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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/463

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THE SPIRIT OF MANUAL TRAINING.

come to the school deeply impressed concerning the objects of the senses, the concrete. They are here persuaded of the greater reality of the spirit; and appreciation is asked for the abstract and impersonal. So far these objects might be the objects of any school of high principle. They represent the spirit of the new education. But they belong peculiarly to manual training, since it is a system willing not only to cherish these sentiments, but also to work with complete singleness of purpose for their realization. It is a sincere and practical effort to do something better than has yet been done in the name of education.

The methods of manual training are too new to have been encumbered with any traditions; nor have they attained sufficient fixedness to threaten growth. For the most part, they are still tentative and experimental. This plasticity is very hopeful. A question left open is a constant stimulus to renewed searching after something still a little better. Each school that attempts to carry out manual training soon develops a certain individuality. Any teaching so intensively subjective as this is deeply influenced by the personality of its faculty. The character of the men who have it in charge is quick to find expression in the school. The distinctive features in the institution at Philadelphia are, perhaps, the predominance given to ethics and the unremitting effort to preserve unity throughout the many-sided development attempted. In defending our unity we are beset by difficulties. The over-enthusiasm of our friends would plunge us into many excesses. Manual training seems to them so good a thing that they can not realize the possibility of having too much of it. We who take the long view have often to counsel moderation, or the new idea would quite run away with us. In the intense delight which these good people feel in giving substance to ideas, they would discard Everything which is not capable of such expression. They apparently forget that imagination is absolutely needful for perspective, and that of all useless, pitiable creatures the unimaginative man is superlative. Yet this excessive amount of representation would quite kill imagination. In careless hands the effect of manual training would be to set bounds and limits rather than to break them down. It is not a system that can be indiscriminately recommended. Men are so prone to mistake the means for the end, that those who esteem manual training most highly are least willing to encourage its introduction, unless they know the character of the men who are to have it in charge.

In its organization the manual training school differs little from the customary high school. It is an institution of similar grade, and covers about the same period of boy life. Its students enter at from thirteen to fifteen years of age, and remain, if they