« PreviousContinue »
lost. Here the spiritual forces are on our side, and continually make for us. Indeed, if we have not this faith, we had better give the whole
Be it observed that the term Ethical is here used in the broad sense in which it comprehends Religion. It is the Ethics of a religion which justify a creed before the world, and it is the religion of ethics which gives moral teaching a hold on the heart of man, and a sure foundation in human reason. The morality of secularism has for its foundation selfinterest, and for its sanction coercion; it may preserve society; but it is only when ethics are in union with religious conceptions, either passing into these or rising out of them, that they promote the true life of humanity. It is religion which affords to Ethical science the basis in the infinite, and presents to the Ethical life issues in the infinite.
Materials for Education. The question which next most presses for consideration is—What instruments or materials are most promotive of the end we propose to ourselves, viewed in the light of their ultimate unity in the Ethical life? We have to select those instruments which by their nature contribute most, and most surely, to the supreme end of all our endeavors. By this measure we must mete the instruments which the present state of knowledge offers us. It is impossible, and were it possible it would be undesirable, and destructive of all sound discipline, to teach even the beginnings of every subject. But it ought not to be difficult to adjust the rival claims of Literature (including under this head Languages, Ancient and Modern), Science, and Æsthetics. The philosophy of Education is a poor affair if it can not, out of the materials which are clamant for attention in the school-room because of their immediate use in the work of life, and therefore essential prerequisites of ethical activity, find apt instruments for its purpose. Such questions are of great importance to the well-being of society. If Primary Instruction, for example, must exclude from its curriculum Science, in any strict sense of the term, can there be any doubt that our daily instruction should be so contrived as to place a child in intelligent relations with the world in which he lives, and to enable him to look with the eye of Reason, and not of the brute, on the phenomena of the physical universe ? Still less is there room for doubt, it seems to me, that the elements and applications of the laws of health and of social economy should enter into every scheme of instruction. It is through these subjects indeed that we shall at once rectify the conceptions of the pupil as to the sphere of duty in which God has placed him, and give direction, significance, and practical force to our moral teaching.
In the secondary stage of Education, again—that which immediately precedes University discipline,—the place to be assigned to Latin and Greek must be largely determined by what we mean when we name these studies. If such instruction resolves itself into mere memory work and gerund-grinding, it is even then not without educative uses, but it must make way, and that quickly, for other and better disciplines. If, however, it is so employed as to be an exercise of the inductive and deductive processes; if the study of words and sentences be an unconscious study of thought, and if they become, as boys advance, a study of Form and an introduction to the pregnant and elevating idea of Art; if the embalmed thoughts be truly made to breathe and the dead words to burn; then indeed we have here an instrument of unsurpassed and unsurpassable excellence. It is true that the rich records of modern life and literature now yield us much of the culture we seek in antiquity, but we can not afford to dispel the halo which gathers round the romote past, and the deeds of the men who have gone before us. Imagination here, by idealizing, sustains morality, and is the spur of the intellect. Still less can we afford to part with the impersonal and objective character of the teachings of Judæa, Greece, and Rome, and to substitute for them the subjective and partisan lessons of modern life. On the whole, I feal with Jean Paul, who says, “The present ranks of humanity would sink irrecoverably if youth did not take its way through the silent temple of the mighty past, into the busy market-place of life.' But even after all this is said, and more than this, it is an anachronism to give such studies exclusive possession of the field. In the present state of knowledge, not more than half the school time should, in my opinion, be given to ancient studies, even in the upper classes of professedly classical schools; and not all boys should be even thus far restricted. It is a discredit to our great Educational Institutions that any boy of seventeen should be in ignorance of the elements of Physics and Physiology.
Physiology in relation to Education. As yet, Gentlemen, we have been talking of the education of man as if we were speaking of spirits in a world of spirits, except when we alluded briefly to the conditions of Power. From birth to death, however, Man is subject to external circumstances which are for the most part too mighty for him. He seems to rise out of a physical organization : it is the outer which at first evokes his slumbering consciousness at birth, and the outer conquers him in death. With these physical conditions of existence he has to effect a compromise. All his receptivity and all his activity is in and through mortal brain and muscle. All his moral and intellectual activity must therefore be carried on with due regard to the external instrument which he must employ. By so saying I do not mean to indicate any theory of the relation between mind and body. But this we know, that the former, both in its sensibilities and activities, is bound up with the natural laws of the latter, and to those laws it must conform, or fail itself to live.
The theoretical question of the identification of thought and emotion with nerve-processes is simply one part of a much larger question, the relation of Nature itself to Mind. Evade it as we may, encumber it as we may with irrelevant and side issues, the question is really this: Are thought and personality the product of natural force, or are natural forces themselves the product of thought and personality? Does the outer make the inner, or the inner the outer ? Now this, as other cognate questions, can not be from this Chair treated critically. The critical and historical'investigation of all such subjects is otherwise provided for. I must therefore in all such matters assume a purely dogmatic position, and with dogma you must be here content. The advance of Physiology into the sphere of Psychology has been viewed by many of the older and purely introspective school with unnecessary jealousy and even alarm. It is a mistake to suppose that the physiology of Mind necessarily rests on a materialistic theory of intelligence. This is often assumed ; but there is no necessary connection between the two. The physiology of Mind is merely the study of those material processes in which sensation and intelligence and even moral emotion are involved, and which at once condition consciousness and are conditioned by it. It is an important auxiliary to the study of Mind, but can never occupy the ground of the older Psychology. In every step of its processes it demands a reflection on consciousness, and an analysis of the life and phenomena of consciousness, to give it significance,-nay, even to render its results intelligible.
