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the signification which properly belongs to a development of the mind. Perhaps it may sound paradoxical, yet is it not true, that an abundance of ideas is a hindrance rather than a help in a true education? Does not this grasping avarice “o'erleap itself?” The broader a cistern the better adapted is it for a receptacle ; but if we would reach the living fountain, we must dig deep. The man, or especially the student, who considers education to consist solely in the acquisition of ideas, is building a broad cistern to hold whatever may be poured in by the generosity of others. But he who holds that the principle of life here, as elsewhere, is a princi
ple of development, digs deep until he has reached the perennial springs, !! and rests independent of others, possessing, within himself the capacities, the powers, the necessities of a development.
The difficulty is not that in the one case the man has too many ideas, it but that he holds them loosely and confusedly as the ideas of others. His
mind has failed to apprehend and appropriate these ideas, and they only I add weight, and prove a hindrance to his already overloaded mind. He
may know what this book, or that man says, but he has no sort of an idea
what he himself says. He may be a sort of walking encyclopædia, of It wliich the chief use is to be a dumb-waiter to somebody, but we can not i say that an encyclopædia is educated because it contains 2000 pages of
facts. Nay, a man may know all the facts in the universe, and yet be less s educated, less developed, less of a man, than one who does not understand el the spherical figure of the earth. The Russian fool who could repeat Volir taire, was not consequently Voltaire.
The mind grows after the manner of a cactus—one idea producing another, and the second a third, and so on-a vital connection existing between them all, and the vitalizing sap, and the vivifying force of sturdy, original thought, penetrating the remotest point, bringing all the separate shoots of thought, and ramifications of ideas into the close connection of a consistent whole. The mind thus becomes a unity, and acts in harmony
with itself. One root and many branches is better than a half acre of DOM
crowded shoots, each struggling for a little glimpse of sunshine to prolong its useless life. One idea well developed, thoroughly traced out, is worth more than a volume of transplanted ideas.
Nor does the benefit in the other case simply arise from a paucity of ideas, but in receiving no more into the mind than can be properly cultivated. Filling the memory with facts is like filling a bin with applesgood while they last. Developing the mind, and cultivating our ideas, is like setting an orchard-productive now, and productive forever in the future. The one meets an immediate need; the other meets that, and lays up full supplies for all future needs.
There is another benefit in presenting but few ideas to the mind at a time: it allows the mind to concentrate its faculties. The sun shines diffusedly over a continent of snow, and can not melt a single flake. And yet the philosopher can fire the diamond and fuse flint by the rays scat
tered over a fer inches, if he will but coi.centrate them to a focus. So, let the mind scatter its energies over a continent of truth, and it warms not a single thought into life, overcomes no difficulty, resolves no problem; but let its faculties be concentrated, its strength focalized, its powers brought to bear upon a single point, and such a mind becomes omnipotent -not alone from the possession of ideas, but from a husbanding of its resources—a saving of its strength for the elaboration of one thougbt. The temptation is strong to illustrate this point with examples taken from the honored ranks of so-called self-made men, but the mere mention must suffice.
Perhaps the remark may be snperfluous, but is it not too true that a distaste for learning is acquired, in nine cases out of ten, solely from the confusion of mind arising from the acquisition of so many disconnected facts ? We must allow seed time to germinate; we must hasten slowly. If we hasten at st, the child gains only a painful confused image, that would be forgotten, gladly, but which ever haunts the retina of the mind. Still there are those who see in this rapidity of acquisition, and multifariousness of acquirement, a real education—nay, what is of far higher import-a practical education !
