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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/519

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THE STORY OF A SCHOOL.

without the aid of books. Prof. Straight first developed the relations which knowledge sustains to mind, and the action of mind under varying conditions. He then took up some familiar subject and called upon the class to apply the knowledge thus far gained. For example, a flower was brought in and analyzed according to the laws of systematic botany. Then came introspection: what powers of mind had been used, and in what order? A lesson in geometry came next, and this was followed by the other school studies, until the list was exhausted. Next came the industries: what mental powers are brought into play in raising a crop, in building a house, in boiling a potato, in the making of bread? By this plan mental philosophy was lifted out of the fog of dreary abstractions and set on its feet in the broad light of every-day life.

Moral philosophy fell to my share. No books were used. My methods were quite similar to those of Prof. Straight. In a series of discussions, extending over several weeks, the human being was taken where Prof. Straight left him, and the relations developed that existed between him and other human beings. Needs were shown to exist by virtue of the "constitution of things," and deeper than this we did not attempt to go.

Human beings were seen to be potentially equal in needs, hence the necessity for equality before the law, that all might have opportunity for their natural development. Out of needs grew rights, and out of rights duties. A study of experience soon showed that duty assumed two phases—positive and negative. Confucius is credited with a maxim covering the ground of negative duty—forbidding injury to your neighbor; Jesus enunciated a law that summarized both positive and negative duty.

Next, the principles derived from this preliminary study were applied to the conditions which exist in school, home, and neighborhood. Why should a person work? What time should be given to recreation? What shall we do with the tramp? What with worthy but destitute men and women? What with needy orphans?

The discussion was conducted almost solely by the pupils. When it took too wide a range, the teacher quietly led it back to the question at issue. The lesson on one occasion dealt with card-playing. One young woman charged that it led to gambling and bad company. To this another replied that she had often played but never for money, nor had she the least inclination to gamble. As for bad company, she played with her sister, who was no worse company at the card-table than at the dinner-table. When I found that the discussion had become a mere assertion of opinion, I interposed: "You seem to disagree. Why?" "Yes," said one, who recalled my method of treating such cases, "we have