. The child learns to be obedient to his school, to be loyal to his comrades, just as later on in life he learns these qualities as they are presented in his university, his student society, and his profession. All of this he learns sooner than to reverence his conscience, his feeling of right, his individual impulse. He learns to[Pg 243] wink at, pardon, and disguise the sins committed by his own circle of companions, his own club, and his own country.

This is the way the world produces its "Dreyfus Affairs," its Transvaal Wars. If the aim is to create men and not masses, we should follow the educational programme of the great statesman Stein—"to develop all those impulses on which the value and strength of mankind depend." This is only possible when the child is taught, at the earliest age, the freedom and danger of his own choice, the right and responsibility of his own will, the conditions and duties of being put to the test himself. All of these elements of character are unconsciously opposed by the kindergarten; the home alone can develop them. The highest result of education is to bring the individual into contact with his own conscience. This does not mean that the individual cannot experience by degrees the happiness and the necessity of being a factor in the service of the whole, first in his home, then among his companions and in his country, and finally in the world. The difference is this: in the first case the man is a living cell, co-operating and building up living forms; in the other he is a piece of cut stone used in artificial construction.[Pg 244]

Both for the development of individuality, as well as for the cultivation of the emotions, the home is to be preferred to the kindergarten and to the school. In the limited small circle of the home the emotional element can be deepened and tenderness can be developed, by the acts called for in the realities of domestic life. The kindergarten first, and then the school, free children from their natural individual obligations and put in their place demands that can only be fulfilled en masse. The child enters into a number of superficial relations. This situation tends to make his emotions superficial; here is the great danger of beginning school life at a tender age. On the other hand a one-sided home life brings with it the danger of concentrating the emotions to an excess. Education at home in the years when the emotions become harmonious and receive their decisive training is just as important for the child as is later on a pleasant sociable life with others of the same age, after the twelfth year is passed. All intellectual cultivation done according to the most excellent method, all social feelings, are worthless unless they have as their basis an individual development of the emotions. Somewhere in our body we must have a heart, to act as a[Pg 245] real balance against our head. Only the man who has learnt to love a few, deep enough to die for them, is able to live profitably for the many.

I should like to see not only the kindergarten but the preparatory school transferred to the home. There things can be considered that are never taken into account in a general school. The child need not have the nourishment he does not want, and which he does not need, at the time he now generally receives it. In the home school, one child can put off reading to a later age, another can be taught reading early. The desire for action in one child can be satisfied; the book-hunger of the other encouraged. Bodily development, the desire to make a real acquaintance with external nature can be considered in home work, play, and out-of-door activities. Then we can begin to teach when the child himself asks for teaching; that is, when he wishes to hear or do something in which knowledge alone can assist him. The child can twice as easily learn at ten years, under these conditions, what he now learns at eight; at eight what he now learns at six, if he comes to his study with developed powers of observation and an eager desire for action. Schools can never attain a[Pg 246] full insight into the peculiar character of personality, into the ways in which knowledge must be placed before different individuals, into the right time for taking a subject or giving it up. The home school must be considered the ideal method where the child studies with a small group of well-selected companions. Individuality can be considered, plans of study and courses can be neglected. Through such neglect only, is a real living instruction possible. The advantages the modern school has over the home are hardly worth discussing. The order of the school, its method, system, and discipline, so much praised by its advocates as advantages, are, from my point of view, nothing but disadvantages. Habits of fulfilling duties, or work, orderly and punctual activity, that belong to a sound education, can be attained in the home school through far less artificial means. Of course it is urged as another advantage of the school that the school child becomes a member of a small community where he learns social duties. But the home is the natural community where the child, in full seriousness, learns the real social duties of readiness to help, and readiness to act, while the present-day school artificially re[Pg 247]places that domestic social education, of which the child is now robbed by studies at school and preparation at home. The real value of school life among companions can be had from the home school without its ordinary dangers. These dangers are not only evil influences, but, more than anything else, that collective process of reaching a standard of stupidity, due to the pressure of public opinion that comes from association in masses. The fear of common opinion, of being laughed at, is created in the receptive years of childhood, so open to such influences. The slightest deviation in dress, or taste, is criticised unsparingly. If an investigation were conducted on the sufferings of children through the tyranny of their fellows, a tyranny which sometimes takes harsher, sometimes milder forms, it would upset the prejudice that the usefulness of the school in this respect cannot be replaced.