There is a strong desire to popularize education, by making facts of everyday life, simple isolated gleanings from the wisdom of the world, the education required. The great hobby is practical education-a hobby which any body can ride, and of which the crowd will always unthinkingly cheer the rider. These educational reformers want practical education, not theoretical education--jast as though that were not a humbag, too stupidly absurd to win even a solitary convert. They want an education that gives a man & ready-made suit of knowledge, without adding pieces for patching. For instance, they say: “ Agriculture is of great practical importance, consequently education to be practical must be an agricultural education, Languages are not to be used in every-day life, therefore, languages need not enter the course of a practical education!” The mind is apparently considered a reservoir, to be filled in the comparatively useless days of youth, for future and busier years to draw upon. Facts and figures, rules and theorems, must be tied up, labelled, and packed away in the brain, until some future necessity shall call them from their dusty pigeon-holes, and pat them into real use. The brain of man is not a garret to pack all the odds and ends of creation in-not a receptacle for the cast-off thoughts of others. God never intended such magnificent machinery to be put to such ignominous uses. Nor is a system of popular education which thus degrades man from his high position as a creator, to the criminally indolent position of the recipient of other men's gains, a system of education worthy of the name, or worthy the admiration of respectable antediluvians. We might as well praise as popular a system of religion which leaves out the doctrine of responsibility. It would be popolarized, no doubt, but would lose its vital essence, its distinctive features.
It is really necessary to store the memory with facts. Rules may do very well for people who do not koow enough to make rules for them. selves, just as we have letter-writers for love-sick swains and lasses, with. out wit enough to tell each other of it decently, and books of etiquette for people so uncompromisiugly boorish by nature as to be obliged to be polite by rule, or go without. These isolated facts may be of some such use, but it is infinitely more useful and necessary to acquire the habit of thinking: Any attempt to popularize education by substituting the one course for the other, although it may be easier, will never be successful, for degrading the standard of education is not the same as raising ourselves op to it, although either course may apparently produce the same results.
This idea of popular education is derived from the notion that it is necessary for a youth to study what he will practice when a man—and, indeed, one of the sages of antiquity said as much. By a parity of reasoning we might say that a boy, in his physical education, should—not develop the muscles he will use when a inan, but should mimic, in boyish sports, the employments of future years. Nature has furnished youth with an instinct which prompts it to develop its strength; and we might as well reprehend a group of boys for playing leap-frog, on the ground that they would never practice it when men, as to cavil at the study of the calculus because a fariner makes no immediate use of it in his daily life. Playing strengthens the boy's sinews, and lays up force for the sterper duties of life. So, studies may develop the thews and sinews of the mind, and although the studies themselves may never enter the routine of the daily life, yet the intellectual strength which their mastery has given, will furnish the mind with a power, a creative force, an active adaptive energy, that is of far more value than the barren acquisition of a folio of facts. We eat food, not for the sake of the food only, but for the sake of the strength to be derived from it; and so we study, not for the sake of the immediate use that may be made of the studies themselves, but for the sake of the intellectual strength thereby acquired.
Education, then, can not be a simple hoarding of facts, but it is a development of power, an acquisition of strength by judicious exercise. Strength is a real bodily possession, and an education of the right kind is as much a mental possession.
Says Mr. Page, in his Theory and Practice of Teaching : “ The conclasions of the honest and intelligent inquirer after the truth in this matter will be, that education is development; that it is not instruction merelyknowledge, facts, rules—communicated by the teacher, but it is discipline; it is a making up of the mind-growth by a healthy assimilation of wholesome aliment. It is an inspiring of the mind with a thirst for knowledge, growth, enlargement, and then a discipline of its powers so that it can go on to educate itself. It is the arousing the child's mind to think without thinking for it; it is the awakening its powers to observe, to remember, to reflect, to combine. It is not a cultivation of the memory to the ne
glect of every thing else; bat it is a calling forth of all the faculties into harmonious action.”
Having thus sketched the different views in regard to what education is, in what it consists, let us examine the corresponding methods of instruction.
The idea has long been prevalent that our system is likely to prove & stupendous failure. The day of great men, say some of these prophets, latter-day Jeremiahs, has passed, and we seem to have come to the day when a mediocrity
“ Faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null,"
is worshiped as the very height of human attainment. But whatever fault may be found with the results of our system, but little can, we think, be found with the great outlines of our system of education.
