Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/829

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
809
MANUAL TRAINING.

study of the ├Žsthetic principles underlying the sense of proportion. An eye trained in this way would be a source of endless delight, a constant finder of new beauties. And back of the eye is the seeing brain whose growth would be in proportion.

The ear is an equally promising field for training. Think of the world of harmony and music closed forever to those who, like poor Trilby, are tone deaf! Think of the thousand sounds in Nature which are full of meaning to those who have ears and hear; of the countless shades of meaning conveyed by the human voice to those who are sensitive enough to apprehend! At present this realm of sound is to most of us a coarse convenience, a quick way of ordering our dinner, and little more. It might be a garden of delight; and the time to open this garden is in youth, when the tissues are flexible and the life plastic. It is a tragedy that when we might be opening such treasures as these to our boys, we teach them, instead, bookkeeping and interest! And back of the ear is the hearing brain whose growth would be in proportion.

There is no sense organ which might not be stimulated by some well-directed training and made to yield its corresponding brain reaction. Even taste need not be omitted. It would be an exercise of serious value to have a boy learn to detect the percentage of sugar or salt or lemon juice in the glass of water he is drinking, for it would mean the exercise of attention and discrimination. Something might even be done with the nose. Its judgments might be refined and made analytic as well as aesthetic. And, again, back of the tongue and the nose is the tasting and smelling brain, and it is this always that we have in mind.

In manual training we appeal to touch, and incidentally to sight. But we have scarcely broken ground. The hand could be cultivated to a thousand delicacies of touch which are merely foreshadowed in our present clumsy exercises. Both hand and foot are capable of many movements which would add not only to health and convenience, but also furnish nerve and muscle reactions of large value. To sum up the present gains, I would say that manual training gives us increased dexterity and greater keenness of observation. Of still greater value is its higher gift, an increased development of the corresponding nerve centers in the brain, and the consequent increase in general intellectual power.

Here, as the lawyers say, we rest our case.

If manual training has, as I fully believe that it has, this vastly important psychological import, it is the herald of a coming education. If it has not, then its only value is industrial and utilitarian. It is an artisan movement, useful and in its way valuable, but nothing more.