Besides there is the levelling pressure of a uniform discipline, which stunts personality from above, while life with school companions restricts it on all sides. Every criticism on this formal pedantry is met with the answer, "In a school it is absolutely impossible to permit children to do what can be done in the household; only fancy if all children in the[Pg 248] school were to sharpen their lead pencils or erase words in their exercises." There is no need to insist further on this point. Hundreds of petty rules must exist, we are told, for the sake of discipline. And even if the rules could be reduced to a fourth of their present cubic contents, even the best schools would still feel the pressure of uniformity. The more this pressure is resisted by individuals, so much the better.

Education in the first years must aim to strengthen individuality. The whole of biographical literature supplies an almost uniform proof of the importance of not commencing too early the levelling social education of the school. Early attendance at school is one of the reasons why we so frequently meet, as Dumas says, so many clever children, and so many stupid adults.

Almost all great men and women, who have thought and created for themselves, have received either no education in school at all, or have gone to school at a rather later period, with longer or shorter interruptions, or have been trained in different schools. In most cases it was an accident, some living point of view, a book read in secret, a personal choice of subject that gave these exceptional be[Pg 249]ings their training. In this respect Goethe's education was ideal, considered apart from some pedantry due to his father's influence. At his mother's work-table he learnt to know the Bible; French he learnt from a theatrical company; English from a language master, in company with his father; Italian, because he heard his sister being taught the language; mathematics from a friend in the household, a study which Goethe applied immediately, first in cardboard diagrams, later in architectural drawings. His essays he prepared in the form of a correspondence in different languages between different relatives, scattered in various parts of the world. Geography he eagerly studied in books of travel in order to be able to give his narrative local colour. He knocked about with his father, learnt to observe different kinds of handwork, and also to try himself small experiments of his own skill.

But some one may say, all men are not geniuses, and accordingly the majority without distinct talent need the school. Is it possible that the connection between originality and irregular attendance at school is merely accidental? How often does the school sin in its watering down of originality! As for unori[Pg 250]ginal people, the argument urged here is an application of the biblical axiom, that from him who has nothing even the little will be taken away. I mean the individual who has no distinct personality will be forced in the school to give up the little that he can call his own. The old-fashioned school where a few subjects were learnt by heart, where the teachers were often badly prepared, where the students could go to sleep or pretend to learn, where the courses were simple and attention concentrated on Latin, seems barbarous to us. But it had less danger for the personality than the present-day school with its thorough preparation, its interest in readings, its perfected methods, its capital instructors who take every little stone out of the student's road, and prepare as much delightful intellectual nourishment as possible, sometimes even in a cooked-up form. This "good school" with its over-insistence on versatility is responsible for the nervousness of our day. Its general intellectual apathy has caused the negativeness of our times.

The quietest, most obedient child is thought the best pupil, that is, the most impersonal individual is the model. So we see how the school confuses its conception of values. The[Pg 251] more the soul and body are passive, are willing to be controlled and receptive, so much the better are the results from the school standpoint. Mischievous children, obstinate characters, one-sided and original natures, are always martyrs at school because of their desire for action, their spirit of opposition, their so-called "stupidity." Only the easy-going, amiable, commonly endowed natures can keep some of their own individual tendencies, slip through the school, and at the same time get good certificates of industry, moral character, order, and progress. In the first-class modern school, the mobile structure of personality is forced into shape—or rather it is knocked about by wind and waves, like a pebble on the seashore. It is struck by one wave after another, day by day, term by term; on they come—forty-five minutes for religious instruction, the same period for history, then French, then sloyd, then natural history; the next day new subjects in new, small doses. In the afternoon, there is preparation at home, and writing exercises, previously arranged and marked out, then corrected with care, and the prepared readings made the basis of questioning by the most approved methods, the mother having at home first gone over them[Pg 252] with the child. These powerful billows stupefy the brain, and take the edge off the souls of both teacher and scholar. Even the most active teachers move along fettered by requirements and prejudices, unconditional necessities and methodical principles. Only occasionally is a soul saved from this fate by total skepticism. Some exalt this pettifogging professionalism to a plan of salvation, others are untiringly busy in changing details, in discussing minor improvements. Every real thoroughgoing reform affecting the principle, not the methods alone, goes to pieces, because it conflicts with the system supported by the state. It fails, through the obedient acceptance of the system on the part of parents, through the incapacity of teachers to look at the whole results of the system, through their disinclination to all radical methods of improvement.

The school, like the home and society, in general should aim to fight more vigorously and more successfully the influences belittling life, and should further its development towards ever higher forms. This end is opposed by the modern schools. It is a gross mistake to hold up their excellent material and their number as proofs of popular culture. How[Pg 253] the people are educated in the schools, how the material is used, what subjects are pursued in them are the momentous questions.