We boast of a system which reaches every child in the land; that offers to all the privilege of a good education without money and without price, not so much as a privilege, as a natural and political birthright. We boast of the general diffusion of knowledge among us, of our splendid discoveries in the arts and sciences, and point with pride to our great men, acute philosophers, and eloquent divines. As a nation we pride ourselves upon the results, while yet as a nation, as neighborhoods, as families even, we are lamentably careless as to the means by which these results are secured. If oar free system of education ever does prove failure, it will be because of this lack of public sympathy; it will die for lack of sunshine.
The objections which are commonly urged against the system, are not properly objections against the system itself, but against the management of the system. We have enlarged the system without having made a corresponding enlargement of our plan of operations. We have trusted too much to teachers, too much to text-books, too much to the machinery of education, and too little to the intellectual force which was to guid, the machine. We have neglected to demand good teachers, thinking, perhaps, that good school-buildings, good text-books, approved methods of instruction, etc., would of themselves secure a proper advance, and the desired end. We have spent our time and means in building and adorning a splendid locomotive, and then have been careless who was pat on it as driver. We have been particularly anxious to secure the outward means and appliances of education, while not one person in ten knows or cares what education is, if his rents are promptly paid, or his interest are not below twelve per cent. per annum.
But perhaps these remarks are too general and sweeping. Let us, then, briefly notice the common method of education, and point out a few specific faults-faults whic lie directly in the way of education
sidered as a mental possession.
The first error we notice is based on the erroneous notion as to what
education is. It is teaching men to repeat rather than to think, It presupposes that acquisition is education. What is a good scholar, as the term is generally understood ? The one who can repeat most of the book. He may comprehend a solitary idea or not-he is the best scholar. Memorizing is thus made education, and the pouring in process goes on, until the little mind is all the time running over just as fast as new ideas are poured in; and at the end of the educational course holds no more than at the beginning! It has memorized every thing, and mentalized nothinghas developed itself in no point, except simply the faculty of memory. It has acquired so rapidly that it has had no time for digestion or assimilation, Now digestion is as much a mental necessity as it is a physical necessity. As Locke says, we must chew over these memorized ideas, or they are of little use to us. We must assimilate this knowledge, or we simply make our brains a lamber-room for odds and ends. But this method leaves no room, and gives no opportunity for digestion.
It teaches men to imitate, and imitation requires no thought. One may imitate the act of eating without calling the digestive facalties into action, or being benefitted thereby. It teaches men, also, at least by example, that mere acqui. sition of knowledge is education. It crowds, crams, and overloads the mental stomach, until a confirmed intellectual dyspepsia sets in, which no physic can permanently cure.
There can be no doubt but that this erroneous method of education, by neglecting, and by so doing crashing, the original powers of the mind—its faculty of finding out for itself, its power of educing new truths by reflection and substituting in their stead memorizing as the one sole and only means of development, has done more injury than good, and crushed, dwarfed, and crippled more minds than it has developed. It has educated a race of parrots, repeating incessantly the ideas of others, instead of a race of strong original thinkers, and has given an impetus and a dignity to the senseless, soulless, baseless isms of the day, which in turn delude and degrade our educated men, and by implication our system of education.
There may be a time when the memorizing, or catechetical method, seems to be the most economical; but it is only for a time, and for an early stage of development. We may carry a child when we are in a hurry because it can not walk as fast as we wish to, and we may carry children over the first principles of education, to save time. Memory, undoubtedly, has its place among the means of education, but it is not the only means. I would have the child memorize, but I would also have him digest the ideas until they become his own. I would not let the simplest reading lesson pass without encouraging the little one to repeat the story for himself; nor would I have the child read a lesson that he could not, with a reasonable amount of mental exercise, thus translate into his own language. It might be slow work, but it would lay a sare foundation. Memory is a means of entering the mind, but it is