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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/493

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HEREDITY IN RELATION TO EDUCATION.

That child has since developed into a distinguished man. Whether innate genius was sufficiently strong to have forced him through and above his environment apart from such early discovery and encouragement I can not say. At all events it would in all probability have been a case of devious ways, diverted energy, and lost time, if not final partial or complete failure, but for this early recognition.

No doubt the difficulties in the way of meeting all the parents in the case of a large class in the city school are considerable; and it may not be feasible to visit all, though much is gained in more ways than one by ascertaining the home environment as well as the heredities of the pupils. When once the teacher has made a somewhat complete and reliable estimate of the tendencies, good and bad, of any pupil and their relative strength, a large part of the problem of development is already solved.

Every human being may be regarded as an organism with a combination of qualities of varying strength, some of which, indeed most of which, are good in themselves but either weak or strong relatively to a common standard or with reference to each other, so that the question of balance is one of the most vital. The most dangerous of all members of society are those that are ill-balanced and lack self-control. The real criminal organization is of this nature. But so also is the faddist or extremist of any type dangerous, because being ill-balanced he himself tends to lead mediocre minds astray; and much energy that might be better employed must be used to counteract his dangerous doctrines and vigorous efforts.

The question with the teacher then is. How can I develop each nature committed to my charge so as to strengthen its weak parts physical, intellectual, and moral, so that no faculty shall be unduly developed and that the balance of the whole shall be good—while I do not overlook those faculties that are strong and on which the success of the individual so much depends? It can with the utmost confidence be assumed that in all human beings some powers are by inheritance of different strength from others. Some children are so weak in mathematical perception that they must receive careful and special attention to nurture this faculty up to an approach to the average, while at the same time it must not be made almost the sole standard of intellectual strength or excellence, as I fear has been too much the case in schools within the past twenty years, at all events. An intellect thus weak may have a good deal more than the average capacity for artistic or moral feeling, and men are not mere calculating machines but rather organisms, endowed with feelings that like the steam engine supply the source of power, the moving forces.

How sadly have we neglected the culture of right feeling in