Goethe's saying that "fortune is the development of our capacities" is as applicable to children as to adults. What these capacities are can be determined soon in the case of the talented child; his future can be secured by obtaining for him the possibility of such a development. But there are common capacities, proper to every normal human being, and from their development, fortune too can be the outcome. Among such capacities is memory, which modern man has nearly destroyed. "We throw ashes," says Max Muller, "every day on the glowing coals of memory while men of past ages could retain in their minds the treasures of our present literature." To these capacities belong, among others, power of thought, not in the sense of philosophic thinking, but in the simpler use of the word, gifts of observation, ability to draw conclusions and to exercise judgment. Of the common universal human faculties the emotions suffer most at the hand of the modern school.

One of the fundamentally wrong pedagogical assumptions, is that mathematics and grammar develop the understanding. This[Pg 254] is only true after a higher stage is reached in these courses. But there is no one who seriously maintains that, so far as nature or man is concerned, he has used directly or indirectly, in a single observation, conclusion, or exercise of judgment, the theses, hypotheses, statements, problems, the rules and exceptions, of mathematics and grammar, with which his childish brain was burdened. I have heard from mathematicians and philologians the same heresy that I am proclaiming, that mathematics and grammar, when they are not pursued as sciences, must be reduced to a minimum. Provided a person has mathematical talent, the study of mathematics is naturally agreeable, through the development of a capacity in a certain direction. If one has the gift for languages, the same is true of linguistic study. But without such special talent, these subjects have no educational value, because the powers of observation, drawing conclusions, exercising judgment, are just as undeveloped as they were before the mathematical problem was solved or the grammatical rules learned.

Life—the life of nature and of man—this alone is the preparation for life. What the world of nature and the world of man offers[Pg 255] in the way of living forms, objects of beauty, types of work, processes of development, can, by natural history, geography, history, art, and literature, give real value to memory; can teach the understanding to observe, to judge and distinguish; can train the feeling to become intense, and through its intensity combine the varying material in that unity which alone is education. In brief, real things are what the home and school should offer children in broad, rich, and warm streams. But the streams should not be taken off in canals and dammed up by methods, systems, divisions of courses, and examinations.

I never read a pedagogical discussion without the fine words "self-activity, individual development, freedom of choice," suggesting to me the music which accompanies the sacrificial feasts of cannibals. The moment these words are used, limitations and reservations are introduced by their advocates. Their proposed application is ludicrously insignificant, in contrast with the great principle in the name of which they urge these changes. And so the pupil continues to be sacrificed to educational ideals, pedagogical systems, and examination requirements, that they refuse to abandon. The everlasting sin of the school[Pg 256] against children is to be always talking about the child.

The sloyd system (manual dexterity, handwork, artistic production) has certain good results on children. Accordingly the sloyd must be introduced into the school, and all must be made to share the advantages of this training; but there are children for whom the sloyd is as inappropriate and as useless a requirement as learning Latin. The child who wants to devote himself to his books should be no more forced to take up the sloyd, than the child who is happy with his planing table should be dragged to literature.

All talk about "harmonious training" must be given the place where it belongs—in the pedagogical culinary science. Certainly harmonious development is the finest result of man's training, but it is only to be attained by his own choice. It implies a harmony between the real capacities of the individual, not a harmony worked up from a pedagogical formula. The results from the school kneading trough with its mince-meat processes are something quite different.

Isolated reforms in the modern school have no significance; they will continue to have none, until we prepare for the great revolu[Pg 257]tion, which will smash to pieces the whole present system and will leave not one stone of it upon another. Undoubtedly a "Deluge" of pedagogy must come, in which the ark need only contain Montaigne, Rousseau, Spencer, and the modern literature of the psychology of the child. When the ark comes to dry land man need not build schools but only plant vineyards where teachers will be employed to bring the ripe grapes to the children, who now get only a taste of the juice of culture in a thin watery mixture.

The school has only one great end, to make itself unnecessary, to allow life and fortune, which is another way of saying self-activity, to take the place of system and method.

From the kindergarten period on the child is now, as has been said, a material moulded, sometimes by hostile, sometimes by friendly hands. The mildest, the apparently freest methods produce uniformity by insisting on the same work, the same impression, the same regulations, day by day, year by year. Besides in the school, classes are never arranged according to the child's temperament and tendency, but according to his age and knowledge. So he is condemned in deadly tedious[Pg 258]ness to waste an infinite amount of time while he is waiting for others.

