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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/415

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THE SACRIFICE OF EDUCATION.

for the sake of success. His mental sympathies become bounded by the narrowest horizon. "What will pay" in the examination becomes his ruling thought, and he turns away from the many new intellectual interests, which would spring up on all sides of one who was allowed to be in love with knowledge for its own sake, as from luxuries that must be sternly put aside for the sake of success in the all-important examination. To a young and healthy mind the constant suggestiveness that accompanies work done in every branch of knowledge, the constant opening up of new interests, are the great stimulants to self-development, and they should be ever spurring the student on to endeavor to know more and to see more clearly. We hold that these life-giving interests can not possibly coexist with the repressing influences of training for great examinations.

3. The true value of different kinds of education can not be so intelligently considered and so easily measured by the public when these great prizes are in existence. It is most undesirable that important controversies, whether between classical and scientific education, or between the various methods of teaching, should be obscured by the serious monetary considerations that now throw their shadow over all educational work.

We do not propose to discuss here other more subtle evils, which appear to many of us to result from doing work simply for the sake of an all-important examination, such as the temporary strengthening of the rote-faculties to the neglect of the rational faculties, the rapid forgetfulness of knowledge acquired, the cultivation of a quick superficiality and power of cleverly skimming a subject, the consequent incapacity for undertaking original work, the desire to appear to know rather than to know, the forming of judgment on great matters where judgment should come later, the conventional treatment of a subject and loss of spontaneity, the dependence upon highly skilled guidance, the belief in artifices and formulated answers, the beating out of small quantities of gold-leaf to cover great expanses, the diffusion of energies over many subjects for the sake of marks, and the mental disinclination that supervenes to undertake work which is not of a directly remunerative character, after the excitement and strain of the race; nor will we discuss another class of evils, that falls less directly on the student, such as the waste of very precious time inflicted on the teacher by the drudge-work of examinations. It is enough now to affirm that the moral effect of the system, viewed broadly, is distinctly bad. We have made of our education a body without a soul. Our misdirected efforts result in a system which is corruptio optimi. There is no nobler influence that can be brought to bear upon a young student than the desire to get knowledge for the sake of understanding the world in which he