If, leaping out of ourselves, we entirely change our point of departure in self, and look at self and all that we call Mind from the outside as a mere product of physical forces, as a function of matter, we are then no longer dealing with a merely psychological question, but only, as I have already indicated, with a part of that larger cosmical question—the orig. ination of all things; and by our conclusions as to this larger inquiry, the subordinate, yet to us all important subject, must be determined. In brief, the only effectual answer to the proposition ‘All is Nature,' is the counter proposition 'All is Mind.' That man alone can entertain the thought of Mindless man who has first taken to his bosom the withering thought of Godless Nature.
However this may be, it is sufficient for our purposes, as students of Education, dogmatically to assume that Mind works under physical conditions. Every sensation, every emotion, every act of memory, every act of thought, is effected through brain, and involves a certain process and a certain exhaustion of substance. The proper nutrition of brain, consequently, with a view to the repair of waste, must ever be with educationists a matter of prime consideration. The effects of overstraining or of defective nutritive process are in their practical relations vital. I am sufficiently well aware of the necessity of fresh air and clean skins, and spacious well-drained school-rooms; but these and other physical questions are all subsidiary to the consideration of the demands which the life of sensibility, emotion, will, and thought make on the brain. Here Physiology holds up the finger of warning. But instructive as the negative teachings of Physiology are, the positive contributions which it has to make to the philosophy of Education are even more valuable. The intimate connection subsisting between states of consciousness and cerebral changes, and the relation of these when repeated to what may be called the 'set' of the nerve apparatus, bring to view, with a vividness which is beyond the reach of the ordinary psychology, the manner of the formation of habits of feeling, thought, and action. Indeed there is nothing more encouraging to the earnest teacher than the study of the Physiology of Habit.
It will now be more clearly apparent why I selected the word 'Power' to denote the formal end of Education. It is preferable to Will, because this has to do rather with moral and intellectual relations regarded purely as such. When an active and free, self-determining, ever ready will is aided by those physical conditions which determine the healthful activity of all the bodily organs, so that they respond willingly to the demands made on them, we have a complex state before us. There is a natural volition, the issue of mere life and health in our physical frame, which bounds forward to ally itself with the movement of inteligent Will, and gives to the latter a certain steadiness and self-assurance. To this combination of free will with the gladly coöperating volition of the bodily organization we assign the name of Power.
Limitation of Scope. It would appear that in dealing with Education we touch the various departments of knowledge, but there is little danger of our wandering: for the fixing of the ends of Education at once imposes a limit on the studies belonging to this Chair, and gives stability to them. It will protect us both from vague speculation and from tedious detail. To enter into questions of philosophy is so far from being incumbent on us that to do so would be to defeat the specific objects for which this Chair has been founded. The consideration of these questions has been already provided for in the University curriculum. But while the Professor must here, as representing a practical subject, avoid all speculation, he must yet find some dogmatic philosophic basis as a support for his thought, if his teaching is not to be an aggregate of disjointed essays. In Psychology and Physiology he must lay his foundations; but from these departments of knowledge he will select only such materials as have a direct bearing on Education, and in giving significance and the force of law to educational ends, processes, and methods,
This portion of our course has to be treated in detail as belonging to the Art of Teaching, and will necessarily occupy much of our attention. It will be illustrated by model lessons, and by observation of the procedure of the best schools. The means of obtaining practice in teaching will also, it is hoped, be provided.
History and Biography. Thus informed as to the ends and philosophy of Education, and the
rational grounds of pedagogic methods, we shall then find ourselves in a good position for surveying History. As we read the records of the past we shall see that education by and in the family was early overpowered by the education of the tribe, and finally of the State. In the earliest stages of society, while man was yet struggling for subsistence, education could only mean the fitting of a man to secure for himself the necessary protection and food; nor is this primary necessity ever to be lost sight of as the basis of all educational systems, even among the most cultivated nations. As society advances, division of labor and the rudiments of professions extend the sphere of rational life and the conception which the more thoughtful form of man's capabilities, needs, duties, and destiny. Religion, Law, and Medicine become gateways of speculation; and through speculation it is that humanity has been enabled to rise. Speculation may be said to begin when knowledge for its own sake becomes an object of pure desire, and man becomes an object of interest and wonder to man. As soon as men surmise their own greatness, apprehend that each is valuable not only for what he can do, but for what he is, and that man does not live by bread alone, the idea of Culture enters—which contemplates the growth of man to the full stature of his race. In the educational history of Oriental nations, of Greece and of Rome, we shall see these ideas take form. The process of historical evolution will thus furnish a continual illustration of the Philosophy of Education, and while guarding us against the errors of other times, recall to us great ideas which we are apt to push rudely aside with the vulgar self-assurance which distinguishes a mechanical age, oblivious of the debts its owes to the past, and ignoring its moral inheritance.
We shall find, too, much instruction from the study of the educational organization of other countries, and much encouragement from the study, in their historical connection, of the systems of those who have been eminent as educational reformers. Those systems are generally full of suggestive material, even when their leading ideas must be pronounced partial and inadequate.
Summary and Conclusion. I have now endeavored to vindicate, as fully as the limits of a lecture permit, the position of this Chair in an Academic curriculum, and to indicate the nature of the instruction which it proposes to give to those fitting themselves for the work of the school. It seems to me that, if the future teacher of the higher class of public schools be carried through such a course, he will not merely be better fitted for his professional work than now, but he himself benefited by the mental discipline which the curriculum will afford. Going forth to the duties of active life instructed in the ends, processes, and history of Education, he will not work blindly; but, conneeting his daily duties with the philosophy of man, he will see all methods of instruction in their