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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/277

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PROFESSIONAL INSTITUTIONS.

PROFESSIONAL INSTITUTIONS.

VIII.—TEACHER.

By HERBERT SPENCER.

TEACHING implies knowledge of things to be taught; and as, for various reasons, the priest comes to be distinguished by his possession of knowledge, from him more especially is it to be obtained. Moreover, being released from life-sustaining activities, he has more time than others for giving information and enforcing discipline.

A deeper reason for this primitive identity of priest and teacher may be recognized. Though during early years each youth gathers, in miscellaneous ways, much which is properly to be called knowledge, and which serves him for guidance in ordinary life, yet there is a kind of knowledge, or supposed knowledge, particularly precious, which does not come to him through the irregular channels of daily experience. Equally in savage tribes and among early civilized peoples, ghosts and gods are believed to be everywhere, and always influencing men's lives for good or evil; and hence of chief importance is information concerning the ways in which conduct may be so regulated as to obtain their favors and avoid their vengeance. Evidently the man who knows most about these supernatural beings, the priest, is the man from whom this information of highest value is to be obtained. It results that the primitive conception of the teacher is the conception of one who gives instruction in sacred matters.

Of course the knowledge thus communicated is first of all communicated by the elder priests to the younger, or rather by the actual priests to those who are to become priests. In many cases, and for a long time, this is the sole teaching. Only in the course of evolution along with the rise of a secular cultured class, does the teacher as we now conceive him come into existence.

Necessarily in early stages of all evolving aggregates the lines of organization are indefinite. In groups of the uncivilized we can not expect the function of educator to have become distinctly marked off. Still we soon detect that inculcation of secret and sacred things which, as above indicated, constitutes the earliest kind of teaching: the "mystery men" being the instructors. Says Bernau concerning the Arawaks:—

"The son of a conjurer, as soon as he enters his twentieth year, or even sooner, is made acquainted by his father with the art of conjuration, and enjoined the greatest secrecy concerning it."

And whether the neophyte be a descendant or not, there is always this injunction of silence respecting the communicated informa-