Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

v.] TEE INSTRUCTION OF THE INTELLECT. 127

The schoolmaster is abroad, and has been for a great many years past. The expenditure upon popular Education is a heavy item in the budget of every civilized country and is daily becoming heavier. "Educate, educate, educate," is everywhere the cry; "only educate enough and we shall in time get a blessed new world and bring in the golden age." No Shibboleth of the day is more frequently repeated, or more highly honoured than this of Education. Nor can there be a doubt that the zeal for it is excellent and worthy of all commendation. But I may be permitted to doubt whether it is always, one might, perhaps, say often, a zeal according to knowledge: whether it is not frequently expended upon what is not Education at all, but a mere counterfeit thereof. The point is worth discussing.

What then is, as a rule, meant when Education is spoken of? What but the instruction, in greater or less degree, of the intellect? Every one is now taught some things, be it only the three Rs, although, in most countries, the primary schools have got far beyond that. In schools of a higher grade the number of things which a scholar may learn, and is encouraged to learn, is very great, the usual result being his acquisition of a large amount of small information at the cost of much cerebral fatigue. In the Universities, Professors lecture "de omni scibili" and the whole field of human knowledge is open to the student. It is an age of universal instruction, and it is an ago of universal examination. The examiner extracts what tho schoolmaster has put in, and satisfies us that we have the worth of our money. Now I am far from denying that from the humblest schools, as from the highest colleges, many youths are sent into the world who are educated in what I must account the only proper sense of the word: a sense which I shall presently indicate. But I do say that a student may answer with absolute correctness tho questions set to test his proficiency in the subjects wherein he has been instructed, that, in Lord Tennyson's phrase, he may be " gorged with knowledge," and yet be quite uneducated: "multas inter opes inops." Mere instruction is not sufficient even to form the intellect. Still less sufficient is it to form the character. But tho formation of tho character is the true end of Education.

I lay no claim to originality in putting forward this view. I find it expressed, clearly enough, three thousand years ago by a Hebrew sage. "Train up a child in the way ho should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." A youth that is so trained is educated. He is fitted for the work appointed him in this world, whatever

v.] THE TRUE IDEAL. 129

it may be, which, indeed, is a matter of comparatively little importance.

"Honour and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part: therein all honour lies."

And so the majestic words of Milton: "I call, therefore, a complete and generous education that which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously all the offices, both public and private, of peace and war." The true ideal of Education is the right development of all the human powers and faculties, its function being, as Mr. Herbert Spencer well says, "to prepare us for complete living." This development must be simultaneous and harmonious, for the undue predominance of one power or faculty is necessarily attended by the degeneration or atrophy of others. Hence Plato, Aristotle, and the philosophers of the Porch were led to place virtue—man's distinctive excellence and perfection—in a mean, that is, in a proper balance or accord of all his endowments. '' All that makes a man" should be recognized in manly Education. "Mens saiia in corpore sano" was the aspiration of the Roman poet, and it was not unwise. Physical culture is important as the instrument of that corporal soundness which enters into the virile ideal. "To remove the original/ dimness of the mind's eye; to strengthen and perfect its vision; to enable it to look out into the i

K

world, right forward, steadily and truly; to give the mind clearness, accuracy, precision; to enable it to use words aright; to understand what it says; to conceive justly what it thinks;"* is, according to Cardinal Newman, the object of intellectual Education: an object which every teacher, from the village schoolmaster to the University Professor, should keep in view. But much more than this enters into the conception of the "mens sana." Man is not merely an intellectual but also a moral being. That is his distinctive prerogative separating him, far more decisively than physical or mental differences, from the lower animals, "qua? natura prona et ventri obedientia finxit," and crowning him with glory and worship. Of all the ideals that man can set before him, the moral ideal comes first, because all other ideals, the ideal of knowledge among the rest, hold of it. In every circumstance, action, or emotion of life, there is an ethical issue: Am I right in being here? in doing this? in thinking that? There is no situation that has not its duty. The moral ideal embraces 'our entire being: all other ideals but segments thereof. It is at the very centre of consciousness, for, only as an ethical being is man a person. And the supreme end of educating a child is to educe his personality, "to make a v.] TEE FIRST AND LAST LESSON. 131

* The Idea of a University, p. 332 (Third Ed.)

man of him," as we are wont to say. That only satisfies the philosophical conception of Education

"Where all, as in a work of art,
Is toil, co-operant to an end."

Let us pursue the matter a little further. What is the first lesson that should be taught a child? Yes: and the last too? We may call it the Alpha and Omega of Education. Surely it is reverence. Reverence for what is highest above him. Reverence for what is highest in him. And it is a lesson which the child is naturally disposed to learn. It corresponds to a primary instinct of human nature. An opinion has largely prevailed—attributable, I suppose, to the Calvinistic doctrine of our total depravity—that man is born entirely under the dominion of egoism, of selfseeking, of covetousness, and that Education consists in revolutionizing his innate character. But this view is the outcome of false dogma and superficial observation. It is as erroneous as the Rousseauan view that man is by nature altogether good. He is neither altogether good nor altogether bad. He is imperfect: able to discern and to admire the things that are more excellent: unable, through defect of will and nature, adequately to follow after them. Consider a child, as everyday experience reveals him—nay, much as children differ, through the influence of

K2

« НазадПродовжити »