Page images
PDF
EPUB

cation, we have to examine carefully the features of this god as they appear on the canvas of modern littérateurs, and distinguish our own conception from theirs. No finality, no perfectness is possible for man, and Culture therefore must be restricted, viewed educationally, to the idea rather of a process than of an attained and staple product. It is the harmonious and continuous growing of a man in all that pertains to humanity. Culture in the sphere of Education is, I say, a continuous process—the harmonious balancing of all the varied forces that constitute the life of a human soul. Now, such a balancing is impossible save round some center. From this may be deduced two practical conclusions on Education in respect of its Content. First, that intellectual culture will be most thorough when a man has some leading subject as the center of his intellectual activity; and secondly, that moral culture, the harmonious growth of the soul, is possible only where there is a center round which all the moral and ästhetic elements of our nature turn. That center is God himself, round which reality, the sentiments, emotions, hopes, and aspirations of the moral life range themselves. In God alone the ethical life has true existence. If for God we substitute self, we substitute an empty and barren fact in the room of a pregnant and lifegiving idea.

When I say that it is an essential condition of vigorous intellectual growth that a man should have some prime subject of thought and study, I do not of course mean that every man must be a specialist. A specialist, in the strict sense of the term, is a man who has so used up both his powers and his mental interests in one specific direction as to weaken his capacity for all other objects, and to narrow his mental range. A study prosecuted so exclusively weakens the judgment for all else. A leading subject, but not an exclusive subject, is wanted, and this will be found to strengthen the judgment for all else. In the moral region, again, the permanent center of all our thought and activity, which is God, so far from narrowing, expands the growing man. The central idea is like a sun, under which the whole being lives and grows, and from which each individual part draws warmth and strength. Culture without this center is the depravation of a great idea, and has no object higher than self. Self can form no true center to self.

Culture must be Active.

Moral Culture, further, must not only find its center outside of self in God, but it must express itself in action, if it is to live. It is a misuse of terms to call that Culture which, laboring under the baleful influence of self-worship, has forgotten that power can fulfill itself only in action. With some minds of strong aesthetic proclivities, Culture issues in a kind of paralysis of judgment. The soul floats in the dim and dreamy potentialities of sentiment. The man of this kind of Culture indulges himself in the perpetual contemplation of himself and his surroundings, is frequently distinguished for a spurious amiability, nourishes feeling in a self

As a

imposed retirement from the duties of citizenship, occupies himself with the contemplation of his own refined sensibilities, ever repeating to himself the words which Cicero puts into the mouth of the god of Epicurus, Mihi pulchre est: Ego beatus sum.' This result indeed is the very Nemesis of Culture when it has lost its way. This is the fate of the literary no less than of the religious recluse. Depend upon it, Nature, which is strong and virile, will have none of this: it demands the active manifestation of such power as we have, in expressed thought or living deed. Thus, then, only does moral Culture reach its true aim, by first centering itself in God, and next by forgetting itself in action.

Culture, then, which, for want of a better word, we may accept as an expression of the sum of the end of Education in respect of Content, as distinguished from the end of Education with respect to Form (which end is Power), is the harmonious growing of all that is in man. harmonious growing of intellect it demands a prime intellectual study, but discourages specialism. As a harmonious and therefore balanced growing of the moral life, it must have a center round which it may balance itself, other than itself; and that center of truth and reality is God, the source and sustainer of life, the beginning and the end of human endeavor : finally, as a living and wholesome as well as a harmonious growing, it has to seek the very conditions of its existence outside itself in action. It finds in the opportunities of life at once its nourishment, the conditions of its vitality, and the measure of its soundness. It lives neither from itself, in itself, nor to itself.

Practical conclusion in respect of Education. Culture thus interpreted is not, you will at once see, unpractical in its aims in the hands of the educationist. For we find that it can not be truly promoted save by ever keeping in view the practical issue of all training—the rearing of a religious people, and the preparation of youth for social duty and for the service of humanity, whereby alone they can truly serve and fulfill themselves. In its practical relations to the Science and Art of Education, the term will be found pregnant with instruction as regards method also. For in the intellectual sphere, as we have seen, it enjoins unity of purpose as opposed to fragmentary encyclopædism, and in the moral sphere the need of the Religious idea and the conception of social duty, without which all our moral sentiment and moral discipline would be jointless and invertebrate.

The educational skeptic will say, 'These be brave words : what has this culture to do with the education of the masses ?' I might reply that I deal here with Education, and not merely with the education of those whose school time ends at twelve or thirteen years of age; but I do not choose to take refuge in a reply which would involve me in the coursession that the education of one class of the community is essentially walike that of another, and has different aims. Were it so, there would be no unity in the idea of Education—and this is to say that there would be ng idea of Education at all. The thread of intellectual discipline, of moral purpose, and of culture runs through all education alike. The end is the same and the processes are the same. The seed which we sow in the humblest village school, and the tender plant which there through many obstacles forces itself into the light by the help of the skilled hand of the village schoolmistress, are not different in kind from the seed and the plant which in more favorable soil, and by force of a higher organization, grow up into a Leibnitz or a Bacon. To some extent indeed we may say that Education is at every stage complete in its idea and uniform in its inethods. It is with a process, not a consummation, that the teacher has to do, and with an unfinished process that he has to be content. With every individual soul he has to deal as with a being that lives for ever, and that may carry forward its growth and the impulse he gives it after this brief life is past. It is only when we commit the vulgar error of confounding growth of soul with intellectual acquisition that we depreciate the possible results of Primary Education. The experience of us all testifies to this, and justifies and sustains our loftiest hopes. Have we not all seen the highest ends of Education attained in lives limited in their scope, brief in their duration, and barren of opportunity?