The very earliest period of instruction should use the power the child has for observation and work. These capacities should be made the means of his education, the standard for using his own observation. If the power of observation is vigorous, no general rules are to be drawn, but only particular ones. One child must read, play, or do handwork in a different degree to another. One can at an early age, the other only at a later period, take advantage of the education to be obtained from going to museums or from travel (the best of all travel is tramping). The indispensable elements will be reduced to their lowest measure; for what any one man needs to be able to do, in order to find himself at home in life, is not considerable. The minimum is to read well, to spell properly, to write with both hands, to copy simple objects, so that one learns picture writing just as alphabet writing. This skill is quite different from artistic gifts. Besides there must be instruction in looking at things geometrically, the four simple rules of arithmetic and decimal fractions, as much geography as will help one to use a map and a time-table, as much know[Pg 259]ledge of nature as will give one a fundamental conception of the simplest requirements of hygiene; and finally, the English language, in order to put one in touch with the increasing intercourse in the great world. Through these requirements the child will be endowed with what he needs, in order to find himself at home in the world of books and of life. Let there be added to these the ability to darn a stocking, sew on a button, and thread a needle.

Only the indispensable should be the obligatory foundation of further culture, which is only the trimming on a simple garment. The trimming receives its entire value because the individual has prepared it himself; it must not be made by a machine according to a model prepared in a factory.

What is mentioned here supplies the same basis for all, but children should be able to throw themselves into the pastoral life of the Old Testament, into the life of the Greek and Scandinavian gods and heroes, into the life of popular legends and national history; but this should be done only through the books which they get for their amusement. At the present time all of these things are made pure subjects of study!

Assume, then, that this foundation is laid.[Pg 260] The school of the future, which will be a school for all, will advance general education, but the plan it follows will be adapted to every individual. In the school of my dreams there will be no report books, no rewards, no examinations; at graduation time examinations will be arranged for but they will be oral. In them detailed knowledge will not be considered; education as a whole will determine the decision of the examiners, who will personally accompany the children in the open air in order to become quietly acquainted with what they know of mankind, of past and present history.

And the education which will make the training aim at this end will be diametrically opposed to that given by the teacher of the present day. The teacher will be required to make his own observations, he will guide the scholar in the choice of books, and show him how to work. But he will not give first his own observation, judgment, and knowledge in the form of lectures, preparations, and experiments. Occasionally he will without giving notice ask for an oral or written account of work, and so ascertain how thoroughly the scholar has gone into the subject. At another time, when he knows that the scholar is pre[Pg 261]pared for it, he will give a general treatment, a comprehensive review of the subject, a stimulating and stirring impression, as a reward for independent work. Finally, when the scholar wishes it, he will examine him formally, but his real work will be to teach the scholar to make his own observations, to solve his own problems, to find his own aids to study in books, dictionaries, maps, etc., to fight his way through his own difficulties to victory and so reach the only moral reward for his trouble with broadened insight and increased strength.

The scholar who sits down and listens to, or looks at, the demonstration or experiment of the teacher does not learn to observe, nor does he whose exercise book is corrected with painful accuracy learn to write; nor does the one who pedantically carries out the system of models in the sloyd system learn to make articles fit for every-day use. The student must make his investigations himself, he must find the mistakes himself when their presence is indicated to him, he must himself think out the objects brought before him. Above all, the separate errors must not be corrected except when they are so constant and serious that they waste time. But the scholar himself must try to find out the correct and com[Pg 262]plete method of work and of expression. This is what training, what education is.

Text-books will be attractive and virile, the "Reader" will disappear, the complete books in the original (the text may be revised if it is filled with confusing details) will be placed in the hands of children. The school library will be the largest, most beautiful, and important room; lending books in the schools will be an essential part of the curriculum.

The future school of my dreams will be surrounded by large gardens, where, as in already-existing schools in some places, the feeling for beauty will be directly encouraged. The individual scholars will arrange the flowers in the school and at home. They will take them home in order to adorn the window garden, and every schoolroom in winter will have a garden of this kind. This will be the natural method of making the simplest of all esthetic enjoyments a universal need. But taste must not be developed by instruction in the art of arranging flowers; this is to be attained only by pointing out those that have been arranged in the most beautiful way. In this as in all other things, self-help is essential.

Natural dexterity will be attained by book-binding, turning, and other kinds of[Pg 263] handwork, also by gardening and play. Such training has far greater educational value than the systematic types. The purposelessness and the uniformity of these are the terror of youth. Gymnastics should only be used on days when the weather makes bodily exercise in the open air impossible; they can certainly be made more living by being connected with physiology and hygiene, just as mathematics can be made real by being combined with handwork and drawing. But nothing can equal the value of movement in the open air.

