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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/461

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THE SPIRIT OF MANUAL TRAINING.

is much to exhibit on stated occasions to the public gaze and commendation. The other harvest is slow in maturing. It taxes faith and hope. It does not offer material well suited for public display. Yet this intangible result is so valued by those who labor for it, that they are content to wait, persuaded that a well spent present can afford to leave the future to divine law.

In nearly every manual training school these two elements are present. In one way this is an advantage, for they act as a check upon each other. The practical side is kept from becoming sordid; the spiritual side from becoming visionary. But the balance of power between the two is of the utmost importance, for it determines the character of the school. If it be on the one side, the tendency of manual training must be regarded as unfortunate—the educational ideal is degraded; life contracts. If it be on the other, no finer nursery can be imagined for the rearing of a race which shall be strong in its passion for goodness and for knowledge. It teaches that the worth of a man lies in what he is. The question is one of fiber, not of veneer.

It is not unnatural that an enterprise with so ambitious a purpose should constantly bring disappointment to its projectors. When one has poured out his whole soul in an effort to regenerate, even a reasonable amount of success does not satisfy him. He looks, perhaps, for too much. The currents in human affairs which do not make for righteousness are too strong to be easily stemmed. The influence of the school is working against very powerful counter-influences. Arrayed against it are the low maxims of the street and the market, the sensationalism of much of our current literature, and not infrequently the indifferent moral atmosphere of the home itself. It is not alone that these opponents have contemporary power, but they have been in office for from thirteen to fourteen years. We have to fight not only the present, but the past as well. The leaven of the new ideas goes frequently into very obdurate dough, and its working is correspondingly sluggish. We must cope with both the boy and his great-grandmother.

A difficulty keenly felt in these schools is the necessity of spending the first few months in the negative work of undoing. Children, as a rule, are very badly trained. They are taught to work under a false stimulus, and from vicious motives. Their morality is generally the morality of rewards and punishments. Were the childish heart less beautiful and less pure than it is, the injury done to it would be even more irreparable.

Nor are these the only difficulties. The spirit of manual training is ethical and evolutionary. But, unfortunately, not all of those who presume to teach in such schools have themselves caught its fine meaning. One can not communicate what he has