Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/591

This page has been validated.
573
TECHNICAL EDUCATION.

freshness and vigor of youth in his mind as well as his body. The educational abomination of desolation of the present day is the stimulation of young people to work at high pressure by incessant competitive examinations. Some wise man (who probably was not an early riser) has said of early risers in general, that they are conceited all the forenoon and stupid all the afternoon. Now, whether this is true of early risers in the common acceptation of the word or not, I will not pretend to say; but it is too often true of the unhappy children who are forced to rise too early in their classes. They are conceited all the forenoon of life, and stupid all its afternoon. The vigor and freshness, which should have been stored up for the purposes of the hard struggle for existence in practical life, have been washed out of them by precocious mental debauchery—by book-gluttony and lesson-bibbing. Their faculties are worn out by the strain put upon their callow brains, and they are demoralized by worthless childish triumphs before the real work of life begins. I have no compassion for sloth, but youth has more need for intellectual rest than age; and the cheerfulness, the tenacity of purpose, the power of work which make many a successful man what he is, must often be placed to the credit, not of his hours of industry, but to that of his hours of idleness, in boyhood. Even the hardest worker of us all, if he has to deal with anything above mere details, will do well, now and again, to let his brain lie fallow for a space. The next crop of thought will certainly be all the fuller in the ear and the weeds fewer.

This is the sort of education which I should like any one who was going to devote himself to my handicraft to undergo. As to knowing anything about anatomy itself, on the whole I would rather he left that alone until he took it up seriously in my laboratory. It is hard work enough to teach, and I should not like to have superadded to that the possible need of unteaching.

Well, but, you will say, this is Hamlet with the Prince of Denmark left out; your "technical education" is simply a good education, with more attention to physical science, to drawing, and to modern languages, than is common, and there is nothing specially technical about it.

Exactly so; that remark takes us straight to the heart of what I have to say, which is, that, in my judgment, the preparatory education of the handicraftsman ought to have nothing of what is ordinarily understood by "technical" about it.

The workshop is the only real school for a handicraft. The education which precedes that of the workshop should be entirely devoted to the strengthening of the body, the elevation of the moral faculties, and the cultivation of the intelligence; and especially to the imbuing the mind with a broad and clear view of the laws of that natural world with the components of which the handicraftsman will have to deal. And the earlier the period of life at which the handicraftsman has to