Besides its garden, the future school will have its hall. Outside it will have a playground for dancing and really free play—I mean the kind of play where children, after they have learnt the game, are left to themselves. Games constantly accompanied by a teacher make play a parody.

The development of beauty will become the aim of physical instruction as it once was with the Greeks, not simply physical strength.

Through different kinds of hand and garden work, the child will be spared from a number of requirements in mathematics and physics, because he will in many things make discoveries himself. In the methods of school[Pg 264] drudgery the child learns that a seed grows by warmth and moisture. In real training, the child himself sows the seed and sees what happens to it; this system is followed I believe in many schools, but only as proofs of a given abstract statement. The mistake of the modern school is really just here; it illustrates its course of instruction by, as it were, over-charging the child's attention, instead of giving him time and opportunity to originate for himself.

In the future school-building, there will be no class-rooms at all, but different halls with ample material provided for different subjects, and, by the side of them, rooms for work where each scholar will have a place assigned to him for private study. Common examinations will only take place when several scholars are ready and willing, anxious to be examined on the same subject; and each student can ask for the examination independent of the rest.

In every room, on the outside of the building, architecture and decoration will form a beautiful whole; and the artistic objects, detached from the building, for the adornment of the school will be partly originals, partly casts and copies of famous originals.

The sense for art will not be awakened by[Pg 265] direct artistic instruction, either in the school or when visiting museums. Classes can perhaps get such knowledge when taken around museums; but love for art can only be gained when the scholar is surrounded by art; when he can absorb it in peace and freedom. Let this quiet progress be anticipated by instruction—I don't mean the admiring criticism of the teacher himself, which he in passing expresses without explanation or questioning—and the inevitable result is troubling the water of a living well. Interference here, as in all other cases, destroys the individual pleasure of discovery. Constantly being taken about really impairs the capacity for seeing for oneself. In art, in literature, and in religion, all instruction is a mistake until the young mind has chosen some part of it as an object to be known. Knowledge destroys, feeling creates, life. But the roots of feeling are easily injured.

As to visits to museums under the direction of a teacher, they are only of use when the scholar has previously made, on his own account, his own discoveries. To these he should be stimulated by the teacher. When occupied in the study of Greek history, he will be asked for a description of Greek sculpture[Pg 266] that is to be found in such and such a museum. When lectures are given on the Dutch War of Independence, Dutch pictures will be described. Only after the scholar has used his own eyes, and formed his own judgments, will a synthesis of his experiences under external guidance be of use. The same holds good of natural-history, historical, and ethnographical museums. Taking children around in herds produces very slight results unless they have been put in the way of noticing things by themselves.

Among the books of the school, the best literature in the original and in good accessible translations should be found. Works should be at hand capable of giving aid to those who have artistic interests. There is no greater fault in modern education than the care spent in selecting books for different ages. This is essentially an individual matter, and can only be decided by the choice of the child himself. A general crusade against all children's books, and freedom for the young to read great literature, is essential to the sound development of the modern child. What is too old for him may be set aside according to the taste of the child himself. Suppose at the age of ten years, the child is absorbed in Faust (I know[Pg 267] such cases); the child then gets at this age an impression for life that does not prevent him receiving from the same poem another impression at twenty years, or again another at thirty or forty years. The so-called dangers in standard literature are, for the child, almost nil. Incidents that excite adults, his calm feelings pass over entirely. And even if children reach the emotional period of youth, only rarely does the plain downright expression of a great mind about natural things stain the imagination, falsify reality, and spoil taste. It is the modern romance, women's novels, just as much as French novels, that do this.

Children cannot in these days, even if parents are unreasonable enough to wish it, be kept in ignorance. Crude or stolen impurity gets a greater power over a mind that has not absorbed respect for the absolute seriousness of natural processes. This reverence is sure to come from education, and through the impressions of standard literature and first-class art.

Veiling this subject is apt to lead astray and to vulgarise. To those who can be harmed in this way the Bible is as suggestive as any of the crudities of modern literature. In the temperament which quietly accepts natural[Pg 268] things as a matter of course, is laid the foundation of real purity, and only through real purity can life, like art and literature, become great and sound.

