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CHAPTER X.

EDUCATION.

§ 1. The place of education in Social Reform. § 2. Industrialism

in education - False aims. $ 3. The materialistic view of education - Payment by results. $ 4. Use and abuse of competition. § 5. Neglect of physical and moral training. $ 6. Nature as a source of education. § 7. The cultivation of the æsthetic taste. $ 8. From nature to humanity — The need of sociology to supplement psychology. § 9. The place of home in education. § 10. Inhumanities of our present methods. § 11. The outline of Mr. Ruskin's scheme. $ 12. Mr. Ruskin's two distinctive notes — The need of manual work. $13. The teaching of “habits of gentleness and justice.' § 14. Mr. Ruskin as Oxford teacher.

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§ 1. ALWAYS a teacher, and always reflecting upon methods and processes, it was inevitable that Mr. Ruskin should have fresh, free, and vigorous ideas about education. A peculiar interest attaches to the profound conviction which marks all that he says upon the training of the young. For though all of us profess to believe in “education," few of us even now truly realise it as an organic process of developing the capacities of a human soul; for the most part we only believe in processes of learning, the result of which is an attainment of knowledge; or at the most we believe in a certain sharpening of aptitudes for the practical work of life. Even where sound principles of teaching are acquired, the stress upon intellectualism is commonly so strong as to narrow and

deform the true meaning of education, which is the leading human souls to what is best, and making what is best out of them.” All specialism, even the specialism of a science of Pedagogics, is prone to stereotype ideas and processes, which ill accords with the watchful freedom and delicate plasticity of method that is required for the moulding of souls.

It is essential to Mr. Ruskin, as social reformer, that he should have clear ideas on education of the young. For what marks him off most distinctively from others is the repudiation of all mechanical or merely external methods of reform, and his insistence upon individual and social character as the means and the end.

The understanding of the nature and sources of social wrong and social waste, the feelings of pity and indignation which stimulate redress, the patient labour undertaken for a distant common good, the “ habits of gentleness and justice” which shall keep a new and better order safe and strong, - these things are only possible by education of true civic character. In order to “ elevate the race at once,” we must work upon the malleable nature of children. All Mr. Ruskin's books, but especially “ A Joy for Ever,” “ Sesame and Lilies," and “ Fors," are rich in contribution towards this art of education, abounding in critical and constructive suggestions. In no sense a pedagogic expert, nor making much use of technical language, his wise and humane thoughts furnish an admirable, independent support and corroboration of the more scientific methods connected with such names as Herbart, Pestalozzi, Froebel, which are slowly but surely winning their way into our schools, while serving to check by their simplicity and sweetness

any tendency to hardness and elaboration which a science is apt to put on with its esoteric terminology. Moreover the keeping a social ideal always before our eyes is a wholesome counterpoise to the individualism which, for many purposes, is a sound and necessary principle for the practical educationalist, who finds his greatest difficulties in the idiosyncrasies of particular children.

§ 2. Seeing that, however much we pretend to divide it, life is one, it was inevitable that Mr. Ruskin should find in existing education copies of all the representative vices of industrial society.

As a nation, our disinterested love of ideas, our reverence for 6 sweetness and light,” have not been strong enough to keep our educational system free from the domination of the industrialism which so thoroughly absorbs the national energy.

In “Sesame and Lilies" he inveighs against the enslavement of education, even among the middle and upper classes, to the “gospel of getting on.” The “ success in life,” which education is to win for boys, is conceived in terms of lucrative employment, or as the satisfaction of social ambition : “ what is sought is an education which shall keep a good coat on my son's back, which shall enable him to ring with confidence the visitor's bell at double-belled doors, which shall result ultimately in the establishment of a double-belled door to his own house.” 1 Even Mr. Ruskin was probably unaware of the countless subtle ways by which money-making and social snobbishness everywhere creep into the schools of the classes," poisoning the intellectual and moral atmosphere both of our great historic

1 Sesame and Lilies, § 2.

schools and of the select private establishments designed far less to make good men and women than to feed the pride and exclusiveness of that very caste to which Mr. Ruskin yet chiefly looked for the redemption of England. As for the public education of the people, though pioneers have ever striven to hold up the banner of the ideal, and are still labouring to humanise the system, it will be true to say that the real national support of popular education is the conviction that without reading, writing, and the first four rules of arithmetic, a man is at a disadvantage in getting and spending money. It is felt that a nation of shopkeepers should at least secure for its members the capacity to keep accounts !

If a detailed and veracious history of the beginnings of the modern Technical Education movement could be written, it would give an instructive and a humorous corroboration of Mr. Ruskin's charge upon this head. With the national avarice inflamed by fears of competing Germany, Technical Education, a vague, formless conception, floated upon a sea of our most potent national beverage, was foisted upon our raw County Councils, who, not even pretending to know what was to be done, set about to do it, sucked, pulled, or goaded on to start rash experiments, to subsidise useless or pernicious schools, and to deal out money to any institution which could bring sufficient pressure on them. What technical education was, how it should be conducted, no one knew; but every one seemed agreed that it could be successfully imposed upon the foundation of our elementary system, — the most fatuous notion that

1 The “ Whiskey Money," earmarked by Mr. Goschen for Technical Education.

ever entered the head of official man. Slowly and stupidly, at huge expense, we are learning something practical about the unity and organic character of education, how that education, conducted with a single eye to the shop, will not even successfully cater to our avarice, but requires some mean basis of general culture to stand upon.

In one of the best-known passages of “ Sesame " Mr. Ruskin denounces the shortsighted penury of the state in its patronage of art, science, and literature, for leaving its duty to the spasmodic benevolence of private individuals, and merely encouraging certain narrow forms of science and art with a strict view to business, that we may learn to sell canvas as well as coal, and crockery as well as iron.

§ 3. The end of education being conceived in mortal error, it follows that the standard or test of educational success is vitiated. The real meaning of the charge of “ materialism” often brought against our nation and age, is that we judge success by quantitative measures. As we measure the wealth of nations or persons by the amount of money or of other property they possess, so we measure education by quantity of attainment in knowledge.

“ Payment by results” is a most enlightening phrase in our educational system. In order to work such a system, you must regard education as a process of acquisitiveness, engaged in accumulating lumps of knowledge of various sorts and sizes, which are deposited in the brain, and which can be produced, measured, and expressed in “ marks” at regular periods of stock-taking. Needless to say, under the sway of such an idea, a school

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