'In small proportions we just beauty see,
And in short measures life may perfect be.'- Ben Jonson.

Unity of the Formal and Real. Having thus set before you the twofold end of Education in respect of Form and of Content-Power and Culture, our next duty, in working out a theory of Education, is to follow the secret inner movements of Mind whereby it reaches these ends, and finally attains to the consummate man.

It is precisely at this point in the process of our thought that a new consideration is forced on us. For we find that the Formal processes that tend to Discipline and the processes that tend to Culture cross and recross each other. This is explained by the fact that, while it is necessary, for purposes of exact thought, to distinguish the Formal and the Real, these two are in truth one in a concrete third notion. Culture, without the presence of a dominant and regulative inner power, is impossible; on the other hand, an inner regulative power, save as the center of an abundant material of cognitions and emotions ranged and co-ordinated under some supreme and governing principles, is an empty abstraction. The two unite together in the Ethical life. The more or less of knowledge or of faculty is a small matter; the Ethical life is all in all. It is because the Formal and Real are in truth one in their issue that we find it iinpossible, save in a very rough way, to separate the processes of the growth of Power, which are disciplinal, and the steps of the growth of Culture, which are the realities of knowledge. By fixing their attention too much on one side or the other, men take a partial view of Education, and partial opinions are apt to degenerate into partisan views. My conception of Education is a conciliation of both; but it is governed by the Formal and not by the Real element. The distinguishing characteristic of man is that, while he is of Nature, he is also above and outside Nature. By Will it is that man is what he is. In my estimate, therefore, of the comparative claims of the Disciplinal and the Real in educating, I assign priority to the former.

Processes of Education Intellectual. It will be at once evident that the side from which we regard the idea of Education will determine the value which we attach to particular studies, and the methods of intellectual and moral training which we shall most affect. But when we pass from the general consideration of the Formal and the Real elements in Education, and the part which each plays in the production of that unity of a completely fashioned Will,' which is the goal of our labors, and descend to the mental processes themselves whereby intellectual and moral elements are taken into the structure of the life of a rational being and contribute to its organic growth, we are on ground common to all. In this field of inquiry, as in every other, we are but the ministers and interpreters of nature. The subtle processes whereby the moral and intellectual life of man is built up are in truth the processes of Education. To trace these is a difficult task, and one in which we can not hope wholly to succeed. But we may go on in full faith that there is a way in which Nature works by moral and intellectual discipline to the growth of Power, and by knowledge to the growth of Culture. The analysis which we institute to ascertain this way is not influenced by our philosophical conceptions: it is simply a question of fact. On this analysis rests the whole system of Methods of instruction and of school-keeping, which ought to constitute at least onehalf of the course of instruction given from this place. In the sphere of the Understanding, for example, by what cunning process does intelligence take to itself the materials of its life? A matter this of great importance; for the determination of the different stages of the growth of the understanding determines at the same time the period at which the various subjects of instruction, and the diverse aspects of these, are to be presented to the child, the boy, and the youth respectively, in such a way as to insure assimilation. For it is by assimilation only that true growth is possible; all else is mere acquisition, and so far from being education, it is not even instruction. On this subject, as indeed on all questions of methodology, we shall learn most from infant schools. It is in the teaching of the elements of knowledge that the art of teaching chiefly reveals itself.

Moral and Religious. In the Moral sphere, again, we encounter difficulties of method much more grave. We have here to tread delicately and warily. The question of times and ways is a vital one. We readily perceive the folly of presenting the whole of knowledge in mass and at once to a child's understanding, and yet we do not hesitate to put at once before him the complex sum of moral and religious doctrine and precepts, in the hope of producing thereby a living effect. The ideas of religion and the principles and precepts of morality must follow experience, accompany intellectual growth, and wait even on the activity of the imagination. The educator will approach this portion of his task with much earnestness and some fear. He has to shape and to inspire a human soul, full of sensibility, alive to the lightest touch, quickly responsive to every appeal of love and every word of hate. "A mother's scream,' says Jean Paul, 'will resound through the whole future life of a child ;' and do we not know that the memory of a mother's tenderness lives for ever? Let not the instructor of youth imagine that he has no concern with what may be called the refinements and subtleties of moral training. If he does so, bis psychology is fundamentally unsound. Even in little things the teacher must seek and find his opportunity. Les petites morales of good personal habits and of good manners are to him by no means trivial. They constitute frequently the only way in which he can apply to the ordinary acts of the school-room and the playground the deeper truths which inspire his teaching; and they are in the case of many childish natures the only way in which those deeper truths can be brought into consciousness as living and governing forces. They are the outer expression of an inner state, and by the cultivation of the outer expression we always sustain the inner life; nay, we sometimes evoke it when otherwise it would not emerge. Manners seem to be of slight importance, but they are often of large import, and are not seldom convertible with morals, as the word itself was among the Romans. The Laureate speaks truly when he says:

Manners are not idle, but the fruit
Of loyal nature and of noble mind.'

Unity in the Ethical life. I have been speaking of intellectual and moral instruction and of intellectual and moral discipline; but I would repeat that, beyond and above both these, constituting the unity in which the two meet, is the Ethical life. This proposition—that the intellectual and moral substance of education, and intellectual and moral discipline, the Formal and the Real, are fused in the unity of the Ethical life—it will be my business to explain and make good in the more philosophical portion of my

You will then see, I trust, that the Ethical function of the teacher can not be pressed too far. It will appear also that it is the ethical element which is at the root of the manly and generous growth of boyhood, and the sole force which can permanently sustain even purely intellectual effort. All labor of the schoolmaster is of doubtful issue as regards the merely intellectual resultant in his pupils, but every act which is inspired by the ethical spirit has its sure intellectual as well as moral reward. It can not possibly be wholly

course.

« PreviousContinue »