In the works of great minds, one meets an infinite world in which the erotic element is only one factor. This gives them great repose. Moreover imagination must have nourishment outside of itself; otherwise it will live upon its own product. Its nourishment should be what is most readable. The child's mind should be first fed on legends and then on great literature. This should be all the more insisted on because great literature often remains unread, when modern literature in its varied types begins later on to be absorbing.

To be able to use one's eyes in the worlds of nature, man, and art, to be able to read good things—these are the two great ends to which home and school education should direct their course. If the child has these capacities, he can learn almost everything else himself. I may remark in passing, that a sound development of the imagination has not only an ?sthetic but an ethical significance. It is really the foundation for active sympathy all round. Numerous cruelties are committed now by[Pg 269] people who have not sufficient imagination to see how their acts affect others.

In my dreamed-of school, founded along these lines, there is perfect freedom in selecting subjects. The school offers the subjects, but it forces no one to take them. English, German, French, natural science, mathematics, history, and geography are taught. The mother tongue is practiced fluently in speaking, reading, and writing. But in this case grammar is superfluous both for general education and for using a language; it belongs to scientific study, not to general culture. Grammar should be applied in the case of foreign languages, only so far as it is absolutely necessary to appreciate the literature. This is the sole aim general culture has in view. Those who wish to speak the languages fluently, and write them correctly, must attain facility by continual study. Those who have mastered the literature very easily learn the rest. Those who are familiar with the literature of a foreign language, write it, even with the mistakes they make, better than the person who has put together a perfectly correct composition according to grammatical rules. After the child, in his language study, has made enough progress to understand a fairly[Pg 270] easy book, he ought to work through one book after another, with the help of a dictionary and explain in his own language extempore what he reads. In this way is laid the foundation of a knowledge of literature, not the ready-made opinions of the histories of literature. Both in their own and in foreign literatures, the young must be lead to reality, not, as now, to its copy; to the sea, not to the water pipe. While the teacher is directing the study of language, he should try at the same time to help the scholar to a definite choice of books, and his choice should if possible be brought into relation with other subjects. So he will recommend literature connected with historical, scientific, or geographical study. Afterwards he will give a general analysis, and will read a passage aloud, or will encourage the scholar to read some favorite poem. But all poetry mongering—such as hacking a poem to pieces by divisions into strophies and sections—is to be forbidden.

Since childhood is the best time for securing the familiar use of languages, after parents and teachers agree which scholars shall take up languages, children so selected will study English and French, each for two years successively, then let them have two years of Ger[Pg 271]man, or reverse this arrangement. In this way a language will always be studied with other subjects, never three languages together. It is really only possible to take in a language, as a possession to be kept through the future, and never lost, by giving to it alone two years of really thorough study.

Scholars who want to continue their drawing or learn any kind of handwork, can combine it with the study of the main subjects. Chorus singing should be practised every day for the whole year, indoors and in the open air. It should be treated as a means of expressing the feelings, not as an introduction for developing musical capacities, though for that matter singing can give a lead to the discovery of musical talent.

As to the four principal subjects, history, geography, natural science, and mathematics, they should not be studied at the same time. The shallow multiplicity of the present system is a burden to all; it works like the "water torture" on talented individuals. It wears out their desire to learn, their initiative, their individuality, their joy of living. Those under this torture never get a breathing spell, are never able to do thorough work, and so become superficial.[Pg 272]

In my ideal school, mathematics will be learnt in winter, as it is suitable for the cold and clear winter air. In spring and in autumn, nature, out of doors, in nature itself, will be studied, not each department of nature as a special subject. An insight into geology, botany, and the animal world will be attained in their close natural union. The scholar will learn separate objects through the actual observation of life. In the text-book of life they will gain in its broad outlines a combined sketch of what they have acquired through intellectual processes. On rainy days they will construct for themselves in writing and in drawing a general sketch of what they have seen. General culture does not mean knowing the number of stamens or the number of articulations of a hundred flowers or skeletons. What educates and acts on the feelings and imagination, on thought and character, too, for that matter, is observing and combining natural phenomena; the ability to follow the laws of life and development in the natural world about us. The last member in the scheme of development is man. So the study of man from the standpoint of physiology and hygiene, should come last; consideration for the psychology of the child, urges too, that[Pg 273] the foundation for the knowledge of organic nature, physics, and chemistry, should complete the educational structure.

As in natural sciences we are beginning to give up false methods, and make the student return to the same subject, with a broader point of view, in the same way the child should at certain periods devote his attention to history and geography, and then leave them entirely alone. The endless circle, the drudgery, the repetitions, all looking to examinations as the end, will with the examinations be abolished. It is a matter of experience that the small details of all subjects slip from the memory two months after examinations. Most educated men have no recollection of the detailed knowledge they acquired in school, while the general impressions of that period still influence soul, heart, character, and will. This experience will be used, not as is done now, simply recognised as a common one.

