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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/488

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474
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

simply a human unit—that what suits him would not equally well suit Tom Jones.

Allow me to put the problem of education in a sort of combined biological and psychological form. It is impossible to conceive of any organism as existing apart from relations to other things that immediately or remotely affect it—in other words, its environment, which term will be used to designate the sum total of all those influences of whatsoever kind that are in any way related to or can affect such organism. Very often the most important factors in the environment are other organisms of the same kind, and this applies especially in the case of man.

In the discussion of educational problems it seems to be of vital importance to realize that we must consider man as a whole. Great mistakes have been made, and are being made, from regarding mind and body apart. As a matter of fact, we never know them apart. We have to do with that complex whole we call man. We only know the mind through the body, and speaking generally, so far as we can see, for every psychological manifestation there is a correlated or corresponding physical process. It is of importance not only to concede this in a theoretical way, but to be fully convinced of it; otherwise our education will labor under those misconceptions, irregularities, and inadequacies which have beset it in the past.

We get at the mind through the body. To one devoid of all sensation the world is as good as non-existent, and such an individual would be a mere vegetative organism incapable of any appreciable development. Apart from the senses there are probably no avenues to the mind for us. The dependence of the mind on the body in this broad way is then clear. It is not, however, very fully recognized yet that what hinders the development of the body or stands in the way of physical vigor or growth must be in a corresponding degree an impediment to the growth and development of the mind. Modern psychologists are more and more recognizing the mind as a growth and development; and undoubtedly when this great fact and the complete interdependence of mind and body are recognized we will be free from misconceptions that have fettered education of all kinds in the past.

The teacher who realizes this inevitable relation of mind and body can not be indifferent to the hygienic conditions and physical state of his pupils. The condition of the atmosphere of the schoolroom, the temperature, the quality and the direction of rays of light will be as much considered as the three R's, for in fact they are of vastly more importance in the development of the organism, as a whole, with which he is concerned.

Up to this point I have been endeavoring to show that the educator, in proportion as he has correct and comprehensive views