In my school the scholar interested in history will apply himself to it in the winter months; will read works about it, while others are devoting themselves to mathematics or geography. In spring these two classes of students can share in the excursions without active participation in the studies, while those who are[Pg 274] inclined to natural science will draw, make collections, and use the microscope. One group can by studying geography bring themselves into contact with the life of nature and the life of man. So they will be led next year to study history in winter and to take part in science study during the spring and autumn. All these different combinations are to be thought out by parents, teachers, and scholars; they can only be indicated here. The final principle is that only two subjects can be studied at the same time. After the scholar has acquired from these all the education he can absorb at this stage, these subjects will be dismissed and taken up again by those who wish to specialise in one direction or the other. Instead of the separation of subjects that divides interest and strength in our present schools, in the new ones the chief aim will be concentration. In history, the space devoted to work will be limited to the amount demanded by present-day culture. History will then be the only subject suitable for general intellectual training,—the history of man's development. It will bring out the great principles of ethnography and sociology, of political economy, the lives of great men, the history of the church, art, and literature.[Pg 275] In scientific study and in teaching mathematics, the men prominent in science and in discovery will find a place. Geography brings up points of view related to almost every study, and experience already acquired gives good reason for making this subject the centre of all instruction.

What are the results of the present-day school? Exhausted brain power, weak nerves, limited originality, paralysed initiative, dulled power of observing surrounding facts, idealism blunted under the feverish zeal of getting a position in the class—a wild chase in which parents and children regard the loss of a year as a great misfortune. After the examinations have been passed and the year gone by, the best students realise the need of beginning their studies in a living way at almost every point. The majority of students are unable to read even a paper with any real profit, and those who are given a book in a foreign language to which they have devoted innumerable hours, very seldom understand it completely, unless the language instruction of the school has been supplemented at home. The incapacity to observe for one's self, to get at the bottom of what is observed and reflect upon it, is constantly more remarkable, as a result[Pg 276] of the preparation system at school, even when this is aided by the mothers hearing lessons at home. The late Professor Key said that it was his experience, as teacher in a medical institution, that scholars in school were incapable of seeing, thinking, or working. I have heard the same observation made in Stockholm lately in a government office, that the young men were incapable of taking up practical duties in which they should have shown the knowledge they were supposed to have after the fine examination they had passed. The system then does not serve even secondary ends; to all the higher aims of human existence it is directly opposed.

In the course of a hundred years or so, experience of this sort will cause the downfall of the system. Then, perhaps, these dreamed-of schools will arise. In them, the youth will learn first of all to observe and to love life, and their own powers will be consciously cultivated as the highest values in life. By mixing children of all classes together, the upper class, provided it still exists, will get that "colouring of earnest character which it now lacks," as Almquist said long ago; the lower classes will get the polish, that general cultivation they now lack. Through these schools,[Pg 277] where common training is given to all, the natural circulation between all classes will be furthered. The aristocrat's son and the workingman's son will change places, if nature has made the first adapted for the position of the second, and vice versa. Through these schools the country child will always be able to grow up in the country, and need not be sent for educational purposes into the city, provided there are still great cities. Finally boys and girls will enjoy in them all the advantages of co-education, without the particular capacities of each being forced into the uniformity of a common examination system.

After the children all over the country have been educated to about fifteen years of age, in such real common schools, some working more with the brain, others with their hands, the application schools will begin—schools for classical studies, for exact, for social or ?sthetic sciences; for handicrafts and handwork; for different professions and state positions; schools with different principles and methods, schools which can produce manifold differing forms of training and individuality. Education then, instead of being as now, the creator of servile souls, the devotees of formalism, or of characters who hate all forms in a spirit of[Pg 278] revolt, will bring fresh personal powers to intellectual and material culture alike, to the sciences and the inventive faculties, to artistic talent and to the whole art of life. It will awaken and encourage capacity to find out new scientific methods, to think youthful thoughts, to make clever discoveries. Educated human beings will apply to the whole sphere of culture their experience in their own experiments, their own activity, their own efforts; for all of which the school and the home will have already laid the foundation.

In the school, the painful restlessness of the present "to get somewhere" will disappear entirely. In the calm, profound atmosphere of my school, the young generation will be trained to believe that the most important thing for man is not to do something, but to be something. It may be harsh to say that common natures are reckoned by what they do, noble natures by what they are; yet it is a deep truth, forgotten in this century of activity, in this age of woman. But it is bound to be remembered in the century of contemplation, in the century of the child.

These principles will be applied, too, perhaps, in the field of practical work. Machines and electricity accomplish work that can give[Pg 279] no creative enjoyment; handwork will be again a portion of man's happiness; we shall live through a second Renaissance, the renewal of the personal joy which the man of earlier times experienced when the artistic moulding, when the rich, coloured tapestry, the beautiful piece of carving came from his own hand. The present school system leads to the fabrication of unnecessary articles by the dozen. It does not lead to a true love and appreciation of professional work, that love and appreciation from which, in the great period of art, artistic production organically arose.

The present system, in all fields of study, limits the natural capacity of the child in the concentration, the combination, and development of its powers. When it produces its best results, it turns children at the close of their school years into pocket encyclopedias, representing humanity's progress and knowledge. Only when such results as these cease to be called a harmonious development, will it be conceded that the school can and should have no other meaning than to give the child a preparation for continuing, through his whole life, the work of training and education. Only then will the school become a place where individuals get learning to last a lifetime, not[Pg 280] as now, even when the best face is put upon it—where they are impoverished for life. Through the victory of these convictions alone will each individual get his rights at school; both the person who does not want to study, as well as the one who does. Consideration will be given to the individual who has to have books as means of training and to the other case where the activity of the eye and hand is required as a means to the same end. It will be a place for the person with practical talent and for the theorist, for the realist as well as for the idealist. Both classes can freely do what they can do best; the members of each class will often feel tempted to test their powers by doing what the other class is able to do. One-sidedness will be corrected naturally, not, as it is now, mercilessly flattened out through the steam-roller methods of the "harmonious ideal of training."

To supply workers in these future schools, new normal schools must be provided. Patented pedagogy will give place to a type of teaching which considers the individual. Only the person who naturally or by training can play with children, live with children, learn from children, is fond of children, will be placed in the school to develop there for him[Pg 281]self his individual methods. Positions will be given only after a year's trial. When this period is passed the teachers will not be tested by the examiner alone, one who has followed the instruction given by them during the year, but the children themselves will also be heard from on this question. Of course, no absolute value can be assigned to the judgment of children, but nevertheless it has a really great importance. The instinct of the child chooses with astonishing accuracy what is first-class. But what, in the case of the child, has this character? This question has been answered by Goethe, "The greatest fortune of the earth's children is personality alone."

At the present time objectivity in instruction is exalted, but every great educator has achieved success by being entirely subjective. The teacher should be a lover of truth. Therefore he should never force a resisting object to serve his own views. As a result of this attitude, the more subjective he is, the better. The fuller and richer he communicates to the children the essence and power of his own view of life and his own character, so much the more will he forward their real development, provided, however, that he does not force upon them his opinions with the claim of infallibility.[Pg 282] In this as in all other matters, the young should be allowed to exercise free choice.

The teachers of both sexes in my school will have short hours of work, a long time to rest, and a large salary; that is, they will have the possibility of a continuous development. The limit of their service will be twenty years. After this period, they will become members of a school jury composed of parents and teachers, or they will assist in final examinations, as censors. These will be conducted as indicated above, in such a way that each censor shall pass a summer either at home or abroad, in company with young people, not more than five in number. By living with them the censor will be able to measure their capacity for absorbing an education; he can direct them in the choice of a profession. By a "Socratic" communication of practical wisdom, he will supply a substitute for the Confirmation Instruction which will no longer be given. The psychological value of this instruction is not to be actually found in what one learns from it, but in the direction of the mind to the serious questions and pursuits of life, in the awakening of ethical self-development, which is the factor of supreme importance in passing from childhood to youth. In this way[Pg 283] the young will be initiated into the art of life. I mean by this the art of making one's own personality, one's own existence, an object of artistic interest and pursuit. The initiation will be conducted by a wise man, or by a woman who has kept her youthfulness, so that she understands the joys and pains of the young, their play and their seriousness, their dreams and aspirations, their faults and their dangers—leaders who can give indirect suggestions how young people should play their own melodies in the orchestra of life.

My school will not come into existence while governments make their greatest sacrifices for militarism. Only when this tendency is overcome, a point in development will be reached, where one can see that the dearest school programme is also the cheapest. People will realise that strong manly brains and heart have the greatest social value. I have already said that this is no reform plan for the present that I am outlining here, only a dream for the future. But in our wonderful existence dreams are becoming at last actual realities.


©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533